“There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.” - Christopher Morley
“There is only one success- to be able to spend your life in your own way.” - Christopher Morley
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
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.
Here are three factors that will propel your mobile food business to the next level above the competition:
Your food is your 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
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
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
When a customer walks up to a food truck that is a smooth running mobile food operation, they may not notice how efficient it really is. On the other hand, step up to a truck that isn’t managed properly, and there will be multiple times during the transaction that it’s inefficiency shines through.
In most food trucks there is no one person that impacts the day-in, day-out profitability and success like the person who manages the truck’s kitchen. Whether the truck is managed by the owner, or someone who they trust, there are certain lessons that can be learned from each of them.
Here are 10 traits that we’ve noticed consistently in food truck managers of the most successful mobile food businesses:
How does YOUR food truck manager measure up?
Is it possible to build a successful food truck if you don’t love with what you need to do on a daily basis? Can you push through even if you don’t have a burning passion about running a food truck business? I know a lot of people reading this may argue with me, but the answer is, yes.
Please don’t get me wrong, passion is a great thing to have when starting in the mobile food industry, but it can’t be the only reason you open a food truck. Let me explain with a simple break down I learned from Mark Cuban.
When you work hard at something you become good at it. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen. Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.
The point he is making is that you don’t necessarily have a burning passion about your food truck as a prerequisite for success. You do, however, have to be motivated to put in the work and to get the help, answers, and other support needed to turn your concept into a successful mobile food operation.
Will having passion about your food truck business itself right at the beginning help you to grow it? Absolutely! If you love making food, serving the public and all of the tasks required to run a food truck, it will be easier to put more effort into it, especially when you are trying to get through those first difficult stages of growth. The problem with passion alone, is that it can quickly fizzle out as time goes on and obstacles stand in your way. To push through, you really need to be motivated by other factors such as wanting to have a successful food truck business, wanting to be in control of your own income, or wanting to positively impact the community you operate in. These are all motivations that are not directly connected to your food truck, yet they can help you stay focused during the down times. This is such an important idea, yet many, culinary entrepreneurs seem to miss it. In general, we tend to be more successful at the things that we care about. But the biggest and most effective way to get yourself to consistently care about something is to invest yourself in it. This can be an investment of time, effort, and money. Once you do so, you will have a vested interest in carrying on and getting good at what you do, and that can ultimately make you feel more passionate about it. So, the bottom line is if you are very clear about why you want to start a food truck business, and you are motivated to carry through, don’t worry about the passion part at the beginning. If you put in the work and you have the right attitude, you can really build a successful food truck empire and the passion will come later on.
If you believe everything you see on the Internet, food truck owners must work every moment you’re awake, survive on staff meals, and live out of your food truck to become a successful mobile food business owner.
Although that may be the route to success for a few food trucks, not everyone follows the same path to greatness. To gain some insight into how some actually spend their precious time, we asked what some do on weekends.
Contrary to popular belief, food truck vendors aren’t all constantly focused on the job. In fact, the majority of them have told us they prioritize spending time with their families and recharging their mental batteries on the weekends they don’t have booked for food truck events or catering gigs.
Here are some of the things that some food truck owners say they spend their Saturdays and Sundays doing.
Recreational activities related to business — Food truck owners start their businesses because they’re passionate about the food they create, so it makes sense that what they do for fun relates to their mobile food business. Some take time to take classes to improve their cooking techniques or learn about cuisines they aren’t familiar with.
Getting some exercise — Working sunrise-to-sunset on weekdays doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise, so some vendors try to catch up on the weekends. Whether its spending their weekends biking or kayaking. Being alone on their bike or boat gives them much needed alone time where they can think about the week ahead.
Catching up on administrative work — Of course, many vendors do work on the weekends, at least for a few hours. Weekends are an awesome time to get stuff done without being interrupted: Employees aren’t asking questions. Suppliers aren’t calling..making for a much more relaxed time to get the things done that aren’t possible with all of the weekday distractions.
Finding balance — From those who told us that they don’t work weekends, they did tell us they do take time to think about their business, learn something new, or strategize for the next week.
Setting boundaries — One owner said that he has two rules for weekend work. “I can work, but it has to be planning related, and it can’t involve sitting in front of my laptop.” This allows him to spend time with family while working.
Redefining “weekend” — When you run a mobile food business, “weekends” aren’t always Saturday and Sunday or even two consecutive days. The gift and curse of a food truck owner’s schedule is there are no set hours. Everything depends on the workload you have corresponding to each day.
Being flexible — Although it would be nice to take every weekend off, successful food truck owners are prepared to work when the right opportunity comes along. Clearly, everyone would prefer to be 100 percent about leisure on weekends, but the demands of a growing food truck business at times can dictate otherwise.
How do you spend your weekends? Feel free to share your typical weekend in the comment section below.
We are continually asked by our readers what the keys are to a food truck’s success. The answer we give is often rather vague and for a specific reason. There is no set list of rules to operating the perfect food truck. Their are a lot of common traits held by successful food truck owners and many of them run their businesses in similar ways…but there has yet to be a list of best practices that anyone can pick up and use to become successful.
In this article we have gathered 15 keys that many of the most successful food trucks use as a basis for the business decisions they make.
One thing you may have noticed while reading this list is that none of these keys are related to the food food trucks serve. Don’t be alarmed by this, since any successful mobile food business needs to provide their customers great food. The keys we provided are related to how you should approach your mobile food business and the business related decisions you will have to make on a consistent basis.
TAMPA, FL - A little air has gone out of the tires of the social-media-fueled, counter-culture revolution on wheels.
Stringent government regulations, increasing consumer sophistication and the reality of long, hard hours have cooled the food truck frenzy, both for starry-eyed would-be vendors and the hungry hoards they serve.
Since June 2, Craigslist.com has listed 21 used food trucks for sale in the Tampa Bay area. If you broaden that search to Central Florida, several dozen more trucks crowd the list board, from Blue Bird school buses to workhorse Grumman Olson vans. The requirements of compostable cutlery and detailed business plans have also dampened some of the fervor of rogue upstarts in cities like Vancouver, British Columbia, and Los Angeles.
Sure, there are plenty of Tampa Bay trucks doing a robust business, like Wicked Wiches, which now has three trucks, and cult favorite Burger Culture. The granddaddy of them all, Taco Bus, which boasts four brick-and-mortar spots and a mobile unit, is known nationally among food truck aficionados.
But others haven’t fared as well.
Jeremy Gomez ticks off names of Tampa’s original food trucks that have already closed or changed hands: Fire Monkey lasted only nine months; the Hogfather BBQ truck is for sale; Keeping it Reel recently sold, as did American Wiener. Gomez is one of the organizers of an August rally at the Florida Fairgrounds that’s attempting to break a world record by gathering 100 trucks.
Rallies draw big crowds, but things are tougher here for individual trucks on the streets. The Tampa Bay area is a car culture spread out across a broad metro area, and food trucks rely on foot traffic. Even the most intrepid local pedestrian may falter in summer’s heat, humidity and afternoon storms. Plus, said Gomez, Tampa diners have a long tradition of patronizing chains and familiar fast-food giants.
Find the entire article by Laura Reiley at Tampabay.com <here>
Social media is used by food trucks to spread the word about their next location, increase brand loyalty, share new menu items, and even gain new customers. It seems as though every one of these mobile food business owners uses social media differently, some more successfully than others.
Customers Seek You Out
In the early days of creating a social media account, you likely had to try very hard to find new connections and convince them that your food truck brand was worth following. If customers begin finding you without you needing to go through all this extra work, you’re well on your way to social media success.
Your Message Gets Across
Even if you have a sizable network, your social media campaigns are worth nothing if your customers don’t hear what you have to say. If customers acknowledge your message, or if you use tools like Facebook analytics to see that many of your connections actually viewed your posts, you’re on the right track towards social media success.
Followers Interact With You
A high follower count alone doesn’t necessarily make your food truck a success if none of your followers respond to your posts. A more accurate sign of success is whether you gain responses, likes, retweets and engaging interactions from your followers.
People Talk About You
This is related to the point above. But instead of followers talking directly to you, they are talking to their other connections about you. This could mean they’re recommending that others follow you or try one of your menu items that they recently purchased.
You’ve Found a Good Balance
There are so many social networks and types of posts. You should be able to figure out which networks and which types of posts work best for you and your target audience.
Your Content Has a Clear Focus
You should be able to scroll through your timeline or your twitter feed and see how each post fits together and works towards accomplishing your company’s overall social media goals.
People Ask You Questions
Along those same lines, if your followers come to you with their questions, whether it’s just a general question about the food truck industry or more specific question about your schedule or food products, you’re headed towards social media success.
Customers Appreciate You
Not only should customers interact with you, but you should also be able to tell that they are happy with what you have to say. If they thank you for responses or recommend you to their own networks, you know they appreciate you and you’re heading towards social media success.
You’ve Tested Different Strategies
You can’t know if what you’re doing is right for you unless you’ve tried other things. You should have tested out different strategies at some point and know that your current one gets the best results.
You’ve Found a Way to Measure Impact
Whether it’s through services like Google Analytics or the built-in tools on many social media sites, you should have a way to quantify results so that you know you’re on the right track towards social media success.
You Don’t Spend All Day on Social Media
It might be tempting to use social media non-stop, especially if you’re constantly talking to customers. But you should be able to accomplish your goals without spending all day monitoring tweets or Facebook mentions.
You Maintain Relationships
More than just responding to individual messages, you should be using social media to actually keep in constant contact with your connections. And they should do the same with you.
You Create Brand Advocates
If you do successfully maintain relationships on social media, you have probably created some brand advocates for your food truck business – those who continually share your links and recommend your truck to friends. If this is the case, you’re inching closer towards social media success.
You Accomplish Your Goals
Once you have a plan, you should see that you’re accomplishing what you set out to do, whether that’s increasing your food truck’s brand awareness, gaining website traffic or gaining valuable insights.
You Receive Suggestions
If your customers or others in your network come to you with ideas for new menu items or website features, it means they want to see you succeed and they think of you specifically when they have ideas related to your industry.
Your Network is Constantly Growing
Social media can turn into a numbers game for some food truck owners. But there is no magic number of followers or interactions that means your food brand has become a social media success. A better gauge is whether your network, both in terms of followers and interactions, grows steadily.
Customers Treat You Like a Real Person
Social media users don’t want to follow companies. They want to follow people. If your followers treat your company like a friend, you’re likely running your account like that of a person, rather than a brand.
You Gain Customers
Even if gaining new customers isn’t one of your main social media goals, at some point new people will come across your profiles and, hopefully, support your mobile food business.
Of course, there are different levels of social media success, but if you and your food truck have achieved at least some of the items mentioned above, you’re well on your way.
It’s May again, and the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show is set to begin next weekend here in Chicago. Despite the popularity of these types of trade shows, there are no guarantees of success when it comes to being an exhibitor.
In fact, according to the Trade Show Bureau (TSB), roughly 40% of first-time exhibitors don’t come back. A lot of them just go, stand around not doing much, and then swear they’re never coming back. The problem for these first time exhibitors is they don’t realize the effort it takes before and after to make a trade show work.
Here are 10 tips that can help small companies and/or new exhibitors make their mark at a trade show:
Check a trade show directory. Find out as much as possible about an exhibition before the show. Make certain its attendees are your target group.
Fix a budget. Find out prices for airfare, accommodations, and the like. Also, decide what your display needs are. If your budget is tight or you’re just going to one show, you may want to consider renting a display. If you go to a lot of shows (five or more a year), buying a display may be a better option.
Set objectives. Don’t go to the show without concrete marketing goals. Plan to meet a certain number of key customers and prospects.
Ship ahead, and allow plenty of lead time. Don’t expect things to arrive when they’re supposed to. Plan as if your materials will get there a week or two later than your target date.
Watch labor costs. Portable displays can usually be set up quickly and help you avoid additional labor costs. Check the show booklet carefully to see what the regulations are when it comes to setting up your own booth. As a rule, if it can be set up in 20 minutes or less with one person, you can avoid extra labor charges.
Keep it simple. If you can’t afford a lot of extras in the booth, at least keep it uncluttered and simple. Don’t put a table in the front, blocking the entrance. Avoid having chairs in the booth (it may become too tempting to sit down). Most important: Have a banner that tells people who you are and what you do.
Spend on lights. Don’t cut corners too closely on lighting. Many exhibit halls are poorly lit, and a dark booth is both uninviting and apt to make the company look like it doesn’t belong.
Consider trade show training. Many firms offer training on how to sell at trade shows. Salespeople who are great on the road may feel less comfortable standing in a booth for six or eight hours a day.
Don’t understaff. A minimum of two people is always necessary. If budgets are really tight, look at the possibility of hiring an on-site temp rather than sending a staffer to the show.
Be aggressive. Go out into the aisles and meet people. Don’t stand there (or worse, sit) waiting for people to come to you.