Food truck growth strategies are rarely on the minds of the local food cart vendors that dot the landscape of most major cities in the United States. Most food truck owners have only one business strategy – to exist and survive. Their focus is on the past and present. If a vision of the future is clear, often the path to that future isn’t.
Survival is not a strategy
Many of the food truck owners I have met and spoken with are on tight budgets and carry a lot of debt. Despite putting a lot of time into their concept and menus, things on the business side rarely roll out the way they anticipated.
- There are never enough hours in the day.
- Family needs are out of whack.
- Competition gets tougher every day.
- Most new hires aren’t always dependable.
At the beginning of a food truck’s existence nothing seems under control. Some of this is real, and some is a perception that comes from the fear of the unknown.
Food truck growth strategies
The quickest way to get rid of this anxiety is to recognize there is a difference between the desire to make money and the need to grow your mobile food business.
The best food truck growth strategies are modeled after what other small businesses in other industries have done to survive and thrive.
Education: Food truck owners typically know their way around the kitchen and how to provide great service. However, that does not mean they can budget or forecast. If money has been the problem, understanding more about money, cash flow, and allocation identifies current problems and supports future solutions. A budget is a strategic plan if done correctly.
USP: A unique selling proposition (USP) identifies the specific customer group to target. It identifies the values-added that differentiate on food truck from another.
Distance: A vendor cannot grow without planning. If there is no plan to grow, your mobile bistro will stay the same and in most cases, without growth, it will suffocate. Among the difficult strategies for mobile food owners to accept is that at some point, they will have to distance themselves from the business. Vendors need to design a business structure that allows them to focus on business building while operations fall to someone else.
Cash: Cash is essential to the execution of food truck growth strategies. As soon as the vendor can, the budget must include a commitment to building cash reserves. The budget needs to identify long-range growth targets, such as a fully functional point of sale system, updated kitchen equipment, or a second truck. These goals may be five years down the road, but there needs to be a savings set aside to fund your empire’s the plan.
Most food truck owners treat their food trucks as if they were their children. Unfortunately, they miss the basis of the metaphor. Your food truck may be your “baby,” but babies cannot make it on their own. A child’s wants and needs are different at five years than they were at three. And, if your child is going to make it to adulthood, parents need to be adaptable. Food truck growth strategies vary from vendor to vendor, but positive outcomes assume positive decisions from the very beginning.