Cutting your food truck’s food cost can be a tricky proposition. While food costs are always on the minds of food truck owners, most think more about the quality of the food they are serving their adoring customers.
Since its birth, the food truck industry continues to grow, but at the same time food truck operators cannot risk alienating their existing customers by skimping on their food quality.
The menu of a food truck is the most powerful tool to manage this tedious balancing act. What is sold from your truck is what drives your revenue and costs. Your food truck brand is almost entirely based around your menu. If you don’t have cost-effective, highly profitable signature items on that menu, it needs to be updated.
The key is not to do any price cutting that your customers can see, and never use the words, “cut or reduce” when explaining the changes with your staff. Rather, it should be, “improve, revise, enhance”. It’s a matter of perspective, but it’s hugely important in terms of protecting your brand.
10 ways to reduce your food truck’s food cost, not quality:
- Take a look at costs. Breakdown and analyze costs on every one of your food truck menu and be flexible enough to react. It’s one thing to know your costs, but if you’re locked into your menu it’s useless information.
- Create money makers. If you don’t already have them, create new high-appeal/low-cost signature items.
- Don’t discount. Avoid coupons and discounts. Instead sell combo meals. Mix and match items in a way that makes sense and gives customers great value.
- Think outside of the box. Build new revenue streams, such as catering or late-night dining. Generate real growth in your food truck business; don’t just get artificial growth through inflated menu pricing.
- Get bulk discounts. If at all possible, buy in bulk. While it may be difficult to find proper storage of the extra food items, the food cost savings in the long run could equate to great savings.
- Use fewer suppliers. Consolidate suppliers and negotiate. Instead of spending $150 with each of four distributors, spend $600 with one and increase your leverage on price.
- Buy seasonal. This is your most cost-effective menu approach for controlling your food truck’s food costs.
- Try alternative proteins. Value-added beef cuts off the round or shoulder, like hangar and flatiron steaks, can save you as much as 20 to 30 percent.
- Portion properly. Always use weights and measures to ensure portion control.
- Talk trash. Let your food truck staff know that you’re watching what gets dumped and follow up by using clear garbage bags, weighing trash and/or restricting dumpster access at your commissary.
The Bottom Line
Use this list to spot potential problems and opportunities to improve. While some items may not have the potential to generate significant savings, what’s important is the potential cumulative effect that successful implementation of even just a few of these items could mean to the overall profitability of your food truck.