Some of the biggest brands have already joined the food truck craze, including TGI Fridays, McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger, but there has also been a revolution among entrepreneurs and small businesses. A food truck doesn’t have to mean greasy fast food or simple, cold snacks – more and more, savvy start-ups are getting experimental with original, hip and gourmet offerings.
Many restaurants have started out as food trucks and built up to a physical location, but there is a great advantage to going the other way, too. With the rising trend for casual, affordable dining on the go, it could be a smart and shrewd business decision to supplement your existing restaurant with a food truck as it opens up a whole new world of opportunities for your growing business.
What Will A Food Truck Add To Your Business?
- A food truck expands your restaurant business with another location, without having to pay the far higher costs of acquiring, equipping and maintaining a new building.
- It gives you greater reach and flexibility. You don’t have to wait for customers to come to you, or worry that you’ve picked the wrong location.
- A branded food truck is excellent exposure. You’ll be able to make big savings on advertising costs as the truck does the work for you, wherever you go. Get your name and brand out there, let new customers fall in love with your food, and tempt them to visit your physical locations.
- The nature of a food truck is all about generating a buzz, offering variety and originality, and being bold and experimental. This is a great opportunity to try out new menu items, or something a little different, and see how it goes down with customers. If it’s a big hit, you can introduce it into your main menu at your physical locations with confidence.
- A food truck also offers some invaluable opportunities to connect with your community and get involved with festivals or charity events.
How Does It Work?
While there is generally a lower barrier to entry when it comes to launching a food truck, compared to opening a new bricks-and-mortar location, there are still certain factors that you need to consider, costs to cover, and things to get right:
- Be aware of the particular regulations, licenses and fees that apply in your area. Some areas don’t permit mobile vendors at all, while others have a cap on the number of licenses granted at any one time, so there may be a waiting list. Variations in fees will also play into your start-up and ongoing running costs, so make sure you do the math before settling on a location!
- Find out about potential funding opportunities, including bank loans, investors and small business funds. You’ll need an initial outlay to buy the truck and get it fitted out and branded, as well as insurance and the ongoing costs of running a small food outlet.
- Prioritize health and safety! Just as you would in a bricks-and-mortar kitchen, you need to be sure that food is stored and prepared according to industry hygiene standards. For a food truck, it’s pretty hard to recover from a food poisoning scandal.
- Try out different sites to see where the highest demand is. This is one of the great advantages of a food truck over a physical unit, so make the most of it.
- Don’t neglect great service. Even if customers are only interacting with you briefly, the whole encounter should reflect the experience you offer to customers at your physical restaurant.
- Try out different menu items and keep track of what works well, and what doesn’t. You can then let this inform your menu in your restaurants.
- The direct, informal and instant nature of social media makes it an ideal tool for food trucks that may be moving around to various locations and offering different specials and tasty treats on a daily basis. Create a stir and grow a following, and make sure your customers know where to find you.
Remember that your food truck should also be working as an advertising agent for your restaurant, which means everything you do and every dish you serve reflects on your brand as a whole. This is both a huge advantage and a serious responsibility! If you get it right, your restaurant will reap the rewards.