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food truck business growth

tip of the dayIn the food truck industry it’s easy to be patient for things that need more urgency and too impatient for the for things that need more time.

Food truck business growth comes from understanding what needs to be nurtured over the long term and which areas need short term focus.

Food Truck Business Growth Requires Patience

Do you want to be part of an industry that has seen 9.3% growth in the last five years? Then you, the food truck owner needs to develop the proper methods and systems to drive your profits the proper way.

Profit driven from delivering what customers love and want to pay a premium for is vital to your food truck business growth. Too many food trucks focus on sales growth through volume and discounts to almost ‘bribe’ the customer to choose them. This impatience for sales growth leads a devaluation of what you are offering.

Sales growth comes from customer’s loving what you do. The right talent is required to deliver great products based upon being impatient for a real understanding of how consumers shop, how they live and what they want.

Creating a great food truck menu and service that outshines your competition delivers profits to invest in your food truck business growth.

Food truck business growth should never be at the expense of profit – be impatient in building the pillars of profit but at the same time food truck vendors need to be patient for growth built on the right foundations.

We Want To Know About Your Food Truck Business Growth

Have you seen food truck business growth in your mobile food business? What were the keys to your success? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. You can share your ideas and tips with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

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.

food truck laws

Opening a food truck requires a lot of work and preparation. As a part of the preparation, you must become familiar with and adhere to the local food truck laws that govern the mobile food industry.

Failure to do so could result in your mobile business failing inspection and potentially being shut down. Since this is never a food truck vendor’s desired goal, you will want to make sure you understand the food truck laws and ensure that your food truck follows them.

Food Truck Laws You Need To Know

If you are opting to build your truck business from scratch rather than purchase an existing truck, you will first have to familiarize yourself with parking and zoning laws. In each city and town there are specific zones set up that separate where a particular business can operate.

Before you purchase your truck, it is important that you contact the city parking and zoning departments to ensure that the area you are interested in operating in will allow your vehicle to set up shop. You will be best served to make sure you know any vehicle size limitations as well as the amount of time a food truck can remain parked in one location before being required to move.

The most important laws that you will need to understand for your food truck are those that center on the Food Code. The Food Code was established by the FDA as a guideline for local and state governments as a way to regulate the mobile food industry and protect the health and safety of consumers, residents and employees.

Though it is used as a guideline, the Food Code is not a requirement of the state and local government. Each will have their own version specific to that area. In most areas, the Department of Health will be in charge of establishing and enforcing the local Food and Health Codes. It is important that you contact the Department of Health in the beginning of your planning stages of your business to ensure that everything is done according to the local laws.

Given its name and the fact that it was established by the FDA, the Food Code can often be mistaken for regulations that only govern food. This is not accurate as the Department of Health in your local area will have laws and regulations set up that cover virtually anything related to health, food and safety in a food service business.

Some things that these laws will cover include:

  • Preparation, handling, storage and display of any food products that your mobile business plans to offer.
  • The health, cleanliness and hygiene of the personnel that work in your business.
  • All aspects of the equipment and utensils that are being used including what material they are manufactered of, the installation, and even how they are stored.
  • Every facet of the utilities and services that you will need including the generators, propane and waste water, how you dispose of waste, and the way you handle pests.
  • How the truck is constructed and whether it holds the proper features such as ventilation and lighting.
  • Whether or not inspections are carried out, passed and any enforcement is needed.

The best way to ensure the success of your food truck business from the start is to contact the proper agencies and know your local laws before you begin planning. This allows you to ensure that everything from your equipment to your food meets the criteria in the codes so that you can pass inspection and have a successful opening day.

See if we have your city food truck laws listed on our quick link page.

If you know of a link we are missing, please feel free to share it with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Food Portioning

Food portioning, while often overlooked, needs to be looked at as one of the most important activities in your food truck business. Not only does food portioning make an immediate impact on your customers’ experience but it also affects the food quality and food cost of your menu items.

When someone receives a smaller portion than the person who ordered the exact same thing right before them, customers usually notice and their mood sours.

Start At The Beginning

During the preparation process, inaccurate food portioning of ingredients in recipes can alter the food’s flavor and texture. Have you ever had a regular customer ask, “what have you done to the sauce?”

Food Portioning And Cost

Maybe the bigger issue that concerns food truck owners is how food portioning hits their bottom line. Just think about it like this, consistently over portioning a $6.00 per pound product just half an ounce adds almost 19 cents to the serving cost. Say you serve 100 a day, that’s $133 lost per week or almost $7,000 in a year.

That’s with just ONE product! Imagine the cost savings for your entire menu if food portioning became an integral part of your systems?

Use Technology For Food Portioning

Technological advances in scales and slicing equipment keeps making it easier for employees to portion products faster and with much greater accuracy. The newest digital scales are portable, easy to read, have automatic counting functions and can be equipped with push button or hands free capabilities.

Anything you can do to help your staff do a better job of portioning is usually money well spent. Does your staff have the appropriate sized cups, scoops, ladles and other measuring devises at their disposal and are they consistently using the correct ones?

Also, never expect what you don’t inspect. One food truck owner I know has a habit of pulling one item off the line each shift and weighing the key ingredients. If something’s not right, he addresses the issue immediately with his staff. He says that this one practice, more than any other, helps him control portion sizes and keep his food cost in line.

How’s your food portioning? Any improvement in this area should result in happier guests, lower food cost and a healthier bottom line.

Do you have any food portioning tips to share with our readers? We’d love to hear them. You can send via email, Twitter or Facebook.

linkedin profile

Your LinkedIn profile page is your personal home page to the business world. To enhance your profile, log into your LinkedIn account, click Profile, choose Edit from the top-left navigation menu that appears and then follow these tips.

10 Tips To Enhance You LinkedIn Profile
  • Create a customized URL.
  • Add as many past employers as you have had so the most amount of former co-workers can find you.
  • Make sure your professional headline emphasizes any keywords you want to use to promote yourself.
  • Make your profile public and set it to Full View so your LinkedIn profile will show up in Web search results.
  • Add links from your LinkedIn profile to Web sites you are trying to promote, like your blog, or company Web site.
  • For Web site links that you add to your profile, select Other and rename each link to include meaningful keywords, so instead of it saying “My Blog” it would say “My Food Truck Blog.”
  • Include all of your main e-mail addresses in your profile so people can connect with you. LinkedIn does not display your e-mail addresses to the public; they simply keep your e-mail addresses on file when someone tries to connect with you.
  • Fill out the Summary field of your profile with all of your critical skills and important career-related keywords, and be sure to fill out the Skills section with your skill list as well.
  • Add a professional photo to your profile.
  • Add a link to your LinkedIn profile in your e-mail signature file.

If you are active on LinkedIn, please feel free to join our group page “Food Truck Revolution” to discuss the world of food trucks you live in. We’ve have a roster of over 1,500 people to discuss our industry on any topic you have interest.

If you have any additional LinkedIn profile tips or suggestions, you can share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

food truck kitchen fires

tip of the day

Today we will look at how to put out fires that occur in your food truck or your commercial kitchen.

When a fire starts in these areas you need to act fast to keep the fire from getting out of control. But how you act depends on what kind of fire you have and where it is.

Follow these instructions for putting out food truck kitchen fires:
  • If you have a fire in the oven or the microwave, close the door or keep it closed, and turn off the oven. Don’t open the door! The lack of oxygen will suffocate the flames.
  • If your oven continues to smoke like a fire is still going on in there, call the fire department.
  • If you have a fire in a cooking pan, use an oven mitt to clap on the lid, then move the pan off the burner, and turn off the stove. The lack of oxygen will stop the flames in a pot.
  • If you can’t safely put the lid on a flaming pan or you don’t have a lid for the pan, use your fire extinguisher. Aim at the base of the fire — not the flames.
  • Never use water to put out grease fires! Water repels grease and can spread the fire by splattering the grease. Instead, try one of these methods:
    • If the fire is small, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the burner.
    • Throw lots of baking soda or salt on it. Never use flour, which can explode or make the fire worse.
    • Smother the food truck kitchen fire with a wet towel or other large wet cloth.
    • Use a fire extinguisher.
  • Don’t swat at a fire with a towel, apron, or other clothing. You’re likely to fan the flames and spread the fire.
  • If the food truck kitchen fire is spreading and you can’t control it, get everyone off the truck or out of the building and call 911. Make sure your entire staff knows how to get out of these areas safely in case of a fire. Practice your fire escape routes at least twice a year.

Do you have any additional tips for putting out food truck kitchen fires? Leave your tip by Tweeting us or share them on our Facebook page.

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.

food truck tax return

It’s tax day again and as many of you know, completing and filing a small business tax return for your food truck business is different than completing and filing your personal tax return.

The primary difference is the number of forms that must be completed and the difference of your business’ write offs and deductions.

While business tax returns are not overly complicated, ensure that you use the proper form and research any questions you have. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website is relatively easy to navigate and provides answers to most questions. If you don’t feel comfortable filing your business taxes yourself, reach out to your accountant for help.

Here are three tips to filing your food truck tax return:

Keep Your Recipes

Hopefully, you’ve collected all of the receipts related to your businesses expenses. Any expense for which you can provide a receipt if requested you can comfortably deduct, but if you lack a receipt, think twice about whether the deduction is worthwhile.

Small costs unsupported by a receipt can turn into a huge headache if the IRS decides to audit you and your return. Take a walk around your office to identify possible deductions. Miles driven on personal vehicles when doing business related driving, the mileage your drive your truck throughout the year, computer equipment and other expenses are deductible.

Don’t Forget Your Start-up Costs

The IRS allows all new businesses to deduct up to $5,000 in start-up costs. These costs can include attorney or accountant fees, training materials, employee training and other business expenses. Any personal training or education you completed for business purposes is also deductible (think culinary school).

Complete All the Forms

Unlike a personal tax return, a food truck tax return consists of several different forms. One form lists profit and losses, while another calculates the self-employment taxes. Determine which forms you must complete through the IRS website. Completing each one and submitting them together makes it less likely that you’ll be audited.

While you may have already (let’s hope you did) submitted your food truck tax return for 2015, do you have any additional tax tips for prospective food truck owners? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can share your ideas in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

twitter lists

tip of the dayTwitter is an important way for food truck owners to learn about the mobile food industry, build relationships, and extend the impact of their work.

Even Twitter enthusiasts can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tweets and the velocity of conversations, but Twitter lists—groups of individual Twitter accounts—can help focus your attention.

You can quickly focus in on updates from the people you really want to hear from industry experts, well-networked colleagues, and customers simply by looking at your two or three most crucial Twitter lists.

Separate your incoming stream into Twitter lists by thinking about:
  • Development: Who do you want to learn from? Section out the smartest people you know or want to know.
  • Interactions: Which relationships do you want to initiate or strengthen? Engage with the people who will have the greatest impact on your effectiveness by mentioning and retweeting them.
  • Goals: What do you want to accomplish? Tune into the people and conversations that support your food truck business aspirations.

Please note: You can either create your own list or subscribe to a list created by someone else. Creating or subscribing to a list allows you to see only Tweets from users on that list. Lists are not a way to send Tweets to a select group, just to read them.

Do you have any additional advice for those interested in creating Twitter lists for their food truck Twitter account? We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can share them in the comment section below, Tweet us or share them on our Facebook page.

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