Constant and painful rising food prices makes it hard for a food truck owner to think of anything else. The United States Department of Agriculture reported increases of 1.25 to 1.75 percent for all food prices in 2014. This puts a dent in your bottom line and forces you to consider alternatives to offset the additional expense. There is potential in many areas to lessen the pain especially as the price changes vary dramatically and customer psychology is lopsided and not rational.
You could of course punish your customers. Rising your prices can be done without much thought and regard for customers, but in actuality it is a delicate process and can scare off customers. This can be a disaster if it is done abruptly, without giving customers forewarning or without training staff in a customer friendly explanation.
You have other choices, which you should consider before jacking up prices. Use of these strategies may lessen the damage that price increases have on your mobile food business.
4 Ways To Combat Rising Food Prices
If you haven’t spent time considering all your purchasing options, this is where you should start. It is easy to assume that ingredients from other sources and suppliers is of lower quality or of equal or higher price.
This may be true, but don’t take the word of your current supplier’s rep. You have to put it to the test and make the necessary phone calls, especially as other suppliers may have incentives for you to switch.
Although this is a frustrating process, you cannot know if there is a better deal out there if you don’t put in the time. You do have to take into account other factors besides quality and quantity however, such as service and reliability.
Buy in Bulk
Sometimes, you can get the slightly prices reduced, especially if you own more than one food truck. Still, by buying in bulk most food trucks can save money. This is all contingent upon storage space and if you actually have it available.
On the Plate
- Less Food – Because mobile food vendors don’t want to bump up price and anger regular customers, they often resort to decreasing portions. Sometimes, it is dramatic. Other times, it is barely noticeable. Whether this decision is a wise choice or catastrophe depends on the food truck. You must ask questions before you take this step like: Are the portions generous? Are the generous portions part of my brand? Will I leave customers hungry? What do my customers expect?
- More Filling Food – Some food just fills you up more and frequently the most filling foods are the cheapest item on the plate (many vegetables). It only speaks to reason that the proportion can be slightly shifted to favor these foods over more expensive ones, especially if it does little to alter the dish.
- Less Food Visually Enhanced – Food truck owners should consider that food is visual too and that is normally how customers assess the size of the portion. That means that the arrangement can alter your customers’ experiences. You are not pulling a fast one, because this visual perception actually contributes to your customers’ satisfaction. The easiest way to accomplish this is actually changing your packaging. It does not have to be dramatic as the food to package ratio has an enormous effect on customers’ psychology.
Relabel, Revamp or Replace Menu Items
Your menu isn’t written in stone. You can replace dishes (simply method) or repackage them at a slightly higher price or with a cheaper assortment of ingredients.
Give yourself flexibility with interchangeable ingredients and decrease slightly the specificity of your menu.
Even better is revamping some menu items with a different name and an improved taste that has a higher price. Of course, we don’t suggest doing everything at once, but having ? the menu evolve over a year isn’t that big of a deal.
An easy way to do it is introducing the dish as a special and then instituting it into the menu. Get creative.
The Bottom Line
The USDA predicts that rising food prices will slow down, so you may not have to go to your bag of tricks and ideas every few months and you can focus on other things. But don’t take it lying down. It is a reason to improve your business and maintain customer satisfaction.