The humble food truck has been part of daily life for most city dwellers, offering accessible and affordable eats right at the curb. The fare offered used to be simpler and almost always homegrown in origin, and the people liked it that way. It was cheaper than walking into a restaurant, and food-on-the-go was preferable if you were in a hurry. The food truck race however, has changed everything.
The range and diversity of food truck cuisine has grown tremendously. From simple snacks to elegant foreign delicacies, just about any dish from any culture can be served off these mobile eateries.
Food truck businesses have become become rather proliferate, and thus competitive. All you have to do is look at sites like Roaming Hunger or the US Food Trucks Map to get an idea what a lively and active industry it is.
If you’re a food truck entrepreneur determined to edge away from your competitors, or a greenhorn who wants to carve out his or her own market share, you are definitely going to have to come up with a game plan. We have gathered some useful tips and nuggets of wisdom, hoping they’ll be of some use to you in your quest for mobile cuisine prosperity.
Be 100% Legitimate
Various states have different rules and regulations when it comes to operating food trucks, so do your homework and read up on what you need to have to be on the good side of the law in the particular places you wish to operate your mobile food business in.
Sites like these are maintained by the various states and city governments, and will help you get the proper information needed to run a proper and legal food truck business. Staying legal will keep you away from getting in trouble with the law and getting fined or penalized.
Be Visible, Audible and “Smellable”
Actually, the proper term for the smellable part would be odoriferous, but who uses that word nowadays? Anyway, like the ice cream trucks of our youth, your own food truck should be able to elicit Pavlovian reflexes amongst the people when you pull over to the curb. All of the senses should be considered: the appearance of your vehicle, the sounds it makes, and as mentioned above, the aroma wafting from it should draw them in.
There are a lot of creatively designed food trucks out there. You should choose a design that definitely represents the dishes that you are most proud of, coupled with a bit of practicality since you don’t really want to focus a significant amount of your cash on just the appearance of your food service vehicle. Get creative, but do not go overboard.
As for the audible portion of your sensory barrage, it should be as unique as possible, but it should not be an annoyance, lest it become counterproductive and annoy the pedestrians, or worse, the law enforcement authorities. Sometimes, low technology sounds like bells are even better than that of speaker systems when it comes to this.
For the smell, all you really need to do is to open some vents and let the food smells waft out. Beware of blowing actual smoke out, as you might violate a law that is concerned with clean air. Do know that this might just be the most powerful way for you to get customers to come over and buy some of your tasty treats, so be sure to cook up your most fragrant dishes!
It pays to advertise, even for small mobile eateries. You don’t have to break the bank to do this, especially with the internet around. Build yourself a website that will contain your menu, your locations at specific times of the day, and some other tidbits of information that you’d like to share with your customers.
Some old fashioned flyering will also do very well in spreading the word around. If you want, you could also have detachable coupons on the flyers for some special offers and discounts. Go for a full-color brochure displaying your food truck and the best of your dishes, as well as a full menu, route, and schedule. Keep the aesthetic the same on both your website and your printed materials; you have to keep your branding consistent, even if you’re currently just a small player in the food industry.
You are going to be operating in a limited kitchen space, therefore you shouldn’t be offering way too many menu items, lest you will make it very difficult for you and your staff to prepare so many kinds of dishes.
Stick to a few mainstay flagship food items, and for variety, introduce a featured special menu item now and then. You will make your reputation from only a handful of your dishes, so do your best to tweak and improve your recipes until you get them to be the crowd favorites!
With these simple and effective ideas in mind, I wish you the best in your mobile culinary ventures!