It’s apparent that vendors in the mobile food industry recognize that food is the king of their business. Owners, operators, managers and cooks fawn over the entrees, appetizers and desserts on their menus. Managers provide samples and describe their food in detail to their service window staff in pre-shift meetings, hoping to encourage more sales. Owners and chefs labor over portioning, specs, flavors and recipes of their offerings, to find ways to pull in a few pennies more from each item. But meanwhile, sitting alone, unattended, tucked into the corner in tiny print at the bottom of the menu, sits the red-headed step-child of top line sales: the beverage selection. Overlooked are the beverages which are sadly under-promoted and overlooked by most operators, but it’s time to wake up and smell the water and soda.
The gross profit margins on beverages are astronomical compared to food, yet strangely, most beverage incidence (ratio of beverages sold to food sold) is less than 10% in most food truck operations. And yet beverages can contribute as much as 70-80% gross profit margin per serving…so what’s wrong with this picture? Opportunity knocks if you’re willing to listen, and here’s a few ideas to help you start managing your beverage sales like the (overlooked) profit center they are.
Liquid assets deserve focus.
Beverage is sometimes treated by crew and management as an accessory to the dining experience; like silverware or a condiment; rather than a pivotal part of the order. While a good food truck owner will teach their service staff to be familiar with and suggest their signature food items, few stress the importance of the beverage as the companion centerpiece of a customized experience.
Use the Sullivan Nod.
Whenever servers suggest a beverage, have them smile and slowly nod their heads up and own as they make the suggestion. Body language is powerful, and research shows that over 60% of the time, the customer will nod right back and take your suggestion.
Remember to ring them up.
This should go without saying, but I won’t let it. A beverage sale isn’t a beverage sale till its rung up and paid for.
No train, no gain.
Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice does. Rehearse how to make beverage suggestions with your team every single shift. Repetition is the mother of all learning.