Food trucks have become quite a cultural phenomenon in the last decade. However, since the fallout from the global pandemic caused many restaurants to close or radically change their setup for social distancing needs, more people are considering turning to a food truck business rather than one in a set location with expensive rent.
If you’re thinking of launching a venture within the next year, here are some tips to help.
Do Your Research
It’s crucial to look into who your target market might be and where these people frequent. What kinds of foods do they like, what price points do they buy at, and what type of marketing appeals to them? Also, what other information can you establish about their likes and dislikes, work lives, hobbies, family status, etc.? Getting clear on the demographics you can sell to will help you see how to focus your business idea and make it evident if there’s a large enough base of customers or not.
It’s also necessary to research the competition. What other food trucks are operating in the area(s) you’re thinking of selling in, and what do they offer? Who is their key customer base, where do they advertise, and what’s their customer service like, among other things?
Doing adequate research is a big part of finding your specific food truck niche. With so many people running food truck businesses now, not to mention competition from restaurants, cafes, clubs, and the like, you need to be sure you have an idea that will stand out in a crowded marketplace.
There’s no point starting a food truck venture if you’re not going to have anywhere suitable to set up a permanent place or regular sales territory. Depending on your area and size of the market, you might find a single spot to park on the days when you plan to operate, or you might be more interested in selling from different locations throughout the week to follow demand.
No matter what you decide, plan out locations well in advance and get the permission required to park in different areas. People need to know where to find you and when, plus you don’t want to be booted out of a spot because you didn’t do the required homework before you chose a space. Driving around and identifying places where other food trucks operate can be a good way to identify potential locations. In addition, speak to your local council or business groups for suggestions.
Create a Thorough Business Plan
As with any new business, before launch. It’s essential to create a thorough business plan that guides you on how to proceed and helps you to see if you’ve missed out on preparing any crucial elements of your venture. Your business plan should include numerous sections, such as your niche and sales avenues and projections for the first few years, and a SWOT analysis.
Calculate projected operational costs, and note whether you plan to have partners or investors in the venture or need to get access to a loan. Factor in fees related to insurance, permits, licenses, raw materials, staffing, equipment, and so on, too.
Write down location options and if you’ll be catering for private events and festivals regularly or going out on your own more. Think about how you’re going to ensure that your food truck passes health inspections and ensures customers never get food poisoning or have allergic reactions or other issues from your creations.
Also, include what type of truck you need and its necessary size, features, model, etc. Note if you’ll need to add in specialized equipment for the type of menu you’re planning. You’ll want to consider where you’ll park the truck during non-operational hours, too, and if you need a different license type to drive it.
Another big part of a business plan is marketing. Include elements such as your target market and branding ideas. Start planning how you might get the word out about your business and its offering. For instance, you can utilize social media sites, letter-box drops, local business listings, or paid advertising. Also, many food-based firms have success with options such as a mobile marketing platform for SMS messages, participation in events, referral marketing, loyalty programs, and contests.
Test the Market
Before you have a big, publicity-driven launch for your food truck business, test the market. Set up in a quiet spot or invite family and friends only to your place to test out your menu items, customer service, marketing collateral, etc. Ask everyone to be brutally honest so you can get a clear idea of what needs improvement before you start actively advertising or attending events.
Opening a new venture tends to be equal parts exciting and stressful. Take your time planning and preparing to give yourself the best chance of wowing customers and creating a successful business in turn.