It’s apparent that vendors in the mobile food industry recognize that food is the king of their business. Today we’ll discuss ways to sell more beverages from your food truck.
Operators, managers and cooks push the entrees, appetizers and desserts on their menus. Managers provide samples and describe their food in detail to their service window staff in pre-shift meetings, hoping to encourage more sales. Owners and chefs labor over portioning, specs, flavors and recipes of their offerings, to find ways to pull in a few pennies more from each item. Meanwhile, sitting alone, tucked into the corner at the bottom of the menu, sits the red-headed step-child of top line sales: beverages. Overlooked are the beverages which are sadly under-promoted and overlooked by most food truck vendors.
How To Sell More Beverages From Your Food Truck
The gross profit margins on beverages are huge compared to food. Yet the ratio of beverages sold to food sold is less than 10% in most food truck operations. But why? Beverages can contribute as much as 70-80% gross profit margin per serving. Opportunity knocks if you’re willing to listen, and here’s a few ideas to help you start managing your beverage sales like the (overlooked) profit center they are.
Focus on Beverages
Beverage is sometimes treated by crew and management as an accessory to the dining experience. They’re treated like silverware or condiments, instead of a pivotal part of the order. While a good food truck owner will teach their service staff to be familiar with and suggest their signature food items, few stress the importance of the beverage as the companion centerpiece of a customized food truck experience.
Use the Sullivan Nod
Whenever servers suggest a beverage, have them smile and slowly nod their heads up and own as they make the suggestion. Body language is powerful, and research shows that over 60% of the time, the customer will nod right back and take your suggestion.
Remember to Charge for Beverages
This should go without saying, but I won’t let it. A beverage sale isn’t a beverage sale till its rung up and paid for. Create a policy for all staff members which specifies that beverages should not be handed out free. You’d be surprised how much profit leaves a food truck that gives away the beverages they pay for.
Provide Beverage Training
Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice does. Rehearse how to make beverage suggestions with your team every single shift. Repetition is the mother of all learning. Comprehensive beverage training is important for all food truck staff. Window service staff should be as well-versed as possible in the beverage program so they can answer questions and make recommendations. Use pre-shift meetings, tastings and distributor resources for all they’re worth.
Expanding your Existing Beverage Options
- Housemade, local/regional, and gourmet sodas.
- Sophisticated nonalcoholic cocktails that employ the same attention to balanced flavors and presentation as alcoholic options.
- Locally sourced fruit or vegetable smoothies and juices.
- Bottled water.
- Ethnic specialties like acqua frescas or the Puerto Rican barley refresher known as the Resbaladera
- Specialty tea and coffee, either on their own or in recipes (such as chai latte or Vietnamese coffee).
The Bottom Line
Beverages; hot or cold have a big impact on your food truck’s profitability. A well thought out beverage program (from juices, sodas, and coffee and tea) provides an excellent way for setting yourself apart from the competition, building customer satisfaction and sales into the bargain.