Tips for Running a Successful Food Truck; Or Do You Say Gourmet Truck

Stixx Grille's pink and brown truck, which had great food and all the right amenities, served customers in 2013 but suddenly disappeared without any notice
Stixx Grille's pink and brown truck, which had great food and all the right amenities, served customers in 2013 but suddenly disappeared without any notice.

Food trucks or precursors began in the 1800s, but there was an uptick in popularity of food truck about 2011 with pricier food and gourmet food showing up in the common step van. Food trucks quickly became a staple of great food across the country especially in metropolitan areas.




If food is your passion, but you don’t really want to shell out the money for an entire restaurant, you might be considering owning and running a food truck of your own. With the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, some smart entrepreneurs might have insight that recognizes that a food truck business might have more resilience to government social distancing restrictions and indoor business closures. Existing restaurant owners may even consider branching out with a mobile version of their restaurant business. Owners can use brand the truck with their main name or create an extra catchy mobile name that refers to the main restaurant or ventures out independently. Restaurants that have existing sidewalk walkup windows or drive-thru windows have an advantage compared to restaurants that are “landlocked” to interior delivery of their food. A food truck can help solve this problem.

Stixx Grille's pink and brown truck had great food and all the right amenities served customers in 2013 but suddenly disappeared without any notice
Stixx Grille’s pink and brown truck, which had great food and all the right amenities, served customers in 2013 but suddenly disappeared without any notice.

Having a dream and good business insight is good, but creating a plan and following through is even better — actually essential. Unless you have unlimited money, you’ll probably want an economical food truck that is profitable as well as fun to operate.

Here are a few tips for running a successful food truck that will help you get started.

Invest in Marketing Early On

You’ll need a lot of resources to start any mobile business, but for food trucks, marketing is one of the most fundamental factors of success. If no one knows about you or where you will be on any given day, you’re not going to make any money. There are lots of ways to spread the word, including:

Printed flyers
Digital marketing
Billboards
Email campaigns
Social media announcements
Official Website

Choose at least one marketing method that suits you, and get to work. You’re going to need your brand to reach as many eyes and ears as possible if you want to be successful. Ideally you should minimally have an official website, a Facebook page, Instagram, and a Twitter account. If you want to succeed you need to be capable of reliable communications to your customers. If your truck breaks down, you need to be able to get an alert out your customers. You don’t want them showing up to a scheduled location without any sign of your truck.




Get the Right Truck

Your truck is just as important as the building where a traditional restaurant would operate. One of the best tips for running a successful food truck is to make sure your mobile venue has everything it needs to operate for a few days at a time. You’ll also want to keep emergency supplies just in case you see a surge of customers. The right truck for you won’t break your bank, but it will still provide you will all the necessary tools to make great food.

Your truck is a billboard. Design the exterior well, and include your website and social media information. Choose a wonderful color scheme and design, and a clever and catchy name. Don’t forget to advertise on the roof of your truck, which can have quite an impact if you’re parked near high-rise buildings or a news helicopter is broadcasting live over an area where your truck is parked.

Choose Your Menu Wisely

Have a flexible menu, but don’t try to have too many selections. Consider having a chase car that can be used run and get extra ingredients and food if you run out; or even make deliveries like a tradition pizza delivery business. If you operate year-round, you might want to change some menu items to adjust to hot and cold weather — chili dishes and soup in the winter and cold sandwiches or lighter items in the summer.




Incorporate and Budget

While cooking and interacting with customers may be your favorite parts of your food truck, you’ll also need to perform administration duties. Incorporating your food truck will ensure that you have all the rights of a proper business. You’ll also need to come up with—and stick closely to—a budget that works for you. Food truck owners can often reach their budgetary limitations if they’re not careful, so give yourself a little wiggle room on top of what you think you need to survive.

Regulations

Be prepared to follow local city or village ordinances and state and local food safety regulations.

Choose the Right Locations

Just like real estate, food trucks are all about location, location, location. Finding the right place to park and set up shop can mean the difference between a fantastic day and one in which you get no business at all. With a food truck it’s easy to be flexible and choose locations where your demand is good and customer traffic is good. However, be wary to avoid angering any restaurant owners by parking to close to their business. Know your neighborhoods. Consider your target audience and where they tend to congregate. If going to those places doesn’t work, you may need to rethink your target audience. Always keep an eye on food truck parks and business districts nearby, as these are often great places to pull in a lot of money quickly.




Amenities

You can create an exterior ambience with a flat panel TV setup or music, tables and chairs, plants, etc.; but don’t expense yourself out of business. Consider including helpful information about the neighborhood or businesses nearby. Offer to display flyers for other nearby businesses, and even co-op on rewards or coupons with some type of exchange agreement.

Security and Safety

Security cameras should be set up just like a traditional business. Visible security cameras, fire extinguishers, and disinfecting materials will be comforting to customers. These safety items will show that you pay attention to details and care for the safety of your customers.




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