Spring is knocking on the door and, if it’s like years past, you and your food truck staff will be faced with crowds at your service window that seem never ending. The busy season can be a lot less stressful on you and your team if you plan for it and prepare in advance. It’s not as though the busy season is unexpected; the warm weather that draws larger outside crowds repeats year after year.
Keep in mind that without being able to handle your busy season, many mobile food vendors would be out of business. Quite often, the profits made during peak season mean the difference between profit and loss.
Preparing Your Food Truck For The Busy Season
Although you may have a repeat customer base throughout the year, during your busy season you’ll face enormous manpower and equipment challenges. Meeting those challenges will allow you to perform up to your customer’s expectations.
Planning Equipment Repairs And Aquistition For The Busy Season
Meeting these manpower and equipment requirements have different time lines. The acquisition or maintenance of equipment requires a projection in advance, and having everything in order when the seasonal rush begins. This equipment combines such things as repair and maintenance of your truck or existing equipment; ordering new, specialized equipment; and possibly renting some equipment you don’t normally keep in stock (think about catering jobs). How much equipment or merchandise is needed? When is it needed? Where is it coming from, and how much lead-time is required from suppliers? Are your equipment or merchandise suppliers reliable? Food truck vendors need to know the answers to those questions, and equipment or merchandise will be in place for your busy season.
Staffing Up For The Busy Season
It can be a bit more unpredictable when you have to hire additional staff, especially short-term staff for large festivals or catering events. So, first analyze your expected needs as far in advance as you can. Again, determine how many work hours you expect to need, where the workers come from and how much lead time you need to get them. Some of those additional hours will come from your existing food truck staff putting in overtime. Some will come from newspaper and Internet ads and employee referrals. Just make sure you have a realistic expectation of the ability of the staff members each source will deliver.
Some food truck vendors have experienced great success using local newspapers to recruitment season food truck employees, while others find the Internet to be a better source. Wherever you find your pool of new staff members, just remember that unlike the equipment in your kitchen, employees aren’t ready to use as soon as you plug them in. Food truck employees typically need some training, and that will push your hiring date back a bit. And, if a shortage of employees will destroy your year (as well as your truck’s reputation) try to anticipate problems and begin earlier than you may otherwise want. Sure, you may have a few employees on payroll a week or so longer than needed, but if that first ad doesn’t bring in the expected number of qualified applicants, you’ll have time to run it again or to try something different.
Perhaps the most important thing is to rehearse. That’s right, practice throughout the year, only on a smaller scale. Keep an eye on supplier lead-times. And remember, your direct and indirect competitors will be begging the same suppliers come crunch time, so factor that in. Test your help-wanted ads. Do they draw large numbers of qualified candidates or does your in-box collect dust?
5 Additional Tips For Preparing For Your Food Truck Busy Season
- Look At Last Year’s Numbers. Don’t forget to review last year’s data when forecasting for busy days. Don’t just rely on weekly forecasting for big days. Check last year’s sales and inventory reports to accurately estimate how much food to prepare in advance.
- Get Your Team Ready. Prepare your team for the upcoming busy season and keep them motivated by letting them know how you plan to handle the busiest days.
- Get Involved In The Community. Participating in local food truck events and celebrating seasonal holidays is a great way to excite customers. It also creates a community feeling that helps you stand out from the competition. Delight your customers by planning specials, offering holiday themed food items or even holding contests at your food truck.
- Prepare A Seasonal Menu. Spring and Summer present an opportunity to change-up your food truck menu with seasonal food trends. Keep your customer’s favorites but treat them with delicious seasonal or holiday themed menu items also, to keep them coming back.
- Keep Your Marketing Consistent. It’s easy to stop doing your normal marketing activities as the length of the lines at your truck increase. Marketing efforts build over time to drive the impact you’re looking for. To continue the momentum into the busy season, marketing during the busy season will welcome new diners and will have them in for a return visit during the slower times.
The Bottom Line
With proper planning, preparation and testing, you’ll find yourself looking forward to this year’s busy season. Do you have any additional tips for food trucks preparing for their busy season? Share your thoughts on social media. Facebook | Twitter