Tuesday, February 2, 2016

10 suggestions for Food trucks

I currently work in a place that is frequented by food trucks.  If you don't know what a food truck is, that's too bad, they are kind of fun.  They are portable food kitchens.  They drive up and open a window and suddenly you have some different fast food.  In dealing with food trucks there are doing do's and don'ts. Some things are obvious.  These are just things I've observed with the recent food trucks I've encountered.

- Simple pricing - Don't confuse people with the price of your food.  That end everything with 99 that you learned in school only works on stuff that you buy all the time.  In the case of infrequent and convenience pricing it's all about making the transaction easy.  Accept all kinds of payment and do what you can to make the price even.  If your food is around 8 dollars.  make it 8 dollars including tax.  If you can figure out how to make all of the items in your menu the same price, it makes peoples choice about what you are offering, not what is most cost effective.  Remember, whatever your pricing is, make sure it includes enough food that your customers end up FULL.  If your food is too fancy to have one serving fill you up, you need to add something that makes the meal.

- If you pretend there is competition there never will be - Even if you have no competition, you ALWAYS have competition.  This is the same for any business but when it comes to food trucks, there are some that seem to get all the action and others that don't.  Well if you are the only food truck that happened to show up at a place, that's the time to make your customer service SHINE.  People notice customer service particularly when there is no reason to treat your customer well because you have a micro monopoly on your service.

- Keep your ingredients in stock - If you offer menu items regularly on your truck, you need to keep that food available.  If you are famous for your doughnut bacon burger then make sure you have the donuts, the bacon, and the burger.  You don't want to be known as the truck that's pretty good if they have all their stuff.  That's not a reason to go out to your truck and buy food;  That's a reason to look at the truck and say 'I wonder if they have what I want to try'.  You don't want your truck creating that response.

- Be aware of your surroundings - If you are a pizza truck, don't set up next to a pizza storefront unless your pizza is both better and cheaper.  Burger trucks had better be ready for the BEST burger ever made by anyone.  large and worthwhile.  why?  Because you are competing with all the burger joints from here to Poughkeepsie.   I don't really understand a pizza OR burger truck.  We already HAVE THESE!  If you are building a truck make sure it's something exotic or unique to begin with.  There is no reason to compete with brick and mortar restaurants because you can be anything.  P.S. Sliders are just tiny hamburgers.

- Don't be afraid to use technology - Pulling up to a building, get a website and drape it on your truck before you are open for business and take advance orders. Keep your menu up to date on your website.  There is no reason you can't bring a couple of helpers to run food to the lobby or up to the floor of a building for an extra dollar.  Yes it's hard to get used to at first if you aren't adept at computers etc, but if you roll up and unfurl your banner with your website and it's got all of the information that people want you can actually see who is interested and who doesn't quite make it.  see what your retention is and it will help you serve your customers.

- Simple choices -  Anyone said that variety was the spice of life was absolutely correct.  the SPICE.  In fact I've often said, variety is the spice of life, but consistency is the meat.  We like what we like and we don't stray too far from that no matter what we say.  I've noticed a trend lately to 'embrace change'  I'm telling you to embrace consistency.  It's what will save you in the food truck industry.  If you have 2 things that tend to be your best sellers, don't mess with them, people love them.  You have 2 others that do ok sometimes but you have your personal favorites.  It's your grandmas favorite recipe for pickled possum tongue and you always loved it.  It's time to move on to some other things.  Always have an option that is your laboratory for your new best flavor.

- Some change is good, most isn't - If you have a food item like donuts that lend themselves well to different flavors, change those flavors often.  I know I just said not to change too much, but if we take the humble doughnut, the reason people buy doughnuts is because they enjoy fried sweet bread.  That's what they are coming for.  There is no reason to keep the same flavors all the time because they will encourage people to try new stuff.  This is best tried with dessert items and if you are a dessert specialty truck.  The formula is similar,  Keep your 2 best flavors and rotate others.

- Don't name your truck while drunk - Food trucks seem to have all gone to the Barbershop Quartet school of naming.  Clever puns and strange visuals don't sell like your food sells.  If you name your truck try to name it simple and easy to remember that's good enough.

- Remember the country you are selling in - build your truck right.  I've seen food trucks that have to go against traffic to bring their truck window to the side walk.  I can't believe I would even have to say this.  Unless of course you are buying a food truck bound for England when the buyer skipped on his purchase and they are giving it away for a great price.  Then bully for you.

- Products come before marketing - I knew 2 different food trucks.  One was called the Party Wagon and was colorfully painted and had a great screen painting job along with a punched out Mexican hat and maracas.  The food was something i could make in the microwave with some Lynn Wilson tortillas and some left over meat and cilantro.   The other was called the red food truck.  it was red.  It had one of the best beef sandwiches I've tasted.  It's a truck that I look out for and will go to every time it shows up.  I'm not sure how much it costs to make a Party Wagon, but I'm pretty sure it's more than what it costs to make a red trailer.

Just some of my observations with wild food trucks I have known.  Thanks for reading!

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