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Food Truck

cash control

Despite the continued increase of food trucks accepting credit cards (72% as per our poll last year), many food trucks still take in hundreds of dollars of cash each day.

Cash Control In Your Food Truck

To accept cash on your truck you also need to keep additional cash on board, specifically for for making change. Without a good cash control system in place, food truck vendors often find themselves wondering if all of this cash is finding its way to their bank account and eventually to their mobile food business’ bottom-line.

While, there are many best practices for cash control, one often overlooked practice is to keep a separate cash on hand account with a set amount and never mix it with cash receipts.

The cash on hand account typically consists of bills and change needed for the cash drawer, a backup change fund and optionally a separate petty cash fund. These funds must be kept separate from daily sales receipts and must be large enough for conducting business in between shifts or having to send an employee to make a bank run for additional change.

Whoever maintains the cash control in your food truck operation should be issued a fixed amount for their cash drawers prior to their shift. As additional change is needed the owner or manager simply exchanges larger bills from the cash drawer for change from the change fund, leaving the total amount of cash in the drawer and the change funds unchanged.

At the end of their shift the cashier separates the beginning cash drawer from the rest of the cash and the manager returns it to the safe for use on another shift. The cash receipts are then matched against the register report and added to the daily bank deposit.

Do you have any additional cash control tips you’d like to share with our readers? If so, please feel free to add them to the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck newsletter

Loyal customers love to keep up-to-date with their favorite food trucks. Mobile food vendors have the unique opportunity to communicate with their customers via newsletters. They show your customer base that care about your employees and customers to go above and beyond when it comes to communications.

First and foremost – decide whether you should implement a hard copy, email version, or both. You can use the same content across both of these platforms. Have in-house copies for customers to snag when leaving your service window. Ask loyal customers if they would prefer to receive an exclusive e-newsletter with special coupons or perks.

10 tips to creating an effective food truck newsletter for your customers:

Regular Communication

In order to be perceived as credible, you must communicate regularly and consistently. A monthly or bi-monthly newsletter is appropriate for most mobile food operations. You can adjust the quantity based on the amount of content you can generate without adding an extra element of work or stress to yourself. However, once you decide, do your best to keep true to your pattern of posting. Consumers prefer to know what to expect, so try your best to cater to their expectations.

Visually Pleasing

Add photographs of events, customers, chefs, or specials of the month. Also consider implementing snapshots of your Facebook or Twitter feeds highlighting customers’ positive feedback or a positive rave about a particular dish on the menu.

Be sure the layout is aesthetically pleasing as well. For branding purposes, utilize the food truck’s colors and logo. Find the perfect balance between content and photos. Content heavy pieces are less likely to be read than those that have a combination of both photos and writing.

Make it Easy to Digest

In addition to the layout being visually pleasing, break up text-heavy sections by utilizing bullet points of subheadings. The content should be readable, using average language and avoiding jargon.

If your readers are overwhelmed, they will bypass these sections, regardless of how rich or engaging the content may be.

Clickable Links

Make your newsletter as user friendly as possible by making your links clickable. For example, always have your Facebook or Twitter accounts linked on your e-newsletter.

Make sure you always add a link to your menu. If there is not enough space to upload photographs from an event, you can add a hyper linked keyword that directly links to an ancillary photo site, such as a Flickr account. If you have been featured on Mobile-Cuisine.com or a local blog, link to it.

Social Media Icons

Always include any social media platforms you are a member of, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and or Foursquare. Even if it is not an e-newsletter, add small icons that represent these sites along with the URL. They will remind your customers that you have a presence on these various social media platforms.

Probe them to interact with you by providing an incentive such as a check-in on Foursquare. For example, checking-in 5 times unlocks 10% off of your meal.

Add Boilerplate Info

Your food truck has a history, even if it be short and sweet. Give your mobile food business a little personality by adding a brief, but interesting background of your truck.

List Upcoming Events and Specials

Dedicate a section of your food truck newsletter – preferably the same location for consistency purposes – that lists upcoming events and the specials of the week or month if you have planned them out in advance.

If possible, include photos to entice customers to join you for the next special menu item or event. Spice up your descriptions and vary your content to keep readers engaged.

Include a “Spotlight” Section

Food truck customers love a human element to writing pieces. Make your star employees and customers feel special by adding a “Spotlight” section.

You can create a Q & A interview, feature article, biography or simply a “Getting to know____” to create a more humanized feel to your food truck newsletter.

Call-to-Action

As mentioned previously, give your readers a reason to not only read your article, but also go a step beyond. For example, if customers sign up for an e-newsletter, they will receive 5% off their next visit or a free meal on their birthday.

Add a hidden code to bring to your food truck for an exclusive deal only offered to those who read the newsletter.

Be Creative

Your customers are your brand ambassadors, so maximize your resources. If you have given them a reason to love your food truck, they will continue to be an advocate for you.
Ask them to forward the newsletter to a new friend and they will receive a free appetizer or dessert.

Customers love to be informed and feel as if they are a part of your family; therefore, the main purpose of your newsletter is to engage with your customers in a different way, while still leveraging it as a marketing ploy. Food truck newsletters are a fairly cost-effective and unique way to communicate with employees and customers alike.

Do you have anything else to add to this list that you include in your food truck newsletter? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck food cost

Outside the initial investment for your vehicle, food truck food cost is typically the highest reoccurring expense involved in the running of your mobile business.

In order to keep food cost percentage at a manageable rate, we have come up with a list of tips you can follow.

food truck food cost

8 Tips For Controlling Food Truck Food Cost

Keep an eye on your profits and losses: When you know what profits you are bringing in as well as the fixed expenses affecting your food truck, you can better evaluate your options and see where you can cut costs.

Conduct inventory consistently: Regular and thorough inventory counts will help you stay in control of your usage and the costs associated. This is especially important for high-cost items.

Price menu items properly: When you price your menu items reasonably, your customers will continue to pay you and you will make a profit on your products. (Keep an eye out on a future article on this topic)

Portion food correctly: Be sure to serve food in portions that doesn’t become wasted.  If you keep an eye on your trash receptacle, see if your customers are throwing away food they are too full to eat. If there tends to be a lot of food being discarded, you may be over-portioning your meals.

Rethink the garnish: Garnishes often consist of fancy fruits or layers of fresh lettuce which add visual appeal but are rarely eaten. Use less expensive food items or remove garnishes entirely to save on food costs.

Keep a record of all food waste: Use a waste chart to write down any foods that are made incorrectly, thrown away or spilled. Failing to record this “usage” will skew inventory reports and throw off your food cost percentage.

Be consistent with food purchases: Consistency with food purchases comes with time but can help you to anticipate expenses from week to week and keep your food costs steady.

Build a rapport with your suppliers: Once you are in business a while, your suppliers will get to know your regular food orders and you will become familiar with the cost of your purchased goods. Be sure you stay in communication with your suppliers in case of any problems with food quality or any issues with food prices.

We hope you found this article helpful, and if you have any additional suggestions for food truck food cost savings, please feel free to add them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck payroll

Running a food truck is a business model that usually requires more than one person. As a food truck owner, it will become quickly evident that you cannot run your mobile business on your own. Because of this, you will need to hire employees to assist you in your day to day food truck operation.

Unless you have come up with a way of hiring staff members without having to pay them, there are a few things that you are going to have to be aware of to legally hire these individuals. Many of these steps are required even if you are going to be a one person show, while others will become a requirement as soon as you plan to expand your staff from 1.

9 Steps To Setting Up Your Food Truck Payroll System

Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Before hiring employees, you need to get an employment identification number (EIN) from the IRS. The EIN is often referred to as an Employer Tax ID or as Form SS-4. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that IRS assigns in the following format: XX-XXXXXXX. The EIN is necessary for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS. In addition, the EIN is necessary when reporting information about your employees to state agencies. You can apply for an EIN online or contact the IRS directly.

Check Whether You Need State/Local IDs. Some state/local governments require businesses to obtain ID numbers in order to process taxes.

Independent Contractor or Employee – Know the Difference

Be clear on the distinction between an independent contractor and an employee. In legal terms, the line between the two is not always clear and it affects how you withhold income taxes, withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pay unemployment taxes. As required by law, You will need to withhold payroll taxes from your employees checks, FICA (Social Security), SWH (State Withholding), FWH (Federal Withholding), SDI (State Disability Tax), Medicare, and FUTA (Unemployment Insurance Tax).

Take Care of Employee Paperwork

New employees must fill out Federal Income Tax Withholding Form W-4. Your employee must complete the form and return it to you so that you can withhold the correct federal income tax from their pay.

Set a Pay Period

You may already have a manual process for this, but setting up a pay-period (whether monthly or bi-monthly) is sometimes determined by state law with most favoring bi-monthly payments. The IRS also requires that you withhold income tax for that time period even if your employee does not work the full period.

Carefully Document Your Employee Compensation Terms

As you set up payroll for your food truck employees, you’ll also want to consider how you handle paid time off (not a legal requirement), how you track employee hours, if and how you pay overtime, and other business variables.

Don’t forget that other employee compensation and business deductibles such as health plan premiums and retirement contributions will also need to be deducted from employee paychecks and paid to the appropriate organizations.

Choosing a Payroll System

Payroll administration requires an acute attention to detail and accuracy, so it’s worth doing some research to understand your options. Start by asking fellow business owners which method they use and if they have any tips for setting up and administering payroll.

Typically, your options for managing payroll include in-house or outsourced options. However, regardless of the option you choose, you — as the employer — are responsible for reporting and paying of all payroll taxes.

Running Payroll

Once you have all your forms and information collated, you can start running payroll. Depending on which payroll system you choose, you’ll either enter it yourself or give the information to your accountant.

Record Keeping

Federal and some state laws require that employers keep certain records for specified periods of time. For example, W-4 forms (on which employees indicate their tax withholding status) must be kept on file for all active employees and for three years after an employee is terminated.  You also need to keep W-2s, copies of filed tax forms, and dates and amounts of all tax deposits.

Report Payroll Taxes

There are several payroll tax reports that you are required to submit to the appropriate authorities on either a quarterly or annual basis. If you are in any way confused about your obligations, take a look at the IRS’s Employer’s Tax Guide, which provides some very clear guidance on all federal tax filing requirements. Visit your state tax agency for specific tax filing requirements for employers.

There are many payroll companies you can hire to do your taxes and file your reports. You can have your accountant do this for you or you can buy payroll software and do it yourself.

Please note that its always best to consult with your lawyer and/or account to help you get set up and to make sure you are in compliance with all laws and regulations.

If you have any additional tips to setting up a food truck payroll system, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Food Truck Grand Opening

As the mobile food industry grows a large number of culinary entrepreneurs are looking to enter the market. This is why you need to have an effective strategy in place to help put together a plan for your food truck grand opening.

By the time you launch your grand opening, you should have worked out all of the kinks and be ready to impress your customers. Planning for your food truck’s opening should take place over the course of several weeks.

Here is a quick list for planning a food truck grand opening:
Simple Menu

Develop a relatively simple menu to start off your food truck. As time goes by, you can add more selections, but keeping the menu simple in the beginning can help keep your supply costs down.

A simple menu also gives your chefs a chance to develop their cooking procedures in your truck’s kitchen. When you start to grow the menu, your chefs will be better able to expand on the processes they have created, and keep your mobile food business running smoothly

Review Paperwork

Review all of the paperwork associated with running your truck, such as employee forms, supplier agreements and work schedules to make sure everything is in order.

You should have at least two hard copies of this information. One in your office file and one set on board your truck. You don’t want to get tied up having to run home or to the office to get a document you need.

Set The Date

Set the grand opening date and begin to design some marketing material and how you plan advertise. Plan to start advertising at least two weeks before the opening day.

Unless you have an actual advertising budget, consider developing a social media strategy (for Twitter and Facebook) or put together a press release that you can get into the hands of local news organizations and food bloggers.

Consider making your opening day at a food truck event where you can tap into the popularity of the other trucks scheduled for the event.

Soft Opening

Open your food truck one or two weeks before the scheduled opening day in what the food service industry refers to as a soft opening. Start with a limited staff and very limited advertising.

The point of a soft opening is to work out any problems you may have in your mobile food business before the grand opening. You will be able to determine employee scheduling concerns, problems with suppliers, issues with the truck and kitchen equipment before your grand opening.

Correct any problems that surface during the soft opening, and begin to increase staff levels to accommodate your grand opening day.

Invite The Press

Invite local food and restaurant critics to your food truck once you begin grand opening advertising. If you time it right, you may be able to get a review that can accompany your official launch.

If you are planning a food truck grand opening, please feel free to send a press release to us at admin [at] mobile-cuisine [dot] com and we will share your story.

If you have any advice you’d give to new trucks getting ready for their own food truck grand opening, please feel free to share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

2015 Food Truck Burger Contest

The votes from the initial part of our polling for the 2015 food truck burger are in. Let your friends and family know that the final voting has begun.

We had great turnout for so many trucks across the country, it was difficult to narrow the field down to just ten…luckily we had a long weekend to tally the votes.

Here are the top 10 trucks for the 2015 Food Truck Burger Of The Year contest:

Bernie’s Burger Bus – Houston, TX

Bone Daddy’s – Boston, MA

Chef Toddzilla’s Mobile Cuisine – Roswell, NM

Culinerdy Cruzer – Sacramento, CA

Eat Me, Drink Me – Long Island, NY

Gilbo’s Grill – San Antonio, TX

Horseless Buggy Eatery – Dayton, OH

Lonestar Cheeseburger  Company – San Angelo, TX

Master Bacon – Charlotte, NC

Roaming Buffalo – Buffalo, NY

POLL CLOSED

This poll will close on Friday, February 6th , 2015 at 11:59 PM. The truck with the most votes from this poll will be declared our winner.

If you have any issues with submitting your vote (only 1 per IP address) please feel free to submit your vote to contest [at] mobile-cuisine [dot] com.

So spread the word, and help your favorite lay claim to the title of the 2015 Food Truck Burger of the Year.

Please note: From time to time our polling software gets the hiccups. If you run into a problem, please feel free to leave us a note in the comment section below, Tweet us or share it on our Facebook page.

vehicle city taco tattoo
Image Credit: Vehicle City Tacos

FLINT, MI - There’s a new type of truck rolling down the bricks of The Vehicle City. The owner of Vehicle City Tacos is certainly grabbing the attention of late-night snackers but he’s also leaving a more permanent impression on some patrons.

A passion for cooking and The Vehicle City has led Dan Moilanen to a new venture, his taco truck.

“We’re really starting to see an economic revitalization and really starting to see a vibrant downtown so I thought it’d be something really cool to see,” says Moilanen.

Word of the food truck is spreading on social media but Moilanen wanted to get the word out in a different way.

“People have been thrilled about our food and really excited about what we’re doing,” says Moilenan.

So he made a wager.

“It actually came from a place in Chicago called Hot Doug’s,” says Moilenan. “They had the same deal, if you got a tattoo of their logo and their name, you could get free hot dogs for life.”

But who has the same passion for both tacos and Flint?

“I thought it was kind of fun and I’ve been a big proponent of the tattoo culture,” says Moilenan.

Kris Kimber is taking his love for tacos to a whole nother level.

“I think it shows dedication in a lot of ways,” says Moilenan.

Kimber’s tattoo featuring Flint’s famous arches over a taco.

Find the entire article at minbcnews.com <here>

Buffalo TRUE BETHEL FOOD TRUCK

BUFFALO, NY - There are more then a dozen food trucks in Buffalo but one local church is adding a new spin all to help the hungry and homeless in our communities.

True Bethel Baptist Church and Pastor Darius Pridgen are rolling out a new project, a new food truck named the “Bread of Heaven”. “What will be different about this food truck then every other truck, as long as True Bethel owns it we will never sell food, only give away food to those in need”, said Pridgen.

Pridgen says he’s working through permits with the city and hopes to have the food truck on the road by next month. “We wanted to do something different”, said Pridgen. The project will work with the food pantry at the church but is also open to donations.

Find the original article at wkbw.com <here>

press kit

We were recently informed that more journalists and reporters prefer to use online press kits to gather research information on food trucks as opposed to the old style hard copy press kits.

Why? Because the Internet is a 24/7 operation and a busy reporter on deadline can jump online and cruise through an online press kit without having to wait for an overnight package or fax.

Many food truck owners are embracing this new form of media relations and have already created their own press kit.

Like your Web site, your online press kit should contain certain elements and be simple to navigate.

Do’s and Don’ts” for creating your own food truck online press kit:
Do’s:

Be easy to locate on your Website. This link should appear prominently in the site’s menu or on the home page. Reporters don’t have time to search for it.

Provide materials commonly used by the media. A general press kit usually contains background of the truck, FAQ, and profiles of key individuals or spokespeople.

This is what a reporter will want to see when they visit your online media room. The purpose of providing these common documents is to minimize any extra work a reporter will need to do to get what they need.

Other important items to include are high-resolution, digital photos, high-resolution digital logo graphics, and of course your press releases.

Include the media coverage you may have already received. When you or your truck has been covered by the media (preferably the favorable stuff), it will help to legitimize your business to show it off.

However, be careful about copyright issues when re-posting articles. If you or your truck has appeared in the media, use anything from audio clips, video clips, and links to the media outlets’ web site in your online media room’s “In the Press” page.

A simple email to the author or editor can work as verification for reprint permission.

Include media contact information. If the person handling your media relations is not an employee of the business, be sure that the contact info in the online media room directs reporters to the person who is.

If a reporter reaches out and their request is lost in cyberspace, chances are, they won’t come back.

Don’ts:

Combine info for both the public AND the media. Ideally, the information provided for the media should be separate from content intended for the public or consumers.

One reason is that it makes it more difficult for the media to find what it wants, and another is because it reduces your control over the info provided to the media.

Messaging is very important, and while it can sometimes vary for the public, it should always be consistent for the media – after all, your messaging is what they’re using to cover you with.

Require a reporter to make numerous requests for additional info. There are always going to be some things that you do not want to provide online on a constant basis.

This could include certain photos of you and your truck and even your logo. Feel free to say “please contact us for photos of our team and truck,” or “please contact us for a high resolution image of our logo.”

The point of your press kit is to provide the media with most of what it needs.

Be out of date. Update press kit materials as needed, and try to keep a current press release available – even if it wasn’t distributed on the wire or to reporters directly.

By keeping a timely supply of “news,” in your media room, it will be obvious to the media that it receives your attention.

Other Helpful Tips:

Use links – not e-mail attachments.  Media rooms with media libraries should allow you to upload your documents and create a URL to their location online, which you can provide to the media instead of an e-mail attachment.

When was the last time you opened an e-mail from a stranger that had an attachment?

Use a blog. Blogs are a great way to discuss your food truck or the mobile food industry and are often used by members of the media when researching for a story.

By following these tips and by putting yourself in the shoes of a journalist, you will be able to develop an online presence that is both informative and convenient.

Do this and you’ll meet the demands of the media and increase the likelihood of gaining editorial exposure for your food truck business.

Do you have a press kit for your food truck? We’d love to see them. Share the link in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

menu item naming

tip of the day

So this is the year you’re finally going to do it: lose a few pounds, increase the size of your mobile food empire, pay off your food truck loan balance, be a better boss. Whatever your goal is, right now you’re probably feeling motivated and determined to stay on course.

But the sad truth is, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks. To keep yours all year long (or as long as you want), follow these tips for crafting and carrying out these changes.

Focus on one resolution only. People are so gung-ho for change this time of the year that they often vow to follow through with multiple resolutions at once. Bad idea.

Committing to more than one thing is overwhelming; you only have so much willpower and energy to go around. So pick the one habit or behavior you truly want to tweak and make that your project for 2015.

Be specific. Resolutions like “I’m going to be healthier” or “I’m going to save a bunch of money” are certainly admirable, but these ambiguous objectives are nearly impossible to stick to.

On the other hand, “I’m going lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day” or “I’m going to put $100 dollars a month in my savings account” give you direction and a reasonable time frame to achieve your resolution. The more details and parameters you have, the easier it will be to reach your goal.

Make it a team effort. Telling your friends and family about your resolution offers two advantages: First, they’ll help protect you from potential setbacks…in other words, they won’t leave junk food around the house for you to eat in a weak moment. Also, because you won’t want disappoint the people rooting for you, you’ll try harder to adhere to your resolution.

Commit it to paper. Writing your goal down and keeping it in view–say, on a post-it note on your computer monitor or food truck dashboard–makes it feel official and tangible, and therefore you’ll be less likely to break it. Keep the wording short and focused; the clearer it is, the more motivating it will be.

Let yourself mess up once in a while. Changing behavior is truly hard work, so don’t allow a one-day sugar binge or couple of sneaked cigarettes leave you feeling demoralized and hopeless. If you get derailed, re-frame it as a learning experience and get right back on track.

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