“A food truck is a great way for a young chef to get their food and business out there to FOCUS on the food.” – Rick Bayless
“A food truck is a great way for a young chef to get their food and business out there to FOCUS on the food.” – Rick Bayless
The email may start off with a simple “Hi!” or perhaps, “Dear Sir or Madam.” It will then go on to promise that, “We can get your site on the 1st page of Google; for next to nothing!” Or maybe they’ll just explain just how bad your food truck’s website is in relationship to its search engine optimization.
Spotting The Junk
Fielding emails promising professional SEO services has become part of life of most website owners. In most cases it’s pretty easy to spot these sales techniques, but we’ve recently noticed that some are getting pretty sophisticated. In fact, I received one such email recently, so I thought it was a good opportunity to bring up these kinds of SEO “promises” to make sure you understand this recent change in internet marketing.
This article is for those of you that might be a little confused by these sales pitches or unsure if they might actually help your mobile food business. If you are like many of the vendors I speak with and don’t know much about SEO; what these marketers are pitching might sound pretty good, unfortunately you are exactly who they are trying to target.
Some of these messages are really obvious that you’re receiving a bulk email that actually has nothing to do with you. In other instances, the emails are actually quite clever and make it seem like someone actually did their research and did looked at what you’re site is doing online.
For someone to understand what tactics you need to correct to make inroads in SEO rankings, they would have to do a pretty in-depth amount of research about your food truck business. Not only would they need to know about your business but they would also need to research your competitors as well as the mobile food industry as a whole. And in all honesty, how can they begin to make any claims without ever talking with you?
How can anyone possibly “promise” anything when it comes to SEO? If someone guarantees you a spot in search rankings, they are lying. Any SEO professional worth their salt is going to promise you one thing…that they can’t promise anything.
What you have to understand is that it is nearly impossible to guarantee anything in search engine rankings. An SEO consultant can certainly do their very best and can certainly give you an indication once they’ve done their research how much work they anticipate it will take for you to move up and then let you know about different opportunities.
But if they “promise” you anything, my suggestion is to run in the opposite direction. They either don’t have a clue what they are talking about or they employ tactics that “game” search engines using unethical, “black hat”, techniques. If that is the case, then it’s this point where you should probably sprint away.
Take Mobile Cuisine for example. Yes, we do use SEO tactics when developing the site and the content we produce, but it’s not one of our main business goals to get on page 1 for certain keywords. Sure, it would be awesome to show up on page 1 for “food truck” or “food trucks.” But trust us, it is virtually impossible.
We could devote every waking moment for the next month to this endeavor and probably not make much progress. Not only are we competing with other online food truck trade journals, but every single one of the thousands of food trucks in the country, the food truck associations as well as every company that supplies the food truck industry who has optimized their website for one of those keyword strings.
So we know when we get an email that promises number 1 page 1, it’s certainly a bald faced lie.
Some emails will offer you all types of SEO services. Some may even offer to link your site to more than 1,000 for just 5 bucks.
When it comes to SEO, your strategy and the process you implement is very important. If you haven’t done proper keyword research for your food truck website, all the link building in the world will get you nowhere. If you haven’t optimized your own site, there is no point in doing things offsite. You need to build your site as the foundation and then build up from there.
Some of the tactics being touted are actually outdated and could lead to negative placement of your site on search engines. Think it sucks when your site shows up on the 3rd or 4th page? How does being de-indexed from Google entirely sound? Google is constantly on the lookout for people gaming their algorithm, and a lot of what these SEO services are offering is exactly what could lead to Google banishment.
Search engine marketing tactics constantly change. Just because something being offered is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your mobile food business.
With that said, we always try to keep our readers informed on different scams that take place. We hope this article opens your eyes and keeps you from responding to some of the hucksters on the internet.
We want to know: How do you handle SEO for your food truck website? Have you ever used any of these inexpensive SEO services? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.
If you’re like most food truck owners, your business card has your title listed as CEO or owner, but you know that on any given day it could just as easily read executive chef, line cook, customer service, marketing manager, technology director, accountant…etc.
Food truck vendors don’t have the luxury of passing duties off to a group of department heads. The success of your mobile food business depends on your ability to wear all of the multiple hats needed to keep the wheels of your business spinning. At times, the crazy pace needed to operate properly can turn even the most capable person into an overwhelmed culinary entrepreneur wearing far too many hats.
It’s this point that most will begin looking at hiring staff members to help with certain jobs on the truck. Before looking to bring on help, you should sit down and objectively assess your own strengths and weakness. What areas of your business do you love? Where do you need more discipline and development?
By identifying your areas of weakness, you can see where you could best get assistance from an employee. When hiring it’s always best to try to maximize your own strengths and fill in gaps for your weaknesses, rather than just hire for what you’d consider “lower wage” work.
With that said, at some time in the future your business is going to grow beyond your own abilities. This means you need to staff up the truck. While it may seem like a dream that you will be able to delegate some jobs, growth can bring its own set of problems:
When you own a food truck, it’s all too easy to get lost in the daily grind inside your truck and put off strategic, long-term planning. If you find yourself in this situation, you’ll need to dedicate time in your calendar each week to consider your business and market trends, think about potential opportunities and do some long-term positioning.
The majority of food truck owners will always wear and point out that they wear too many hats. Make sure these multiple hats are helping more than they are hurting your mobile food business.
CHARLOTTE, NC - Charlotte food truck vendors are protesting proposed city regulations that they say would hurt their industry, which has grown increasingly popular in recent years.
One of the possible changes they’re most concerned about is a rule that would prevent food trucks from operating within 100 feet of a restaurant, nightclub or bar – which would make uptown operations a challenge. They also would face tougher restrictions in residential areas.
Some of the rules under consideration are designed to make it easier for the vendors, including new permitting requirements.
“I don’t think they’re intentionally trying to harm food trucks by any stretch of the imagination,” said David Stuck, who co-founded The Tin Kitchen, a food truck and catering company, in 2012. “But I do think they don’t understand what it is we do.”
There are more than 60 food trucks operating in Charlotte, offering everything from cupcakes to fajitas to grilled cheese, and employing hundreds. More than a dozen consistently gather for weekly Food Truck Friday in South End.
The owners say they got involved in a citizen advisory group hoping that their input would help the city understand what food truck operators need to thrive. But a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department draft proposal wasn’t what they expected.
Planning Manager Katrina Young, who’s been leading the citizen advisory meetings, says nothing in the proposed draft is permanent and that it’s meant to open a dialogue.
Many food trucks work with local craft breweries that don’t serve food, which is mutually beneficial. That wouldn’t be allowed under the proposal, but Young said that may need to be re-evaluated.
Also at risk would be bringing food trucks to events such as birthday parties and weddings in residential areas. A number of food trucks, including Stuck’s Tin Kitchen, get nearly half their business from such events.
Operators, fearing that proposed changes could permanently alter their business models, are responding with an online petition posted to the newly formed Charlotte Food Truck Association’s website – www. charlottefoodtrucks.org.
If you love traveling and bringing happiness to people through food, then you’ve probably started dreaming of having your own successful food truck. Essentially a restaurant on wheels, a food truck offers mobility and flexibility—two essentials in today’s cut throat food industry. Such fierce competition means that you’ll have to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. Start with your logo. After all, that’ll be the first thing your customers will see.
Think of the outside of your food truck as a blank canvas. What kind of message do you wish to convey to passerbys? Be creative and consider the personality you want to express to your customers. If you’re serving up experimental cuisine you’ll have more freedom with your design choices. On the other hand, if your food truck serves traditional American food, you’ll want your food truck logo to be bold but simple.
Another consideration to keep in mind is your business’ brand and mission. If you’re striving for over the top, like Fojol Brothers—“a traveling culinary carnival” known for its costume-wearing employees and imaginative food options—then an equally zany logo will fit the bill. If you consider your brand to be “luxurious, fine dining food truck” (yes, there is such a thing), then a classier logo is the answer. Miho Gastrotruck is a perfect example of how a simple, fine dining food truck logo can also be eye-catching.
Now that you’ve decided on your food truck’s personality, how do you go about actually creating a logo based on it? Designing a logo is easy, but designing a memorable, original one is not. Consider hiring a graphic designer if Photoshop intimidates you. If not, read on.
Your food truck’s name should always be the main star. Otherwise, what good is a logo if your customers don’t know the name of your business? Start by choosing a font that (again) goes along with your theme. Dafont.com is a great resource when searching for fonts by theme. Once you’ve done that, you can begin thinking about color, images and placement.
For this part, you’ll really need to hone in on your artistic abilities. Start your design by going with what feels right. You can always go back and edit things before deciding on the final version. Use a site like Colrd.com to find a color scheme that speaks to you. When deciding on an image, you can look at other food truck logos for inspiration. The Peached Tortilla, for example, has a logo that incorporates an image of a peach and creates a continuous theme with the company name that will be memorable to the customer.
As far as placement of images and text goes, consider the size and shape of your food truck. Imagine what your end design will look like placed on the side of your mobile restaurant. The last thing you want is to come up with a design that won’t transfer into the real world well.
Once you’re happy with how your logo design turned out, you’ll still need to figure out how it looks at various sizes. Sure, your logo looks great on your truck, but how does it convert when used in smaller applications?
When your techie customers try to check-in to Foursquare or Yelp from your food truck location, make sure they’ll be greeted with a logo that is optimized for smaller screens. You want to come across as a business that is trendy and in the know. Taking this extra step will ensure this.
CULLMAN, AL - From his perch in south Cullman at the corner of Lowe’s parking lot, Duane Coucke has spent the past year carving out his own niche in the burgeoning local food truck business.
As owner of Dewey’s Cajun Shack, he spent the early days making stops at a few different locations but has now settled in permanently at Lowe’s thanks to an agreement with the company and a steady stream of south side patrons in search of po’ boys and seafood plates.
With the City of Cullman now eyeing its first-ever food truck ordinance to establish some ground rules for the upstart vendors within the city, Coucke said he’s interested to see how the proposal works and the impact it could have to grow — or hurt — the industry.
“The food truck business is alive and well in larger metros, and it’s something that gives people a chance to experience other cultures through food,” he said. “That part, I think, is really good for Cullman. It’s a great thing if you’re able to get somebody in who is authentic Cajun or Mexican or Italian food. Sometimes you can have some people with great ideas who can really give the people of Cullman something different.”
After watching nearby cities like Birmingham run into headaches with the finer points of their ordinances in recent months, city leaders say they’re looking at several food truck guidelines to draft an ordinance that takes the better elements from regional cities to hopefully create a market that will benefit business owners and residents alike.
“We’re really just having an open discussion to see which ideas will work and what doesn’t so we can try to come up with a system that’s really fair,” city council member Clint Hollingsworth said. “Figuring out the locations will be critical, and finding ways to avoid traffic and safety issues.”
The council introduced a draft of the “Cullman Mobile Food Vendors Ordinance” earlier this week but tabled it to allow some additional tweaks before it is formally introduced for consideration.
A handful of food trucks are already operating successfully in Cullman, and Hollingsworth said the plans for a formal ordinance were born out of requests from potential vendors wanting more information about the area before they commit to launch a truck or expand service to the city.
“We’ve had people come to us who are in the business and those looking to invest in it, so it’s something we wanted to look at,” he said.
If executed well, Hollingsworth said he believes a formal ordinance — and hopefully the vendors it might bring — could be a worthwhile addition to downtown.
Find the entire article at cullmantimes.com <here>
ELYRIA, OH - A chef on wheels rolls to a location and serves food from a mobile kitchen.
The food truck craze has hit Elyria.
For the second Thursday this month, Todd Berry set up in downtown Elyria with his Krav food truck to serve up one of five signature dishes to an eager lunch crowd. On this particular day, a spot near Elyria City Hall was the locale of choice. The menu consisted of a popular Korean barbeque pork loin with a kimchi Asian slaw and smashed avocados.
The prepared-fresh meal stood up well against the others — a Philly cheese steak, lamb or chicken gyro, veggie pita and grilled barbeque chicken thighs.
“It’s a good menu of flavorful food that we can prepare right here on the truck,” Berry said in between quickly assembling meals for a growing crowd of customers. “We have to do everything on the truck, prep and cook on the truck.”
Brick and mortar restaurants don’t have the luxury of picking up and relocating to where the business is best — Berry works in Lorain, Avon, Avon Lake and Vermilion.
Watching customers line the street a stone’s throw from where she has served food for years was a hard pill to swallow for Donna Dove, owner of Donna’s Diner.
“I don’t know why they would do that when we are having a hard time as it is,” she said. “If they were to move in every day, it would be one thing. It would be a constant draw to downtown that helps everyone. But once a week just brings people in, takes their money and then they leave.”
Dove said there was a noticeable difference in her Thursday sales, especially lunch deliveries. But instead of protesting, she said she plans to fight back.
“If they want to park their truck, then I will get my grill out,” she said. “Once people have my $5 roast beef sandwich with peppers and onions, they will want to know why they have never had it before.”
Find the entire article at northcoastnow.com <here>
“Food trucks often serve as incubators for new brick-and-mortar restaurants.” – Bert Gall
I often hear that the pressure of owning a food truck business can be overwhelming, and while everyone is entitled to a life, a vacation and some down time, too much of a good thing can be bad. Despite the fact that you have a great concept, park in prime locations and a mouth-watering menu, when a food truck owner is not around to protect and watch over their investment, not only does the business suffer, but the employees do, too.
You might have a great team, but if you do not have a willingness to mentor, if you are rarely in the truck to observe, provide direction, motivate and teach that team, then how do you expect them to help grow your mobile food business?
No one likes or works well under a micro-manager, but a food truck cannot survive for long with an absentee owner, you must find a balance. There are plenty of outside forces that you have no control over, such as competition, bad publicity and increasing food prices. But what you can control is you.
Remember this simple business philosophy: If you take care of your business, the business will take care of you and if you take care of your employees, they will take care of you and your business.
If you are not focused on or devoted to your mobile food business, if you are not fully committed to the success of your food truck then your business will not be successful. If you are not able to handle the pressures and challenges that come with owning your own food truck, if you try to manage your truck and your employees from your home or office, and if you don’t spend time marketing and promoting your business, you will never be seen as an accomplished mobile food vendor.
As any successful vendor knows, owning a food truck is a huge commitment to long hours, working weekends and sometimes no time off for weeks at a time. If you’re looking for a nine-to-five job, owning a food truck is not for you.
From my years of covering the mobile food industry and speaking with some of the most successful food truck vendors, I have created this list of 10 factors that most often contribute to the ultimate success or failure of any new food truck.
What say you? While there are plenty of other issues new food truck owners will face, I felt that these 10 commandments are the top factors someone planning to start a food truck business needs to understand.