How To Get Started In The World Of Food Trucks

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Starting a food truck is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to try their hand in the food industry, whilst meeting great people and having fun.You will need a small but distinctive menu that can stand out among the crowd, a healthy dose of perseverance, flexibility, and plenty of time dedicated in order to make your food truck a success.

Here are some top tips to help you get on the right track if you are thinking of pursuing the ultimate food truck dream.

1. Develop a small, powerful and creative menu

One of the first things you will want to determine is the type of food you are serving and your menu selection. Always choose a cuisine that you are familiar with and passionate about.

Keep your menu simple. Having limited options with only a handful of menu items to choose from will reduce the customer’s time in line and reduce the overall workload in the kitchen – everybody wins!

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2. We’re all in this together

It’s important to remember that you will be part of a community, so be kind, be friendly and be happy! If you are next to another food truck who is out of limes or change and you can extend help from your stash – do it, you never know when you may need some help too.

3. Shout about your food truck

First things first, set up your social media pages to make noise about your truck and get people excited about what’s in store for them.

Once you’re all set-up and ready, write a decent press release and let the media know about your opening, they may reach people that you haven’t on social media. Same applies for local food bloggers, invite them to your truck and hopefully, they’ll write about how great your food is all for free! 

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4. Mi Casa es Tu Casa

Although your personality will shine through in your menu, it’s always good to try and step out of the trailer when you can to interact with your customers. People love to feel included and this way you can start to build a following behind your truck.

5. Time to get smart

If you are the one running the show, schedule your operating hours so that you have time to do all the shopping, cleaning, marketing, business finances and anything else you need to do.

You may want to start small, open during lunch service and see how you can grow steadily over time. Set your hours and stick to them so that you don’t overwork yourself. Just be sure to let people know if you are closed to keep your customers on your side.

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6. It’s handy being handy

If you aren’t handy, learn to get handy; the first rule is to buy a toolbox. You never know when you will need to repair some tubing, start a generator, or tweak equipment – there are various things that could malfunction in your trailer so it’s wise to familiarise yourself with the basics of fixing things.

7. Be prepared for anything and everything

An important one is to try not to run out of food, it sounds silly but this will come with practice once you start figuring out your busy times and quieter times. If you do have to “86” (remove) a menu item, communicate it ASAP, before customers are disappointed.  

8. Befriend the weatherman

We all know weather affects sales and you will typically have more customers on beautiful sunny days but after some time you’ll quickly realize how your customer base works so just keep note of their behaviour.

If you can, try and get ahead of the game and plan something exciting for those rainy days, be it a promo or a competition. You’d be surprised how many customers will venture out if they have an incentive.

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9. Squeaky Clean

Food trucks already have a bad reputation as not being ‘clean’. While we know that to be untrue, you want to have everything spic and span for the inspectors on a day to day basis and for surprise inspections.

Although the process may be lengthy, remember they are there to help you get your business set up correctly. You also want to do it for yourself…a tidy room is a tidy mind! 

10. Growing your food truck

Some owners aspire to one day turn the truck into a restaurant, others prefer to keep mobile but expand, and still others are satisfied to solely grow in terms of menu offering, or even catering larger events.  

Each of these potential paths requires different planning towards the end goal, with operational and marketing efforts aligned to achieve your objectives.  The constant theme across all of these, is the consistent delivery of an exceptional product, creating a following for your food and outstanding customer service.

Once you have them nailed, you could conquer the food truck world!

For more food truck tips, facts, recipes, and events check out: @trailerfood, @tiffanyharelik and @rcasteelcook.

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