Food trucks have been one of the fastest rising in the F&B industry, breathing new life to otherwise old food concepts. Since 2011, there has been an increase in revenues coming from food trucks in the US and all over the world. In 2015, the food truck industry figures in the US alone show $1.2B in growth, with a 12.4% increase in revenue over the past five years.
Running a food truck is not an easy task. Food truck owners and entrepreneurs have fought hard to maintain a quality customer base. Proprietors also have continuous talks with local governments discussing proposals for guidelines and business requirements like permits, certificates, and other paper works to ensure the safety of both consumers and proprietors alike.
Five Biggest Lessons from Food Truck Business Blunders
But like every other businesses, food trucks are also prone to failure, especially if you do not come prepared. Here are five biggest lessons to remember from food truck businesses that you can check out before starting your own.
1. Start with a vision and write a business plan around it.
Don’t ever, ever commit to anything without a business plan. It will serve as your written guide of what your goals are a benchmark if you will to see if you are able to hit your targets. Creating a business plan helps you identify how much to spend on your business, how to be more efficient with your business decisions. Your business plan should include the following:
- Your business concept – includes what industry you’re getting into, your business structure, products and/or services
- Your business strategy- what your goals are, how do you plan to market your business, how will you reach your sales goals?
- Your products and services – What sets your products apart? Why would customers want to purchase what you have to offer?
- Your team’s information – who are your key personnel and what experiences do they have in the industry? What do they bring to the services you offer?
- Your financing needs – what are your realistic expectations of costing and profit?
- Exit plan – What would you do if your business fails? Do you have a fall back plan?
2. Establish your identity and stand out
What makes you different from competitors? Is it your secret sauce, or is it the story of how you started? Do you help the local community by sourcing locally? Does a part of your profit go to a local orphanage or cause? Identify what makes you different and anchor your story on that. From this, create your image consistently with your story. Design all your business images along with that special key ingredient and be heard in your community.
3. Research, research, research
A good business is a well-researched one. Doing your research may be a tedious process, but it will definitely help you get out of tight spots in the future. It can also help you solve a lot of problems you’ll encounter along the way, and also boost your creativity when it comes to marketing your goods. Some of the things that you need to know before setting up include:
- Where to source your ingredients and tools
- Who your competitors are
- What’s not being sold in the area
- Which products are popular in the area
- How and where to store your products
- Which services you can do yourself and which you would need to get from someone else
- How much your initial budget should be
- What certificates, licenses and permits you need before opening
- Where to set up your business, because you know, location is everything
- What regulations need to followed and complied
4. Work on improving your products and services
For the food and beverage industry, the key to successfully building a fan base is keeping food consistently good and available. Planning a menu, choosing your suppliers and picking the right ingredients can affect the quality of your food, so it would be best to know what works and what doesn’t. Just like any other business, the goal is to give your customers the best of what you have to offer, and you can only do that by experimenting and listening to constructive criticism. Keep an open mind with what others are telling you about your product because they might be presenting you with angles you don’t see that can help improve your products tenfold. Check out reviews online on social media, read blogs and reach out to the people giving you feedback.
5. Use social media to your advantage to target your niche
Nowadays businesses can create pages and groups on social media with limited fees and get the attention of their target market without much hassle. Since food trucks are always on the move, some owners use social media to announce locations, give updates about events, create raffles for promos and educate people about their products and services.
Some tips on social media posts:
- Use platforms such as Buffer and Hootsuite to help determine the best times to post updates on your business.
- Be fast in your response and take note of your customers’ feedback.
- Make sure you regularly interact with your fan base and give rewards to loyal customers.
- Use different social media for different purposes: Facebook for storytelling, Twitter for quick announcements and interactions with fans, Instagram for mouthwatering photos of your goods and SnapChat to share how-to videos or updates about you and your team.
Want to learn more about lessons learned by food truck owners? Check out this article here.