From the blog How to Tweak Your Food Truck Business Plan to Make More Money

If you own a successful food truck business, there’s no reason you can’t keep growing. You’ve already launched and found customers who love your food—now it’s time to take things to the next level.

Here are 8 ways you can make your food truck business plan generate even more revenue this year. 

Drill down your niche

Food trucks are all the rage now, which is great… but there’s a downside. When everyone’s launching a food truck, you need to make yours stand out. 

Specialty offerings will really help to distinguish your business from others.

This doesn’t mean you have to promote exotic cuisine, although that’s fine, too. What you need to do is serve one particular thing better than others in your area or do a common item with a unique twist.

For example, you might…

  • Offer a vegetarian or vegan option of a popular item, like pot pies
  • Create a special sauce or side dish to enhance a menu choice
  • Make normally store-bought items from scratch
  • Have a surprise daily special
  • Hand out dog cookies to pet owners

Become expert inventory managers

Are you losing money through wasted food or poor portion control? You might not even know it if you don’t have a good handle on your inventory. Your goal should be to have exactly what you need, without running out or having too many ingredients left over. 

To maximize food usage, you need to plan your menu to take advantage of every bit of what you buy.

Let’s say you only use half your broccoli supply on your stuffed baked potatoes. To use up the rest before it goes bad, you could offer broccoli cheese soup or a stir fry item with broccoli. Little leftovers could be incorporated into appetizers or samples. 

You need to know… 

  • How much of each ingredient is on hand
  • The shelf life of every ingredient
  • The gross price of each ingredient (as purchased)
  • The price per serving of ingredients (edible portion cost)

You also need to know your storage limits, especially for perishables. Like brick-and-mortar restaurants and retail businesses, the best way to keep track of inventory is online in real-time.

This is easy to do today with cloud software accessed via a monthly subscription. If you aren’t already doing an online inventory, your business plan should be tweaked accordingly. 

Maintain long-term employees

Your employees are your ambassadors in the community where you sell. If your employees are unhappy, it may be reflected in the service your customers experience.

Offer decent wages, provide perks when possible, and let your workers know when they’re doing a good job for you.

It’s costly to lose employees. You have to keep starting over rather than building on long-term loyalty.

It’s also vital to provide training for employees. In addition to reviewing customer service, think about other ways brick-and-mortar restaurants help give their employees a leg up.

For example, before a conventional restaurant opens, the specials are explained and servers are able to taste new items so they can better describe them to diners. 

Evaluate the competition

Periodically you need to check out what the competition is doing.

If you never eat at other local food trucks, you should start.

You may discover that you need to up your game. Conversely, you might find that you’re ahead of the crowd, so you can emphasize what you’re doing right. 

Aspects of your competition to evaluate include… 

  • Menu items 
  • Pricing
  • What makes them popular
  • Online reviews
  • Appearance of the truck
  • Customer service
  • Locations they visit
  • Events they attend (see below)

Keep your menu current

While you’ll surely have favorites that stay on your menu forever, you don’t want to get into a rut with your food offerings.

Just like conventional restaurants, you need to change your menu from time to time. 

Changing up your menu will engage regular customers and help bring in new customers. It will also keep you and your staff from getting complacent or even bored. 

Half the fun of running a food truck is the opportunity to experiment and take a novel approach to serving food!

Your menu plan should be part of your business plan since it’s linked to your inventory and online presence (see below). Think about shaking things up every quarter or so, or if you serve a lot of seasonal items, alter your menu when the weather changes.

Don’t forget to mark holiday specials and other events on your calendar, too. 

Attend a major event

Are you looking for word-of-mouth advertising? You can get great bang for your buck by attending a major event where hundreds or thousands of people will get a chance to see your menu and taste your food. 

Find the best local events that are food-truck-friendly and make sure your truck is there.

Like menu changes, serving at a large event needs to be planned in advance. You may need to register. And for some events, space is limited and competitive. For example, the LA Food Fest™ hand picks the best vendors in town, including food trucks, for their extravaganza on the Santa Anita racetrack infield. 

Santa Anita also hosts 626 Market Night, a huge open-air Asian market, and Food Truck Day during racing season, both of which offer ideal exposure for food trucks. A quick search online should turn up the hottest events like that near you. 

Create a presence online

Savvy food truck owners don’t just rely on parking in a given neighborhood to generate business.

Make it easy for potential customers to find you in real-time online.

Strive for something like Chirba Dumpling in Durham, North Carolina. Letting the public know where you’ll be and what your daily specials are. Chirba Dumpling makes it easy for customers to find them by including a map from StreetfoodFinder.com.

Online reviews are big for food trucks, too. When your customers rave about one of your dishes, ask them to leave a Yelp or Google review for you. 

Food is particularly photogenic, so don’t forget about enticing customers via social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. You can include recipes there or link to a blog where you talk about your cooking process, the history behind your food, or whatever makes your truck special. 

An online presence makes your food truck business look legitimate and professional. It also helps you leverage local business connections that can ultimately assist in increasing customers and generating more revenue. 

Make payment easier for customers

Just like creating an online presence, modern food truck owners also understand that taking credit cards (versus cash only) gives them an edge over the competition.

You can create that mom-and-pop feel in other ways, but make sure your payment options are high tech.

If you’re not yet taking credit cards, it’s easy to start. Accepting cards in addition to cash lets people make impulse purchases, buy lunch for the office, and cover expenses they want to pay for later. It can also improve your till accuracy and make business accounting easier. 

If you already accept cards, take a look at the speed and accuracy of checkout. Find a payment processor that offers 24/7 support and can help provide the right hardware for your food truck cashier. You want seamless, easy transactions.

Bringing it all together

A business plan is never a one-and-done thing. It’s not just something you do to launch a business. It’s also a vital part of your growth strategy.

If you want to take advantage of the success your food truck business has already experienced, it may be time to shake things up. Use the tips in this article to plan out the next 12 months of your growth strategy.

Make 2020 the year your food truck business goes from local standout to legendary.

Are you ready to grow together?