Tags Posts tagged with "Catering"

Catering

1 1374
food truck catering testimonials

What someone else says about the quality of the catering your food truck provides is far more believable to a customer than what you can say about your own mobile food business. For most people, buying catering services from a food truck is a relatively option and can be filled with anxiety.

Unlike your Yelp listing, there are no “rating” services for food truck caterers for individuals to gain confidence in your catering quality or level of service before they buy.

Food truck catering is a major purchase for most people. A lot of money is spent without any real assurance the catering will be as it’s promised to be. This is why testimonials from previous clients are extremely crucial for the success of your food truck catering especially when buyers fear making a mistake they might regret.

Food truck catering testimonials are important because shoppers gain confidence to buy and then are able to assess blame to others if something goes wrong with the event. Think about why you ask others for recommendations before you buy or don’t buy an expensive or important product or service. It’s because you are in search of the good, bad or inside tips on the product or service.

3 ways to use food truck catering testimonials:

  • Place testimonials throughout your food truck website, not just in a special separate section. Spread them throughout your site and mix them in with your other content. If possible add a photo from the event the happy client is referring to and label it as such.
  • If you use a large photo album or portfolio to show clients your past events, don’t hesitate to place testimonials in this album in such a way that they will see them as they turn the pages in the photo album. Don’t put testimonials in a special section in the back of the album. Mix them in with the photos. Also, take time to talk about them in the same way as you do about the photos. Every testimonial has a story behind it.
  • If prospects come to your office, (if you have one), you should have your walls flooded with framed letters and notes from happy clients. Take time to talk about these testimonials or take one down from the wall for the prospect to read before you start your sales presentation. Also, don’t be afraid to place testimonials you received via email on the wall for all to see.

Do you show off your food truck catering testimonials to sell your catering services? How do you do it if different from these suggestions? We’d love it if you shared your tips with our readers in the comment section below.

0 550
Outdoor Food Truck Catering

Food truck owners have increased the number of their catering gigs over the past few years as an alternative profit source for their mobile food empires. As this area evolves, more and more trucks have added catering to the services they provide to their communities.

Many of these jobs come from their loyal customer bases who adore the food from their menus. Some of the jobs involve driving the truck up to an event space and serving directly from the truck, while others require the trucks staff to move indoors to use a larger kitchen or be able to provide a complete catering service.

While many these catering food truck owners prefer the ease of controlled indoor events such as those that take place in hotels, banquet halls or homes, taking control of outdoor food truck catering events is possible.

With a little extra strategy and planning, outdoor events can quickly turn into an enjoyable experience for the food truck operator and their catering client.

Here are some tips for dealing with outdoor food truck catering events:

  • Prepare for wind, not just rain: Even the best food truck vendor can’t control the weather, but you certainly can plan for it. And a sunny windy day can be just as detrimental as a rainstorm. Have you prepared for the high gusts that may blow through the event, knocking over all of the table  centerpieces or putting out your lit candles or chafing fuel?
  • Select the proper equipment: When you cater large events it is not always possible to do all of the cooking in the relative safety of your food truck. Be sure the stoves that will be used are heavy-duty enough for outdoor use. Are your chafing dishes designed with professional wind-block attachments versus using rolls of tinfoil to keep wind from blowing out a flame?
  • Keep food safe: While keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold may seem simple, unpredictable conditions outdoors can add challenges to this simplicity. Food shouldn’t sit out so long that hot food cools to the danger zone and cold food warms to the danger zone. Solutions include having an extra supply of chafing fuel on hand, keeping buffet times to 1 ½ to 2 hours maximum, or putting food out in smaller portions.
  • Maintain ambiance: The importance of ambiance is made most obvious by lighting but when the wind kicks up, the flicker of traditional wax candles goes out. For outdoor evening events, consider flame-less candles to help guests feel more intimate with their friends and family. And the right lighting also helps highlight your food.

Food truck vendors who take a little extra time up front to develop contingency plans for unexpected weather and how to maintain food quality, safety and ambiance are guaranteed a better outdoor food truck catering experience; as well as ending up with a happy client.

2 523

The general consensus is that a food truck’s business decreases 50 percent during the winter months.  After all, who wants to stand outside waiting for food in the cold?

pizza luca

However, as the industry evolves, more owners are finding ways to turn the winter months into periods of growth.

Dean Medico the French Culinary trained founder of Pizza Luca (www.pizzaluca.com), a rapidly expanding Pizza Napoletana catering truck company, has found ways to grow his business during the winter and keep his loyal customers happy year-round.

Five ways to overcome the winter and turn it into growth opportunities:

1)     Work with Office Buildings and Have Record Delivery Time:  Partner with an office building and with their permission deliver menus to every floor.  Hire deliverymen to bring the food into the lobby or upstairs.  Offering piping hot food in under 10 minute delivery time is a luxury that a brick and mortar store can’t offer.  Take advantage of being mobile and play to your strengths.

2)     Diversify into Catering, Corporate Partnerships, Weddings and Special Events: If the weather becomes unbearable for street vending it is a good time to diversify.  This is a great way to build your business and ideally launch more trucks, some of which can be dedicated to vending and some to catering.

3)     Serve Hot Soup, Beverages and Give Out Promotional Freebies: Offer free soup, hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate to customers who are waiting online for food.   Distribute company-branded products such as hats or gloves to those walking by.  Indeed, this is a marketing expense, but in addition to keeping folks warm and hungry, this is a great way to market secure new customers and build good will.

4)     Win The Battle of Wills: Bad weather can be to your advantage.  By opening up shop, there may only be a handful of other operations up and running.  You can have one of your best days of the month if you are open.

5)     Follow the Birds: If cold weather is just not your thing, you can always head down south.  It is always warm somewhere, and the food truck business is blossoming in the south.

0 444

According to Forbes.com, Mountain View, CA based LinkedIn has continued its tradition of inviting food trucks to their parking lot to help feed their hard working staff members.

LinkedIn food-truck-friday
Image from http://blog.linkedin.com/

Someone over at LinkedIn spun one of those lunch-related ideas into something glorious for its food truck fans: an entire season of mobile food vendors for its employees to graze upon. Despite LinkedIn having opened a full-service café, when we visited their campus their roundabout was packed with people and plates.

While this is not the first case of a company inviting food trucks to offer food options for their employees, it’s just another sign that the mobile food industry is continuing its expansion into the mainstream of American living. Any business or industrial park with large employee bases can and should be inviting food trucks to make weekly trips (or more often) to their buildings. Not only does this provide an upscale culinary option for staff, but it also builds bonds with local small businesses.

You can join in on food truck discussion over at LinkedIn at our Food Truck Revolution group <here>

0 619

Winter is beginning to creep in and many food truck owners in cold weather cities are beginning the process of transitioning their food truck business plans. As fewer people are willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes in line in near freezing temperatures, food truck vendors find that catering is the best way for them to continue with year round sales.

cool haus inside building

While listing that your truck offers catering services on marketing literature and the side of your truck are great first steps but getting consistent catering jobs takes a little more work.

A great way to do this is by getting your food into the minds and stomachs of local businesses by creating meetings with these business owners. Take a small sampling of some of your food truck menu along with you to give them a taste of what you’re capable of.

These freebies can make a huge difference when you are selling the catering side of your mobile food business. People are far more likely to remember you, especially when your food is delicious.

Building real relationships with businesses in your local area takes great salesmanship and effort. Be prepared to put the work in.

Here are a few ideas for local targets to personally network with and to deliver your food truck’s catering menu to:

  • Law offices – visit law offices and hand out your menu, as well as a coupon for a free meal. Invite the receptionist to sample your lunch catering menu. Legal teams are a great target market because of long depositions and late hours. There is often a need for catering in law offices throughout the day and evening.
  • Ad Agencies – like law offices, large ad agencies tend to work long hours when they have a campaign to work on. They often don’t want to break focus and regularly outside cater for corporate events.
  • Banks and financial offices – financial institutions represent a lot of workers who work closely together. Banking hours are often long and they have a definite need for outside catering. They are also big on corporate events and meetings.

We hope these suggestions help to expand your food truck’s catering business and your ties to your local community. If you have any additional suggestions to the types of businesses that are good for catering business, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.

0 529

Have you ever had a catering job client ask about how they can put their stamp on the event.? This question gives you the opportunity use your creative juices and opens the door to additional profits through up selling added features to your culinary presentation.

Chances are you have seen photo images on a cake before. Corporate logos for milestone celebrations. Favorite animated characters for birthday parties. If you have, then you’ve seen edible ink and how it can be used on culinary presentations.

edible paper cupcake
image from sweetsandsoirees.ca

To make edible transfers part of your food truck or catering repertoire you will need a few basic tools.

  • A computer.
  • A dedicated new ink jet printer (standard ink is toxic—you can’t use the printer you use to print out documents every day).
  • Edible rice paper. (made with rice starch, water and salt). The printable paper for cake decorating, known as wafer paper, is made of potato starch, vegetable oil and water.

Prices for these basics will vary but can normally be found at relatively low prices. New ink jet printers can be as inexpensive as $50, edible rice paper or wafer paper costs $19–$25 for a box of 100 8×11 sheets and edible ink cartridges are available for $65–$75.

Application

  1. Bake cookies/crackers for 3/4 of the usual baking time, then pull from oven and brush with an egg wash while still hot.
  2. Apply the rice or wafer paper you’ve printed onto the cookies/crackers immediately after you’ve brushed them with egg wash, then apply another coat of egg wash.
  3. Finish baking the cookies/crackers.
  4. The rice paper will be clear and plastic-like when dry.

Hints

  • Rice paper absorbs moisture, so store it in a sealed container or Cryovac after each use to keep dry.
  • Take the cartridges with food color ink out of the printer and seal in plastic bags when not it use. This will help keep the ink from drying out so you can use it longer.
  • You may want to ask the source of your edible paper which printer works best for their paper.
  • Get as many of the images you want to transfer as possible onto each edible sheet to save paper—and money.
  • Edible ink and papers can be purchased online.
  • Kosher edible paper and ink are available.

Edible frosting sheets can be printed with edible ink and then put onto a frosted item. The sheets leave the printed image in the frosting.

Whether social or corporate, your catering clients will love seeing their logo, monogram or photos on food items you prepare for them. To help use this technique for up selling, have a sample ready for your meeting with the client; it might be what it takes to give you a competitive edge.

Weddings, mitzvahs, grand openings, fund-raisers, birthdays; no matter what the catered occasion, this upsell is a perfect fit. And these edible delights can stand alone or complement any sweet or savory culinary creation, so let your imagination fly.

1 551

Food truck catering has become a valuable source of income for mobile food vendors. From private parties to wedding receptions, food truck owners have found a great way to endear themselves to the communities they operate in.

questions-to-ask

While many food truck owners find these types of catering events a great alternative to hitting the streets two or three times a day, five to six times a week, some we have spoken with have had issues with closing these deals and thus lose out on the opportunity altogether.

There always seems to be three plans of attack when it comes to meeting with the couples. The pitch planned before meeting the couple, the one that is actually made, and the one they wish they’d given afterwards.

Most truck owners have had the thought after sitting down with a party or bridal couple who is undecided or who never called back. Was it something we said? Or, perhaps, was it something that was left unsaid?

Today’s bridal couples are extremely knowledgeable. But most really need a lot of coaching from a food truck owner, so they can help them turn their dreams into reality. Most will agree that lots of couples come in, and when asked whether they’d like a buffet, seated-served or food stations, you often get a blank stare.

Great salespeople ask the right questions at the right time, keep their mouths shut, listen and take copious notes. That’s why they’re great and why they close more sales than other salespeople who start talking and never stop.

Here are 10 questions that you may want to ask while meeting with party or wedding couples and discussing proposals. Their answers to each of these questions will help you identify things that they will not tell you if you ask them directly – all you need to do is listen, and listen between the lines.

  1. What would you like to know about our food truck catering business?
  2. Why did you decide to meet with us?
  3. What is of high importance and what is of lesser importance for services such as food, venue, bar service, music, etc.?
  4. Are there particular areas that you would like to discuss today?
  5. What do you want your guests to say about your party or reception?
  6. In deciding which catering company to use, what’s most important to you?
  7. What aspects do you like about us, our business and our proposal? I sense that you have some hesitation. Can you help me to understand what is behind that?
  8. What aspects concern you?
  9. Who will be making the final catering decision? Is there anyone else who I need to meet with?
  10. From your perspective, what is the next step?

Obviously, there are hundreds of additional questions, but these are great starters, and we guarantee if begin asking your prospective clients and listen intently (and between the lines), you will considerably improve your closing percentages.

1 567

The guests have been invited and the RSVP’s have returned. Now that your food truck catering client has a final head count and knows how many guests to expect, how do you know much food do you need to order to satisfy their needs?

einstein counting on fingers

This is a common question and is worthy of some consideration. No caterer ever wants to be in the embarrassing situation of having run out of food. Neither is it good to over-order, over-pay, and have to dispose of any leftovers.

Preparing Properly

There are many factors that should be looked at when deciding on the right amount of food for your food truck catering event. Of course, first you must know the number of people attending. However, the length of the event is also very important, as is the type of event and the type of food you plan to serve.

For example, an evening cocktail party requires considerably less food than an entire afternoon or all-day event. The longer guests remain, the more they’ll consume. It’s funny, but over time people get hungry and thirsty over and over again.

When estimating, always round up to be on the safe side. Some will eat more, others less. It will all balance out in the end. Try to anticipate which foods/drinks are most popular and will disappear quickly. Order more of these selections.

Keep in mind that having a myriad of different food options means that you should serve them in smaller portions than you normally serve to your regular food truck customers. People will want to try a little of everything, so you can offer bite-sized portions to give them the ability to taste your entire menu.

Rule of Thumb Catering Guidelines for Every Food Truck Catering Event

Appetizers:

  • If you’re working an evening function with no dinner, plan on at least 10 – 15 pieces per person. Round up, especially if it’s going to be served buffet style, as people tend to eat more than if a tray is passed.
  • If you’re serving pre-dinner appetizers, plan on 3 – 5 pieces per person, and choose lighter food options, as dinner will follow.
  • If you’re catering a mid-day function with a meal following, offer 1 – 3 pieces per person.
  • Beverages:
  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person, with coffee drinkers consuming on average one cup every 1 – 3 hours.

Breakfast:

  • People usually drink 2 beverages on average – either juice, coffee, tea, etc.
  • Plan on a main entree per person, along with two sides, including bread. Fruit makes an excellent breakfast dessert. Estimate about 3 – 5 pieces of cut fruit per person, or one cup or less of fruit salad.
  • If you’re serving pastries only, plan on 2 pieces per person.

Lunch:

  • For hors d’oeuvres, plan on 2 – 4 per person.
  • Offer a main entree with 2 – 3 sides, including a starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks, including pop, beer, lemon water, etc.
  • If you’re having sandwiches, allow for 1 -2 per person.

Dinner:

  • Have 3 – 5 hors d’oeuvres per person, depending on the number of courses.
  • Plan on a main entree and 2 – 3 sides, either veggies, beans, pasta, etc.
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.

Desserts:

  • Plan on 1 – 3 servings per person.
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart or pastry, or 4 oz. of a creamy dessert, i.e. mousse. If you have a large variety, serve smaller portions.
  • Coffee consumption peeks after dessert is served.

We hope this article helps the food truck owners who already cater or those interested in starting to cater events in your area. Catering for food truck owners is a great way to supplement your mobile food business during those times in which foot traffic in your area is slower.

1 363
Food Truck Catering Tips

As more and more food trucks are delving into catering to supplement their time while not on the streets, we have been inundated with more questions specific to this side of the business. There are many common mistakes beginner caters have run into over the years. We have collected a number of them and used them to create this handy list of tips to follow when taking the dive into food truck catering.

Food Truck Catering Tips

  • Never give anything away for free. If you give something away for free, clients will always expect freebies. Just as you train your food truck staff to behave in a certain manner you must train your clients to pay for your services and value your talent. You can give a discount for a charitable event, but make sure you cover all your costs as well as your time.
  • Get paid up front. Always request a 50 percent (minimum) deposit before you start working on a job. This will give you enough money to pay for the food needed for the event.
  • The rule of 4. Quadruple your food cost to determine a base price for a client if you need to give an estimate off the top of your head.
  • Bring a contract. Always put in writing what you’re going to do for a client and what the client is going to do for you. Never rely on a verbal agreement.
  • You must expect surprises. Be ready for unexpected things to go wrong at a moment’s notice, and be able to handle it with split-second decision making.
  • Staffing is key. Hire fantastic staff that will work hard with you and not allow you to fail. They must be ready and willing to walk through fire with you.
  • Why so serious? Have a sense of humor and use it often.
  • Catering is not easy. Be ready for some intense manual labor.
  • Know when to say no. In order to protect your reputation, you have to know your limits. Saying no to something that you aren’t equipped or trained to do or turning down an event on a day when you’re already booked is better than doing it poorly.

These tips will become ingrained in your memory after you start catering and gain experience. For now, it’s helpful to have a list to refer to.

If you have any additional tips you would be willing to share with our readers, do not hesitate to share them in the comment section below.

1 681

Food Truck Catering

With catering becoming a common value added service that food truck owners are providing their local areas, it is very important to make sure you have a legal document in place to protect yourself and your clients. A catering proposal is the quote – given by the caterer to the client – that outlines the services, food and beverages that will be provided for an event as well as the cost of each service and menu item. The proposal usually also doubles as a contract: if the client is happy with it and wants to contract you as their caterer, they will sign it at the bottom and give their payment information. For the most professional-looking proposal, use your catering company’s letterhead.

In order to create a catering proposal, you will have to outline everything you will provide to your client with a price attached to each piece, as well as a grand total price quote for the entire event. There is no specific order that you have to use to present your catering proposal. However, it is recommended that you use a certain organization to make the proposal less confusing to your client. Try setting up your quote in the following manner.

Cover Letter & General Information

This section of the quote introduces your proposal in a polite and professional manner and sets down the basics so that you and your client can better understand the costs that the event will incur. While you should not include any of the pricing on this page, getting the basics out of the way now will allow you to explain additional fees or costs incurred due to date, location and other factors. Your cover letter should include all of the following general information for the event:

  • Type of event. Whether it is a fancy event or a casual one will influence the kind of services you provide and the costs of catering. A wedding with a full-service buffet will usually cost more than a casual picnic with only food drop-off service.
  • Date of the event. This will actually have an impact on the final cost. For example, because demand for catering services varies from season to season, an event that takes place near the holidays will likely have a higher cost than events that take place during other parts of the year.
  • Time of the event. An event that requires the caterer’s time for three hours will be more expensive than one that requires only two hours of the caterer’s time.
  • Venue location. If the venue is farther away, you may have to add additional fees for delivery and gas costs.
  • Minimum guaranteed guest count. It is standard to request that your client give you a guaranteed guest count. The pricing is based on that guest count. That way, you will not over-prepare for the event and lose money if fewer guests show up. You should still bring 10% extra just in case guests consume more than expected or more guests show up. If you serve more people than the guaranteed guest count, you can still charge for each additional guest. 

Menu and Menu Pricing

The next item on your quote should be the event menu. When pricing the food and drinks, you will want to include the following information:

  • List of menu items
  • Cost per person or per platter for each item
  • Total cost for each item
  • Total costs for the whole menu

In addition, in this part of the quote you should also include the price of the added costs incurred for the food, such as chafing dish rental, cost of disposable utensils and dinnerware, cake cutting costs, etc. Make sure to explain each food-related fee, or it will look like you are overcharging.

Additional Fees

In catering contracts, there are often additional fees not related to the food. Try to charge for as few added fees as possible, even if it means increasing your menu pricing. For the fees you do charge, you must charge a fair price and offer a full explanation of each service and why it is needed, either on the proposal or directly to your client. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to have it look like you are charging for nothing. In fact, many caterers only use custom quoting. That way they have the option of simply adding the fee to their menu pricing so it looks like there are no suspicious fees.

Generally, additional fees can include any or all of the following:

  • Labor costs. Make it very clear exactly what you are charging for. List the number of staff needed for each task, such as servers, bartenders (if your catering license allows), and on-site chefs. If your staff works longer than expected, you should already have a clear formula to determine the additional charge. Use the following equation to determine your labor costs:

Duration of the Event (in hours) x # of Staff Needed x Hourly Wage

  • For example, if you need 4 staff to service a 3-hour event, and you pay them $11.50 per hour, your labor costs would be 3 x 4 x 11.50, or $138.
  • Delivery fee. Some caterers include a delivery fee that is standard on all of their contracts. As an alternative to a standard fee, you may only want to charge extra for delivery if your client wants you to cater an event that is far away.
  • Operations charge. Some caterers charge an operating charge for every client, either as a replacement for other charges or in addition. This is usually used to cover the overhead, equipment costs, preparation costs and other additional costs incurred. Be sure to fully explain this fee to your client.
  • Event planning fees. If you helped your client plan the event or spent extra time to assist them in contracting with florists, photographers and DJs, you may want to charge an additional fee to cover the time and effort you spent planning the event.

The Final Quote

When you are done creating each part of your catering proposal, add all of the charges up to determine the final quote. On the final page, list the total charge for each part of your proposal, then add them all up to determine the grand total. That way, the client can clearly see exactly what they are paying for each part of the catering contract.

It is imperative that you assess the final quote to ensure that you are making money on the event. For a catering business, after all expenses for an event are subtracted, typical profits from an event can be as much as 30% of revenue for large events and up to 50% for small functions. After overhead and other costs are subtracted, you can expect to make 20%-30% profit margin.

Catering Policies and Contract

This section of the proposal lists the caterer’s policies and covers all of the following:

  • Guaranteed Minimum Guest Count. If fewer guests show up than are guaranteed, the caterer still gets paid according to this guaranteed guest count. If more guests show up, you should reserve the right to charge a fair price for the additional services, labor, food and drinks required.
  • Guaranteed Time Duration. This is the client’s estimated time during which the caterer’s food and services will be needed. If the caterer’s services are needed for less time, the caterer still receives payment based on the guaranteed time duration. If your services are needed for a longer duration than expected, you should reserve the right to charge more for additional labor and services.
  • Deposit. It is standard to charge a 50% deposit upon the signing of the contract, when the caterer’s service is booked or contracted.
  • Cancellation Policies. Be sure to list the policies on cancellation and refund of the deposit. It is standard to refund the entire deposit if the client cancels within a month before the event, 50% of the deposit if the client cancels within 11 to 30 days before the event, and none of the deposit if the caterer is notified of cancellation less than 10 days before the event.
  • Terms. Be sure to spell out the terms for payment of the final costs after the deposit. Typically, caterers request this payment on or before the 5th business day after the event. However, to be fair to the client, you may want to give them more leeway, such as 20 business days, to pay for any additional costs due to extra guests or unexpected labor or services required.
  • Booking and payment. At the bottom of the final page, include an area where clients can fill in their payment information and sign to contract the caterer. This will serve as a binding legal contract for your services.

 

best food truck graphic ad
Give-Network-Ad 3