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

Pros and Cons of Starting a Food Truck

Starting a business in the food industry can be very rewarding but aspiring entrepreneurs must also be ready for the challenges. The growing popularity of food trucks today makes it very appealing to people who want to initiate or expand their culinary ventures. But what can you expect when it comes to starting a mobile food business?

Food Truck

Food Truck Venture: The Advantages

With relatively lower initial investment and operating costs, starting a food truck is cheaper and faster than opening a restaurant. The smaller expenses of a mobile food business make it a great avenue for first-time entrepreneurs to enter the food industry and learn the landscape, providing invaluable experience that can be beneficial for future undertakings. Food trucks can also become a complimentary addition to established businesses like catering companies wanting to increase revenue or expand their market without the need for drastic changes on operations.

The dynamic of the food truck business is a bit different compared to running a restaurant or providing catering services, which makes it great for people who enjoy bustling working environments. In peak hours, working in a food truck is rarely boring because service is faster and more intimate as you develop rapport to customers when they become regulars.

Trying new recipes or modifying products are also much easier for food trucks. Menus are designed to be uncomplicated but delicious, which can be both challenging and enjoyable for entrepreneurs. The variety or customization of dishes and the ability to offer new products quicker also gives an edge to food trucks over non-mobile restaurants. Also, many customers who love food trucks enjoy trying out new innovative products.

In addition, the ability to participate on events like concerts or festivals can be very profitable to mobile food businesses, a revenue stream that is not available to restaurants.

 

Food Truck Venture: The Drawbacks

Though the mobile food industry is exciting, prospective entrepreneurs must be ready for its challenges.

Getting a food truck business started through a bank loan can be tough. Banks are skeptical lending money because some believe that the food truck trend is just a fad and may suddenly vanish. It might be easier to get a loan if you have a substantial business history, some form of collateral, or if the loan is cosigned by someone with a good credit record.Food Truck 2

Another challenge is the regulations. Some states and municipalities have clear rules regarding mobile food businesses while others do not. Entrepreneurs need to research and contact relevant agencies on individual locations they plan to operate or sell at and obtain business requirements. In addition, local restaurants may lobby against food trucks due to the increased competition and unclear regulations, which makes starting a mobile food business a bit more challenging.

Buying the right truck and finding a commercial kitchen can take time and money. A retrofitted used food truck typically cost $30,000 while a newly designed mobile food preparation vehicle with all new equipment can cost more than $100,000. A state licensed commercial kitchen is also a requirement in most municipalities where the food truck must be parked. In some cities where cooking in the truck is not allowed, food must be prepared and packaged in a commercial kitchen. A shared-use commercial kitchen can save you money but may cause delays when another food truck is using the facility. A private commercial kitchen (whether purchased or leased) will always be available to you but require a larger investment.

The mobile food industry is also very competitive as more businesses take the plunge. Margins can be low and sometimes, the business may even lose you money. Because customers will be out in the open to buy from a food truck, the weather can affect revenue. Food truck operations can be seasonal in places with cold climates while even in warmer locations, unexpected rain can put a dent on sales.

Food trucks are nothing new but the industry’s surging popularity offers great opportunities and potential for success to innovative and passionate entrepreneurs today. Every business venture has its risks and rewards. But knowing where you want to go and striving to get there despite the challenges makes a difference.

As Benjamin Franklin once stated, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

By |July 5th, 2015|Categories: blog, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Keep Your Food Truck Generator Running

Portable Generator

 

 

Powering ovens, blenders, and refrigerators on-the-go, a portable generator is essential to the successful operation of mobile food business. Due to its importance and the amount of required initial expense, food truck owners need to make sure they get the most out of their generators throughout its life-cycle.

Generator failures are not just inconvenient but can also lead to your mobile food business missing opportunities and losing revenue.

 

Impact of Underloading

How you use a generator can affect its efficiency, performance, and reliability. Some models of generators (particularly, diesel and gas engine generators) are designed to operate with a certain amount of load. If such generators are underloaded for extended periods, the engine can experience “wet stacking” and get damaged due to the unburned oil, fuel, and other particle deposits.

Generally, standby-rated and prime-rated diesel engine generators are designed to be operated between 50 and 85 percent while continuous-rated diesel engines are optimized between 70 to 100 percent load. Underloading a diesel engine generator for long periods of time can impact its performance and long-term operational life. Light load operation (less than 30 percent) of diesel engine generators should only be 30 minutes for every four hours. After the time limit, diesel generators must be run on at least 70 percent load for the next two hours.

Generators that run using natural gas or bio-gas are typically designed to operate between 60 to 100 percent load. Adequate load is required to ensure that the generator engine’s cylinders have enough pressure to maintain oil control. Deposit build-up on generator components like valves, spark plugs, and piston rings can cause cylinder liner polishing, accelerated component wear, poor performance, and power loss. Natural gas engines are more sensitive to underloading so check the recommended time limits below.

Low load operation time limits for natural gas generator sets:

0 to 30 percent load = 30 minutes operation

31 to 50 percent load = 2 hours operation

51 to 100 percent load = Continuous (the manifold air pressure must be greater than the atmospheric pressure.)

The inefficient use of your generator set can increase your generator’s maintenance cost and downtime that results to your food truck business incurring loss that are otherwise preventable.

Generator Maintenance

Some of the common reasons why generators fail are wet stacking, fuel and oil leaks, faulty level gauges, corroded or worn out connections, and battery failure. Due to the vital part it plays in your food truck’s operation, doing proper maintenance is important to make sure your generator remains reliably.

Making the time to check the condition of your generator ensures that you will get the most out of your investment and prevent sudden failures that can halt your food truck’s operation. Letting a professional service and maintain your generator is the best option, for convenience and peace of mind. Seek the assistance of a mechanic or technician for routine maintenance like checking fluid levels, verifying control panel readings and indicators, or inspection for wear and tear, among others. Maintenance schedules (annual, semi-annual, or quarterly) should be followed based on manufacturer’s recommendations to increase reliability and apply preventive measures.

Fixing a generator

If you want to do basic maintenance on a generator yourself, refer to the owner’s manual for details regarding manufacturer’s guidelines. The following inspection and parts replacement can be done by generator owners themselves (may vary depending on your generator’s model or manufacturer):

 

  • Checking and charging the battery
  • Inspecting oil level
  • Changing engine oil (dispose used oil properly by following local regulations)
  • Cleaning or changing filters
  • Inspecting or replacing spark plug

Remember to only use recommended replacement parts for your generator. When looking for those parts check the company’s website for replacement parts, or another highly recommended website is repairclinic.com (http://www.repairclinic.com/Shop-For-Parts/a31/Generator-Parts).  They have many different parts for  all kinds of generators. They are very inexpensive and reliable parts.  They have all brands and you can search for parts by specific brand and model of your generator. It’s super easy!

Another website you may find your parts on is northerntool.com (http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/category_generators).  They also have inexpensive parts and they have generic parts and parts by specific brand name model.  All their parts are very reliable and durable.

Also, if you are looking for videos on how to do the repairs yourself. Youtube is a great source to finding amazing videos on how to do it! I can’t tell you how many times their “how-to” videos have helped me out. They helped me replace parts in my car!

Safety Tips

The proper use of your generator not only prevents it from failing when you need it the most but also protects you, your business, and customers from harm. Here are some tips on how to avoid risks and dangers when using portable generators:

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm and never operate a generator in an enclosed area. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that can be fatal to anyone with prolonged high level exposure.
  • Never use the generator in wet conditions to avoid electric shocks.
  • Never plug the generator to a wall outlet to power a house (known as backfeeding) as it is very dangerous to utility workers repairing power lines and neighbors served by the same utility transformer.
  • Do not overload the generator. Do not underload generators for long periods of time.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator or use extension cords rated for the load.
  • Turn off appliances connected to the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Never refuel the generator while in use. Let it cool down before refueling.
  • Do not store extra fuel near the generator. Fuel fumes can get ignited by an electric spark. Keep a fire extinguisher ready in case of emergencies.
  • Stay away from some parts of the generator that heat up during operation to prevent burns.
  • Do not use the generator for more than the recommended run time.

 

By |June 20th, 2015|Categories: blog, food truck safety|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.

Conversions:

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.

 

 

References:

http://www.rollingkitchens.com/wiki/RKB/vending_truck_questions

http://blog.mygenerator.com.au/best-generators-for-food-vans-revealed/

http://www.generatorjoe.net/html/understandingloads.html

http://www.yamahaef2000is.com/conventional_generator_vs_inverter_generator.html

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/inverter-generator-advantages

http://www.portableinvertergenerators.com/buying-guides/how-do-inverter-generators-work/

https://www.absolutegenerators.com/blog/food-truck-generator/

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/generator-wattage-estimation-guide

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/generator-power-management

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/generator-how-much-power#Starting

http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators

http://www.generac.com

 

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.

VegetariansVEGGIES
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:
http://www.peta.org/features/petas-top-five-vegan-friendly-food-trucks/

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.

Pros:
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

Cons:
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

Summary:

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

Two Food Truck Explosions on the Same Day

There’s nothing we hate to hear more than something happening to anyone in the mobile food industry. While food truck fires and explosions have occurred before, they are extremely rare.

Yesterday the odds where apparently against us as we learned of two major food truck incidents in a single day.

The first was at the White House – a food truck caught fire and caused the White House to go under lock down.  Reports were that there was a loud bang.  President Obama’s plans were temporary disrupted as he was about to leave on a trip.

Here’s some video of the incident:

The 2nd explosion not only destroyed the food truck Motley Crews, but also severely damage the owners’ home and several of the neighbors home as well. In this incident there was also a loud bang reported.

Here are a couple of tweets on the incident:

We can’t imagine the anguish of losing both your home and business in an instant.  A Go Fund Me page has already been setup and people are generously donating using this link:

http://www.gofundme.com/Motleycrews

At the time of writing over 5,000 has already been raise. Please join us in donating, every little bit helps.

Related Post: Food Truck Propane Tank Safety.

 

By |March 8th, 2015|Categories: blog, food truck safety|0 Comments

Should Food Trucks use the new social media app Meerkat?

meerkatJust a few days ago an app launched and has taken the internet by storm.

It’s called Meerkat – and it allows you to easily stream video to your twitter followers. Is this an app that the mobile food industry could utilize to engage customers and drive them to their food truck or food cart?

Twitter has already been HUGE for food trucks – in fact it’s often included in the definition of the modern food truck.  And Meerkat is really just an extension of twitter – you install the app and then you can create a live video stream that gets tweeted out to all of your followers.

Your followers can then view the video on the web, or in the meerkat app itself if they have it installed.
meerkatMany food trucks are already social media pros and use Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, Vine, Pinterest, and other apps. But those allow photos or video….what’s so different and game-changing with Meerkat is that the video is LIVE.

Sports fans don’t want to watch the big game after it’s happened – they want to see it live. It’s exciting and if you show your customers that you are near them over a live stream it could really increase excitement. You can show them video of your food and encourage them to come out in a way that’s just more provoking than just tweeting a message or photo.

Plus you could set up a stream and leave it on as you prep for your lunch shift – the app is really easy to use.

Like any other app, it will take some time for this to catch out – but we really think this could be a useful app for food trucks to help promote themselves and really get customers excited about coming out and visiting your truck.

What do you think?

Leave us a comment or tweet us at @FoodonaTruck! We would love to hear from you.

By |March 6th, 2015|Categories: blog, social media|0 Comments

Winter Tips for Food Trucks

winter food truckFreezing temperatures and icy roads can be very troublesome mobile food vendors during winter. Not only do we have to deal with the snow, ice, and cold temps – but mobile food businesses have the double whammy of lower sales too!

But despite these setbacks, you can use the winter season to maximize the other aspects of your business instead of putting your food truck in hibernation.

Truck Maintenance
The down time during winter months gives opportunity for owners to do maintenance work on their trucks. It can be easy to put off having symptoms looked at and especially when your current sales are down. But a clicking sound now could turn into a broken CV joint in summer – and it could break and leave your truck not running when you need it the most. During winter is a great time to do maintenance work not just to take advantage of the down time but also as a precaution against the drastic effects of cold weather to food trucks.

Work on Recipes
Even if Mother Nature insists on trapping people indoors, you can still push your food truck business forward by creating new or improving current recipes. Test variations of dishes or incorporate new ingredients give interesting twists that attract more customers or enable you to increase prices. Improve or streamline food preparation process to save time and effort. The winter is also a great time to do experiments and test recipes to lower costs without sacrificing quality and taste.

Network and Connect
Some food truck scenes have more of a sense of community than others. Even though you can look at restaurants and mobile food vendors purely as competition, having a relationship with them can also benefit your business. Customers tend to try other offerings and it is highly unlikely that they will only eat from one type of food truck.

During the lean times of winter, make connections with non-competing businesses (like those offering a different category or cuisine than yours) that can compliment your products. Having a relationship with other entrepreneurs can also give you vital information about great vending spots and suppliers you did not know before.

TLC for Family and Yourself
Running a mobile food business year-round can become so demanding that some entrepreneur put all their time in the venture. Though dedication is great and a key to success, even the most hardworking entrepreneurs deserve a time off. Winter can be the best season to spend more time with your family or take a personal vacation. Some people think that taking a break can hurt their business and feel guilty to do it.

Having time off should not be seen as a liability but as an investment. Use the down time afforded to you by the winter season to strengthen relationships and most importantly, recharge your mind and body. Studies have shown that respite activities can improve productivity and creativity. Even if you already do this, don’t feel guilty recharging yourself for the next season.

Hunt for Deals
Another great thing one can do during winter is deal hunting for equipment and supplies. Finding great suppliers can take a lot of time and effort that entrepreneurs may not have during busy months. Price, reliability, stability, and competency are key indicators in finding business partners for your equipment and supplies.

In addition, suppliers can be an important source of information about competitors’ actions, evaluation of new products, and promising trends or opportunities. Strive to create lasting partnerships with great suppliers that can help you cut cost (offering discounts or free shipping), improve your products or services (by suggesting good alternatives), and even spread the word about your business. A great supplier wants you to succeed as it can lead to more business for them.

SPRING IS COMING SOON!!!

As harsh as the winter has been these past months, food truck owners should not be dissuaded by the cold temps and lower sales volume. Just like the seasons with its highs and lows, running a mobile food business can be cyclical. Just stay positive, proactive, and passionate because, whether in nature or in business, those who can adapt are those who will survive.

What tips do you have? We’d love to hear them. Tweet to us or comment below!

By |March 1st, 2015|Categories: blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Grow A Family Run Mobile Food Business

Food-truckGrowing a food truck business can be very challenging. But having your family involved can lessen the stress of running a demanding venture. Success in the food truck industry do not happen overnight but a family working together offers advantages that can lead to the success of your business.

Here are some ways to leverage your family’s relationship to grow your business.

  • Streamline operations. Understanding each other in a personal level can benefit your business processes. Divide and compliment responsibilities according to each member’s strengths to ensure the efficiency and quality of your service. Simplify recipes so that other family members can learn them and help out when needed.
  • Simplify and mix up. A complex menu can overwhelm customers and preparing multiple products can get exhausting. Specialize on limited products and focus on delivering top quality. Develop dishes that do not require too many components or special ingredients to make keeping track of inventory easier. Mixing up the menu can keep people interested and attract new customers.
  • Innovate your service. Book events that you can cater during the truck’s off hours with the help of other family members. Share your route and schedule to customers then offer deliveries while changing locations. Offer special promos to create a following.
  • Develop relationships. Build connections and cooperation with suppliers, local businesses, and other food truck owners. It is best that some family members work to create connections to find reliable suppliers, companies to cater, and take part in the food truck community as a representative of your business.

There are many family-run food trucks that work like well-oiled machines, leveraging their close relationship to achieve success. But your efficient business operation can take a hit when one of you becomes unavailable due to an emergency, illness, or needs some time off.

Your family may work seamlessly together but it can be hard to find an employee that will work as well. If you really want to grow your food truck business, you will need to have as many processes that are easy to learn as possible. This is one of many reasons why we are building a mobile point of sale application from the ground up that focuses entirely on the mobile food industry.

To learn more about how your business can benefit with the Food on a Truck app, join our email list at http://www.foodonatruck.com/stay-updated/.

By |February 16th, 2015|Categories: blog, family owned, growing a food truck business, starting a food truck|0 Comments