Tags Posts tagged with "Tips"

Tips

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food truck marketing plan

Here are four time-saving tips to help you develop an effective food truck marketing plan while working on it less than 5 hours a week.

How much time do you spend each week growing your food truck business as opposed to running it? If you’re like 99% of mobile food vendors, your answer is probably, “not nearly enough.”

Running a food truck is a huge job that can keep you busy from the start of your day until late into the night. So it’s no wonder you can’t find the time to focus on marketing strategies that can help you grow your mobile food business.

The good news is, an effective profit-generating marketing plan doesn’t have to take weeks to plan and execute.

Today we’d like to share four time saving-tips to help you set up an effective food truck marketing plan that will help grow your business huge – working less than 5 hours a week on it.

… And yes, you DO have 5 extra hours a week to spend on your marketing, and we’ll show you where to find them.

Planning: 1 Hour a Week

The best time to do this would be every Sunday evening or early Monday morning, when most food truck business is slow. This allows you to create a schedule for the week ahead that identifies all the important tasks you need to accomplish and blocks off times when you can work on them.

We suggest that your planning hour is set at the same time every week, this way you’ll create a rhythm that maximizes your productivity.

Marketing: 30 x 3

In order to effectively market your business, you are going to have to stay on top of regular marketing communications tasks such as:

  • Updating your food truck website/blog
  • Responding to positive and negative reviews of your food truck on review sites such as Yelp
  • Creating graphics/posters announcing your upcoming special events
  • Creating press releases to promote upcoming events

The best way to manage this process is to schedule 30-minute blocks three times a week for yourself to work on these tasks. Again, if you schedule these 30-minute blocks for the same times each week you’ll  create a rhythm that will help you to be more productive.

Facebook and Twitter: 30 Minutes a Day

Facebook  and Twitter can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for your food truck. Best of all, they’re free. It only takes a few hours to set up effective Facebook and Twitter pages for your mobile food business – and once they’re in place, you can rapidly grow a local audience and establish a strong connection with them.

The best part is you don’t have to spend more than 15 minutes a day on each.

We recommend you schedule your 15-minute social media break for the same time every day – maybe early in the morning when you first get to your commissary, or in the afternoon once the lunch rush is over.

During this time, here’s what you can do:

  • Send out a status updates or tweets telling everyone about your specials and locations for the day.
  • Respond to any comments, messages, or Friend Requests you may have received.
  • Write a status update letting people know how preparations are going for your next upcoming event. It personalizes your business at the same time as it reminds people about your event. comment that everyone can relate to, say, about the weather, or an upcoming holiday.

Have a Notepad and Pen With You

As a food truck owner, you spend a lot of time in your truck, dealing with your staff and customers. And all that time is time you’re not spending working on your marketing plan…or is it?

The truth is, when you’re in the thick of a busy day, the time listening to your customers and overseeing your staff can be when some of your best marketing ideas can come to mind. You might suddenly think up a status update you’d like to share with your Facebook followers. Or maybe you’ll come up with a great idea for an upcoming promotion or special event.

If you jot your ideas down as they occur to you, then you don’t have to bang your head against the wall trying to remember what they were when you finally have a moment to sit down.  This will save you a lot of time and aggravation and will help you maximize your efficiency.

By implementing these tips, you can get an enormous amount of marketing work accomplished every week. All you have to do is create a regular schedule for yourself and then stick to that schedule. You’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll see results.

Related: 5 Essential Pieces Of A Food Truck Marketing Plan

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Start Up Food Truck Business Tips

While I have yet to open my own food truck, I have been watching the industry for a long time now. I have kept an eye on many of the food trucks that have opened since 2010 and watched as many have succeeded beyond their owners wildest dreams.

At the same time, I have seen many food truck operators flounder. Running a food truck is not an easy road to follow, but if done properly it can be the most rewarding venture you will ever enter into. We hope the following list of start up food truck business tips helps you steer down the path to success.

8 Start Up Food Truck Business Tips:

Focus. Many first-time food truck operators feel the need to jump at every “opportunity” they are approached with. Opportunities are often wolves in sheep’s clothing. Avoid getting side-tracked. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly (your food), not 10 things poorly. If you feel the need to jump onto another project, that might mean something about your original concept.
Know what you do. Do what you know. Don’t start a food truck simply because it seems sexy or boasts large hypothetical profit margins and returns. Do what you love. Mobile food businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It’s not only important to create a profitable mobile venture, it’s also important that you’re happy managing and growing it day in and day out. If your heart isn’t in it, you will not be successful.
Say it in 30 seconds or don’t say it at all. From a chance encounter with an investor, a curious customer or even a local news crew, always be ready to pitch your food truck. State your truck’s mission, service and goals in a clear and concise manner. Fit the pitch to the person. Less is always more.
Know what you know, what you don’t know and who knows what you don’t. No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with advisers and mentors who will nurture you to become a better mobile food vendor. Find successful, knowledgeable individuals in the food truck or restaurant industry with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that see value in working with you for the long-term.
Act like a startup. Forget about a fancy office and fat expense account. Your wallet is your company’s life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal. Watch every dollar and triple-check every expense. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
Learn under fire. No food truck business book (although Running a Food Truck for Dummies comes close :)) or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful food truck operator. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. Never jump right into a food truck business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become well-rounded when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes–and never make the same mistake twice.
Be healthy. Owning a food truck is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don’t make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself.
Don’t fall victim to your own B.S.  Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.

While there are many more tips that I could have given, this list is a great starting point. If you have additional tips, please feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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unhappy food truck customer

Did you know that as a food truck owner, unhappy customers are one of the best learning tools for your mobile food business?

While every vendor wants to make all of their customers happy, realistically that will never happen. With that said, your unhappy customers have a lot to teach you, so be sure to pay attention to what they have to say in order to improve your food truck business.

Connecting

Before you can learn from your unhappy customers, you need to make sure you’re connecting with all your customers. Social media has made it easy to ensure that your customers can reach you with their concerns.

Learning

Once you start connecting with your customers, pay particular attention to your unhappy customers, as they generally have the most to teach you. Here are three of the primary things you can learn from customers that are unhappy with your menu items or service, for whatever reason:

What’s important to your customers

It’s important to listen to the language your customers are using and to keep track of what customers are complaining about. Are they unhappy about wait times and costs?

Listening to the complaints of your customers will help you figure out what they find important. It could be excellent food, lots of choices, ability to customization orders, or fantastic customer service. Letting unhappy customers tell you what’s most important to them will tell you where you’ll get the best return on your investment by making improvements to your menu or services.

How to improve customer service

Often times, unhappy customers are unhappy with some aspect of your customer service. Again, listen to your customers to see what their complaints center around. If, for instance, you get many complaints that customers have to wait in line too long, then you may want to consider increasing the number of line cooks so you can churn out the orders constantly. Or you may choose to par cook some of your longer wait items so your current staff can get them out the window faster.

How to improve your menu items

Of course, some customers may also be unhappy with your menu items. They may simply not have gotten what they were expecting, and you certainly can’t satisfy everyone. But satisfying the greatest number of customers with your menu should certainly be the goal. Yet again, it’s important to follow the trends when it comes to customer complaints. Do many customers complain about the same item on your menu being too spicy? Consider reengineering your recipe even if it was your grandmother’s.

Any time a customer is unhappy with your menu, whether they’re connecting with you through your website or through your Facebook page, get as much specific detail on what they dislike about the specific item as possible. The more detail you can get, the more information you’ll have that will help you improve your menu moving forward.

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spring food truck driving tips

Spring is here officially, although the in some places you may question it. With spring’s arrival we felt that we’d share some driving advice to food truck owners who are getting ready to launch and provide a reminder to those of you who’ve spent a few seasons in your truck.

With winter fading into the background and better weather on the horizon, you’d think the roads would finally be safe again. This isn’t always the case. Today we’ll cover some of the road dangers to avoid as well as a few driving tips to help you and your truck make it safely to summer.

So what are these spring driving dangers?

Rainy days and flooding

Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and flooding. What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? For one, slippery roads reduce your truck’s handling and increase the distance it takes to stop your already tough to stop food truck. Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and could lead to hydroplaning.

Hail

Beware of hail storms, particularly if you live in a hail-belt state (Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri). Even small hailstones can shatter your food truck’s windshield, and raining balls of ice are never good for the roads or your truck’s exterior.

We understand a truck won’t intentionally head out in a hail storm, (how many customers do you expect to wait in line while being pelted with hail?), but if it starts hailing during a shift, have a plan in place to be able to get your truck under cover as soon as possible..

Winter Potholes

In many states, winter wreaks havoc on the roads. Snow plows, salt, sand, and the aftermath of ice can all leave roads a bit battered. Once snow melts away, expect to drive over new potholes.

Bikes and Motorcycles

Spring brings cyclists out of hibernation. Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous.

Spring Food Truck Driving Safety Tips
  • Check your lights. Since spring rain hinders driving visibility, make sure all your lights work, including headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights, and brake lights.
  • Replace your wiper blades. Worn-out wiper blades may not be up to the task of clearing water away from your windshield. Check your wiper blades and replace them if necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure. Harsh winter weather can deflate your food truck’s tires. Make sure you have enough air in them once spring rolls around. (As a bonus, proper tire pressure can also help you increase your truck’s mpg *cha ching*!!!)
  • Slow down and drive carefully. The first few rainy days of spring can produce exceptionally slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixing with rainwater, so slow down and increase your stopping distance when it’s raining.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bad road conditions. Remember that harsh winter weather breeds potholes and other driving obstacles.

Seasonal showers and poor road conditions can create unpleasant complications for all drivers on the road. Food truck owners need to be a little more cautious due to the size and weight of your vehicles, not to mention that if your truck is damaged and cannot drive…you’re losing sales opportunities. Use the above tips to your advantage and you’ll be that much more prepared for any spring driving dangers that come your food truck’s way.

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food truck tax tips

As a mobile food vendor, tax season can be one of the most challenging times of the year. Since you’re probably not an expert on the tax code, it can be stressful to file your taxes properly and take all the deductions available to you.

With the April 15 tax-filing deadline less than a month away, Mobile Cuisine has spoken with some accountants and tax specialists to find about some of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a food truck owner when filing taxes, what deductions shouldn’t be overlooked and how you can start preparing now for next year’s taxes.

Biggest Tax Mistake

Being a mobile food business owner is tough. There are so many demands on your time and so many hats you are required to wear. One of the biggest mistakes happens when the accounting work gets put on hold so that you can focus other aspects of your business. This includes keeping track of receipts or expenses.

Rather than storing them in a shoe box and having to sit down and record them all at once, which takes lots of time away from your mobile food business. You are better off automatically inputting and categorizing expenses into a single ledger (or preferably a tax software program) as soon as you can. This will prevent you from missing out on deductions you are owed.

Should You Do Your Taxes?

Most owners we speak with prefer to let a professional handle their taxes. They find that filing their own taxes used to give them headaches, and were always afraid of doing the forms incorrectly — to avoid these problems they let a tax professional take care of them.

This kind of help is invaluable to a food truck owner. It allows you to focus your energy on producing quality food for your customers rather than stressing out about your taxes.

Please note that if you do your taxes yourself, it’s always easiest to prepare and file your taxes when you have all of the information right in front of you. Keeping track of your income and expenses year round in an accounting software package is a great way to reduce your headaches at tax time.

Tax-code changes in 2014

We found that the biggest change for food truck owners this year is that those who maintain home offices can use a simplified option to calculate this deduction for 2013. In the past, truck owners who did all of their administrative work from home had to track utilities and expenses pertaining to specifically maintaining a home office, such as heating and rent, etc. For 2013, you will be able to take a standard deduction of $5 per square foot of home used for business (up to 300 square feet). This should simplify things and lessen the need to keep as many records inside your home.

Deductions often overlooked

Food truck owners often overlook the mileage deduction. It’s worth tracking car trips — other than the mileage you use to get back and forth to your commissary since you can deduct roughly 56 cents a mile for 2013 (5.5 cents to be exact).

Also encourage tracking educational expenses, such as books, training seminars or online courses. If these items help you hone your skills as a business owner or in your kitchen, they may be deductible.

Make Next Year’s Taxes An Easier Process

Keep track of your income and expenses in some form of accounting software. This will not only help you stay on top of your business day to day, but it will also make sure tax time is easy and painless.

Reflect on troublesome 2013 tax issues. Were you unsure of total income? Was it difficult to categorize expenses? Find out what made this year’s taxes tough to file and correct them.

Please be advised…these tips are just that. We do not claim to be tax experts and unless you have a firm grip on accounting, we suggest you reach out to a CPA to assist you and your mobile food business at tax time.

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food truck tip of the day

tip of the dayI spend a lot of time in food truck lines and I have seen good service, I have seen absolutely spectacular service and I have seen down right awful service.

Today’s Tip of the Day comes from the service I saw at a food truck a couple of months ago.

The customer in front of me had a bill for $12.50. They promptly handed the service window attendant a $20 bill. What happened next took me back…the server asked, “Do you need any change?” Huh? Were they really angling for a $7.50 tip?

What’s worse in my opinion was that the customer wouldn’t have gotten back something even close to what they might if they left a 20% tip. In this case it makes the customer feel stingy for not leaving a nearly 80% tip.

If you are a food truck owner you should be training wait staff that the correct phrase would be “$7.50 is your change” while extending the change back to them. This gives the customer the opening to say “That’s OK” if they intend for them to keep everything.

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Even if you’ve worked in a restaurant kitchen in previous jobs, stepping into a food truck kitchen for the first time can be an extremely scary thing. Each food truck has a culture of its own and way of doing things.

Working in a food truck

 

If you take one misplaced step, you risk embarrassing yourself; not to mention the possibility of ending up in the local emergency room. To help you make a good first and lasting impression, here are ten tips for surviving a food truck kitchen:

Stay Calm

This is easier said than done. Food trucks can be extremely high stress environments and it takes discipline not to freak out. Even if you can’t control your fear and you’re freaking out on the inside, you need to project a calm exterior; this will show that you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Move Deliberately & Efficiently

This point cannot be over stressed. In a food truck efficiency of movement is key, want to impress your chef? Cut out any unnecessary movements inside the truck.

Always Ask For Clarification

If you’re not clear on a task that has been assigned to you, ASK! Sure, if you make a habit of this, it will probably piss off your boss because it shows that you’re not paying attention. However, the worst thing you can do is to be unsure about a task or technique and end up preparing the food wrong. Great food trucks are all about consistency don’t stay quiet and send out a meal that may not meet the customers expectations.

Don’t Be A Know-It-All

Don’t lie about your knowledge or experience. If anything, you need to under promise and over deliver. Also, don’t try to impress your co-workers with French culinary terms. If they’re applicable in the conversation, then use them.

Know Your Surroundings

A food truck is a crowded, hectic place. Let people know where you are at all times. Yell “Behind You” when walking behind someone. Say “Sharp” if you’re walking by someone with a sharp knife and say “Hot” if you’re walking around the truck with a hot pot. In time these “call outs” will become second nature.

Do Your Homework

Most food trucks have web pages complete with their menus. Read the menu and do research on any terms or dishes that you’re not familiar with. Also, Google the truck’s name and the owner’s name and read any article or web page to better understand what you’re getting yourself into. This should be done before you even apply for the job. Make sure you’re familiar with the truck, their food, and the owner’s reputation before stepping foot into a food truck.

Keep Quiet

When you first start, try not to talk unless spoken to, or ask a direct question about the food or the current task at hand. Learn the dynamics within the truck before you open your mouth and make a fool of yourself. The easiest way to alienate yourself on the first day of your new job is by being a load mouth.

Stay Clean & Organized

Food trucks have limited space for staff members to operate so always keep your station(s) clean and organized, and be sure to put everything in its proper place before moving to another task. Keep all your product organized around your work station, and try to keep your uniform as clean as possible.

Limit Your Vices

One fact you learn quickly when working in food service, people who work in the industry tend to party a lot. If you’ve spent any time working in a kitchen (restaurant or food truck), chances are you’ve seen your fair share of extremely talented individuals self-destruct because of problems with alcohol and drug abuse. You’ll be surprised how much of an advantage you have over other people in the industry if you’re not constantly showing up to work hung over or drained from other forms of partying.

Have A Purpose

Working in a food truck requires so much time, effort, and energy that you will not last if you don’t have a purpose for being there. Maybe it’s to study under the truck’s owner, or to see how a food truck is managed. Whatever it is, make sure the truck you work in is moving you towards your culinary goals.

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Can you train someone for that open position on your food truck staff? This is an important question that food truck owners need to ask themselves while going through the hiring process. While other questions are certainly relevant, this question can significantly impact the bottom line of your mobile food business. Whether you need to fill the role of a drive, server, cook, chef or manager, each can require a substantial amount of time to get someone up to speed to actually help you.

Employee-Development training

A Wealth of Questions

You can narrow the field during the interview stage by asking the right questions. Add in some loaded questions so you can gain a real sense of a candidate’s strength and weaknesses. These questions may not seem relevant to that of a food truck owner, but hiring the right people will likely ensure the success of your truck.

Most of the questions involve the candidate. However, asking yourself the right questions can set the correct framework. Start with a couple of essentials:

  • Need: Answer the important question of need – what needs the position will require from you. From training to the character traits you can only get from “loaded questions,” these questions can help you prepare for the hiring process.
  • Source: Where will you look for your next candidate? Studies have shown that external hires receive “significantly lower performance evaluations for their first two years on the job…,” though they have more education and get paid 18 percent more than internal candidates. (hint hint: try to hire from your existing staff)

Once you have these essentials met, you can move on from there. From the starting point of the hiring process to post-interview, it pays to ask yourself the right questions to ensure you’re taking the right steps. Hiring mistakes can have an unmistakable and negative impacts.

The Decisive Question

You think you have the right candidate. He or she has all of the characteristics on paper, and there is much to like regarding the candidate’s aptitude, likeability, and interactivity. Yet, one question remains: Can you train them?

In some cases, everything seems to be right – but that person is unable to make the transition to the job. Due to a need for him or her to start right away, it just might not work out. Situations like these can be unfortunate, especially when the hiring decision isn’t well thought out.

This decisive question is incredibly valuable in many situations. Ultimately, the “right” candidate for the job may not seamlessly integrate into the new position. Training them may be too much trouble.

Can you train the applicant? Or would it be too much of a hassle for the position?

Every job is different. And every candidate is different as well. Yet, this question could be the litmus test for your business and the position. Someone who has never cooked inside a cramped food truck kitchen before may have some trouble acclimating to a hectic environment. However, you may find that you or another employee can train them during the slower times of the day. One other question you may want to ask yourself is if the candidate will have the ability to “catch up.” In this case, a trial period may not be a bad idea.

Overview

The barrage of questions is bidirectional in the hiring process. In order to spare your mobile food business of a costly mistake, the important questions must be asked and answered – and applied – by you.

Look at the applicant’s range of skills and qualities that aren’t found on paper. From the basic to the tough questions, the subsequent answers can be used to gain an understanding of what an applicant can bring. However, there is always a practical and important question with regard to training.

Learn to ask yourself and the candidate the right questions. It could save you a great deal of pain in the end. Remember: Your employees ultimately reflect on you and your food truck.

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Marketing is an integral part of a food truck business’ growth. Yet to afford a marketing campaign, most food truck vendors feel pressured to grow their businesses first. It’s easy to see how a vicious and counterproductive cycle develops from here. You mobile food business growth and marketing must go hand-in-hand; to achieve one, you must have the other.

Cost Effective Marketing

 

But how is a food truck supposed to do any marketing if there’s no budget to support traditional marketing efforts? No worries, this article provides a few do-it-yourself ways you can grow your mobile food business without spending the big money you don’t yet have.

Marketing Solutions for a Shoestring Budget
      1. Network within the Community. You should never overlook the power of networking within the communities you operate in. Attend networking meetings; if there aren’t any in your area, talk to other business owners and start one. Chances are there are other people who would like to share and discuss marketing techniques.
      2. Be a Guest Blogger. Many website owners *cough* mobile-cuisine.com *cough* welcome guest bloggers who can write content that’s relevant to the mobile food industry. This is an excellent way to market your business by discussing something related to your business and building a relationship with other like-minded businesses and in return driving traffic to your website.
      3. Offer Incentives. Existing customers are often happy to help spread the word about a food truck they enjoy frequenting. Offer a discount or small freebie to current customers who bring a new paying customer to your service window.
      4. New Customers Exclusive Offers. New customers enjoy incentives too. Attract consumers with offers that are exclusively for first-time customers. This is a great way to convert a consumer into a frequent visitor.
      5. Conduct Free Workshops/Classes. Today’s food truck customers are looking for value in many shapes and forms. Offering cooking workshops or classes that teach your customers how to prepare a dish from your menu or something similar can attract new customers and increase sales. They don’t have to be long; even 30 to 60 minutes are sufficient if what you’re offering during that time isn’t fluff.
      6. Use Social Media Consistently. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to market your business for free. Choose three social media venues you or an employee feels comfortable with and post to them at least three times weekly. As you build followers, you’ll be able to lead them to your truck. If you do it right, you could end up in our Most Influential Food Truck list next year.
      7. Add a Blog. A website is something every food truck owner should have. If it’s not in the budget to have one designed for you, there are plenty of sites that offer free or low-cost templates that can be used for now. Be sure to add a blog to your website so you can regularly post about what’s new in your mobile food business, as well as on any other topics you feel would be relevant to what you have to offer.
Slow, Steady Progress Brings Results

Eager food truck vendors would love to see overnight growth, but things seldom work out that way, and that might be a good thing. Too much growth too soon can be hard to prepare for and could result in poor quality food and customer service. By using the tips above, you can slowly and steadily build your customer base and gain exposure for your food truck business. Consistency is important, so use these marketing ideas regularly to keep the momentum going. Over time, you’ll learn which ones work best for you and your customers.

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Do you spend much time doing preventative maintenance on your food truck? If not, why?

food truck being towed
image from evgrieve.com

Your food truck is how you are able to deliver your fantastic menu to your customers. If it won’t start or is stuck at the auto repair shop, your mobile food business is closed until you can get it back on the road. In this article we’ve compiled 50 tips full of advice, surprising tricks, and vehicle care tips to prolong the life of your kitchen on wheels!

Drive with care every day

Drive with care every day and your food truck will reward you with longer intervals without repair.

  • Do not race your engine during start-up. This is a quick way to add years of wear to your engine, especially if it’s cold outside.
  • Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive. The most wear to the engine and drive train occurs in the first ten to twenty minutes of operation.
  • Warming the engine by letting it idle in the commissary parking lot is not a smart idea. The engine doesn’t operate at its peak temperature, resulting in incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on cylinder walls, oil contamination, and ultimately damaged components.
  • Put less strain on your engine and automatic transmission by shifting to neutral at red lights. Otherwise, the engine is still working to push the truck even while it’s stopped.
  • Avoid driving at high speeds and accelerating quickly, especially when it’s very hot or very cold outside. Such driving behavior will result in more frequent repairs.
  • Extend the life of your tires with careful driving. Observe posted speed limits. Avoid fast starts, stops, and turns. Avoid potholes and objects on the road. Don’t run over curbs or hit the tire against the curb when parking.
  • When turning your steering wheel, don’t hold it in an extreme right or left position for more than a few seconds. Doing so can damage the power-steering pump.
  • Consolidate your short driving trips. Most of the wear and tear — as well as the pollution your food truck generates — takes place in the first few minutes of driving.

Buy gas at reputable service stations

Ask whether the gas you buy is filtered at the pump and if the station has a policy about changing the pump filters regularly. If you get a song and dance, find another gas station. Some stations don’t have pump filters, making you more vulnerable to dirty gasoline. Other stations may not mix alcohol and fuel properly — or worse, water down their product. Find a station you trust and stick to it.

Don’t fill up if you see the tanker

If you happen to see a gasoline tanker filling the tanks at your local gas station, come back another day or go to a different station. As the station’s underground tanks are being filled, the turbulence can stir up sediment. Sediment in your gas can clog fuel filters and fuel injectors, causing poor performance and possibly necessitating repairs.

Lighten up your key chain

Does your food truck key share a chain with a dozen or more other keys? That’s a pretty heavy load hanging off the car key when it’s in the ignition. The weight, combined with bouncing while you drive, can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition switch failure. To add years of service to your ignition switch, purchase a lightweight key chain that allows you to separate your ignition key from the others. Drive with only the ignition key in your ignition. If your ignition key “sticks” when you try to turn on the truck, it’s a warning that your ignition switch is about to fail. Replace it before you get stranded.

Keep an auto log

Keep a pad and pencil in the glove compartment and use them to record your gas fill-ups and mileage. If you notice that your gas mileage worsens, mention it to your service man. It may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your truck.

Preserve your truck during long-term storage

If you are not going to use your truck for more than a month, store it properly to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs upon your return.

  • Fill the gas tank to help prevent condensation from accumulating in the gas tank. Add a fuel stabilizer and drive the car around a bit to distribute the additive to engine parts.
  • Place a vapor barrier on your garage floor. A 4-mil polyethylene drop cloth will do.
  • Disengage the parking brake to help avoid brake corrosion.
  • Put the truck on jack stands to take the weight of the vehicle off the wheels and tires.
  • Disconnect and remove the battery to keep it from draining. Place the battery on a trickletype charger. Or periodically drain the battery, using a small light bulb, and then recharge it with a low-volt charger.
  • Plug the tailpipe with a rag to prevent moist air from infiltrating into it.
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