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Management

social media crisis

tip of the dayOne of the topics we are asked to discuss by our readers is the fear that food truck owners have to overcome when tackling social media.

It’s important to recognize that when a food truck social media crisis happens, and it’s better to be on top of your response in social media than not to be there at all. Today we’ll provide a short list of tips for food truck owners responding to a social media crisis.

Three Steps For Dealing With A Social Media Crisis
  • The first step in solving a a social media crisis is to immediately put the customer at ease that you understand their problem. In fact, repeat it back to them so that they absolutely know that you understand what’s wrong. If clarification is in order, it will happen right there. Your food truck customers want to know that you are listening and you have one chance to fix this problem so make sure you understand it.
  • The next step in resolving a social media crisis is to make sure they know that you care. By responding and letting them know that you personally care for them, you can drop the intensity of the issue way down and personalize it. You don’t want to be seen as a faceless food truck brand, become that person that they can trust to try to fix their problem.
  • Finally, you need to fix the problem. Don’t supply a form, phone number or email address for them to contact. You must fix the problem. You, the food truck owner (or representative). If you brush this person off to someone else, they’ll immediately recognize you for what you are… a phony. If you understand and you care, you’ll follow through and make sure the issue is resolved.

That’s not saying that you, personally, have to correct the issue. It means that you are the leader and the person accountable to the customer. It’s your responsibility to carry the person through to a resolution. If you just dump and run, it’s going to cause more issues. You don’t appreciate it when it happens to you so why would you do it to your own customer?

By resolving these problems, you are completing one of the best customer relations campaigns you may have as a food truck owner. If you leave your food truck customer happy and content, chances are that they’ll share that success with their network.

Have you personally had to resolve a social media crisis in your truck? We’d love to hear your story and how you fixed it. You can share them with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

food truck boss

tip of the dayBeing a food truck boss is a tough job, especially when you need to counter the natural tendencies that separate you from the people you have hired and manage.

Knowing what the traits of a bad food truck boss are can help mobile food vendors avoid them. Here are the top three to watch out for…

Top Three Traits Of A Bad Food Truck Boss
  • Self-deluding. This isn’t just a problem with bosses; the majority of people estimate their skills to be higher than they are in reality. Be aware that you might be self-aggrandizing and find ways to get input and evaluations that show you what your true skills are.
  • Heedless of subordinates. A food truck boss is in a position of power and are watched carefully by those under them. But that level of attention is often not reciprocated. When you start staffing your food truck, don’t forget to remain curious about and engaged with your employees.
  • Insulated from reality. No one wants to deliver bad news to the boss, so the food truck boss often doesn’t know the full story. Create a culture within your mobile food business in which the messenger isn’t shot, but lauded for bringing important information forward.

We hope that by pointing these traits out, food truck owners are able to try to stop them. Successful food trucks need to have staff members that place their trust into the ownership. Without your team on board, it’s easy to see a food truck fail, no matter how good the food and service you provide is.

So do you have any of these three traits of a bad food truck boss? Are you willing to change? Or are you someone that realized your were a bad food truck boss and have made changes to correct those issues? If you’ve made changes, we’d love to hear about them. You can always reach us on Twitter or Facebook.

Taking Over An Existing Food Truck

Small businesses across the country have been taking a beating over the last few years due to the economy and even the growing mobile food industry isn’t an exception.

No matter the reasons behind some food trucks closing, there are still a huge number of individuals who are looking to enter the industry.

RELATED: Find Food Trucks For Sale At Mobile Cuisine

Taking over a failed truck can be an easy way to get onto the streets of your local area. Here are four tips to follow if you are taking over an existing truck without plans on re-branding it.

Four Tips For Taking Over An Existing Food Truck Business

tip of the day

Communicate the change in ownership to old customers

When you are taking over an existing food truck business that has been around for some time, show the longtime customers that you appreciate their business by giving them customer appreciation discounts.

Get to know them and establish yourself as the new owner. When people are used to brands they are not used to change. Let them know that their favorite staples will remain on the menu.

Assure them that you are going to carry on the brand just as good as it was before, if not better.

Add some new items

When comes to change you have to be very careful with established food truck brands. Keep on the old staples, but make sure that the quality of the food is upgraded to current standards.

Familiarize yourself with new taste profiles, quality control and other things that will make a difference to new and old recipes. Let older customers know about the new changes so they won’t be shocked.

Bump up the truck’s profile

Don’t be afraid to step up your game and compete with other food truck businesses in the area. Do things that have never been done at that truck before. Increase advertising and marketing.

Play on new strategies in social networking. Use Twitter, Facebook, and geo-location services like Foursquare to find new customers.

Think with the new generation in mind. It can be a hard pill to swallow to change something that has been around awhile.

Consider hiring new staff

The final tip for taking over an existing food truck business is to analyze the current staff and determine if they have what it takes to move forward with your changes. You’ll probably have to get rid some staff that don’t fit your plans.

Put them to work to see what they can do. Keep the ones that are willing to listen to change and who are loyal to your vision for the direction of your business and not the previous owner’s vision.

RELATED: Post Your Food Truck Jobs At Mobile Cuisine

Have you been involved taking over an existing food truck business? If so, we’d love to hear how you handled it. You can share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

employee performance reviews

As a food truck vendor you have to wear many hats. Being the boss is one of them. While wearing your boss hat, I’ll ask you this: Which is worse: receiving a performance review, or giving one to one of your food truck staff members? At least with the latter as the owner, you have some control.

When you’re the one conducting an employee performance reviews for one of your food truck employees, try doing these three things to make it a productive experience.

3 Simple Steps To Improve Employee Performance Reviews:
  • Set expectations early. Make employee-evaluation practices clear at the beginning of the year with individual performance planning sessions.
  • Set the right tone. Everyone hates the “feedback sandwich”: compliments, criticism, then more niceties. Deliver a positive message to your good performers by mainly concentrating on their strengths and achievements. Confront poor performers and demand improvement.
  • Avoid money talk. If possible, don’t mention compensation during the review; but if you must, take care of it at the start of the conversation.

Do you have any additional tips for food truck vendors to use when giving employee performance reviews? We’d love to hear how you handle them with your employees. You can share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

awesome mobile food business

Over the years we’ve touched on topics crucial to running a successful mobile food business such as type of cuisine, parking locations, commissaries and selecting the right platform (truck, cart, trailer etc…) to serve your food from. In this article we’ll cover aspects that delve beyond those obvious concerns.

The key ingredients that matter most to creating an awesome mobile food business are your food, your staff and you. If done the right way, your food truck, food cart or trailer will thrive in the industry and stay on top.

3 factors that will create an awesome mobile food business:

Food Identity

Your food is your food truck business’ identity. You first must portray yourself in a very definable way to your customers so they can equate you as the go to spot for your cuisine.

Failure to define yourself is a huge mistake when trying to separate yourself from your competition.

For example, let’s say that there are a bunch of burger trucks in your area, which means there has to be something about your food that makes it stand out if you too will be serving burgers.

How To Make Your Food Awesome

  • Uniqueness. Get your customer’s attention with original dishes. If you plan to serve common dishes, add some flair and make them just 10 percent better, you’ll have an inspiring and stimulating menu your customers will get excited about.
  • Go local. Get some local farm fresh produce. Not only are you bringing in very fresh ingredients, you are supporting the local economy. Today’s customers do take notice of this fact.
Supreme Staffing

You need to hire people who have a passion for the mobile food industry, a sense of urgency when handling customers and a willingness to be part of your team.

The service experience is right up there with food when it comes to the top two elements to a great dining experience.

Your staff needs to work in sync because if they don’t, you could end up with reviews that minimally praise the food but ruthlessly criticize the service.

Customers want to eat great food but at the same time, they want to be treated like royalty.

How To Build An Awesome Staff

  • Processes. Create employee manuals containing your processes and procedures, and ensure they are updated regularly. This gives your staff a way to succeed as a unified team moving in the same direction. There is nothing worse than attempting to manage a bunch of individuals trying to do the same thing, each in their own way.
  • Outstanding training. Your food truck staff has to know their job. Ensure your staff gets thorough book training on procedures along with on-the-job training complete with food tasting and menu education. Basic training should also include job shadowing a veteran staff member. Don’t stop there. Expose the staff member to the other job roles within your food truck. This will allow for position flexibility in case someone can’t show up for work and leaves you hanging.
  • Solicit feedback. Always communicate with them and more importantly, don’t stop listening. Give real-time feedback and think of yourself as a coach to your team. You don’t have to portray yourself as almighty. Look beyond your ego and start putting your people first.

RELATED: Post Your Food Truck Jobs with Mobile Cuisine

Personality Plus

Food trucks don’t fail, people fail.

As the owner, you are the people. Whatever happens under your watch is on you. This could be hiring a truck manager who under-performs or not training your staff to prepare your awesome recipes consistently awesome.

Ultimately, the responsibility rests on your shoulders.

How You Can Become Awesome

  • Self-reflect regularly. The toughest thing for anyone to do is critique themselves. It is not in our nature to tell ourselves we are wrong. As a leader, it’s okay to be vulnerable and allow yourself to be exposed. That doesn’t make you weak; it actually makes you more authentic and respectable.
  • Ask for feedback. Ask your staff for honest feedback. Let it be known that honesty is the only way for you to improve as an owner. Don’t forget your staff extends further than just managers and service window staff. You should be listening to your line cooks just as anyone else. Customer feedback is also very important to the growth and development of your food truck. Let it be known that you want to know what customers think to make their experience better.
  • Keep growing. Food truck owners can always improve. What’s more, your staff has great ideas, so ask them. Your mobile food business needs to keep growing to thrive and it’s vitally important you grow with it.

Do you have any tips on how you created an awesome mobile food business? If so, leave us a comment (below), Tweet us or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

time clock cartoon

Food trucks have two major cost centers. One is food and beverage. The other is labor. Which do you think is most problematic for mobile food vendors?

If you said labor, either you’ve been running a food truck for at least a few months, or you have some genuine insight into the challenges of running a mobile food business.

Labor issues are typically the number one concern of most food truck owners. Food and beverage costs can be held in check through price adjustments and portion controls. On the other hand, labor costs are not controlled by paying low wages.

Controlling food truck labor costs is best done through sound scheduling and improving your employee productivity. You increase productivity through training, better food truck kitchen layouts, and the use of labor-saving equipment and products.

This article addresses cost-related issues and ways to increase employee productivity — the areas in which a mobile food vendor has the most control.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Keep an Eye Numbers

Before you can develop appropriate and effective measures for labor cost control, you must gather the necessary information on which to make your decisions. Therefore, the accumulation and reporting of relevant labor cost information is critical. To do this, you need more than your calculator.

Productivity and labor cost efficiency cannot be addressed and assessed only in straight numbers. If customer service is compromised, the initial savings of a lower payroll cost can be negated by a decrease in sales caused by customer losses.

When trying to determine the productivity of your staff, the traditional ratio of “payroll to total sales” is not an effective and accurate measure of worker productivity and scheduling efficiency.

Essentially, you pull this ratio from your income statement to tell you how much sales you are squeezing out of your payroll expense. What could be more telling? Well, there are three reasons why additional measures must be used to analyze labor costs.

The traditional labor cost ratio really just indicates to management what needs to be addressed, without providing any specific information.

The figures reported on the monthly income statement are historical and after-the-fact. Labor cost should be controlled beforehand. This will require labor cost figures to be compiled at least weekly.

So what is the best measure of productivity? There is no one magic ratio. You need to monitor several benchmarks to take the pulse of your mobile food business.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Don’t Lower Wages

Food trucks should not control labor cost by keeping salaries and wages low. In fact, operations paying less than the going wage rate in their locale will find it difficult to hire and retain the more productive employees.

Think about it. If you felt you were a very good cook or manager, would you quit your current job and go work for someone who paid you less than you were making? I don’t think many of us would work for less.

About one-third of all employees who leave a job voluntarily, leave for better pay. You may have heard that money cannot be a motivator for increasing productivity.

Well, it is probably true that just increasing the wages of an employee will not necessarily mean they will be more productive, but when money is used as a reward for outstanding performance, it can be an effective motivator.

There are a number of scheduling methodologies you can use that will reduce your labor costs just by adjusting when you have employees arrive and depart from work. Efficient scheduling must reflect the variations in business volume that occur during the day and even meal period.

Your goal is to accomplish the necessary workload with a minimum number of labor hours while maintaining your level of service.

Productive employees should be rewarded with pay increases and earn more than average employees. Treat your valuable employees like you do your most valuable customers. Realize that the labor cost per cover and the number of covers per labor hour can be improved only with productive employees.

If productive employees are treated no differently from marginally productive ones, there is no benefit to the employee to do more than average for he or she will get the same enumeration either way.

Controlling Food Truck Labor Costs: Set Benchmarks

No single measure can be used to evaluate labor productivity; management must employ multiple measures collectively. Management must have a better index of labor productivity and no single measure can efficiently accomplish that. Therefore, additional measures are needed to properly analyze labor costs. The additional information needed is readily available as it is compiled on a daily or weekly basis. These measures are:

  • Covers per labor hour
  • Labor cost per cover
  • Labor cost per labor hour

Where do you start? Each time payroll is processed, total labor hours by job category are tallied. Management will compare actual hours worked to those originally scheduled and look for variances. If hours worked are greater than scheduled hours, they will investigate to determine the job category where the variance occurred.

Employee schedules are determined not by revenue but by customer counts. The “covers per labor hour” is perhaps the best indicator of labor productivity compiled by a mobile food service operation because it is not distorted by the way sales are affected by price increases and discounts.

Although some drops in customer counts occur in the long run when prices are increased, covers per labor hour remains the most effective indicator of employee productivity.

The “labor cost per labor hour” is another productivity index. It is calculated by dividing total payroll by total labor hours. When calculated by respective employee job categories, one can readily see the wage differentials between jobs. This information can assist management in establishing wage ranges for each job category.

The third index of productivity is the “labor cost per cover.” This tells us how much labor is used to serve each customer that walks up to your food truck service window. The total payroll is divided by the number of customers.

Check out this example:

Assume:

  • Total Payroll Cost = $1,400
  • Total Labor Hours = 144
  • Total Covers Served = 1,200

Therefore:

  • Covers per Labor Hour (1,200/144) = 8.33
  • Labor Cost per Labor Hour ($1,400/144) = $9.72
  • Labor Cost per Cover ($1,400/1,200) = $1.17

Did we miss something in regards to controlling food truck labor costs? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

menu item naming

tip of the daySurviving the inevitable ups and downs of being a food truck owner can be tough, but persistence is an essential skill for a culinary entrepreneur. Here are three tips for seeing your mobile food endeavor through:

  • Don’t predict your failure. It’s easy to see everything that could go wrong in your mobile food empire. Instead of looking at all of the possible future failures you could see, focus on the task at hand of you and make it a success.
  • Don’t let feelings get in the way. You may not feel like doing another draft of your business plan or pushing for a 30 day credit line from your suppliers after you’ve heard “no” too many times. But do what you must despite how you may feel.
  • Lean on your family and staff. When you’re having a bad day or feel like it’s not worth all the effort, talk to your family inside and out of your food truck and share what you’re feeling.

on the job training

Training staff correctly is essential for any successful food truck. The mobile food industry is a customer contact intensive business. Your food truck employees need to be attentive to customer demands while displaying the personality of your food truck.

Studies have shown that as much as 90% of learning and career development takes place on the job; which makes sense since continuous learning is a key to building a sustainable career in any field.

While some of your food truck staff members may have years of formal culinary education and other that have worked under some of the country’s best chefs…the fact is that you and your food truck managers are going to be their most important career developers while they work for you.

On The Job Training Tips

Help your food truck team members flourish with these tips:

  • Instead of a yearly conversation about career goals during performance reviews, talk with them frequently. Regular discussions about their career objectives and interests will help them to refine goals and spot opportunities for development.
  • When planning a group project, ask team members to identify both how they can contribute and what they would like to learn. This avoids their volunteering to perform only tasks that they already know they can do.
  • Ask employees to report back  to you periodically on what they feel they have been learning and how they are using their new skills and knowledge to better your mobile food business.

To build a high impact on the job training program and phase in training smoothly, you need to create a task-oriented training program with realistic timelines. This includes establishing daily tasks and training schedules. This approach sets measurable goals and creates an easy on the job training tracking and monitoring system.

Do you have an on the job training system in place in your food truck? When you conduct your on the job training? We’d love to hear your answers or any additional tips you may have for other food truck owners. You can share your thoughts via email, Twitter or Facebook.

tip of the dayIn owning a mobile food business, just as any other food service industry business, critique is often negatively equated with criticism. But constructive criticism is essential in any arena that requires creativity, innovation, and problem-solving.

Since leadership requires all three, food truck owners need to be sure they are not only open to criticism, but that they actively seek it out. Ask your staff members, other food truck owners and customers — to poke holes in your menu items, customer service and operations.

Critique can be a useful approach to test ideas and keep your mobile food business relevant.

While expanding a single food truck into a fleet is the goal of many food truck owners, it’s not a simple task. Running multiple food trucks involves creating a simplified management process, delegating responsibilities to truck managers and building a team to handle the demands of daily operations.

Georgias Food Truck Fleet

Knowing how to run a food truck doesn’t guarantee success in managing fleet of trucks because owners can’t always spend enough time at each truck to ensure that things run smoothly in each.

Simplified Management

Success in expansion of your mobile food business depends on the building on your food truck concept and not in the truck. Mobile food vendors who prefer greeting customers or preparing food must first devote time to organizing a standard process that addresses most of the food truck business duties and hiring the right people to undertake these jobs. Simplified management strategies include the following ideas:

  • Subscribe to a multiple-unit POS system that handles the demands of running multiple food trucks smoothly.
  • Use of common ingredients and menus in all trucks so that managers can use standardized inventory and costing systems.
  • Special menu items can be produced in your commissary and distributed to all of the trucks (unless of course your fleet will be in cities far away from each other).
  • Take advantage of local sourcing and warehouse-type stores for buying inventory by using a van to make regular or daily trips and deliveries to each food truck commissary.
  • Use electronic communications to speed decisions and collaborate among separate trucks.

Create systems that handle every aspect of food truck management. Unified systems can handle hiring, inventory control, training, establishing employee conduct, dealing with customer complaints, filing reports and assigning responsibilities for food preparation, service, truck safety, cleaning and maintenance.

Delegate Responsibility

Systems run food truck businesses effectively, but vendors must hire the right people to run them and train workers in their duties. Strategies for success include fostering better communications between owners and managers, customers and managers and workers and supervisors.

  • Web cams enable people to see each other and demonstrate how to handle maintenance tasks or complex culinary procedures.
  • Regular or weekly staff meetings give people opportunities to air grievances, solve problems and make suggestions.
  • Owners should regularly visit each truck to interact with employees and customers.
  • Create a uniform code of conduct, and organize guidelines for hiring and firing that managers understand thoroughly.

Owners of multiple food trucks need to devote time to each of the trucks in their fleet, but giving managers and workers time and attention is critical for success. Managing each truck remotely leads to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality, so focus on maintaining regular communications with your staff teams.

Hiring the right managers, and creating a standard operational plan for all food trucks not only helps owners handle multiple trucks but also increases profits. Taking time to create a management system and training managers to hire, fire and manage operations will also improve customer service.

This will allow owners to spend more time interacting with customers, identifying new business opportunities and supporting community initiatives when they don’t spend all their time on the day to day operation tasks of their trucks.

If you are the owner of a food truck fleet, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our tips or any additional tips that could help those interested in expanding from one food truck.

NCR Silver

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