What would you do if you knew that almost all your food service competitors are generating twice the sales you are? What if your food truck sold Asian cuisine and you knew that residents in the town a few miles away were spending twice as much Asian dishes every year than the city you are currently operating in are? Might that influence where you focus your advertising efforts, or where you might locate your truck next?
Almost certainly it would. But if you’re like most small-business owners, you’ve never had ready access to that sort of information, nor the time or money needed to track it down.
Now you don’t need the money, or even very much time, thanks to a new online tool available via the U.S. Small Business Administration. It’s called SizeUp, and the SBA began offering entrepreneurs free access to it last Fall. This Web-based tool provides highly specific data on virtually every industry and geographic region in the country, including information on revenues, salaries, health insurance costs, supplier locations and more.
What can SizeUp do for your food truck business?
With a few mouse clicks, SizeUp can show you the above-mentioned data averaged for the competitors in your town, in your state, or across the country. It can show how much money consumers are spending on the goods or services you sell in those regions. It can pinpoint the location of, and provide contact information for, distributors, wholesalers and others who sell the supplies and basic materials your mobile food company uses.
All this can be incredibly helpful in deciding where to next park your food truck business if you’re just starting out or expanding. It can be absolutely crucial if you’re putting together a business plan to win financial support from banks or private investors.
More discretely, the wealth of data available from SizeUp can help you decide where to market your mobile food business. It can provide clues that you’re paying your employees too much, or too little, relative to your competition. And it can serve as an overall wakeup call if it shows, for example, that your competitors are generating significantly higher sales — or comparable sales with fewer employees.
The benefits of SizeUp
SizeUp was started by Anatalio Ubalde, the successful co-founder and CEO of two related companies: GIS Planning Inc. and ZoomProspector. GIS is an online provider of economic development data used by state and local governments, while ZoomProspector is a corporate real estate and site-selection analysis service.
Ubalde’s newest venture collects industry information from hundreds of public data sources, including Internal Revenue Service records, county courthouse filings, telephone directories, annual reports and more. It pulls demographic data and labor force data from a wide range of public and private sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Postal Service and other government agencies. The SizeUp database is deep, with information on 14 million businesses.
You can get a taste of what SizeUp offers just by visiting the website and entering the industry and city that interest you. To get access to the full database, however, and to receive periodically updated “competitiveness reports” on your own business, you’ll need to create a free account.
SizeUp won’t tell you where you should advertise, how much you should pay your employees, or who you should use as your suppliers. But it will point you in the right direction — and at a cost of nothing, that looks to be a pretty good bargain.
Please Note: This site has yet to include mobile food industry information in their main search, but you can gather information on the brick and mortar competitors at this moment.