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.

Storage
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

Instant Customer Feedback Is Essential For Food Trucks

It’s no secret how important customer feedback is to food businesses. In general, when we think of customer feedback we think of the reviews people write on websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google.

If you’re a business owner, you also know that those websites tend to attract two types of customers: your diehard fans and the one person who had a below average experience and is geared up to write a diatribe for their 1,000 local followers. But what about all of the people in between who you never hear from? Clover-Customer-Survey-Overall

These customers are your “silent majority”. They are the people who could eat at your food truck daily without ever telling you how awesome you are. They are the people who stop by once, who didn’t have a great experience, and will pass you over the next time without giving you the chance to fix the perceived error.

Food-Truck-POS-Customer-Survey

But if you could harness the opinions of your silent majority more effectively, you would actually wind up making better adjustments to your business instead of relying solely on people who think you’re totally awesome or those who think no one should visit your truck ever again.

By using Food on a Truck, you will be able to get customer feedback as soon as customers are emailed their receipt. This gives you the chance to grab customers – and their feedback – before they get to Yelp. When customers feel heard, they often feel better. Giving them the ability to share instantaneous feedback directly to you will make them less likely to take their complaint to a public forum. It also gives you the opportunity to privately respond to more serious negative feedback and create a relationship with a customer who may return if you can satisfactorily respond to their perceived sleight.

customer survey receipt

Printed receipt from Customer Survey, part of the Food on a Truck app package

Having more frequent customer feedback from a wider variety of your customer base also gives you the chance to educate your customers in the specific ways your customer base has asked to be educated: Are they having trouble finding you? Are you not explaining your dishes well enough? Is your truck just not a good fit for certain neighborhoods? These are questions you can answer if suddenly your “silent majority” starts to let you know they wish they had known your signature sandwich contained mayo.

Being clued in to what customers like, and more importantly, don’t like about your business can help you make a variety of decisions as a food truck. This customer feedback can help you more quickly decide:

  • If a hiring decision is working out
  • If the quality of a new meal is up to par
  • If they felt like they were waiting too long

The examples of the way this instant feedback can help you calibrate your business model are endless, but the clear positive effects of it are invaluable.

 

How has feedback helped you improve your business? Let us know on Twitter @FoodOnATruck

By |November 15th, 2015|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business|Tags: , , |0 Comments

EMV: Protect Your Food Truck From New Credit Card Regulations

Come October 1, 2015 there will be a big change in credit card processing. On this date, new credit card standards called EMV will take effect. This switch is an effort by major credit card companies to battle fraudulent charges. The system is already widely used in Europe and it’s now coming to the US where half the world’s credit card fraud happens. The EMV system couples an updated POS system with credit cards that contain microchips instead of the standard magnetic strip we’re used to.

What this means for retailers is that as of October 2015, if a fraudulent charge occurs at your food truck (on a credit card with a microchip) through your swipe and sign POS system, you are going to be held liable for those charges. And yes,  the entire ticket amount!

Food On A Truck is a food truck POS system. We have designed the software specifically with your business needs in mind. This includes protection from credit card fraud. We’ve planned ahead and made sure that our food truck POS system will be able to handle EMV charges so you can focus on food service.

What is EMV?Food Truck

EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard, and Visa. It references the three companies that began the change in technology to better protect consumers and credit card companies from fraud.

It’s not entirely new technology, the EMV system is already being used in over 80 countries. It’s taken longer to hit the US because of the complexity of the American market. Credit cards with microchips have been around since 2002, you may even have one yourself.

What does it mean for my food truck?

It means that you should update your food truck’s POS system to one that is EMV compliant to avoid taking on the liability of fraudulent charges. Food On A Truck is safe, secure, and already capable of handling EMV transactions. We’ve gone out of our way to make sure that we offer our users the best possible food truck POS experience possible.

Food On A Truck’s POS hardware will be able to accept credit cards with a microchip that don’t require a swipe of a magnetic strip. Customers with these credit cards may have the option (depending on their bank) of attaching a PIN to their card for an additional layer of protection. Food On A Truck’s EMV-enabled POS system will actually read the chip on the card and make sure that it’s valid. It’s an incredibly secure way for your customers to spend money.

How will Food On A Truck protect me?

Food On A Truck is ready and able to handle all EMV transactions. FOAT will:

  • reduce skimming during transactions at your food truck
  • allow your truck’s customers to use a PIN
  • will detect and prevent use of counterfeit, lost, or stolen card

Ultimately, the FOAT system is better for you and your customers: they won’t have to worry about their lost or stolen card being used at an unprotected business and you don’t have to worry about assuming liability for fraudulent transactions. It’s win/win.

What should I tell my customers?

When you’ve switched your food truck’s POS system to Food On A Truck’s app, you can let your customers know that their information is safe. Clover’s system offers a higher level of security than the consumer grade hardware used by other frequently used food truck POS systems like Square.

We know changes like this can be jarring and worrisome for small businesses, but we’re here to help. If you have more questions about how Food On A Truck can help keep your business assets protected, get in touch with us or Tweet at us – we’re happy to help.

Get on Food On A Truck’s email list to be notified about details of our October launch and ensure that your food truck is protected when the EMV switch occurs.

By |September 20th, 2015|Categories: blog, payments|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Facebook For Food Trucks

Like Twitter, Facebook is an integral part of your social media arsenal (followed closely by Instagram, we’ll write about that soon). Facebook is one of the best ways for your food truck to keep in touch with its customers.

As on any social media platform, it’s important to maintain a neutral, friendly tone on your Facebook page. On a Facebook business page, your customers have the ability to not only post to your page (although posts by those without administrative privileges on Facebook are now kept off to the side and no longer appear on your page’s wall), they can also leave your food truck ratings and reviews. It’s important to put your best foot forward and leave only the best impression on your followers.

We’ve put together some great tips on how to best use Facebook for your food truck:

Fill Your Food Truck’s Profile Out Thoroughly

the fat shallot about page

Whenever you fill out a social media profile, you should be as thorough and as accurate as possible. People will often arrive on your food truck’s Facebook page because they want to find out what you serve or where you’ll be. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you. Post menu and location updates as often as you change them. Fill out the “About” section and be sure to include a link to your website.

korilla bbq foodBe a Person

It’s true you’re on Facebook to remind your customers about how awesome your food truck is. But it’s important to remind them that people are what make your food truck awesome in the first place. Remember to post pictures of your truck, your staff (with their permission, of course), and your food along with your location and menu items. If you participated in an event, be sure to take pictures and post a status about what a great time you had. The event holders are likely to share your post and expand your reach to even more potential customers.

Share A Lot of Pictures

People love pictures of food. You can’t go wrong with awesome snaps of your food taken either by your food truck’s staff or your customers. If someone shares a great photo of your food on their social media, be sure to share it (and give them credit for it) with your followers. A well-timed photo around lunch time can tip a customer in your favor while they’re trying to decide what to grab during their break.

Facebook for communityBe Part of Your Community

You should find other local businesses, music groups, and even other food trucks to follow on Facebook. By keeping in touch with what’s going on in your community, you can share other events and awesome local projects with your Facebook page. You don’t have to devote a lot of time to this, but several times a month share something cool that’s happening in your community. You’re apt to gain more followers when the people and businesses you’ve shared “like” your post and expose it to their community.

You can also tag organizations and business in your posts. If you’re participating in an event thrown by a particular group, be sure to mention them (by typing an @ symbol followed by their business name) so they have the chance to share your post with their Facebook followers.

Don’t Be Shy

Invite your Facebook friends to like your food truck’s page and encourage them to share it with their friends. The more people who view, like, and share information from your Facebook page, the more visible your Facebook page will be. Friends are usually more than happy to be able to help you and your business out in such an easy way.

Respond to Customers in a Positive Way

People take to social media because they want to be heard, so the best thing you can do when someone takes the time to post to your page or send you message, is respond to them. Even a simple, “Thank you!” will reinforce your customers image of your food truck as an awesome place to visit.

This is especially true in the face of criticism or negativity towards your business. Be sure to apologize for whatever your customer feels was unsatisfactory about their visit to your food truck. If the complaint warrants it, you can even invite them to message you so you can offer them a discount or some way to make up for their bad experience. Being courteous and offering to help may not always make the customer feel better (though more often than not, it does), but it will definitely make your other customers feel comfortable supporting your business.   

Taceauz Loceaux menuAvoid Charged and/or Controversial Topics

Your social media is likely to be the first thing many customers see before interacting with your food truck. You want to put your best face forward. You’re likely to live in an area with a diversity of viewpoints and you don’t want to alienate a group of customers because of something unrelated to your food truck.

Summary

Using social media well does take practice, but the more you do it the better you’ll get. Don’t be discouraged by its importance. Just be yourself, make sure your customers know where you’ll be, and engage your customers when they engage with you and you’ll be on your way to leaving a positive impression on current and future customers.

 

By |September 6th, 2015|Categories: blog, social media|Tags: , |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.

DCD04628-C2E1-4B9F-A5B9-BA54CB5DC2F33530A7B9-9222-4996-927F-A1307043CAF0

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.
F48CC299-E611-471A-992B-BB39A4DAE4CC91F83B72-819D-4530-A42C-DA17C5964630

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.

 

Summary

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.
twitter
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

An Open Letter In Support Of Food Trucks

If you own and operate a food truck, you’re probably aware of the many obstacles facing trucks in the industry. But what happens when the hurdles you’re facing are being created by your own city? As food trucks gain popularity, cities are struggling to figure out how to fit them within existing business regulations. Food trucks from Las Vegas to Boston have faced a number of problems from their local governments such as time limits on parking, how close they can park to other food businesses, and even whether they can park on public property.Food-truck

If you’re a food truck facing tough laws that are hurting your business, take it upon yourself to get involved in local politics. You can help bring about the change you wish to see simply by meeting with and educating decision makers. The key to these interactions is friendliness, positivity, and a well-prepared vision statement of how great food trucks can be for your community.

At Food On A Truck, we know how valuable your time is and how time-consuming it can be to fight for your business’s rights in public forums. We wanted to lend a hand, so we wrote this open letter that details why your business is a benefit to the local economy. You can share the letter with your information added on your social media, distribute to your loyal customers, and send en masse to your local representatives. Please feel free to share with other food trucks and let us know how it worked for you @FoodOnATruck.


Dear [Your City’s or Local Representative’s Name Here]

We know that when anything new is introduced into the city it can take some time to work out the new rules and regulations. However, in light of [describe the troublesome rules/regulations your city is planning to implement in relation to food trucks], we at [Your Business Name] were hoping you would take some time to consider how beneficial a rise in food trucks can be for [City Name].

Food trucks are in demand. People want quality food that’s also convenient. The food truck market has quadrupled in the past five years and there are expected projections that it will bring in nearly $3 billion in 2017. Our city can reap the benefits of this booming new economy.

Food trucks are as safe as restaurants – and can actually be safer.  In cities where the safety standards for food trucks are the same as restaurants, food trucks tended to outperform restaurants in safety inspections. It makes sense: we have one small kitchen we take with us everywhere we go!

Food trucks are a financially accessible way for local entrepreneurs to start food businesses. Starting a restaurant business is expensive. A food truck can be a way for young people and those who want to avoid taking out large loans to harness their entrepreneurial spirit and participate in our local economy.

Food trucks can help bring a wide range of food options to areas that may lack access to food variety or healthy foods. Whether arriving in a downtown business district or a neighborhood in which fast food is the only option, food trucks have the ability to close these gaps.

Food trucks can help revitalize a space. By bringing hungry locals into the streets, you will see a renewed interest in and care for public spaces. For example, the Midway Food Park in Austin Texas has become a community hot spot once local folks began to see the virtue of a shared, public communal space.

Food trucks can help other local business. It’s not uncommon for food trucks to team up with other local businesses. Food trucks have partnered with local bakeries to have freshly baked bread and pastries. They have developed relationships with breweries to provide food outside of tasting rooms. Food trucks bring people out into streets they may not normally spend time in – and once people are out, they tend to step into other local businesses.

Successful local food trucks mean more money injected back into the local economy. It’s no secret that when folks have more money, they spend more money. By not inhibiting food trucks, you are helping to reinforce our city’s economic foundation.

We hope you will keep these points in mind as you make decisions regarding food trucks in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

 

By |August 16th, 2015|Categories: blog, starting a food truck|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