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Food trucks have two major cost centers. One is food and beverage. The other is labor. Which do you think is most problematic for mobile food vendors?

If you said labor, either you’ve been running a food truck for at least a few months, or you have some genuine insight into the challenges of running a mobile food business.

Labor issues are typically the number one concern of most food truck owners. Food and beverage costs can be held in check through price adjustments and portion controls. On the other hand, labor costs are not controlled by paying low wages.

Controlling food truck labor costs is best done through sound scheduling and improving your employee productivity. You increase productivity through training, better food truck kitchen layouts, and the use of labor-saving equipment and products.

This article addresses cost-related issues and ways to increase employee productivity — the areas in which a mobile food vendor has the most control.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Keep an Eye Numbers

Before you can develop appropriate and effective measures for labor cost control, you must gather the necessary information on which to make your decisions. Therefore, the accumulation and reporting of relevant labor cost information is critical. To do this, you need more than your calculator.

Productivity and labor cost efficiency cannot be addressed and assessed only in straight numbers. If customer service is compromised, the initial savings of a lower payroll cost can be negated by a decrease in sales caused by customer losses.

When trying to determine the productivity of your staff, the traditional ratio of “payroll to total sales” is not an effective and accurate measure of worker productivity and scheduling efficiency.

Essentially, you pull this ratio from your income statement to tell you how much sales you are squeezing out of your payroll expense. What could be more telling? Well, there are three reasons why additional measures must be used to analyze labor costs.

The traditional labor cost ratio really just indicates to management what needs to be addressed, without providing any specific information.

The figures reported on the monthly income statement are historical and after-the-fact. Labor cost should be controlled beforehand. This will require labor cost figures to be compiled at least weekly.

So what is the best measure of productivity? There is no one magic ratio. You need to monitor several benchmarks to take the pulse of your mobile food business.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Don’t Lower Wages

Food trucks should not control labor cost by keeping salaries and wages low. In fact, operations paying less than the going wage rate in their locale will find it difficult to hire and retain the more productive employees.

Think about it. If you felt you were a very good cook or manager, would you quit your current job and go work for someone who paid you less than you were making? I don’t think many of us would work for less.

About one-third of all employees who leave a job voluntarily, leave for better pay. You may have heard that money cannot be a motivator for increasing productivity.

Well, it is probably true that just increasing the wages of an employee will not necessarily mean they will be more productive, but when money is used as a reward for outstanding performance, it can be an effective motivator.

There are a number of scheduling methodologies you can use that will reduce your labor costs just by adjusting when you have employees arrive and depart from work. Efficient scheduling must reflect the variations in business volume that occur during the day and even meal period.

Your goal is to accomplish the necessary workload with a minimum number of labor hours while maintaining your level of service.

Productive employees should be rewarded with pay increases and earn more than average employees. Treat your valuable employees like you do your most valuable customers. Realize that the labor cost per cover and the number of covers per labor hour can be improved only with productive employees.

If productive employees are treated no differently from marginally productive ones, there is no benefit to the employee to do more than average for he or she will get the same enumeration either way.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Set Benchmarks

No single measure can be used to evaluate labor productivity; management must employ multiple measures collectively. Management must have a better index of labor productivity and no single measure can efficiently accomplish that. Therefore, additional measures are needed to properly analyze labor costs. The additional information needed is readily available as it is compiled on a daily or weekly basis. These measures are:

  • Covers per labor hour
  • Labor cost per cover
  • Labor cost per labor hour

Where do you start? Each time payroll is processed, total labor hours by job category are tallied. Management will compare actual hours worked to those originally scheduled and look for variances. If hours worked are greater than scheduled hours, they will investigate to determine the job category where the variance occurred.

Employee schedules are determined not by revenue but by customer counts. The “covers per labor hour” is perhaps the best indicator of labor productivity compiled by a mobile food service operation because it is not distorted by the way sales are affected by price increases and discounts.

Although some drops in customer counts occur in the long run when prices are increased, covers per labor hour remains the most effective indicator of employee productivity.

The “labor cost per labor hour” is another productivity index. It is calculated by dividing total payroll by total labor hours. When calculated by respective employee job categories, one can readily see the wage differentials between jobs. This information can assist management in establishing wage ranges for each job category.

The third index of productivity is the “labor cost per cover.” This tells us how much labor is used to serve each customer that walks up to your food truck service window. The total payroll is divided by the number of customers.

Check out this example:

Assume:

  • Total Payroll Cost = $1,400
  • Total Labor Hours = 144
  • Total Covers Served = 1,200

Therefore:

  • Covers per Labor Hour (1,200/144) = 8.33
  • Labor Cost per Labor Hour ($1,400/144) = $9.72
  • Labor Cost per Cover ($1,400/1,200) = $1.17

Did we miss something in regards to controlling food truck labor costs? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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key west food truck

So in an area with no food truck rules to send a food truck to another country to recruit tourists seems a bit hypocritical.

The Florida Keys are trolling Canada –beginning Nov. 24, a branded Florida Keys Key lime pie food truck is set to roll in Toronto and Hamilton with Keys representatives giving away free slices of the Florida Keys’ signature dessert. The truck is to visit different high-traffic locations through Nov. 28.

The public-relations effort is being funded by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and coordinated by the TDC’s agencies, NewmanPR and Canadian subcontractor LMA Communications.

The timing couldn’t be better. Snow fell in the region Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Although no snow is currently forecast for next week, temperatures are projected to be chilly — in the 30s and 40s F — as the Keys pie truck makes it rounds.

Find the entire article at keysnet.com <here>

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fake online reviews

Fake online reviews can become a food truck owner’s worst nightmare.  Websites such as Yelp, Google Places, or even Facebook, can damage a truck’s good reputation at the click of a button.

The advancement of social media has resulted in a host of creative ways to damage a mobile food business name and the internet has become the arsenal for competitors, disgruntled and former employees.

It is thought that by the end of the year, up to 15 percent of online social media reviews could be fake, and it’s a two-way street. Some seeking positive reviews will pay to have five-star ratings while those looking to damage the reputation of another will pay for bad reviews.

Those receiving bad reviews have attempted to turn things around with paid five-star reviews, resulting in a discombobulated and completely inaccurate overview of a business. Add to that the negative reviews left by disgruntled or former employees creating more havoc and leaving a mobile food vendor to feel helpless.

How trustworthy are social media reviews to consumers?  Some reports claim that consumer trust in social media reviews is currently low.

The good news is the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on fake reviews. Companies face litigation from the FTC for forging fake reviews.

The best way a food truck owner can take to prevent fake online reviews: Pay attention!

Without the aid of social media log-in, computer algorithm and the expense of a lawsuit, food truck owners can protect themselves from fake online reviews by close monitoring of review sites and paying attention to specific patterns in writing, such as common verbiage in multiple reviews. Be on the alert for common misspelled words and pay attention to capitalization.

Those who don’t know the proper spelling of a word will carry the misspelled word throughout each post. Some positing under various identities can be spotted by repeated punctuation errors.  There are, of course, those who are obvious repeat offenders, failing to hide their transparency with verbiage changes. Multiple posts using words such as “gross” or “sick” should trigger a red flag.

If there are suspicious reviews, you can flag the review and take the initiative to contact the website and request the reviews be authenticated or removed.  At the least, protect your mobile food business by marking the suspicious review as spam.

Remember though, that these methods are only useful for legitimate fake reviews. And they’ll only be taken seriously if the review is damaging your food truck business and appears to be fake, or written by a competing business.

Just to be clear, you can’t use any of these strategies for real reviews. If you’ve been taking a digital beating for bad service or bad food, then the obvious answer is to start impress every single person who comes to your service window so that their good reviews make the bad reviews look silly and outdated.

Please Note: Don’t waste your time or money trying to sue review sites over fake online reviews. Websites such as Yelp are protected by the Communications Decency Act. Under Section 230, and aren’t liable for any defamatory content made by its users, as they are considered third- party re-publishers of the content.

Do you have any tips on how to avoid or find fake online reviews? If so, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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fudge fun facts

The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving. Because of this, as we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know.

We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”

For today’s Did You Know we will look at fudge fun facts.

The Facts: Fudge is a type of confectionery, which is usually soft, sweet, and rich. It is made by mixing sugar, butter, and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F, and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. The product is sold in a variety of flavors, and fruits and nuts, as well as candies which are sometimes added.

  • It is believed that someone was making caramel when they “fudged” up the recipe. The result was delicious, but the name stuck even as fudge grew in popularity.
  • Another story goes, that a college lecturer in Virginia, was teaching a class in toffee making, and the temperature was not taken high enough resulting in what we now know as fudge.
  • In 1886, fudge was sold at a local Baltimore grocery store for 40 cents a pound.  This is the first known sale of fudge.
  • November 20th is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day.
  • The largest slab of fudge weighed 5,760 lb and was made by Northwest Fudge Factory in Levack, Ontario, Canada, on 23 October 2010.
Fudge Fun Facts We Missed

Please feel free to let us know if we may have missed some fudge fun facts in the comment section below. We always love to add to these lists. If we can verify that the facts is just that, a fact, we will give the reader credit in the article.

Reference: Wikipedia: Fun Facts about Fudge.

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el paso tx

EL PASO, TX - If you have noticed more food trucks gathering around El Paso, you’re right!

“We are here at the Title Max on Mesa Street and Remcon Circle on the west side, we are here Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Arturo Nevarez, owner of Big Dogs Hot Dogs said.

It’s a schedule like that for these food truck vendors firing up their generators which have just become routine in the past few months.

“There’s a good atmosphere and plenty of food,” Gandy Vargas said as he enjoyed a dish from one of the food trucks.

“We have a little bit of everything. We have tacos. We have pizza,” Nevarez said of all the different types of food trucks he sees in El Paso.

Nevarez said this gathering wouldn’t be possible if an old ordinance on food trucks was still in effect.

“You couldn’t be parked at a certain spot for 20 minutes. You had to be going around and the customers would flag you down and you couldn’t be near a restaurant,” Nevarez said.

That ordinance ended in 2011.

It’s paved the way for the food truck industry to really gain some traction in El Paso.

According to El Paso’s Department of Public Health, this year so far there are 384 mobile food vendor licenses.

It is still less than Austin’s 1,119 permits issued for city and county combined this fiscal year.

But compare that 384 number to the time the ordinance was still in effect — there weren’t even 250.

Find the entire article at kfoxtv.com <here>