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Food Trucks

cash reserves

Building a financial cushion (cash reserves) for your mobile food business is never easy. Experts say that businesses should have anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of income safely tucked away in the bank.

What Cash Reserves Mean For You

If your roaming bistro is grossing $10,000 per month, the mere thought of saving over $90,000 dollars in a savings account will either have you collapsing from fits of laughter or from the paralyzing panic that has just set in.

What may be a nice well-advised idea in theory can easily be tossed right out the window when you’re just barely making payroll each month. So how is a food truck owner to even begin a prudent savings program for building cash reserves and long-term success in the mobile food industry?

Realizing that your food truck business needs a cash reserves – savings plan is the first step toward better management of it.

The reasons for growing a financial nest egg are strong. Building cash reserves allows you to plan for future growth in your food truck empire and have the capital necessary to launch those plans when the time is right. Having a source of back-up income can also carry a business through the slow times of the year, especially for food trucks that operate in regions of the country with severe weather.

When market fluctuations, such as the dramatic increase in gasoline and food prices, start to affect your bottom line, you may need to dip into your cash reserves to keep operations running smoothly until the difficulties pass. Try to remember that you didn’t build your business overnight and you cannot build a savings account instantly either.

Review your financials monthly to see where you can trim expenses and reroute any savings to a separate cash reserves account. This will also help to keep you on track with cash flow and other financial issues. While it can be quite alarming to see your cash flowing outward with seemingly no end in sight, it’s better to see it happening and put corrective measures into place, rather than discovering your food truck’s losses five or six months too late.

What is your food truck cash reserves plan? We’d love to hear how you built it or if you started with it and keep it growing. You can share your thoughts via email, Facebook or Twitter.

press release

A press release is all about creating publicity for your food truck business. The more publicity work you do for your truck the more your business will get recognized throughout your local area and may even lead to more customers walking up to your service window.

If you’ve never produced a press release for your mobile food business writing an effective one can be easier said than done. Follow these simple guidelines to start on the path to successfully promoting your mobile food business.

Three steps to creating a first-class food truck press release
Know the purpose of your press release

A food truck press release serves to market your mobile food business in a “newsy” format, and it is one of the best ways to distribute information about your food truck.

Before you begin writing, you must decide on your main objective.

  • Is there a big event you are trying to promote?
  • Have you released a new menu for your truck?
  • Have you increased the size of your food truck fleet and want the public to know about it?

Make sure that whatever you write about is of interest and importance to the public. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to get your information out.

Follow the correct format

There is a correct format to follow when writing a press release. If you don’t follow it, your work will convey the message that you are unprofessional and that your work should not be taken seriously.

  • Include a catchy headline that conveys the reason you are writing. For some services it’s necessary to include a brief, italicized summary of the copy underneath the headline.
  • Include today’s date and the date you would like for the information to be released.
  • When you are ready to write the body, make sure to include a powerful lead and several paragraphs with all pertinent information. Quotes add credibility to your writing and make a strong statement.
  • Conclude your press release with a concise paragraph about your company – this is called a boilerplate – and be sure to include your contact information. The end of your press release is signified by typing “###” or “-30-” a few lines below your text.

Note: If your copy is more than two pages, write “-more-” at the bottom of the first page.

Include the right information

The most important thing to remember when writing a press release is to write it in a “news” style tone. Consult an AP or Chicago Style manual is you are not familiar with the standard conventions for abbreviations and punctuation. As stated above, a strong lead should give the reader a reason to want to keep reading, and the following copy should be factual evidence that supports the subject of your press release. Many times, newspapers will publish portions of your press release without revising or rewording anything as long as your copy is clear and free of errors. Write a press release that is newsworthy, relevant, and interesting, and you will be on your way to publication in no time.

Once your press release is complete, it’s time to start feeding it to the media. This can be done by yourself, but it may take you a little time to research the media outlets that would best fit your information. Local newspapers will be your best bet as they are typically willing to help spread the word about the mobile food industry in their local news or culinary lifestyle sections.

There are a number of free press release services on the Internet. Many have multiple options. Typically they have a basic membership which will send your press release out to the search engines. If you are willing to spend a little money, these same sites offer options to allow for even more circulation depending on the number and type of organizations the press release is distributed to.

Sign up for a free trial at PRWeb today!

If you would like to have your food truck press release reviewed and possibly published by our staff at Mobile Cuisine feel free to submit your release to our general email address at admin [at] mobile-cuisine [dot] com.

winning strategies

Local food truck organizations often overlook the need to build the power of their own organizations while struggling to win on public issues. For example, if a local group sets a goal to force the county government to ease restrictions on food truck parking locations, the group might move right into action without taking stock of its resources and making a plan to expand resources while working on the issue.

As a result, volunteers get tired out, the bank account shrinks, and the staff, if any, feels insecure about staying employed. Instead of celebrating a victory or re-grouping after a defeat, the group falls apart, its key leaders exhausted.

A better alternative is to be both realistic and aggressive about increasing your food truck organization’s resources while working toward your issue goal. Most mobile food vendor organizations have limited resources. Take stock of the resources you have when you begin your issue campaign and make a commitment to end the campaign with more resources than you started with. This will leave you in a good position to move on to another issue, defend what you have won, or come up with an alternative strategy if you lose.

Membership

Members are the greatest resource for a food truck organization. There is no better time than a major issue campaign to increase the number of people in your organization. First, assess the number of people already committed to your organization.

Core Leadership

These are the people who give freely of their time and money to the organization. They attend most meetings and are often the spokespeople for the organization, but more importantly, they talk to many people outside the food truck organization about what you are trying to do. They contribute money to the extent their financial circumstances allow, and solicit or donate other resources such as food for meetings, office supplies, stamps and photocopies.

Before you start your campaign,

  1. Make a list of the people in the core leadership of your food truck association.
  2. Set a goal to increase the core leadership in your group by a specific number during the course of your campaign, and set a goal to increase the diversity in this group. You should end the campaign with more core leaders than you started with, even if a few drop out along the way. If your organization doesn’t plan to increase core leadership, it will shrink or die out over time.
  3. Make a list of the tasks core leaders will carry out during the campaign. For example:
    • Keep track of strategy;
    • Speak at meetings of other groups;
    • Hold press conferences; and,
    • Negotiate with the decision-makers who can deliver what you want (50 new units of affordable rental housing).
  4. Then think of new people you can ask to do one or more of these tasks. Make space for them to grow into the role of core leaders. Ask them to do specific tasks. If they complete a task, ask them to continue and take on more.
Active Members

These are the people who contribute to the food truck organization’s efforts but have not served in the core leadership. You will find some of your best candidates to move into the core leadership in this group.

  1. Make a list of your active members and check it over for potential people for the core leadership. Keep in mind your diversity goals. Ask these people to take on a specific core leadership task.
  2. Make a very specific list of tasks the active membership needs to do to move your issue campaign forward. For example:
  • write one letter to the editor by March 1st
  • call in to the local radio talk show on March 10th at 7:30 a.m.
  • attend the County Board of Supervisors meeting March 15th
  • call 10 people and ask them to attend the Supervisors meeting
  • ask three new people to join the organization

Then ask active food truck members to do one task on the list. When they finish it, ask them to do another. Too often, groups rely on their core leadership to do all the work. Core leaders have to be relentless in asking active members to take on specific tasks. It’s the most effective way to keep members involved and identify potential core leaders.

Potential New Members
  1. Set a goal to recruit a specific number of new members during the course of the campaign, and monitor your progress at least once a month.
  2. Active members need to ask neighbors and people at work, school, church, social and sports clubs to join the organization, make a financial contribution, and take on specific tasks.
  3. Don’t overlook the possibility that brand new members have core leadership potential, especially if they have a strong interest in the issue. If new members are reliable in carrying out active member tasks, think of a core leadership task for them to try, and ask them.

Allies

Allies are people who support your food truck association’s issue goal, and can help in concrete ways, but may not want to become active members in your organization, usually because they’re already active in other organizations.

    1. Make a list of outside organizations that would support your issue goal and recruit them as allies.
    2. Set a goal to recruit a specific number of new allies for your campaign. Then ask them to make specific contributions. For example, will the Chamber of Commerce invite one of your core leaders to speak on your issue at their next monthly meeting?
    3. Branch out and stretch a bit. Most of your potential allies will be obvious to you. But perhaps your group has never approached a farmers group before. A concrete issue campaign gives you an excellent opportunity to build new working relationships with groups like these that may not only help win the campaign, but put you in a more powerful long-term position in the community and open up new issue ideas as well. Or perhaps your food truck group has had a falling out with another group of food truck owners in the past and there are still hard feelings on both sides. A major issue campaign can be an opportunity to mend fences and try to work together again more constructively.
Money and Donated Services
    1. Make a budget for how much your campaign is going to cost, and a plan for raising all of it plus at least 25 percent more. You should end your campaign with more money than you started with.
    2. Don’t overlook donated supplies and services. If you think you’ll need 0 to cover printing and postage, ask allies to contribute a ream of paper and a roll of stamps.
    3. Use every meeting and event to raise money. Pass the hat at large events and ask people to contribute any change they can spare from their pockets. Keep a tally board that shows how much you have raised and how much you have spent.
    4. Look for new donors all the time. Set a goal to attract a specific number of new contributors and ask active members to work on achieving this goal.
Media

Most food truck groups complain about poor media coverage of their work.

    1. Before you start your issue campaign, list your media contacts and set a specific goal to get coverage in media that haven’t covered your work before. If you already get newspaper coverage, branch out into radio and cultivate some new contacts.
    2. If you have a local television station that never covers your group, target them for coverage in this campaign. Ask active members to call that station and ask why your meeting wasn’t covered on the 11 o’clock news. This helps expand your long-term ability to reach the media and provides a concrete, valuable task for even the newest member to do.
Information and Analysis

All mobile vendor groups need accurate information in order to carry out campaigns. Sometimes a core leader or staff person takes responsibility for doing the group’s research. Use a new issue campaign as an opportunity to expand your sources of information and the number of people involved in this aspect of the work.

    1. Assess your research needs and possible ways for meeting them.
    2. Contact local, state and national advocacy groups that focus on your issue. Find out if they provide direct assistance with locating and verifying information that will help your campaign.
    3. Contact local colleges and find out about internship programs. Could you make use of a student or two for several hours a week to track down information you need, verify facts, or put information into useable formats, like fact sheets, fundraising letters and handouts for meetings?
    4. Sometimes groups have no trouble finding information, but need help analyzing or interpreting what the information means. Would it help to have an accountant take a look at the county’s books and verify that the money you need for new housing units is sitting in a housing development fund? Would it help to sit down with a former member of the Board of Supervisors and go over the fine points of how the Board works before you meet with them? Take advantage of your opportunities to make new contacts that not only have access to useful information, but who can help you understand what the information means. They can help you win your current campaign, and continue to help with new campaigns in the future.

Before rushing into action on your new food truck issue, make a commitment to build the long-term power of your mobile food vendor organization. It only takes two or three hours for a core leadership group to develop a plan of action for building organizational power over the course of an issue campaign. And those few hours will determine whether you just get by, fizzle out, or grow in strength and numbers.

food truck loans

Only one third of small business owners (including prospective food truck owners) were able to obtain all of the credit that their businesses need, a recent National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey shows.

The survey’s finding is not surprising. Many economists, policy makers and food truck advocacy groups have long explained that food truck loans are harder to obtain than restaurant loans (their larger counterparts). When it comes to accessing capital, size definitely matters.

Even among food truck businesses, the smaller the company, the lower the odds that it has a loan or a line of credit. Only 15.7 percent of businesses with one or fewer employees have a business loan and only 33.7 percent have a line of credit, the NFIB survey shows. By contrast, 56.8 percent of businesses with between 50 and 250 workers have a business loan and 65.4 percent has a line of credit.

Rather than reveal some sinister motives among bankers, however, these patterns simply reflect the economics of business credit. Fewer small businesses have access to credit than larger companies because lending to them is riskier and more expensive than extending credit to larger companies.

Reasons For Difficulties For Food Truck Loans

Default risk is higher in the mobile food business loan market. Small businesses fail at higher rates than big businesses and changes in the business cycle have a larger impact on their profits. Because lenders cannot always charge interest rates that are commensurate with a borrower’s default risk, the most risky small business borrowers are often unable to get credit.

Lending to a food truck business is more expensive than lending to big companies. Part of the problem is the fixed cost of making food truck loans. Some costs are the same whether you make a $50,000 loan or a $5 million loan. Therefore, profit margins are higher on bigger loans. Of course, larger companies are more likely to need bigger loans than a food trucks, which leads lenders to focus on larger customers.

Additionally, evaluating applications for food truck loans is often expensive. Little publicly available information on the financial condition of food trucks exists, and these mobile business owners rarely have financial statements that are very detailed. Food truck owners’ personal finances are sometimes intermingled with those of their businesses. The very large variety of mobile food businesses and the way they use borrowed funds make it tough to apply general lending standards. Finally, monitoring the financial condition of mobile food businesses often requires lenders to build personal relationships with the food truck owners.

These economic principles have important implications for those seeking to boost small businesses’ access to credit. Encouraging more lending will require policies that take into account the greater cost and risk of lending to food trucks — and why these mobile food small businesses have trouble getting credit.

RELATED: Start-up Capital For Your Food Truck

Do you have any tips for vendors looking for food truck loans? We’d love to hear your advice. You can share your thoughts via email, Twitter or Facebook.

food truck business cards

There are plenty of ways to layout your business cards for your food truck business; the key is to make sure it matches your truck’s branding plan. To help you with making sure your food truck business cards are developed properly here are a few tips to use when designing or reviewing them.

5 Simple Rules For Your Food Truck Business Cards
Include important information

Make sure you include all the information on your food truck business cards that you think a client would find useful. We’ve provided a quick checklist, but you may have other things you want to throw in as well.

  • Your name – Put the name your contacts know you by.
  • What you do – Remember to include what you do or what defines your job scope within your food truck business.
  • Contact information – Phone number, website url, e-mail, office address, social media profiles etc.
  • Catering – It’s very important to let prospective customers know that you provide catering services from your food truck. You can create specific marketing collateral for your catering services, but you need to make sure your food truck business cards let them know it is a service you offer.
Ensure your text is readable

This is an often overlooked element in food truck business cards I’ve seen over the years. You don’t want prospective clients to have to strain their eyes to read your website address or email. Make sure your text is at least 8 pt, in a clear readable font and in bold color. Anything smaller than 8 pt may look fine on your monitor, but may be printed as a fuzzy, smudged-out line. You could also try to accentuate your name or important contact information by making it slightly bigger or bolder than the rest of your information.

Your logo

If you’ve got a well-designed logo, let it subtly dominate your business card. It is a visual representation of your brand and will catch the eye of members of your target market.

The back side

There is a lot of debate about what should go on the back side of your business card. Some say keep it blank so people you hand it to can write notes. While others say put more information here. We suggest doing both. Use some of the space to provide returning customers a free offer, but also allow some space for note-taking.

Avoid using borders

It’s best to try to avoid using borders on your food truck business cards. They may look good, but when the cards are cut, you will most likely have some ‘lop-sided’ edges. All printers have a margin of error for cutting your cards, which can be as much as a few millimeters, so expect some variance in the area where the blade falls.

Do you have any additional tips for food truck business cards? What’s worked for you, what hasn’t. We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

food safety for large events

Food truck businesses can pose a bigger risk to food safety than brick and mortar restaurants, not because they are dirtier than restaurants or that they aren’t held to the same safety standards, but because the more the food is handled or transported, the greater the risk of bacterial contamination.

To prevent a food borne illness issues with customers food truck owners have to keep a watchful eye on employees to make sure safe food handling practices are observed at all times.

Today we provide 5 tips every mobile food vendor can follow in order to keep their customers safe and maintain food safety for large events.

5 Tips Food Truck Food Safety For Large Events
Safe Food Practices

For large food truck events, most food is either prepped ahead of time at a central and then transported to the event or made at an onsite kitchen, if there is one available. Either way, all food must be cooked to the recommended temperatures in order to maintain safe food temperatures.

Insulated Food Carriers

Depending on the size and duration of a food truck event, there is a good chance you may have to reload your food truck with product to prepare and sell. Both hot and cold foods need to be kept at the appropriate temperatures when being transported to the event. The only way for mobile food vendors to assure hot foods are kept hot and cold foods cold while in transit is by using insulated food carriers.

Reheat Foods

The FDA Food Code stipulates that any food that needs to be reheated must reach an internal temperature of 165 °F for 15 seconds to be considered safe, so be sure that any food items that were cooked off-site then chilled for transport are reheated appropriately to maintain food safety.

Time and Temperature

The two-hour rule still applies for potentially hazardous foods. All hot food needs to be kept above 140 °F and cold food needs to be kept below 40 °F for proper food safety. If the food is outside of this range for more than two hours, that food needs to be thrown away.

Ice, Ice, Baby

At all times, ice that is used to chill food or beverage bottles needs to be kept separate from ice that goes into drinks. Display ice can pick up bacteria and other contaminants from the items it comes into contact with, which can in turn contaminate beverage ice and a customer’s drink.

BONUS: Provide extra protection for food truck events

For these outdoor events, wind, flies and other vermin are potential hazards. The best way to protect against these dangers is by covering all displayed food, throwing all waste in a waste container with a lid, using wind guards on windy days and setting the food tables up underneath a tent.

Do you have any additional tips for food safety for large events? We’d love to hear from you. You can send us your tips via email, Twitter or Facebook.

farmers market

With the rapid growth of the mobile food industry, we are constantly asked for alternative locations food trucks can be located to garner additional business for the owners. Farmers markets can be awesome weekend work for food truck owners for many reasons.

 

They give local small businesses a venue to sell their fantastic food products at, which allow them to interact directly with an entirely different consumer base than they are accustomed to finding on the streets of their city during the week. This opportunity allows truck owners to become an even larger part of their local communities, not to mention, they can be fun to participate in.

For anyone who is looking to get into selling their food truck products at farmers markets and wants to know how, we’ve put together this article to show you everything you need to know.

Planning For The Farmers Market
Menu Items

When determining what your farmers market menu should look like, visit your local markets to see what other vendors are selling. You may be the only food truck at a market; however there may already be other vendors who sell items similar to what your truck sells. Be sure your menu is unique. Pay attention to what items you feel are missing from the markets.

Markets want to offer a variety of unique and wonderful products. Specialized and/or organic items will always do well at farmers markets, because customers can’t find them anywhere else or they know farmers market products are local and usually better quality. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s high quality and that you know your menu ingredients like the back of your hand. People not only go to markets for great local products, they expect to be educated as well.

Finding A Farmers Market

farmers marketDue to the growth of interest in farmers markets, nationwide, many markets have less space to accept new vendors. The vendors they do have usually have been participating in the market for seasons, if not years, and have gained long-lasting relationships with the market and their weekly customers.

Research all of the markets in your area and surrounding areas. Every market is different. Some will be more appropriate for your food truck than others. Think about the distance to each market, size of the market, rules and regulations the market has and the type of customer it attracts.

Once you have a market you are interested in joining, contact the market manager to inquire about applications and entry forms. It is best to apply at the beginning of the market year (during the winter season, depending on where you are located).

Expect the application process to take up to a few weeks, or even a few months.  This timing will depend on the amount applications they have to review, whether or not they have a board to review and vote on applicants and/or the size of the market. Some require an interview, application fee and/or one time, weekly, monthly or yearly fee to participate in the market.

Farmers markets are becoming more and more competitive. As said before, markets want to offer a variety of products, so be sure your product is one they need and/or will diversify the market. Consider applying to more than one. Never take a rejection seriously. In fact, if you don’t get accepted into a market, you should always apply the following year.

Farmers Market Tips

  • Never forget your necessary licenses, permits and proof of insurance. Inspectors show up at the most inconvenient times to check to see if you have these.
  • Have shopping bags available for your customers. You can choose whether you want to use simple plastic shopping bags or pretty paper bags. Another fantastic way to market your business is to have “green” reusable shopping bags created with your logo and food truck information on them. Selling these items at or near your cost for them will get your brand advertised as they are carried around the market, or other locations the customer chooses to use it.
  • If you are sampling, you must provide disposable single use utensils for distribution of samples to customers. If you have a product like peanuts, where people have to break the shell open, to get to the inside, we recommend having a small container for the shells (waste). Be sure to clearly mark your containers. You don’t want people to mistake the sample container for the waste container. It happens all the time.
  • It is also very important to keep an eye out for children. A lot of times children walk around the markets on their own or with friends and will ask for samples. We recommend never letting a child have a sample without the permission of a parent. You don’t know what type of food allergies they may have and it is respectful to the parent to ask first.
  • Always arrive on time, if not early, to farmers markets. Managers are not fond of having to deal with late vendors. Sometimes, markets are small and if you arrive late, you will not be able to enter the market area to park. Customers don’t appreciate coming to the market to get your products, finding that you are not there or are busy setting up, when everyone else is prepared and ready. Give yourself enough time to get to the market, set up and even get there early, so you are situated and ready for those early and anxious customers.
  • Be sure to approach every farmers market with energy and enthusiasm. Be prepared to offer tips, recipes and other educational information to your customers. Get creative and come up with conversation starters (i.e. tell them a great story that has to do with your product). At the same time manage your time with customers. Some of them take their time through markets and are interested in the experience, others want to get in, get what they came for and get out. Don’t let a line build up.
  • Memorize your regular customer’s names. They will most likely remember yours if they come to you each week. Educate yourself about the other vendor’s, where they are located and what they sell, in case someone asks.

We hope this article gives you an idea of how to begin the process of your food truck becoming a successful farmers market participant.

If you are a farmers market food truck veteran, we’d love to hear about your experiences. You can share them with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

food truck laws

Opening a food truck requires a lot of work and preparation. As a part of the preparation, you must become familiar with and adhere to the local food truck laws that govern the mobile food industry.

Failure to do so could result in your mobile business failing inspection and potentially being shut down. Since this is never a food truck vendor’s desired goal, you will want to make sure you understand the food truck laws and ensure that your food truck follows them.

Food Truck Laws You Need To Know

If you are opting to build your truck business from scratch rather than purchase an existing truck, you will first have to familiarize yourself with parking and zoning laws. In each city and town there are specific zones set up that separate where a particular business can operate.

Before you purchase your truck, it is important that you contact the city parking and zoning departments to ensure that the area you are interested in operating in will allow your vehicle to set up shop. You will be best served to make sure you know any vehicle size limitations as well as the amount of time a food truck can remain parked in one location before being required to move.

The most important laws that you will need to understand for your food truck are those that center on the Food Code. The Food Code was established by the FDA as a guideline for local and state governments as a way to regulate the mobile food industry and protect the health and safety of consumers, residents and employees.

Though it is used as a guideline, the Food Code is not a requirement of the state and local government. Each will have their own version specific to that area. In most areas, the Department of Health will be in charge of establishing and enforcing the local Food and Health Codes. It is important that you contact the Department of Health in the beginning of your planning stages of your business to ensure that everything is done according to the local laws.

Given its name and the fact that it was established by the FDA, the Food Code can often be mistaken for regulations that only govern food. This is not accurate as the Department of Health in your local area will have laws and regulations set up that cover virtually anything related to health, food and safety in a food service business.

Some things that these laws will cover include:

  • Preparation, handling, storage and display of any food products that your mobile business plans to offer.
  • The health, cleanliness and hygiene of the personnel that work in your business.
  • All aspects of the equipment and utensils that are being used including what material they are manufactered of, the installation, and even how they are stored.
  • Every facet of the utilities and services that you will need including the generators, propane and waste water, how you dispose of waste, and the way you handle pests.
  • How the truck is constructed and whether it holds the proper features such as ventilation and lighting.
  • Whether or not inspections are carried out, passed and any enforcement is needed.

The best way to ensure the success of your food truck business from the start is to contact the proper agencies and know your local laws before you begin planning. This allows you to ensure that everything from your equipment to your food meets the criteria in the codes so that you can pass inspection and have a successful opening day.

See if we have your city food truck laws listed on our quick link page.

If you know of a link we are missing, please feel free to share it with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

failure-success
Which way is your food truck headed?

With the continued growth of the mobile food industry, there are still some trucks that have not been able to succeed. For some, the reasons lay in the over regulation they face in their local areas, but for most, the reasons can be found simply by looking in the mirror.

We have previously written the primary reasons that food trucks have failed, in this article we wanted to extend the number of reasons and show how to avoid them. Owning a food truck requires the owners to wear many hats, and without the knowledge of some of the common shortfalls they can face, they can easily fall into these problem areas without even realizing it.

No marketing plan. 

A marketing plan outlines the steps you intend to take to sell your food truck menu items.  As one component of the overall business plan, it identifies your niche, your product and the strategies you’ll employ to reach your target market, as well as how much you intend to spend on this marketing (with the use of Twitter and Facebook, this can just involve the investment of time).   Marketing is fundamental to your company’s success.  Without it, you won’t have any customers or clients.  For this reason, it’s critical to spend the extra effort to develop one, even if it only is to include social media platforms.

No customer service program.

You and your food truck are in business only because you have people lining up at your service window.  In order to get a customer following and to maintain it, it’s important to have a customer service program.  A program can include anything from the methods you use to gain new customers, to how you service them once they have become customers.  It includes follow up visits to new parking locations, providing information to them about current or new products and services (such as catering), and, most importantly, kind, courteous, and prompt service when they have a problem or issue.  It is time consuming to get new customers.  It’s better and easier to retain the one’s you have by employing an outstanding customer service program.

No strategic partners. 

Successful food truck business owners typically don’t go it alone.  They associate, partner, and network with other successful food trucks.  Partnering with others is a way to quickly expand the reach of your own mobile business.  There’s a wonderful synergy that comes with doing things with other truck in your area.  There are more ideas, more knowledge, and more resources to create products and services.

No ways of monitoring progress. 

You cannot manage what you cannot monitor or measure.  Every food truck business needs to identify its key success factors.  It might be the number of products sold, the number of service hours provided, or even the perception of your mobile business in the local community.  The only way you can improve your business and attain the success you desire, is by measuring the results of your actions.  You’ll be able to identify what is working and also where the shortfalls exist.  You can use any number of methods including internal operating checklists, customer surveys, and even peer reviews.  This valuable feedback will be extremely useful in realigning your business efforts in the direction that maximizes the success of your mobile food empire.

No commitment to learning. 

There is no place for complacency when it comes to being a mobile food entrepreneur.  Successful food truck owners search constantly for new and better ways to get customers as well as to serve the ones they already have.  They are aware of the latest food service industry trends and ideas so they can create products and services which best serve the changing needs of their target market.  They learn about and implement processes that increase the effectiveness of their day-to-day operations.  By committing yourself to learning and to implementing what you learn, you’re committing yourself to success in all parts of your business.

facebook marketing tips

Recent studies have found that mobile food vendors mistakenly think they don’t have enough time, money or other resources to invest in Facebook promotions. The problem with this thought process is it doesn’t require a full-time social media coordinator nor much of a budget, if any.

The adage “keep it simple” goes a long way on Facebook, and with that in mind, here are ten Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners to us to maximize your presence on Facebook with minimum resources.

10 Facebook Marketing Tips To Maximize Your Presence

Manage your expectations

Set realistic goals for your approach to social media and you won’t be disappointed. Don’t expect to get thousands of fans within your first month, but think more along the lines of a two or three digit number. Then if you hit something larger than you originally anticipated, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and that will give you momentum.

Make the time

Unless you can find an intern willing to plan your media campaigns for free, cultivating a Facebook presence doesn’t have to be a full-time job nor something that eats up all your free time. Try to set aside an hour a day to work on your business’s page, post updates and communicate directly with customers and fans.

Learn as much as you can

Take notes based on your experiences with Facebook’s pages and other business services — at the very least, write down questions about things you don’t understand so you can make a note to look them up later. You’ll find just about anything you’re curious to know within the site’s official help center. Make a habit of reading as much as you can on this part of the site, without overdoing it.

Start with a small budget

It’s possible to promote your business on Facebook without spending anything. At some point you might get the itch to buy advertising, which certainly helps but also presents the temptation to overspend. You’re better off starting out doing small test ads to see what kind of performance you get for your money, and then ramp up when you figure out which demographics and key words you want to target.

Create a page, not a profile

Don’t open a second account on the social network to make a profile for your business. Not only does that go against Facebook’s rules but it also moves you one degree of separation away from the people who are already on your friend list. These folks are the first people you want to invite to become fans of your business’s page.

Post fun status updates

Make your profile work for your page by posting witty status updates that encourage your friends to engage with your business page. Apply that same sense of wit to the goal of one post per day to your page’s wall. If you can phrase it as a question, so much the better, because that will inspire responses from your community.

Have one-on-one conversations

Send a thank-you message right after someone clicks “like” on your page, and make a point of responding to messages and wall posts within 24 hours. Pay careful attention to whatever fans tell you on your page, and try to respond to their needs.

Don’t spam

People have gotten pretty tired of mass messaging and excessive numbers of posts filling up news feeds — don’t contribute to this noise and fans will appreciate it. When you have something to say to your followers, put it on your wall, not in their inboxes.

Create coupons and promotions

Discounts for first-time customers really work toward generating repeat business. But don’t limit the promotions to the first time someone engages with your company, lest they lose interest. Periodically put things on sale if you can, in order to keep people coming back.

Encourage check-ins

Wherever your business parks from day to day, that counts as a place on Facebook. Make a point of checking in to your current location every day even if you’re not planning to hit the streets. This will put your food truck’s name into people’s news feeds every time you punch in.

If you have any additional Facebook marketing tips for food truck owners, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

NCR Silver

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