Today we will be covering a topic that no food truck owner can ignore. Crisis management!
Unplanned events can have a devastating results on a food truck. Crises such as fire, damage to your truck or equipment or illness of key staff could all make it difficult or even impossible to carry out your normal day-to-day business operations. At worst, this could lead to losing customers or even going out of business.
But with good planning you can take steps to limit the potential impact of a crisis.
Why Food Trucks Need Crisis Management Plans
It’s essential for vendors to install a crisis management plan into your food truck operation. This plan will protect you and your mobile food business from the impact of potential crises. This planning is very important for food trucks since they often lack the resources to hire an agency to cope with a crisis.
Failure to plan could be disastrous. At best you risk losing customers while you’re getting your business back on the street. At worst your food truck may never recover and may ultimately go out of business.
As part of the planning process you should:
- Identify potential events that might affect your food truck.
- Plan out how you’ll react if a disaster occurs.
- Test the plan regularly.
A carefully thought-out crisis management plan will make coping with a crisis easier and enable you to limit the disruption to your business and its customers. It will also prove to customers that your business is robust enough to deal with anything that might be thrown at you. Consider this a bit of an edge over your competitors.
Events That Could Affect Your Food Truck
Depending on your food truck’s specific circumstances, there are many situations that might constitute a crisis.
- Natural disasters. Water damage caused by frozen water pipes or heavy rain, or wind damage following storms.
- Theft or vandalism. Theft of your truck, kitchen equipment, a generator, could prove devastating. Similarly, vandalism of equipment or vehicle could not only be costly but also pose health and safety risks.
- Fire. Few other situations have such potential to physically destroy a food truck.
RELATED: Food Truck Fire Safety Basics
- Restricted access to regular parking locations. How would your food truck function if you couldn’t park in your regularly scheduled stops?
- Loss or illness of key employees. If any of your staff is central to the running of your food truck, consider how you would cope if they were to leave or unavailable for a long period of time due to illness.
- Outbreak of disease or infection. An outbreak of an infectious disease among your staff, in your truck could present serious health and safety risks.
- Crisis affecting suppliers. How would you source alternative supplies?
- Crisis affecting your food truck’s reputation. How would you cope, in the event of a food product recall, or a case where a customer was food poisoned?
Though some of these situations may seem unlikely, it’s important to have a crisis management plan in place that covers them.
What To Do When A Crisis Strikes
If you don’t have a crisis management strategy for dealing with bad news, now is the perfect time to start thinking about it. Understand that if a crisis does come up, you need to respond quickly. You don’t have a lot of time to hem and haw about the problem. Don’t ignore media requests for information and don’t fail to respond to criticism in person and online. A small problem that only affects one customer could end up snowballing if it’s not addressed quickly and professionally.
Whether your problem is selling dishes that caused a few cases of food poisoning, or being parked where it’s hard for handicapped customers to get to your service window and suddenly attracts the attention of local media, you need to install some basic public relations tactics to come out of any crisis as positively as possible.
Testing Your Plan
Once your crisis management plan is in place, you need to test how well your team will perform in the event of an emergency.
Think about the things that would cause most disruption and that are most likely to happen to your food truck. Then make sure that your plan covers each of the risks. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does it set out each employee’s role in the event of each emergency?
- Have you set out the right steps to take?
- Is the order of the plan correct so that priority actions to minimise damage will take place immediately?
Remember to update your plan regularly to take into account your truck’s changing staff and situations that could affect business.
The Bottom Line
A quick and honest disclosure response to a crisis is the best way of controlling damage, maintaining the trust of your customer base and minimizing loss of sales, which in most cases is inevitable. If you implement a crisis management plan in your food truck, sales should recover, along with your credibility, and consumer trust.