Many food truck owners start off with the perfect menu to sell but very little practical business experience. That’s where SCORE (Serivce Corps. of Retired Executives) can lend a hand.
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses grow (including those in the mobile food industry) and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Founded in 1964, the organization boasts approximately 400 chapters across the United States.
There are four types of mentoring that a current or prospective food truck owner can use, face-to-face, over the phone, by email and teams. They cover the gamut of small businesses and if one mentor may not specialize in one aspect of running a mobile food business, they can easily put you in touch with someone who can.
Their mentoring members cover a wide number of skill set areas, everything from senior management to technical skills to operational human resources. Their mentors are heads of organizations and have worked for powerful companies.
In addition to the weekly mentoring available, SCORE offers low cost classes such as, “The Buzz About Creating Your Own Business,” “How The Right Information Can Make You A Lot Of Money,” “Get More Customers With A Great Marketing Strategy,” and “Making Your Business Profitable, How To Find The Cash In The Cushions.”
These classes are designed to take a novice and teach them how to get all the key tools in place to ensure they’ll be successful. SCORE mentors present the information as well as provide the necessary steps to implement it.
For food truck business owners looking for mentoring on a less structured business, SCORE also offers mentoring by appointment which varies from city to city.
The Treats Truck – NYC
For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.” There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling. Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that.
Kim worked with Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”
Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”
Become a SCORE Mentor
Are you, or have you been, a food truck owner? Do you enjoy sharing your experience to others? Are you willing to commit 10-12 hours per month assisting other culinary entrepreneurs start or expand their mobile food business dream?
If so, SCORE would love to talk with you. You could join a team of local mentors who counsel clients throughout the country, one of which is probably close to you.
We hope you’ll consider joining the ranks of 13,000 other volunteers nationwide and become a SCORE mentor and help the mobile food industry continue to grow.