Outside of selling great food, effective communications with customers is the foundation for all food truck sales. The most important part of customer service is effective communication. This is a skill that your must train yourself and your food truck employees. Effective communications can often mean the difference between an okay customer experience, and a great experience. For those customers that have a great experience at your truck will often use it as a selling point for them when they are telling their friends what kind of food truck you have.

Today I’ll go over some simple tactics I learned from operating my own food truck that will increase the likelihood that your food truck customers hear what you have to say and track your truck down whenever they have the chance.

Effective Communications With Your Customers

Here are some tips on how you can effectively communicate more effectively with your customers that come from personal experience:

Understand their language. Too many food truck businesses use a one-size-fits-all sales pitch. The reality is that your customers speak a unique language informed by their life experiences. Tailor your approach and your language for each customer that walks up to your food truck.

Early in my journey, I used the same cheerful spiel for everyone, thinking my enthusiasm would be enough. But I quickly noticed the nuances. The busy professional on a lunch break, the curious tourist exploring local cuisine, the family looking for a quick dinner option—all these customers had different needs and needed a different response from me.

It wasn’t easy at first. It took more effort and practice. It required keen observation, a genuine interest in people, and a willingness to learn from every interaction. But the rewards were obvious when it came to customer happiness and return visits.

Overtime, tailoring my approach to customer interactions became my mantra. For the professional, it was all about efficiency and getting them back to their office with a delicious, no-fuss meal. For tourists, I’d share a bit about the history of the dish they were about to enjoy, connecting them with the local culture. Families? I always made sure to highlight which options were kid-friendly or could be easily shared.

Focus on them, not you. While it may be tempting when trying to make a sale to talk about “my food truck….my menu’s benefits.” Instead, turn the spotlight on your customer. Ask them questions. Where are they from? Why did they decide to visit your truck? Get to know them and make them feel special. This will keep them coming back.

Of course, I didn’t know this when I was just getting started. In the beginning, I was brimming with pride for my truck and the menu I had painstakingly put together. Naturally, I wanted to share this passion with everyone who stopped by. “Let me tell you about my signature dish,” I’d begin, or “I use only the freshest ingredients.” But as time went by, I noticed something crucial—the conversations that truly sparked interest and brought smiles were the ones where the customer was the star of the show.

I learned to shift the spotlight. Instead of launching into a monologue about my menu’s benefits, I started asking questions. “What brings you out here today?” “Are you in the mood for something spicy or something comforting?” “Have you tried [insert dish] before?” These inquiries opened up a dialogue, transforming a transaction into an interaction. Customers weren’t just making a purchase. They were engaging in a shared experience and my food truck became a stage where each customer was the main event.

So, to my fellow food truck owners, my advice is simple yet profound: Focus on them, not you. Your business will thrive not just by the meals you serve, but by the moments you create and the community you build, one customer at a time.

Bonus Tip: If a customer leaves you a request via voicemail or e-mail, let them know that you received it, even if you are still in the process of dealing with it. Once the problem is resolved, let the customer know that, too. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than finding out that their issue has been resolved long after they brought it up.

Set Realistic Expectations

There’s nothing more damaging to the customer experience than setting high expectations and then failing to meet them. This is particularly true when it comes to long wait times. I learned early on to communicate openly about how long orders would take, especially during rushes. If we were slammed and I knew an order would take 15 minutes, I’d say so. This honesty allowed customers to make informed decisions about whether they wanted to wait or perhaps choose a quicker option. Surprisingly, most people appreciated the transparency and were happy to wait, knowing they were being treated with respect.

Feedback Is a Two-Way Street

Encouraging and listening to customer feedback has been a cornerstone of my approach to communication. But it’s not just about collecting comments; it’s about actively engaging with them. I made it a point to ask for feedback directly, through social media, and via a suggestion box right on the truck. When customers see their suggestions being implemented or their concerns addressed, it creates a powerful sense of community and loyalty. This direct line of communication has led to menu improvements, service enhancements, and even the occasional fix to a misunderstood dish description.

Explaining Your Food Truck Grade To Customers

food truck grade

What grade did you get?

Just like restaurants, not every mobile food establishment will earn an A food truck grade. While you may know why you didn’t get an A, do your customers? What happens when a customer walks up and asks? How will you respond?

Very simple. I think you should communicate honestly, especially knowing that the guest can easily access the city’s report online while they are standing outside your truck.

Like a lot of customer concerns, they are unpleasant to handle, but ultimately better than not hearing them. A customer who asks you directly to explain your health inspection food truck grade is one you can win over, whereas one who sees something less than an A and walks away is lost revenue.

While you shouldn’t attempt to obscure the violations that gave you the B or C food truck grade, there are some violations that the public generally understand as slip-ups: dented cans, missing or damaged flooring, food out of temperature, or no certified food handler in the truck, while others will have them running: rodents, roaches, poor hand washing, sick workers, and so on.

Within the realm of honesty, emphasize those violations that are least off-putting, explain what you are doing to correct the problems before you are re-inspected, and invite them to inspect your truck’s kitchen (assuming it is one in which you can take pride) for themselves to show that you are proud of the work you do and have nothing to hide. It won’t work for all customers, but if they are taking the time to ask about your score, they have an interest in dining from your food truck.

The Bottom Line

It is incredibly important to develop the best communication skills possible with your customers. Some of these skills include speaking clearly, effectively, efficiently, and politely. You also need to employ empathetic listening in your food truck. Excellent communication skills are important because communicating in this way shows customers that you understand what they actually mean instead of what they are simply saying.

Do you have any additional tactics for effective communications with food truck customers? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on social media.