iKentoo, the iPad POS specialist, helps you get started in the food truck business
Food trucks are a great way to start your own business. You need a relatively small amount of cash to begin with, no big kitchen infrastructure, nearly no staff and you don’t have to worry about seating room for your customers. However, there are a few things you need to consider (besides the obvious: having a valid driver's licence) before starting this type of entrepreneurial venture. Let’s take a look.
1. Before you start: Who's your Competition?
Like every popular idea, the number of food trucks has increased exponentially in the past years. Just take a look at popular locations in your city: very often, you’ll find not one, but several food trucks competing for customers. This is why knowing your competition is very important. Start by taking a look at their menu, what they offer. Their assortment of beverages and dishes will help you know how to attract people by differentiating yourself. Don’t forget to look at the prices! Your prices shouldn’t be (too) far away from your competitors'. The price will definitely have an effect on your sales, especially if your lunch customers are on a budget.
2. Who Are my Clients?
It often depends on your location: if you set up shop next to a college, you’ll probably serve a lot of students. If you’ve parked near an office building, you’ll probably meet people on their lunch break wanting to eat something good, fast, and without having to sit down at a restaurant. One thing jumps to mind: choose your location wisely based on your offering (menu items and prices) as it has to be of interest to the local clientele.
3. What are the Regulations in Place?
The food truck game has been confronted to many regulatory changes. In many place it went from none, to a lot (some may even say too many), to enough. The important thing is to know the regulations in place, and how to follow them. An online search will help you find out which authority is in charge in your city, and maybe even the list of applicable regulations.
4. Location, Location, Location
Location is based on your clients, right? Yes, and rotation is part of the game. Therefore, you’ll have to be flexible, and switch things up a bit based on where you’ll be that day. If on Friday people always ask you for a certain drink, why not add it just for that day. And if you’re able to choose your location freely, do so by thinking of who will come knocking at your counter. And, finally, try to position your truck where it can be seen from far away, and somewhere with a lot of foot traffic. But beware: you can’t park just anywhere. Understand what parking real-estate is available in your area, and what permits or permissions you need in order to operate from there.
5. What Are my Revenue Streams ?
One of the great things about food trucks is that they can move, and reach new revenue sources. Therefore, you might want to consider different revenue streams in order to decrease your risk. For example, lunch is often considered as high risk when it comes to your income, as it is weather dependent. Private catering on the other hand implies a lower risk level. Festivals are usually low risk, even though weather will affect your sales. Find out what works for you based on the risk levels and opportunities involved.
6. Is my Branding Recognizable?
Your truck, your brand! Start with what can be seen: you have to be recognized from far away, as your returning clients have to know where to find you. A recognizable branding will definitely set you apart from the other food trucks: flashy colors, bold lettering, a unique logo design that pops, are a few things that you might want to consider.
7. Should I Communicate?
Communication and branding go hand in hand, and location as well. Your fans have to know where you are. Because your whole business is in a moving vehicle, and that you might have to move to another spot everyday, take the time to communicate where you’ll be. To do so, use social media, boosted posts or ads, as well as flyers and posters that you’ll display on your truck. If you’re offering specials, on-time deals, don’t forget to mention them.
8. How to Manage my Stock Levels?
The available space in your food truck is limited. Therefore, you have plan the exact quantities you’ll be needing on a given day. A friend of mine who has a successful food truck business told me that he needed to restock everyday when business was good. For him, this meant going to the store. Be wise about your grocery shopping: don’t overbuy if you cannot sell or stock. And consider developing menu items that can be kept for several days to avoid wastage, prepared in advance and vacuum-sealed, or that allow you to creatively reuse the previous day’s leftovers. Here are a few tips to avoid food waste.
9. What's the Weather this Week?
Sorry folks, this is one that you’ll have to live with and cannot really control, because except if you have some incredible super powers, it’s difficult to control the weather forecast (though if you do have such powers, please get in touch with us right away, we’d love to help you market those). So, become a weather forecast specialist. Rain and snow will probably mean less customers, sun more happy smiling faces. Knowing this, you’ll be able to adapt your inventory and prepare accordingly.
10. Hygiene Works
There are many other things I could mention, but this one’s really important when managing a food truck business. Be careful about hygiene. Food trucks usually don't have access to running water, so make sure to wear gloves and change them frequently. Food trucks often have a bad reputation when it comes to hygiene. Show your clients that you’re different!
If you take something away today, it should be that location is everything. And now, let’s start rolling!
Let’s Cook & Roll
iKentoo, great value for Europe's most advanced iPad POS system
iKentoo is the leader in the high-performance segment of the hospitality iPad Point of Sale market - addressing even the most complex industry needs.
Clients in France include multiple big groups such as the Big Mamma Group (East Mamma, Ober Mamma) and the Yogurt Factory, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe Lyon. In Switzerland, iKentoo supplies the 90+ Pouly Bakeries, and the Holy Cow group (multiple “fast-casual” brands). In South Africa, our clients include Bertus Besson’s restaurants, among which Overture, and the Cafe Flava Group. In the U.S., our clients include establishments such as The Exchange, the Mixd Up chain and Heirloom Market BBQ. In the U.K., we partnered up with groups and establishments like Yuu Kitchen and Maggie and Rose, and Friska. In Malta, we equip Danny’s Malta, BosSteaks and Hammett's Gastro Bar, and many more!
Thanks to its unique, intuitive and reliable solutions iKentoo caters to establishments of all sizes, and now serves over 3800 customers in 14 countries: from self-owned food trucks to full-service restaurants, and from hotels to franchises and multi-site chains, iKentoo does it all.