About Food On A Truck

Mobile Point of Sale & Marketing App specifically for Food Trucks!

Food Safety for Food Trucks

Above else, food safety must be the priority of mobile food entrepreneurs. Knowing how to properly store, handle, and cook ingredients can prevent any risk to the health and welfare of customers, not to mention damage to your food truck business.

Consequences of Unsafe Food Truck Operation
Mishandling food being sold to customers can have a huge impact, not just to your business but to the food truck industry as a whole. According to a recent article in the TIME Magazine, the initial findings by the World Health Organization shown that there is a growing problem when it comes to food-borne illness worldwide. There was 582 million cases of 22 different food-borne diseases documented in 2010, with associated deaths of 351,000.

15594629472_463a604c34_hThese trouble figures should serve as a reminder to food truck operators that the threat of improper buying, handling, or storing of food can be a great threat to the lives of their customers. The negative effect of mishandling food served to the public is not only a health issue but can also become an economic problem. A bad experience due to a contaminated food truck product can result to negative publicity that the industry cannot afford to have. At the moment, the food truck market is still growing and even though many customers have embraced mobile cuisine, the industry is still under great scrutiny in many places.

Even one case of food poisoning can become a death sentence for a food truck business. Consequences of such incident can include legal liability, victim compensation, loss of sales, and damage to reputation, not to mention the stress of knowing your business is the reason for another person’s suffering. These consequences can also affect other business and the food truck industry as a whole.

Which is why mobile food businesses must put food safety at the top of their priorities. Time, skill, and money should be invested in making sure that customers will receive food that are delicious, affordable, and above else, safe.

Buying Ingredients
VEGGIESDepending whether they are bought fresh or frozen, fruits, vegetables, and meat have different requirements when it comes to their preparation. Fresh produce must be inspected for bruises or damages. If buying pre-cut fresh produce, only purchase those that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice. Also, only buy the amount of fresh ingredients that can be used or consumed immediately. Some fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those sourced from far places, are harvested before they are ripe to prevent damage while shipping. They can travel for days or weeks, arrive in the local grocery store, and then sit on the shelf for several more days. At this point, they have ripen but have less than optimum quality and nutritional content. Buying locally sourced fresh ingredients is the best assurance that they are safe, have high quality, and still retain their full nutrients.

Frozen ingredients may not be appealing to some but frozen produce and meat can provide great benefits. Freezing ingredients extend their shelf life and in most instances, lock-in nutrients and prevent moisture loss. Some frozen fruits and vegetables can have more nutrients compared to those that have been left on grocery shelves for several days.

A series of studies have shown that after three days of storage, frozen blueberries contain higher polyphenols and anthocyanins, while frozen broccoli has higher vitamin C and beta-carotene. Frozen sprouts have higher over-all nutritional content compared to shelf-stored fresh variant.

Some vitamins and minerals may be reduced or damaged by the freezing process, but if fresh ingredients are unavailable or need to be sourced from long distances, frozen ingredients can be a good alternative.

Food Handling and Preparation
The bruise and discoloration in fresh fruits and vegetables is often just physical damage to the produce’s cells, letting oxygen in and break down the cell walls. But it is advisable to use bruised produce immediately as they can experience deterioration and development of molds if left too long. If there are indication (through smell or sight) that the fresh produce has fungal activity, discard it immediately. If the fruit or vegetable is already showing signs of infection, do not attempt to salvage it by just cutting away the uninfected part. It is better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.

Proper hand washing is critical!

Proper hand washing is critical!

Also, hand washing before and after handling ingredients (even fresh produce) is extremely important. The United States Food and Drug Administration suggest washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Washing the ingredients under running water, regardless whether they are grown conventionally, organically, or harvested from your home garden, is also vital. Drying produced using a paper towel or clean cloth after washing can help reduce bacteria that may still remain.

Handling potentially hazardous foods (those that require to be refrigerated or frozen) can be a challenge. Never take potentially hazardous foods out of storage unless they will be used immediately. Rotate inventory by implementing a “first in, first out” system to ensure ingredients are used before their expiration dates. Use separate containers while preparing or thawing frozen ingredients to prevent water or juices from contaminating other ingredients.

Always ensure proper cooking temps!

Always ensure proper cooking temps!

Also, ensure to thaw frozen ingredients safely to limit bacterial growth before cooking. Thawing frozen meat inside the refrigerator is the best option, though it can take a long time. Another way is to defrost frozen ingredients inside sealed packages using a basin of cold water (a pot, a bowl, or in the sink) and leave it submerged for 30 minutes, then change the water until the food is defrosted. Never use hot water to defrost frozen ingredients because the heat can warm the surface of the food and can lead to faster bacterial growth. Some frozen pastries can be defrosted at room temperature or using a microwave but it is not advisable to use these methods to thaw meat, fish, and vegetables.

Some suppliers of frozen food also put instructions on how to handle their products and it is best to adhere to these recommendations.

Fresh ingredients usually only last for several days. Never buy and store fresh ingredients if they cannot be used or consumed immediately. Store perishable ingredients at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Always refrigerate pre-cut or peeled ingredients to keep their quality and nutritional content. It is always advisable to store fresh ingredients (even fruits and vegetables) separately because various types of food can degrade in different rates.

You can freeze almost every food to store them but whether their quality will remain after defrosting is another matter. Having separate thermometers for refrigerators and freezers is the best way to make sure that safe temperatures are being maintained. Safe temperature for refrigerators is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), while for freezers is zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) or lower. Storage equipment must be checked and cleaned regularly.

By |January 7th, 2016|Categories: blog, food truck safety, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Instagram for Food Trucks

Now that you’re confident on Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to tackle the next social media outlet that can be extremely beneficial to your food truck business: Instagram. The same basic social media rules apply on Instagram:

  • Be kind, courteous, and respectful to your customers
  • Tackle any negative feedback you receive with grace
  • Respond promptly when appropriate

With that in mind, here are some tips to get the most out of your food truck’s Instagram account.

instagram food truck profileFill Out Your Profile

Make sure you include your website in your Instagram profile so your fans can click through to your website to find your hours, menu, and location. Your profile photo can be an appetizing photo of our food or a glamour shot of your truck or logo.

Share Quality Photos

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, people won’t be using your Instagram to check in on your schedule or location. Users will be skimming their feed, looking for beautiful pictures to like and comment on. Your goal on Instagram should be to share the best of the best pictures you take. And you’re lucky to be in the food truck business because people love pictures of food. You can take pictures of your plated food or specials you’re having that day, pictures of your employees (with their approval!) serving food and taking orders, and well-framed pictures of your truck on location.

Avoid blurry photos, photos that show too much mess in the background, and overly stylized filters.

Edit Photos Consistently

Do some research and check out other really popular Instagram accounts. You’ll see that those users choose a certain visual theme – whether it’s light and airy, or lots of bright colors and heavy saturaion – and stick with it for most of their photos. These helps achieve an overall sense of cohesion within your Instagram account.

Think about your brand and what kind of photos would appeal to your customer base and use this to establish your Instagram aesthetic.

Share Your Fans’ Photos

If someone tags you in a great picture of your food or truck, share the love by regramming their photo. You can use an app like Repost that will allow you to share their image to your Instagram while easily tagging them in the process. This is a great way to engage your fans, show that you are keeping up with them on social media, and that you appreciate their efforts in helping promote your business.

Use Hashtags… But Not Too MuchFood truck food instagram

You should definitely use hashtags on Instagram, it’s how people will be able to search for your content. But, you have to strike a balance between over doing it and underutilizing them. Do some research to find hashtags specific to your area and the type of food you serve to really connect with the right crowd. For instance, Food on a Truck is located in Western Massachusetts and the hashtag #413eats is a popular foodie hashtag used by food lovers and restaurant goers in the area. Other popular food truck hashtags include:

  • #foodtruck or #foodtrucks
  • #foodtruckfriday
  • #foodtruckinvasion
  • #foodtrucklife

You can even create your own hashtag and encourage your guests to tag their own pictures to your custom hashtag.

Interact With Others

Like Twitter and Facebook, interaction is a big part of the social media game. Follow food trucks and some of your own followers and participate by liking what they post. If you’re at a food truck festival, as you taste food from other trucks, take a picture and tag them so you’re followers can see the kind of food you appreciate. If you work with local farmers, share pictures of your food that incorporates their produce and tag them so their followers can see how the food they grow gets used in the community. Doing this will help build your local network and solidify you as a cool person to do business with.

Don’t feel like you need to devote hours a day to this, either. A few minutes here or there is all you need to get these kinds of relationships started.

Ask For Help

If taking high-quality, well framed images isn’t your thing, you most likely have someone your staff who loves to Instagram. Ask for their help and have them snap a few images a day to use for social media fodder. They can use editing software like Snapseed (a free app) to tweak lighting and saturation levels of images to achieve a consistent aesthetic for your brand.


By |December 15th, 2015|Categories: blog, social media, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Letter from Jake, our newest team member with 5 years of food truck experience!

I’m the former owner of The Night Truck, a late night-food truck that served college campuses; we used Square to process our payments. I am the newest member of the Food on a Truck team, and I wanted to introduce myself.

Food Service is hard work, and in a truck it is many times harder. Over the 5 years that I ran The Night Truck, I learned 4 major lessons on how to succeed:

  1. SAVING TIME HELPS THE BOTTOM LINE Implement Tech Solutions that save time and money
  2. Accept Cards, Phones and Chips – when it is easier to pay, customers pay more
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate with customers and prospects
  4. Understand your Finances

Mobile POS is changing rapidly.

I was one of the first 50 businesses to sign up for Square for payment processing in 2010. Now the industry has been flipped on its head again with Apple Pay, Chip Readers, and tailored services (online ordering systems, loyalty programs, ticket printers, you name it). Square is passe. Getting ahead means understanding and implementing the best new technology. We stand ready to help you do that.

I hope you’ll be one of the first 50 to sign up for Food on a Truck and join us in revolutionizing POS systems for food trucks. Please, if you’re interested in exchanging ideas, or learning more about whether Food on a Truck is a good product for your company, contact me to discuss. We can make it quick to suit your busy schedule.


Schedule a 10 Minute Call with Jake

By |December 8th, 2015|Categories: blog|0 Comments

The Rising Popularity of Food Truck Festivals

We had a great time at the first (hopefully annual) New England Food Truck Festival on August 1st and 2nd at the Big E fairgrounds in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a family-friendly affair complete with live music, face painting, beer and hard cider, and food trucks everywhere. 357CD295-5242-45FD-A197-DEC70C701A794C656BD3-23C8-4164-91B9-D45B6FC4B01A

There was quite literally a truck for everyone in attendance. From clam chowder to donuts, from egg rolls to ice cream, the Pioneer Valley had the chance to taste their way across the New England foodscape in one convenient location.


Thousands of people were in attendance for the New England Food Festival, proving how successful these kinds of events are for both the community hosting them and the food trucks participating.

These festivals have been hosted across the country from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles to Little Rock, Arkansas, proving that a variety of locations are acknowledging the popularity of food trucks.

Just because a festival is planned doesn’t guarantee there’s interest in it, right? The New England Food Festival had several thousand people come through over the course of two days. In general, the interest in food truck festivals can also be seen in search trends over the past few years. You can see from this graph that interest in food truck festivals has doubled in the past year alone.


A baked potato loaded with pulled chicken and cheddar cheese from Spuds Your Way.


There are a few reasons a food truck festival can be great for your business:

  • There’s the obvious: you can net a relatively large profit in just a day or two in one location.
  • Food truck festivals are a great way to introduce new, local customers to your business. Make sure to have your social media information on display so new customers can instantly start following you while they wait for their food.
  • Your food truck will also be noticed by locals not attending the festival who see your business in the festival’s advertising.

Another great food truck, The Whoo(pie) Wagon, on site at the New England Food Truck Festival.

If you’re a food truck based in the New England area, we definitely suggest you consider attending this the New England Food Truck Festival if they hold it again next year. You can keep up to date with the NEFTF on Facebook and Twitter

Have you attended an awesome food truck festival? We want to hear about it – tweet us @FoodOnATruck!

Twitter For Food Trucks

It’s so exciting when a new food truck business is born. And creating the twitter account for your food truck is just as essential as the truck, a well thought out menu, and necessarily permits. We hope this blog post is especially help to those food truckers about to launch their first food truck.

But even the pros that have been out on the streets for years and years can always take a look they can improve utilizing twitter to get more customers to show up at the truck day after day.

Would the modern food truck even exist without social media? Here at Food on a Truck we feel that twitter and communicating to customers is just as essential to a successful mobile food business as having amazing food and stellar service.

Being a mobile restaurant is a double edged sword. You get to serve at different locations to build your customer base. But because you are mobile you must make it as easy as possible for your customers to always be able to find you.

Yes – setting up your twitter account takes time. And it does take time throughout your day to tweet your customers about your current location, hours, and current menu items. But it’s clear that when you do this, you will get more people to show up at your truck.

Here are some essential tips to help you get the most value out of twitter and use it to grow your business:

Make it Obvious!

orca-eatsIf you cater events, mention it. Excellent marketing is all about planting a seed. So when a customer of yours find out their friend is planning a wedding reception they mention their favorite food truck is available for catering.

Here’s an excellent example of a twitter bio from the food truck Orca Eats. It becomes obvious to the customer this is a food truck that caters events and is located on Vashon Island in Washington.

They also state how their menu changes frequently giving a sense of urgency for the customer to get out and try the truck!


Where are you?

We’ve visited cities wanting to try specific food trucks and have been unable to find them due to their location not being published online. You cannot over communicate your schedule to your customers. People follow your food truck for a reason: they want to stay updated.

Sure, when you tweet your location it might only be a small percentage of customers that show up because of that tweet, but in this business every little bit helps and can really add up over time.

Plus, if you don’t tweet or have your schedule online, you could be losing customers that are actively wanting to eat at your truck and not even know it.

Always MaintainPositive Tone

This is critical. At some point you will get a “troll” that will want to start a fight on the internet. You absolutely always want to be completely professional and positive even when you are tempted to give in and lob some heated words back at them.

This can only backfire and damage your brand. If you are really frustrated, just relax and put off responding to the person after 24 hours. Often people will give up trying to start a fight if you simply don’t engage on their level.

Avoid Debated Topics and Politics

If you want to openly support a political candidate or a current issue feel free to do that under your own personal twitter account. However, with your business you want avoid any topics that could offend people. Your customers are going to be diverse people with many different backgrounds and political views.

It would be a big mistake to bring up politics and give a reason for your customers to not show up at your truck.

Harness The Power of Retweets (RTs)

When you follow accounts like @FoodOnATruck and @MobileCuisine you will always have interesting content in your twitter feed. If something is partially interesting to you just retweet it to your followers.

It’s a great way to stay top of mind to your customers and even interact with members of the food truck community. We strive to be a source of quality relevant content to food trucks. Do the same with your own followers, follow your local news sources so you can share tweets to your customers that will be of value to them.

Follow other businesses too and become involved in your local community via twitter. And if you are lucky enough to get a tweet like this from a happy customer be sure and retweet it to your followers.

Respond with Quotes

You can also respond with a quote when customers tweet to you. It’s like retweeting but takes just a bit more effort and it shows your customers that you really listen and are responsive. Use the “Reply” option and your followers will see both the original tweet and your reply.

Photos, Photos, and more Photos!

Even if you have an Instagram account post photos via twitter. There’s something very powerful about seeing your favorite truck at a location that’s near you that will cause your stomach to grumble. Post photos of your truck, your food, your employees and even your happy customers.

Train your Employees

Share this guide with anyone that uses your twitter account.  If you are going to let anyone tweet for your food trucks account be sure to set some ground rules so the expectations are clear. Also if anyone no longer needs to use the twitter account – change the password. It’s a best practice for a reason.

Don’t buy Followers

twitter auditThere’s many services that allow you to easily buy followers. You might be tempted to do this. While it can be easy and even inexpensive to go from 5 followers to 50,000 it really don’t provide any value to you.

Worse, twitter works by recommending accounts to follow. So if someone follows other food trucks and then yours your account will start to show up to potential customers organically.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter starts to penalize accounts that buy followers in rankings. If you buy followers you risk having to go through and purge those fake followers at some point.

Here’s a tool you can use to check any account to see how many followers are fake.  Accounts like ours which have never bought followers will still have some fake accounts, but the majority (85% or more) will be genuine accounts.

Try using your Phone

It almost sounds a little old school at this point, but some customers love to use the phone. Try tweeting your number like Mantraah to receive pick up orders or have it posted so customers can call if they are trying to find you.



Seasoned food trucks have learned the value of twitter. Consistent communication drives your best customers to your truck. For new food trucks this could make the difference between a successful business that grows and one that stagnates never reaching the full potential.
The problem is that when you show up at a location it’s a mad dash to open your window and serve. There’s simply not time to get on social media.

Our software now automates your twitter messaging. Just set up your schedule and twitter can now go on autopilot so you can focus on your customers, not on sending out tweets. And it’s fully integrated with our POS software.  If you’re interested, join our launch list to be notified as we expand our beta: http://www.foodonatruck.com/stay-updated/

Happy food trucking.

By |August 23rd, 2015|Categories: blog, social media|0 Comments

Evaluating Food Truck Refrigerators

When it comes to the business of selling and serving food, refrigeration is vital. Each type of food business will have different needs in keeping products and ingredients fresh and safe for consumption. For food truck owners, choosing the best refrigerator for your business can have a great impact not just to the quality of the food served but on the operation of your venture.

Considerations and Decisions
Not all refrigerators are created equal and choosing the right one is important from the start for a food truck business. This type of equipment is an investment not to be taken lightly, more so as it affects your business operations in a daily basis.

15594629472_463a604c34_hOne factor that entrepreneurs must first consider is the nature of your business and how refrigeration will be utilized. Will your products be frozen like ice cream or just cold like fresh ingredients? Will you be storing ingredients or ready-made products? Do you want it to be multipurpose like a glass door merchandiser or a sandwich preparation table? The refrigerator you will purchase must be able to complement and function seamlessly with your business model.

Another consideration is the type, size, and energy efficiency of the appliance. Some may choose to use residential type refrigerators to save a bit of money but they are less powerful and have limited selection than commercial types. Also, there are varieties of commercial refrigerators that are more suited for a food truck business because they come with convenient features like prep tables, refrigerated drawers, and extremely durable design. Though commercial refrigerators are typically larger than residential types, many models are designed to be energy efficient that can save you money in the long run.

Also an important factor is the after-sales support for the refrigerator including maintenance, warranty, and parts. Because a busted refrigerator can halt your food truck operation, maintenance and repair services must be taken into account when picking the brand or manufacturer of your equipment. Having dependable after-sales support ensures that you will benefit from the full life-cycle of the equipment and get a return on investment.

F48CC299-E611-471A-992B-BB39A4DAE4CC91F83B72-819D-4530-A42C-DA17C5964630The health code and regulation of the vending areas is also a factor that must never be overlooked when choosing equipment for your food truck. Many territories have city or state laws that require mobile food businesses to have commercial-type appliances. These regulations may set specifications like storage capacity, acceptable operating temperature, or even external thermostat display based on the type of products to be sold. Ensure to purchase a refrigerator that will be compliant to local laws to avoid legal issues from interrupting your business operation.

Not All Are Created Equal
Commercial refrigerators specifically marketed for mobile food businesses come in various types with their own benefits.

Refrigerated Chef Bases
Featuring rugged tops that can be used for food preparation or hold other appliances, refrigerated chef bases gained popularity due to its convenient design. Because the refrigerated drawers are conveniently close to the cooking line, food truck operation is efficient and requires less movement.

Buyer’s Check: If cooking equipment will be used on top of the chef base, make sure to take into account the warm air produced by the refrigerator’s condenser in addition to the heat from the cooking equipment when doing the calculation of CFM (cubic per minute) ventilation requirements for the exhaust hood. Use mounting legs to achieve minimum amount of clearance between the cooking equipment and the chef base. Check the refrigerator’s specification sheet to prevent exceeding the weight of objects put on top of the chef base.

Sandwich, Salad, or Pizza Prep Tables
Used to streamline food preparation while keeping ingredients cold and fresh, prep tables can be equipped with mounted cutting board and pans for easy food assembly. They can come in two different categories: sandwich or salad prep table and pizza prep tables. Sandwich prep tables have a thinner cutting board, have no rail (flat prep), and uses 1/3 size food pans. Pizza prep tables have a thicker cutting board, raised rail, and uses 1/6 size food pans. Depending on the model, refrigeration is achieved via air cooled, cold wall, or liquid jacket method.

Buyer’s Check: Choose the type base on your application and available space. The number of ingredients required by the dish or menu can affect what style and configuration you must purchase. Keep refrigerated prep tables from high heat, humidity, or air flow as it may impact the quality and temperature of ingredients.

Under-counter Refrigerators
With limited space to work with inside a food truck, under-counter models can serve as a main or secondary refrigeration unit. They are designed to be fit under counter-tops and some are not suitable to be used as preparation space or hold equipment above them. Height measurements include 36 inches for typical under-counter refrigerators, 34 inches for “ADA height” (Americans with Disabilities Act) models, and 30 to 32 inches for “low profile” versions (including legs or casters).

fridgeBuyer’s Check: Carefully measure the area where the fridge or freezer will be placed. Depending on the design of the model, required clearance for proper ventilation might be necessary. Drawer-types are gaining more popularity due to quick access to ingredients compared to door-type under-counter refrigerators. Some under-counter refrigerators are designed with heavy-duty worktop surface and can be mounted with an optional back-splash accessory, essentially transforming it into a worktop refrigerator.

Worktop Refrigerators
Having the same height as an under-counter refrigerator, worktop models differ by being designed to provide a convenient space for cutting and preparing food. Also, some models have a back-splash attached to protect the wall from food debris or particles, though other models forego this feature to achieve a seamless and easier to clean design.

Buyer’s Check: Due to similarities with under-counter refrigerators, check the weight-bearing specification of the model you are about to purchase, as those designed to be able to carry weight above can be safely used as worktop.

Choosing the right refrigerator for your mobile food business can be a bit confusing with all the options available and the various health regulations that need to be considered. But sticking to your business plan, needs, and budget is a great way to keep on track and select the equipment that will help your food truck succeed.

By |August 7th, 2015|Categories: blog, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Maximizing Profit at Food Truck Festivals

Sooner or later, as a Food Truck owner, you’ll come to realize that most of your profits are dependent on getting frequent event gigs (in fact, some reading this are probably already aware of this fact). This is simply a fact for most of the industry, and in itself has its own list of dos and don’ts, regulations, and in-and-outs for finding good ones and making sure to be successful at them; such as having a properly built, attractive and functional truck made by a quality Builder like M&R Trailers. They’re quite a bit of work, just the prep and service running to get all the food out on its own is a challenge in itself, but they pay off big time in the long run.

But more often than not, these events aren’t free; and I’m not talking for the customer. Unless we’re talking regular spots with a local brewery, or a community Food Truck Alliance/Group rally set up by owners themselves, more than likely you as an owner are going to need to shell out some cash just to be offered the chance to park at these various events and THEN make money. Which, if one can advertise/attract right and/or the event is rocking and you get orders throughout the day, won’t even make a dent in your cares. On the other hand, if one is in a situation of regular, if not even SLOW, traffic to your truck throughout the day, for one reason or another, this extra cost can make the difference between coming out with great daily profits to LOSING money.

And there are many factors that can contribute to dragging you into this painful situation, both on your side and the event organizer’s (even customer-based, you know how those crappy random bad weather spots come in). But today we’ll be focusing on one of the biggest things that YOU can advertise and control that most directly affects the sales needed to re-balance out your day, and what the customer sees first as they walk by: Price and Food. These are what influence Sales the most, and whether or not one can strike a balance in money made per sale to cover these fees and THEN make a profitFood Truck Fest

The Organizer

Before you start strategizing to make the biggest sales, you need to know whether or not there’s going to be a crowd large enough to be ABLE to make those sales. That means checking out the organizer and event before you officially agree to any terms and start asking yourself a few important questions.

First off, is this event a first-of-its kind, ‘pop-up,’ or other similar new thing happening? Or is it regularly scheduled, something the community is aware of by now and, as such, more likely to draw more that now look forward to attending this yearly (or bi-yearly or whatever) affair. On a similar note, has this organizer themselves have a track record of events; even if this is a new one, have they themselves hosted multiple rallies and fairs and similar over the past few years or more. Do they have experience and know how to attract people to these, or is this their first rodeo? If there’s any sense of ‘new-ness’ to them or the event itself, start taking that dubious eye to the whole thing and preparing to draw back as you start researching further.

Of course, just because the organizer’s gotten experience doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. If you can, try to research some of these past events, see what the turnouts and if there were any complaints, inconsistencies, etc. If any of this comes up, ask them to account for it, see if they have any proper reasons and if they’ve learned by now; otherwise, too many inconsistencies can mean they don’t have the knowledge to bring in the crowds that YOU need for this. If this doesn’t even come up, the organizer is experienced, or this event has been well-worked into the area, then no worries need be considered on the subject.

After that, inspect the event itself. Make sure you can get a proper, official estimation on what kind of crowd, both by organizer and past-history expectations. In fact, if you’re being charged a flat vending fee, we suggest that you actually ask, if not require, a Guarantee of Attendance from the organizer beforehand, and how they estimated that out; a bit of insurance in case of the worst case scenarios, might be able to fenaggle some if not all of that money back.

From there, what is then the exact draw for the event? What are people going to be focusing on when they’re here: live concent/music, themed, exhibits, brewery/business opening/fair, is it based on the gathering of food trucks or is it charity (is there a separate area or attraction to it, or are you and other trucks the main attraction), is it a piggy-back/addition to some OTHER event, etc? This is vital, because it will likely determine how interested and how focused they will be in going for food, whether it’s just something to fill their stomachs and snacking desires while they’re off on something else, or if they’re likely to focus on the full-depth experience of consuming and sampling from their local mobile food vendors (or something in between). This also may determine what sort of menu items you may want to feature; small snacks for ambling, special creations to pair with certain drinks or other focal consumptions, larger items for one-off eating (and that may cost more money to get more to charity), etc.

Then there’s plenty of other little factors; are people getting charged for attendance/parking (more people likely to show if free, and if they’re already spending money to enter they may not be so willing to buy as much food), is it located somewhere easy access, will alcohol be served (people do love buying food while drinking)? Where exactly is YOUR vending fee going? Is it covering actual costs, or are there other commercial sponsors covering most expenses while the organizer just collects money from YOU? Economical and moral decisions may need raising depending on some of the answers.

Ultimately, knowing what the event is going to be like, from history and from crowds, will heavily contribute to some final and strategic decisions, and may at least save the sacrifice of needlessly over-prepared food prep in the worst case scenario.

By the Numbers

One can never truly generalize all events, especially the food truck-related ones, but there are a few good points to be aware of when starting any ‘calculations.’ Firstly, with the advent of many studies and years of vendor experiences, it’s often considered that during any day of traffic, a food truck or vendor will only attract 1-2% of customers out of the crowd of people that walk past them. Not a surprising percentage, and very believable if not generous, for most street parking situations, and a good way to get an idea of sales at an event once an estimation on attendance is given. Though one can very likely increase this percentage on those rallies and events where the food trucks provide the biggest attraction; the people there are often going with the express idea to eat from YOU and other vendors, so should bump it up to at least 5%.

We could bump it up more, but there is yet another factor to consider, and the main reason why one still has to consider themselves only gaining a tiny fraction of any attendance; competition. Even if 95% of people will consume from a truck, likely at many of these things, the fact remains it’s not all going to be at YOUR truck. With a wealth of options, one can expect to start dividing the amount of people-per-truck up evenly, as a starting figure and expectation for how many sales yours may get (at this point, if the event theme fits, can boost up your % of expected customers out of these to much higher lengths), but will also want to consider some notable skews based on the possible attendance of one or more of the highly popular trucks in your area.

We have attended quite a few rallies, and at every one there are trucks that have a line stretching down a few vehicle lengths (continuously) while others see just a couple people popping in every couple minutes. The important thing is to have an expectation of WHO this will happen to, how much business they may drag away from you, and where exactly YOU fit into the customer’s mind by now (Heck, you may BE the one all the other trucks sort of hate, at least someday in the future).

One last point on this; much like the 1-2% rule, there’s usually a thought that, during an all-day event like some of these are, if these expected numbers or divisions of potential customers are less than 500 people per truck (so if a 3 truck event doesn’t get 1,500 or more attendees in total; I don’t think you’re supposed to expect 500+ sales, but some people take the theory to that extreme), than it’s not worth it. Again, does this fit every event and personal truck situation? Likely not, but another point to keep in mind.

Profit Point

At the end of the day, there’s no set rule or percentage point to determine a set calculation for ideal event profits/sales in comparison to make the fee worth it, along with WHAT strategy you should stick to. This is something that’s going to change and adjust depending on the event, the truck (your menu profit %, ideal sales goals, NORMAL daily sales, etc), how much you’re getting charged, etc.

Truthfully, the final factor at the end of the day comes down to this: if there’s notable possibility to make enough sales to cover the event fees in ADDITION to what you would expect to make on a normal day, and with some extra potential to give that strong profit opportunity, then you’re good. If these numbers don’t seem to clear, there seems to be opportunity for less, yet another signal to put extra thought and consideration to whether doing this event is the right thing for you right now.

Menu Thoughts

If done and accepted, your job now turns towards maximizing sales and profit to ensure that you squeeze every last penny out of this event possible to fully balance the vending fee. This could mean hours spent in strategizing and prepping a particular kind of menu, or just going in and serving the exact same food you always do; if you have the following and your truck food is definitely ideal and popular (especially for this kind of event), then feel free, your days are busy and hectic enough as it is.

But if possible, changing the menu can offer some good opportunities. Firstly, there’s a good chance you’ll want to reduce and limit offerings, if the menu isn’t small enough already; not only can this make service a lot easier for you, faster and more pleasant for customer, it also reduces the chance of food waste and makes it easier for customers to decide, thus making your specific cuisine style stand out more and provide a draw. Not to mention, it also limits what KIND of food they get, guiding them to the more ideal menu items that you want them to buy.

Which comes to choice number 2: what sort of menu sales style will you choose? Are you having lower-price, easy-grab snack options (at say $3-6 range) and trying for a higher number of customers? Larger and higher priced items, like $8-12+ Sandwiches/bowls/etc for a smaller crowd looking to have a single big meal (or potential sharing)? Or perhaps a middle ground, if not a combination of both (though of course that means re-diversifying the menu)?

Each strategy has its merits, the cheaper quick-bite foods do very well at fairs and truck fairs where people are sampling multiple things (and just want to snack as they go), whereas the higher options certainly make more profit if one find the right situation to apply them for a similar number of sales. Of course the middle ground is more flexible, and what many tend to go for, having little positive or negative aspects to it. As always, the final decision will be based on the specifics of the event/crowd itself and what you feel YOU can handle and want to get prepped and ready to serve.

And of course, this is an ample opportunity to use cost-reduction strategies, like bulk-buying certain ingredients or finding suitably lower-cost alternatives, to be used in NEW items that you don’t, and perhaps won’t, feature on the streets, and can perhaps add an extra buck on compared to what you normally would for price-cost percentage. With large amounts of sales, some minute cost-profit expansions can lead a huge addition to final results (as you should know by now).

Besides all this, there IS one last important menu consideration, and that’s making sure you have enough Inventory. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to achieve a strong and accurate estimate of the number of attendees expected, along with how much sales you YOURSELF can get alongside competition, so as to hit that sweet spot of storage. If one ends up buying too much food that ends up spoiling (wasting money), or too little and running out (wasting an opportunity for MORE money, as well as pissing off potential future customers), then some very choice words may need to be kept for he-who-set-up-false-expectations.

Is it Reasonable?

After everything is set and done, you’ve calculated the ideal number of sales for low, medium, and higher-priced menu items (or a combination of 1-3) to make your desired sales goals for that day, there’s one last question to ask. Is it even reasonable, or even slightly possible? Knowing what sort of crowd to expect, the 1-2% rule or idealistically higher idea of how many will stop at the truck, and how much the organizer is charging YOU to park there… will you be able to realistically make enough extra money to pay those fees back and more, thus making the event even WORTH doing as opposed to just finding a brewery or street parking that day?Food Truck Festival

It’s sad to say, but these fees aren’t always fair, and you as an owner need to recognize that, besides the miraculous occurrences where business is booming even higher than imagined (obviously, popular trucks with large followings rarely have to even consider this NOT happ
ening to them when they go to popular events, but for those regular mortals just getting by…), they need to 1: confront the organizer about this, let them know it’s actually unreasonable and see about getting reduced fares for some, and/or 2: just learn that sometimes you need to back away, stick to what’s going to make more money THAT DAY and guarantee surviving another week and paying off more loans.

That said, perhaps the event will still be the best option… so hooray! Not ideal but at least still making more than one would on the street, thus proving how important they are. But sooner or later you’ll need to work further to either A: spot and find the opportunities with these more realistic and fair fees, or B: develop and refine menu costs and prices to thus MAKE the event sales and profit margins more realistic.

By |July 19th, 2015|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business|0 Comments

Choosing a Food Truck Generator

Picking a Generator for a Food TruckGenerac_Portable_Generators

Unlike restaurants that have a fixed connection to the grid for all their electricity needs, mobile food vendors require reliable power that can travel with them from point A to point B. This makes generators an essential part of any food truck today. Choosing the right generator to power your appliances is a very important decision that have lasting implications to your business if not considered carefully.


How to Buy a Generator?

Access to portable electricity is not cheap, which is why food truck owners should consider certain things before choosing your power source. Answering the following questions can serve as a starting point and give you a picture of what to look for in selecting a generator.


What appliances will you use at a given day?

Understanding how your equipment will function when powered by a generator is important to prevent your food truck operations from stalling. Some appliances need a higher starting wattage (required power to start up) compared to its running wattage. You need to know the kind of load your generator will be powering so you can calculate how much power (and the size of generator) you will need.

There are two kinds of loads:

  Resistive loads – require the same amount of power to start up and run. These are appliances usually involved in heating or produces heat like light bulbs, coffee makers, toasters, and microwave ovens.

  Reactive loads – require additional power to start but consumes less once it is running. These are appliances that contain an electric motor like refrigerators, bean grinders, blenders, and air conditioners.


How much power do you need?

A generator can only produce a certain amount of electricity so make sure to choose a model that will be able to cover your food truck’s power requirements.

To know how much power your generator should have, calculate the power requirements of all the appliances you will be using at the same time. You can determine the power required by an appliance by checking the bottom or side for a stamp, its nameplate, or the data tag found on electric motors. Manuals also contain these information.

Power requirements of appliances are usually listed in amps while most generators list power outputs in watts so a bit of conversion might be required.


Watts = Volts x Amps

Amps = Watts / Volts

To calculate: Add the power requirements of the appliances you will use at a given time. This will give you the amount of power your generator should at least have. If the load is reactive, calculate using starting wattage, which is typically 3 times the running wattage.

Example calculation: (using estimated power requirements)

Coffee maker – starting wattage: 600; running wattage: 600

Refrigerator (Energy Star) – starting wattage: 1200; running wattage: 192

5 Lights bulbs – starting wattage: 300; running wattage: 300

Blender – starting wattage: 850; running wattage: 400


Total: 2950W

You will need a generator with power output of at least 2950 watts. Getting a generator with a slightly higher wattage output than your requirement is recommended; some appliances increase their need for energy as they age and become less efficient.

Honda Generator  In addition, generators are advertised with “maximum power” and “rated power.” Maximum power is the highest wattage a generator can produce and usually available for up to 30 minutes. Rated power is the power a generator can produce for extended periods of time, which is typically 90% of maximum power. Use rated power in determining whether a generator will be able to provide your food truck with enough energy to operate your equipment.


What type of generator should you choose?

Conventional vs Inverter Generators

There is a wide variety of generators for mobile food vendors to choose from but models fall into two categories: conventional generators and inverter generators.

Conventional Generator

  • basic concept has remained essentially unchanged
  • uses a motor attached to an alternator producing AC power
  • requires a constant speed (usually 3600 rpm); fluctuation in engine speed affects energy flow
  • greater power output
  • extended run time
  • cannot be used in parallel operation
  • larger and heavier than inverter generators
  • less expensive than inverter generators

Inverter Generator

  • relatively recent development
  • uses advance circuitry to convert multi-phase AC power to DC power then inverts to “cleaner” AC power
  • can adjusts engine speed depending on load requirement
  • smoother electrical signal; safer for sensitive equipment (laptops and phones)
  • fuel efficient
  • adequate run time despite compact size
  • portable and lightweight
  • produces less noise and vibration
  • capable of parallel operation with multiple units
  • more expensive than conventional generators

Both types of generators use fossil fuel (usually gas, diesel, or propane) to produce electricity. Many food truck operators prefer to use inverter generators for the smoother energy output, portability, fuel efficiency, and quiet operation despite the higher price compared to conventional generators.

There are many different models of generators out on the market today. Some of the most popular and recommended models are made by Generac and Honda.  Generac and Honda offer their generators at low prices, and both are completely reliable brands that offer a range of low watt generators to high watt generators to fit your needs.

Some of the best mobile generators by Generac are the MLG series. They range from 8,000, 15,000, 20,000, and 25,000 watts.  They are inverter generators run on diesel. They will hold enough fuel to run for 48 hours straight.  However the generators come with their own trailer so they must be pulled from behind the truck.Generac Generators

Generac also has portable generators that don’t need to be pulled from behind.  The most reliable of them would be the XP series.  This series has models ranging from 4,000, 6,500, 8,000, and 10,000 Watts. They are inverter generators run on diesel and has a 9 gallon tank.  These generators will last about 9 hours at a time.

Generac has a very wide array of generators to fit all your food truck needs and all their generators are extremely reliable, very durable, and will last a whole days use.

Honda doesn’t have a very wide selection of generators but they are extremely reliable and durable.  Their best generators are their EB series.  These generators range from 5,000, 6,500, and 10,000 watts.  They are inverter generators.  The generators hold 6.2-8.2 gallons of gasoline fuel. They will run for 7.2 hours to 10.1 hours at a time.

We sent out a tweet asking our food truck followers what generators they were using and what they would recommend to other food trucks. We also asked if they were having any problems with their current generator.

Of course, our followers came through and gave us a couple excellent recommendations for generators that meet all their needs.

One follower recommended the Honda EU3000i. It is very quiet, offers 3,000 watts, weighs about 46 lbs., and will last 8.1 hours on 1 gallon of gasoline fuel.  There another very handy model that offers the same features as the Honda EU3000i but it is only 2,000 watts.  Honda also offers generators that give less watts and are smaller.

Another generator that was recommended by our followers is the Onan Marquis Gold 7000. If you don’t want to get a Generac or Honda generator this is a very highly recommend model that will meet all your needs.  It produces 7,000 Watts and runs on gasoline fuel.  It is extremely quiet and will last a whole day’s work.

















By |June 2nd, 2015|Categories: blog, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Does Your Food Truck Have Enough Gluten-free and Vegan Options?

Does Your Food Truck Have Enough Gluten-free and Vegan Options?Gluten Free Sign

We are what we eat. To some, it may be a lifestyle choice. But for others, eating the wrong food can be a matter of life and death.

Gluten Intolerance
In America, more than 15 million people have food allergies. Research show that 1 out of 133 people worldwide could have some form of gluten-related disorder, which include celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. That is a significant rise from 1 in 2500 a decade ago. With the rising number of people claiming to have gluten related illnesses, gluten-free food and products became a hot topic in mainstream media with some not taking it seriously. But sensitivity or allergy to gluten, just like any other health concern, is a serious matter that mobile food vendors should consider when it comes to the products served to customers.

Going Gluten-Free
Offering a gluten-free option in your food truck menu to cater for consumer with such preference can be easy to implement. Though it will require additional time and effort, the advantages may be worth the investment. A gradual addition of new gluten-free items like bread-less sandwiches (deconstructed tacos or burrito bowls) is a great step in catering to a new brand of customers. Substituting or eliminating ingredients containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, among others) to create gluten-free variants of existing menu options is a viable strategy that will not have a drastic effect to your food truck’s prep work.

People with gluten sensitivity can experience “brain fog,” depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue, among others. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where gluten ingestion leads to damage in the small intestine, has much severe consequences. By considering the addition of gluten-free menu options, food trucks can provide not just delicious but also safe and inclusive food to all their customers.

Vegan ChoiceVegan Food
Food preferences can also be a matter of lifestyle and principle, in addition to matters of health. Vegans are those who adhere to a strict plant-based diet, with no animal products (not even dairy or eggs) whatsoever. According to the 2013 Public Policy Polling Survey, among the 500 participants, 7% identified themselves as vegans.

Despite being a food minority when it comes to food demography, vegans and vegetarians have a significant voice when it comes to issue concerning health and consumption in developed countries. Food trucks catering to this consumer demography get significant advantages as vegetarian food are not just bought by strict dieters but also by meat-lovers who are interested in healthier choices. Providing even just one high quality and delicious vegan friendly entree can become significant for food trucks that want to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Success in the mobile food business do not just depend on the best tasting menus or most popular locations. Taking care of customers, whether satisfying their cravings or looking after their health, is what counts the most at the core of every fulfilled entrepreneur.

By |May 12th, 2015|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Does My Food Truck Have Enough Vegetarian Menu Items?

Whether being a lifestyle choice or due to health reasons, an increasing number of people are becoming more discerning when it comes to the food they buy and eat. Being in the front-end of the food economy, consumer trends toward healthier options can have a dramatic effect to the food truck industry. It is essential for mobile food vendors to ask how they can react or leverage their business to cater to the changing needs of their customers.veggie burger

Rising Health Consciousness
Consumers are embracing healthier options, particularly the younger generations. According to a recent report by the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey, 41% of consumers under age 20 (Generation Z) are willing to pay more for healthier products compared to 32% of millennials (born early 1980 to early 2000’s) and 21% of baby boomers. In addition, the number of vegetarians and vegans are also on the rise. According to the 2013 Public Policy Polling Survey, 13% of Americans identify themselves are either vegetarian (6%) or vegan (7%). This is a bit of a leap from the 2012 Gallup poll (5% vegetarian and 2% vegan).

Higher Profit Margins
Though some may find it challenging and even intimidating to integrate healthier options into the food truck menu, vendors may find that vegetarian options can give high margins and also added revenue streams. Because vegetarian dishes can be made using lower cost ingredients without compromising quality and taste, one can price their vegetarian dishes competitively. For example, substituting crumbled tofu for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese in lasagna and similar dishes can lower the cost. Another example is eliminating meat in preparing pasta sauce.

Many people also do not mind to pay more for healthier options because they look at it as an investment on their health. Instead of paying for medication or treatment due to a bad diet in the future, consumers prefer to pay for healthier food today.

In reaction to the increasing number of consumers who want healthier food options, a growing number of food trucks in larger urban areas are becoming vegan-friendly and had become very popular. Also, the number of vegetarian products in groceries are also increasing, from the number of brands of soy and almond milk to meat replacements like tempeh and tofu.

Check out PETA’s list of top vegan-friendly food trucks and see how they manage to make it work:

If you are still unsure whether have vegetarian option in your food truck menu is a right choice, here are some pros and cons that may help you decide.

Attracts curious and health conscious customers
Higher profit margins
Associated advocacy with vegetarianism (compassion to animals, good ethics, environmental awareness, etc.)
Market expansion or diversification
Issues connected to meat or animal-sourced products (rising prices, diseases, contamination, etc.)
Business differentiation

Some customers may get turned off with vegetarian food (thinking that is may not taste good)
Researching, experimenting, and testing vegetarian dishes requires time, effort, and resources
Certain ingredients may not be readily available


Vegetarians are on the rise. Over time, more and more will show up at your mobile food business. These could become some of your most loyal customers – we strongly suggest you have more than one vegetarian option (even if you are a BBQ truck).


By |April 13th, 2015|Categories: blog, starting a food truck|1 Comment