“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand
Running a food truck has a lot of challenges; dealing with the competition and staying competitive is one of the biggest ones.
Food trucks exist in markets around the world, and what makes them stay competitive depends on their market’s conditions. However, there are some general rules of thumb can help food trucks focus on efficiency and maintain relevance to the customers in their markets.
Whenever consumer spending is slowing down, you need to defend your food truck’s market position and maintain your competitive edge.
You have to always remember, diners don’t have to walk up to your mobile food business – they could always go to another food truck or head into a local restaurant.
You need to remain mindful of this and do all you can to remain competitive. Here are some points to bear in mind:
Food trucks are all the rage right now. You’d be hard-pressed to find a major metro area without a these popular nomadic restaurants. Some have written off the mobile food industry’s success as a fad, but the industry has steadily gained popularity across the US. According to Emergent Research, food trucks will generate roughly $2.7 billion in revenue by 2017. That will be a fourfold increase from 2012! Although food trucks only make up 1% of restaurant sales, growth is in sight.
With all that being said, the mere fact of owning a food truck does not guarantee success. Creativity is one of the most important keys to success, but marketing yourself in a big city can be challenging. Food trucks are popular and often times you’ll notice several food trucks grouped together offering a variety of options. But how can a single food truck, or a certain location of several food trucks, stand out from the others? Well, there is a simple, viable option. What is it?
Yes, cell phone charging stations. Charging stations provide customers with a new, unique experience that offers several benefits to any business. Let’s see what the benefits of providing a phone charging station can bring to your food truck.
Every business loves its regular customers. They are loyal, they frequently buy your products, and they tell their friends about your business. A relationship is formed. As this relationship builds, the loyal customers often stay for longer periods of time, buying more from you. If a food truck provided a cell phone charging station for its customers, it will help build that relationship a bit quicker. Not everyone will become brand loyal, but it’ll be easier to keep customers at your food truck for a longer period of time. Customers could charge their phones while they wait for their food and while they eat. If they have an unreasonably low battery, they may stay for a good period of time – perhaps tempted to order more.
A great big logo and design plastered on the side of a food truck is great, but keep in mind there are additional ways to build brand awareness. Some businesses, such as Kwikboost, offer custom phone charging stations that provide additional offerings for self-promotion. The design could include your specials, your menu, your daily schedule, a QR code linking customers to a coupon off their next order, etc. There are tons of possibilities and creating a custom design will encourage people to use the charging station.
Create a place where people can socialize with one another. You could put a charging station on the side of your truck, or provide a table with integrated charging stations. This will attract multiple groups of people to one location. It’s also great for city newcomers–they could use the station and have an easy conversation starter with a fellow customer.
Promotion is difficult. Some food trucks struggle to obtain natural media and PR coverage in comparison to others. An easy way to build hype and attract local attention is by providing a unique service that no one else offers. A phone charging station is just that. Offering eight people the ability to charge their phones, while they eat in a popular public area, is a great way to get local coverage.
A group of food trucks could all pitch in together and provide charging stations collectively. This will help bring more foot traffic to their area, but not call attention to one individual truck. Rather, it will benefit the group. But if this isn’t an option, or not everyone agrees to it, one specific truck could offer a charging station, giving them the opportunity to stand out from the group. This a great way to entice those indecisive customers to your food truck as opposed to the neighboring competition.
JACKSON, WY – The Jackson Town Council will consider today whether food trucks should be allowed within town limits.
Town rules do not specifically prohibit food trucks, but Jackson’s municipal code and land development regulations make such operations “likely unfeasible,” a staff report prepared for the meeting said.
The town has received a handful of inquiries about allowing mobile food units in the past. The most recent was during a December council meeting when Gabe Aufderheide, owner of Gourmet Mountain Dogs, asked during general public comment whether the town would look into allowing them.
The council will discuss the issue at a 3 p.m. workshop today at Town Hall.
Aufderheide operates his business during the summer only, catering events in and out of the valley. He and a business partner have a mobile unit outfitted for the job.
“We know that this is a topic that has a lot of room for growth if this is something that the town wants to consider,” Aufderheide said at the December meeting.
Mayor Mark Barron and other councilors had concerns that food trucks would compete with restaurants that have more significant overhead cost burdens. Food trucks, for example, don’t have to provide parking and connect to municipal water and sewer lines.
“It’s not a level playing field,” Barron said at the meeting.
Still, the council will discuss the issue at the meeting today.
Others have pointed out that larger cities recently have made moves to allow food trucks, which have rapidly grown in popularity.
Find the entire article at jhnewsandguide.com <here>
“Realistically, we (food trucks) are competing with brown paper bags, not restaurants.” – Peter Cimino
Over the last four years we have continually covered stories of restaurant owners that have lobbied their local politicians to try and rid themselves of competition. Some have been unsuccessful however far too many have found friends in their local city councils and kept food trucks at bay. Yesterday, Daniel J Smith of investors.com used the mobile food industry as an example of how crony capitalism not only hurts our economy but also consumers.
This crony economy — when politicians choose which businesses get special breaks and benefits — is a tragedy for economic freedom and the well-being of businesses and consumers alike. Not only does this system create an unfair playing field, but it also erodes the quality and choice of products and services available to consumers.
Consider the food truck industry that has sprouted up and thrived in many U.S. cities. Culinary entrepreneurs have recognized food trucks as a way to test their ideas among the public without the high cost and risk that come with running a brick-and-mortar restaurant. From burritos and kabobs to cupcakes and doughnuts, the public welcomes the opportunity to try new foods at affordable prices from these mobile kitchens.
But not everyone welcomes choice into their neighborhoods. Threatened by the competition, restaurants have worked successfully with many local governments to regulate food trucks out of business.
In our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., regulations were proposed earlier this year to limit food trucks’ ability to operate and serve customers. Before the changes even went into place, several food truck owners recognized that they wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in business and decided to close up shop.
It is cronies who win in situations like this, while customers and entrepreneurs lose.
For a food truck to be successful, it needs to have unique features that set it apart from the competition. It could be a special dish, unique services, perks or anything else that you offer and nobody else does. However, you should not get complacent after you have hit upon and implemented a few unique features. Remember, copycat competitors are never too far away.
Although unethical, some of your competitors do not hesitate to copy your special features for their own food truck business. How do you tackle them?
Of course, copyrighting your products and services does help. If copycat competitors do copy even one of you copyrighted features, you can sue and demand that they stop using your copyright ideas.
However, if you consider this action from business point of view, it seems very counterproductive. First off, most food truck owners do not have the disposable income to hire an attorney to represent you in court, but even if you do, you end up spending a lot of resources and time for the court proceedings and your food truck will suffer.
Moreover, if several food trucks copy from you, it becomes rather cumbersome to sue every one of them. A better alternative is to tackle them out of court. What’s more, you can even benefit from the situation.
The innovator is always the best placed to improve on a product or service because he developed the whole thing. If you serve a unique dish, you know the little secrets that make it so popular. Ensure that you maintain the highest quality of ingredients and service from your truck. Do not let the competition scare you and do not try to cut costs by reducing quality.
When you offer something unique in your mobile food business, you build a brand. When copycat competitors emerge, use your brand value to overcome them. Market your brand aggressively. In every social media platform you publish on, make a subtle mention of the fact that you were the first to offer a particular service. The word “first” always has a special impact because people prefer originals over imitations.
Study the competition. What are the loopholes in that business? Analyze such things and make sure that your mobile food business comes up with excellent services in those areas.
People visit your food truck not just for one particular service or dish but for the overall experience they get out of the visit. So, enhance the quality of service you offer and ensure an excellent overall experience.
Do not be satiated with one unique offering at your food truck. The market will always keep shifting preferences. Research your market continuously, understand what the latest preferences of target audience are and offer those services.
Come up with new offerings regularly and stay a step ahead of copycat competitors.
Offer value to customers who visit your food truck or cart. Give out complementary goodies if customers order a dish that your competitor copied. Offer special discounts. Think of ways to add value to the experience your customers have when ordering from your truck’s service window.
Finally, when dealing with copycat competitors prevention is better than a cure.
So, protect the secrets of your food truck zealously. Make it a point never to leak secret ingredients, recipes and anything else that establishes your uniqueness in the market.
Copycat competitors are always “second comers”. They are not really a threat unless you drop the quality you offer. So, embrace the competition and grow with it.
Since food trucks appeared on the restaurant scene their perceivable threat to brick-and-mortar restaurants has been widely debated, and a recent survey conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company, finds that consumers replace a quick service restaurant (QSR) visit with a food truck visit.
The NPD foodservice market research survey, which addressed the awareness and practice of obtaining foods and beverages from food trucks, asked respondents where they would have obtained their meal or snack if not from the food truck, and about half of the consumers surveyed said they would have ordered from a fast food restaurant. Another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned.
The top reasons consumers gave for using food trucks related to availability of “interesting” foods and convenience, which are the traditional strengths of QSR outlets, according to NPD. Since the top foods typically offered by food trucks are hot sandwiches, Mexican foods, cold sandwiches, and soups, Mexican and sandwich QSR places may view food trucks as more direct competition than other restaurant categories. Dayparts are another way in which food trucks compete with QSR outlets since the trucks are primarily used for lunch and snacking, which is likely due to the specific location and the food/beverage/snack items offered, finds NPD.
Although quick service restaurants have more reason than full service operators to be concerned about the prevalence and location of food trucks, another finding of the survey is that while some consumers are regular users, many make purchases from food trucks only very occasionally. Over half of those aware of food trucks in their area say they purchase from them once every two to three months or less often. Further, ordinances and permits vary from city to city, with many municipalities placing considerable restrictions on location and food offerings. In certain parts of the country the weather and season also limit food truck availability outside of the spring/summer months.
“For now at least, food trucks need not be viewed as a threat to restaurant demand nationally,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “However, in markets with a developed food truck presence, QSR operators may wish to take note of the benefits food trucks offer, such as different and fresh food, especially as a means to build their snack business and/or protect lunch traffic.”
LONG BEACH, NY – A Long Beach plan to allow food trucks near the beach has some local restaurant owners gearing up for a summer of serving their treats curbside — and others fuming about the new four-wheeled competition.
The city, which relies heavily on its summer tourism season, is allowing eight food trucks to set up at the end of Riverside Boulevard on Tuesdays through Sundays from May 23 to Sept. 2 in a trial program. Officials are discussing the possibility of a second site on Mondays at Kennedy Plaza.
Local leaders hope the trucks will help lure beachgoers to Long Beach despite the absence of the city’s iconic boardwalk. The structure, destroyed by superstorm Sandy, will not be fully rebuilt until November.
Sean Sullivan, owner of popular Swingbellys BBQ, has a truck he uses at festivals and for catering. Being able to park it by the beach will allow him to stay in business while his Sandy-damaged restaurant is fixed, he said.
“My feeling is always the more people we bring down here, the better everybody does,” Sullivan said.
But Scott Buda, owner of the Red Mango frozen yogurt shop, said existing businesses without trucks could suffer from new, nimble competition. Business owners pouring money into rebuilding also lack money to buy a truck, he said.
Food trucks typically cost more than $20,000 to buy, operators said.
“It’s the equivalent of taking business away from the established businesses,” Buda said. “Then you say, is it really worth staying in business?”
Six of the eight food truck spots will have season-long occupants while the other two will rotate vendors, City Manager Jack Schnirman said. The food truck market — the city calls it “The Shoregasboard” — will be limited to existing local businesses unless there are extra spaces available, he said.
Find the entire article by Patrick Whittle at newsweek.com <here>
SACRAMENTO, CA – Who says restaurant chefs and food truck owners have to be bitter enemies? Sure, the politics surrounding the local mobile food truck scene can be a little thick, given the difficulties thus far in making current city ordinances more food truck friendly – and even some infighting within food truck owners themselves. An upcoming food competition and battle just may be the “We Are the World” moment that’s much needed.
$45 includes 10 samples of delicious food (2 by each team), one beer and one coffee, and delicious holiday appetizers served by Whole Foods. Live music by Four Barrel and a few more surprises!
Proceeds will go to the California Fire Foundation (The California Fire Foundation organizes special funds to provide emergency assistance and support to families and kids of fallen firefighters) and the Toys for Tots Foundation ( The mission of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is to assist the U. S. Marine Corps in providing a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children at Christmas)