June marked the 19th month of consecutive employment growth in the United States, with small businesses adding an average of 0.21 workers per company. Growth numbers like this are good news because it shows that the economy (as well as the mobile food industry) continues to make its way back from the 2008 recession. With that said, can it be that growth is always positive? Unfortunately the simple answer is no. If left unchecked, a food truck business’ growth could drive it into a ditch. Today we provide a list of four signs that a mobile food business may be growing too quickly.
How To Determine If Your Food Truck Growing Too Quickly
Everyone is exhausted…all of the time
Ok, most of us understand that running a food truck business is demanding. But if you and your employees constantly work at top speed, eventually, you are going to break down. We understand that there will always be rushes, but if the rushes seem to come all shift long and day after day, you might need to scale back on the length of each shift.
When there is no rest, everyone will become exhausted, to the point in which people just won’t take it anymore. Red flags to watch for include inconsistent quality of product and service as well as increased mistakes and injuries.
Employees stop engaging
When food truck employees start heading down the path from superstar to poor performer, you lose control of your most important asset: your staff. Keep an eye out for increased turnover, absenteeism and tardiness or complaints from customers about employees being rude. The quick reaction of most vendors would be to point a finger at the employee. However, you need to step back and identify whether you see a trend that needs to be addressed.
Disengaged employees can directly lead to lost customers, and disengaged employees in any position in a food truck impact productivity and potential growth.
Losing loyal customers
When a food truck expands too quickly, it often loses control over quality control because it’s too busy getting items out of the window to get to the next customer in line. Repeat customers must always be a goal of a food truck. They lead to repeat purchases with very little marketing required. When your most frequent customers begin to disappear, you need to pay attention.
If you’ve built a customer database (and if you haven’t…why not?), a good rule of thumb is to reach out to your customer base at least once a month, be it through a newsletter, email blast or through various social media platforms, with the sole purpose of understanding your customer’s needs. If you can’t make time for this, along with at regular social media engagement, your growth may be out of control.
Lack of cash flow isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A food truck that’s growing solidly will likely have cash shortages as income and expenses balance out. On the other hand, un-managed growth creates dangerous cash shortages that could affect your future growth opportunities.
Red flags to watch for include inability to make payroll, postponing vendor payments, dipping into personal savings (including taking out additional mortgages, maxing out credit cards or taking out personal loans), not paying yourself, inability to take on catering jobs or attend large food truck rallies because you don’t have cash to make food purchases in advance or can’t afford the cost of entrance to an event.
The Bottom Line
We hope this article helps any vendor that has seen any of these signs that their mobile food business is growing too quickly and put a stop to them before it’s too late. If you have any additional tips, feel free to share them in the comment section, our food truck forum or social media. Facebook | Twitter