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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.

successful food truck owners

There is no magic formula for successful food truck owners, but most vendors who have done well seem to share the same six personality traits.

At the top of the list for successful food trucker owners is the ability to collaborate with others. Those who can delegate often build strong relationships with their staff and are more likely to click with their customers.

successful food truck owners

The other five traits frequently found in successful food truck owners:

Being self-fulfilled. The best culinary entrepreneurs put a high price on the fulfillment their food trucks provide them, relish being their own boss, and enjoy being in control of their personal income.

They value doing something for a living that they love to do being able to decide how much money they make and being able to have the satisfaction of creating something their community values.

Focused on the Future. Food truck owners who have thrived are good at both short and long-term planning. They’re as likely to have a well thought-out plan for the day-to-day running of their business as a road map for how to run the business for years.

Curious. Strong entrepreneurs are always reading and asking questions. They want to learn everything from why a particular business failed to how to find, motivate, and keep good employees.

Action oriented. Successful mobile food business owners are proactive and always differentiate themselves from their competitors. They are less worried than other small business owners about the state of the economy and more likely to look at adversity as sign to move forward.

Tech-savvy. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise but the best food truck business owners invest time and money on their website and are likely to rely a great deal on technology such as social media and point of sales systems to help make our business more effective and efficient.

Many food truck owners have some or many of these traits, however it’s the food truck owners with all of these traits that seem to have captured the most successes so far.

They are a special breed of entrepreneurs that are highly motivated, caring and curious individuals. They effectively balance their personal and business goals, take advantage of others’ expertise and continually seek to learn the best practices exhibited by their competition.

Did we miss a common trait found in most successful food truck owners? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

food truck success

We continually hear that starting a food truck business is one of the hardest small business can start on limited funds. Often the outcome doesn’t result in a fleet of food trucks, a chain of brick and mortar restaurants or even a company deemed successful. The failure rate that occurs in the food service industry can be attributed to many different factors, but often, it comes down to these three common problems.

3 Reasons Why You May Never See Food Truck Success

You have the wrong menu

The biggest mistake you can ever make as a vendor is to create a menu that doesn’t solve a particular need or fill a void. Once you make an assumption about what your market needs, you’ve already started down the wrong path. One of the best ways to create a concept and menu that people will actually pay for is to involve your prospective customers in the process – from the start.

Do your homework, hit the streets and talk to people about what you intend serve. Ask them if they would eat it. Once you gather enough evidence about the need for your menu, you will spend fewer resources trying to convince people to track you down once you start rolling.

Most of the great food trucks started with menus that the owners were passionate about. Start with what you want, validate and focus on making it awesome.

Related: Why Do Food Trucks Fail?

You can’t adapt or change direction

If a food truck vendor can’t give up on their original ideas when the market requires it and make necessary changes, a mobile food business could be heading for a dead end street.

Most food trucks that we’ve seen fail usually have specific immobile goals they want to achieve. Food service is a fast changing business model and demands that concepts and plans need to be consistently re-visited and altered if necessary. Roles within the truck organization, menus, leadership and goals should be open for discussion and re-evaluation when things don’t go as planned.

How flexible are your food truck’s business goals? Successful food trucks are the ones that can change direction on the fly to adjust as needed. There is nothing wrong with making tweaks and sticking to what sells.

Related: 5 More Reasons Food Trucks Fail

Your market isn’t big enough

You need an existing market that is big enough or has enough foot traffic to be successful. How big is your current market?  How do you sustain growth if you are operating in a town that isn’t growing? You could have a fantastic concept, wonderful food and the best service, but if your market isn’t growing, you will eventually struggle to sustain your business.

We hope this article sheds some light on the issues of food truck failure and shows new food truck vendors how to keep their service windows open for the long haul.

If you have any points you’d like to add to this discussion on food truck success, please feel free to add them in the comment section below, Tweet us or post them on our Facebook page.

food truck manager

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:
  1. The best food truck managers can be found in the truck, not outside of it.
  2. They keep the recipe binders up-to-date, in good condition and easy to find.
  3. They make using the recipe cards mandatory. They don’t trust anyone’s memory.
  4. They plan for “teaching moments” every day.
  5. They conduct food demonstrations for new items during pre-shift meetings.
  6. They perform detailed line checks before the truck leaves the commissary.
  7. They develop key people for the service window.
  8. They constantly encourage communication and organization.
  9. They are dedicated to achieving fast ticket turns.
  10. They manage the “flow” inside the truck and don’t get wrapped up in one task.

We’d love to hear how you feel YOUR food truck manager measure up to this list. While not every successful truck has a food truck manager with all of these traits, but through our experience, the trucks that have not been successful, seem to have food truck managers with very few of these traits.

If you’d like to see us add more to our list, please feel free to add your suggestions to the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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. Dream-Job-Sign

Running A Successful Food Truck Business Starts With Work

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.

Where is the Fire in Your Gut?

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.

I love weekendsAlthough 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.

food truck business success

We are continually asked by our readers what the keys are to food truck business 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 those who have found food truck business success 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 a food truck business success.

In this article we have gathered 15 keys to food truck business success to use as a basis for the mobile food business decisions you make.

Keys To Food Truck Business Success
  1. A labor crises does not exist, but a turn over crises does. Our first keys to food truck business success is that food trucks must focus their energy on retaining the good employees they already have and they will never have to worry about finding new ones. Another part of this key is to train moderate employees with long term potential, into good employees; then, never hire employees that are less than moderate with long term potential.
  2. Customers “own” your food truck. The the mobile food vendor doesn’t Always work to satisfy the customer…  if you don’t, someone else certainly will. Then, when you are done working for your customer, work for your employee. It is only then you will reap the reward of an employee who works for your customer through your example, and a customer who works for you through their continued patronage and that of their many friends.
  3. The employee is always your FIRST market. Sell the employee on your food and they will sell your customers. Then, never treat a customer better than you treat your employee.
  4. Keep it fresh, keep it focused and remember to always say, “Thank You”. These easy words will keep good people with you and your customers coming back often.
  5. Do not spend so much time trying to trim costs without spending an equal amount of time training your staff to sell more and serve better. Most food trucks fail when they try to “save” their way to profitability.
  6. Make something idiot-proof and sure enough, someone will invent a better idiot. The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. Expect and demand the greater good from your employees; they will achieve it…. treat them as if they have no intelligence, and they won’t disappoint you.
  7. Train daily. Review often. AND never practice on a customer.
  8. Do not run a food truck. Manage a small business. Success cannot be determined upon profit and losses alone. If you torture numbers, they are certain to tell you anything.
  9. The real bottom line is not how much you get from your customer, it’s how much your customers get from you. Perceived value of the entire experience is of greater importance than any single dollar you can bank. The interest you earn from a satisfied guest is greater than the interest from a bank.
  10. A customer is not always right – because this would imply that in every situation the employee is always wrong. The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer and it is all right for the customer to be wrong.
  11. The difference between food truck reality and fiction is simple. Fiction has to make some sense.
  12. View suppliers and purveyors as partners not adversaries. Anytime someone gets something for nothing, someone gets nothing for something.
  13. Different is not always better, but better is always different. We may never know the single key to food truck business success, but one sure way to failure in the mobile food industry is trying to please everybody. Stay true to your concept and the customer demographic you have chosen to serve.
  14. The more you keep doing what you are doing, the more you are going to get what you got. If you are happy with the results of your business, keep doing what you are doing. If you are not, then there is only one way to correct it.… you have to change the way you do things in business, until you are satisfied with the results.
  15. Your most powerful weapon is your passion.
  • If you are no longer driven, find a new way to steer your business.
  • If you are no longer passionate, rediscover the romance of hospitality.
  • If you have lost the spark, let the joy of owning a food truck reignite your fire.
  • Employees and customers would rather work for or patronize a leader who is inspired. The vendor who lights up their truck with the energy of a fire will achieve greater success than dozens of uninspired individuals holding a candle.
  • You never lose until you quit trying!

One thing you may have noticed while reading this list is that none of these keys to food truck business success are related to the food your food trucks serve.

Don’t worry about 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.

Have you seen vendors with food truck business success? Do they do something we didn’t include? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

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