Are Your Food Truck Employees Happy & Productive?

Though the satisfaction of customers should be a top priority of food truck businesses, making employees happy is also an aspect that must be focused on by mobile food entrepreneurs. According to a 2014 study from the University of Warwick, UK, there is scientific evidence on the correlation of happiness and productivity. The research showed that in three different styles of experiment where randomly selected individuals were made happier, productivity increased approximately by 12%.

Making employees happy working for your food truck is not just about cash incentives. Factors like schedule, working conditions, sense of fulfillment, and career advancement, among others, can greatly affect the performance of a worker. That is why many big and successful companies today put a lot of effort in keeping their employees happy, not just for altruistic reasons but because there are real business benefits in doing so.


Here are some ways employee satisfaction can impact your food truck business:


Having a better employee retention can help a food truck business limit the cost associated with hiring and training new workers. Employee turnover can cost $9,444.47 based on the averaged results from 15 studies that determined the average cost of replacing an $8 per hour employee, according to calculations by the Sasha Corporation.


Being able to retain employees means business operations are less likely to be interrupted. A short-staffed food truck may need to temporarily modify its menu, limit vending locations, and even refuse photo3participating in events that can lead to missed opportunities and less revenue until a new employee is hired. Having enough workers also ensure that employees are not overworked, which is important to keep the quality of the products and services of a food truck consistent. Happy employees are also more likely willing to go beyond the call of duty because they have a sense of fulfillment in their work.


Happy and satisfied employees are more proud to tell others about their jobs. This means you have a group of potential advocates for your food truck business that can increase your customer base. But if your employees are unsatisfied and complain about your mobile food business to their family and friends even in passing, it can have negative effects to the reputation of your food truck. The opinions of employees about your food truck have weight because they are perceived to be insiders. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool (now more than ever in the age of online reviews) so it is better when people have less or no bad things to say about your business.


Happy employees are not just productive, they can be loyal as well. This can give a food truck owner a group of trusted people that can help grow the business. If you decide to expand and have more trucks, these employees can become your managers and you are rest assured to their quality of work unlike when you hire someone totally new.


Now, after knowing some of the advantages associated with keeping employees satisfied, what can you do to reap these benefits? Some may think that increasing salary or giving bonuses are the best ways to prevent someone from resigning. But even though employees will not turn down cash incentives, there are other ways that might be more effective (and less costly) to make your food truck staff happy and productive.


Assess your staff and give them tasks where they excel. If people do things they are good at, they get gratification each time the work is done instead of getting discouraged by work they have trouble figuring out. Explaining the meaning or effect to the business of certain tasks also let employees understand their role and contribution to the business.When a person knows the point and importance of the work, they will less likely to take it for granted.

It is also a good idea to let employees discuss the work schedule instead of the owner choosing it in an arbitrary manner. Asking for their input and letting them participate in the decision-making ensures that employees will adhere to the schedule everyone agreed up. Allocate a day for a staff meeting to discuss the schedule for the following week. Prepare a list of available work hours that needs to be filled, keeping in mind the future activities your business will involved in like regular vending days and event days. It is also best to set well-defined ground rules for deciding employee schedule to prevent conflicts or disagreements.


In any type of relationships, communication is key. Let employees know that their options matter by making it easy to approach you as the food truck owner. An open door policy not just for complaints but also for ideas can be great for your business. Quickly resolving conflicts or issues raised by employees must be a priority to minimize any complications that can impact business operations.

Also, giving positive feedback when it is due can go a long way. Commenting on your employees’ performance gives them a sense of how they are doing and where else they can improve. Make sure to be specific in giving praises or credit because a standard “well done” can sound insincere.


At the very beginning, it is best for food truck entrepreneurs if they can help employees advance in their careers. The food service industry is considered to have a high employee turnover rate because typically, most people do not plan for a long-term career in the field. But with the right pay and potential professional advancement, some employees can be encouraged to stay.One way that food truck owners can offer professional advancement is by helping employees get continued training. Offer to pay for your employees to get new skills that you can utilize in the business and give them more responsibilities as they improve. Another way is by sharing the business goals like expanding your food truck fleet and the potential for a management position in the future.


An mobile food entrepreneur cannot do everything alone and without employees willing to work for you, the business will not operate. Yes, they are paid to do the job but as any food truck owner can attest, the necessary work can take more than the average eight-hour job. It takes a passionate and diligent person to work in a food truck. Expressing your gratitude for the contribution of your employees is a simple but effective way to show that they are appreciated and that their hard work matter. Just think of it this way: most likely, these people can do something else or work for someone else, but they chose to work for you and help realize your dream.


Hiring new employees is a natural part of businesses. But additional members of the staff must be chosen carefully as they can change the dynamic of long-time employees. Be sure to take into consideration potential employees’ fitness to your “company culture” instead of hiring based solely on skill. New employees can clash with your current employees if they do not believe with the same professional values and this can affect the mindset of your long-time employees. Encouraging a culture of fun instead of stiff working environment can also make your staff feel at ease and not dread going to work everyday.


Though it should be a given, employees are happy if they are fairly paid for the amount of work they provide. Because food trucks are limited in scale compared to restaurants, most employees can understand if you cannot provide extravagant wages. But compensation can take other forms as well: a free lunch once a week or a birthday day-off can be much appreciated and are low-cost ways to compensate employees.

Having a food truck business supported by satisfied and productive workforce leads to stability, lower costs, and more potential for growth. At the end of the day, what mobile food entrepreneurs should always remember is though money can entice some employees to put up with working conditions, even cash has its limits and no amount of money can buy what matters most in business: loyalty.


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By |April 25th, 2016|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Branding for Food Trucks

Keeping a food truck business competitive is a challenge that entrepreneurs must be ready for. Year after year, the array of mobile food businesses that customers can choose from just keep on increasing, which makes it ever more important for a food truck to make a lasting impression. And this can be achieved with great branding.

But what exactly is branding?


Some may think that branding and marketing are the same thing but traditionally, each has its own significance for your business.

Branding is the fulfillment of a business’ promise and also shows a company’s characteristics and identity. Successful branding delivers the impression that customers get after experiencing your food truck’s products and services. It is more strategic, encompassing all the aspects of the business, and answers the questions of why the food truck exist, what it stands for, and what value it provides. A successful brand resonates, pulls, and transforms people into loyal customers.

If branding is strategic, marketing is more tactical and consists of specific activities that support your brand. It includes actions that push your message to activate buyers. Usually, marketing campaigns have shorter time frames than branding efforts and are crafted for particular aspects of the business like launching new products or announcing promotions.

Knowing the difference between branding and marketing is the first step to creating a successful and strong food truck identity.


Defining the business brand should be a priority of food truck owners or risk losing control of how customers perceive it. Fortunately, there are many ways mobile food entrepreneurs can be creative in building their brands.


Based on how it appears, customers can make a split second decision whether to buy or not from a food truck.The name, color theme, logo, slogan, menu design, and product packaging can create a story that affects how appealing a food truck can be. Just like how a dish looks like affects its perceived flavor, the food truck’s appearance can greatly influence the experience of buyers. Based on research, certain visual cues can increase the effectivity of your food truck’s design, for example, warm colors can attract attention and stimulate hunger.

In addition, the food truck’s online identity must be consistent with what customers will experience on the field. This consistency helps reinforce brand recall and makes it easier for satisfied customers to point prospective buyers to your food truck.


Branding is not just what people see but how they feel. Food trucks are not just in the business of providing delicious dishes but offering unique and enjoyable experiences. This makes convenience a great selling point for mobile food businesses. Designing your business operation to make it as easy as possible for buyers to get their order can encourage repeat sales and recommendations. An efficient ordering system is a great area to start with. Online and mobile tools can also be utilized (like getting advance orders via social media or an app) to decrease the amount of time customers need to spend in line. In lieu of having a dining area, designing the packaging of products to make it easy to eat on the go is also a great way to encourage people to buy from your food truck.

Another way to provide a great customer experience is with convenient payment methods. With the growing demand and popularity of mobile payments today, food trucks that can process payments beyond credit and debit cards is an advantage. Online payment services integrated with your mobile business’ website enable users to place advance orders.

In addition to hassle-free service, people love having choices. If your products permit it, giving customers the option to customize orders has always been a great way to add-value. Pizza restaurants have been successful with this strategy and Starbucks has capitalized on customers’ obsession with personalized coffee drinks to increase the demand of their products.


An aspect of the mobile food business that leaves a huge impression to customers is their interaction with employees. This is not limited to the behavior of workers but can also involve their attire. A customer will most likely trust food coming from a well-groomed person than from someone who looks sloppy.

Strengthening customer confidence can also be accomplished when they are given access to information regarding your products. Food data like dietary and nutritional values, allergen alerts, and sources of ingredients can reassure buyers with the quality of your products. Your food truck’s brand narrative that may include providing safe and healthy options, using organic and cage-free ingredients, or supporting local farmers can be reinforced by keeping customers informed.

In addition, having the ability to easily voice out their comments or inquiries and getting timely feedback from your business is something that customers will appreciate. It also gives buyers the impression that your business is willing to improve by accommodating their requests. If they see that you and your business are listening, buyers are more encouraged to communicate and create a relationship.


The goal of successful branding is leaving a lasting impression to customers. There are many ways of achieving this but looking at the most successful brands today, there are several key factors that these businesses have in common.

Consistency: Though first impressions can last, loyalty can only be developed with repetition. If customers experience the same high quality of products and services each time they buy from your food truck, there is higher probability of continued patronage. People gravitate to familiar or comfortable experiences and using this innate characteristic in your food truck’s branding encourages greater success. Brand recall is also easier to establish if customers can easily associate your business to certain positive images or feelings.

Coordination: Branding represents the identity of your food truck business. Every aspect of the venture (marketing, sales, customer support, and others) can affect its success or failure. Having a concrete framework that aligns the activities in the different parts of the business ensures that they will not conflict with each other.

Research: Though customer impressions of businesses can be based on emotions, your decisions as a food truck owner should be motivated by information. Know your target customers by using focus groups or surveys. Understand your competition by researching their branding efforts. Analyze the industry landscape by gathering economic and government data based on relevant factors (fuel prices, sources of ingredients, laws and legislation, among others).

Resonance: Showing the values and traits that your business have in common with customers leads to a stronger brand. Make your branding efforts personal and intimate. Tell the story of your business, what it stands for, and why it is relevant to people. Businesses that appear to exist solely with the aim to profit rarely gain long-term success.

Vision: Usually, marketing has a shorter and more limited scope than branding. But just because you have defined its identity today, it does not mean a business cannot change. Circumstances can shift and may force your food truck to grow or adapt. Having contingency plans ready for different possibilities of re-branding or brand expansion can keep a mobile food business from being caught off guard.

With higher competition, creating a unique food truck brand today takes a lot of planning and effort. But having a well-defined business identity benefits your mobile food business by giving it a sense of direction and a powerful connection with customers that can turn them from one-time buyers into loyal customers.

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By |April 11th, 2016|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Food Truck Financing Options

Funding has always been one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs who are trying to start a mobile food business. Though starting a food truck business would require lower capital to get up and running compared to launching a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a potential owner must not miscalculate the amount of money required. Knowing the different options on how to raise funding and weighing which are the ones that will be best suited for your business can greatly impact its future success.


If it is available, there are some advantages in using your own money to start a business. Self-funding a food truck means not incurring debt in the beginning of the business life-cycle, making loans an available option for future needs. Also, using your own money means you keep all the profits earned by the business. This is rather beneficial because your business will have a bit of flexibility to grow instead of being forced to generate a certain amount of revenue so that a loan can be repaid.

Though self-financing is one of the best way to fund a start-up, it can only be done if you actually have enough available cash at hand. For those who do not have savings that can be used as capital, it can take quite a while to raise a significant amount of money. This can lead to you shelving the business idea temporarily or taking another route to financing your start-up.


For many people, borrowing money can be a touchy subject. Whether it is from family, friends, or financial institutions, debt has a negative connotation in most people’s minds. But taking up a loan is not always bad as long as it can be considered as “good debt”.

loanGood debt is money borrowed with the potential to gain a return through investment. But before rushing to the nearest bank, try to consider asking your family and friends first if they can lend cash that will help jump-start your food truck business. The advantages of borrowing capital from family and friends are the flexibility on interest rate and repayment period. More often than not, relatives and friends will only ask for the lowest interest rate (some may even forego it completely) and they will be more lenient in case of missed repayments.


Borrowing money may look more appealing now but what if your family and friends do not have the funds? An entrepreneur’s next option are financial institutions, particularly, banks. Getting a loan from a bank is a whole different scenario. Unlike close personal relations where the negotiation and approach to borrowing can be informal, approaching a bank will be a no non-sense affair.

moneyQualification is a big factor in getting a bank loan. A good credit history is very important and having previous business experience and no outstanding debts can increase your chances of getting the loan approved. Another big factor is the presentation of your business idea and financial plan. A fully-formed business idea with market research, financial projections, and even an exit strategy (or strategies) can improve the perception of your venture’s viability and reassure the bank that the loan will be repaid.

One of the disadvantages when it comes to getting a loan is the reduction in profits. Allocating a certain amount of your business revenue for repayments would mean your financial goals (whether personal or professional) may take longer to reach. Another drawback is having to worry about monthly loan repayments that can give added stress or distraction which can impact your business performance.

Seeking Investors

Another way to get financial assistance from family and friends is by inviting them to become investors. The advantage of asking for investment instead of a loan is the spreading of financial risks. In case the food truck business fails, a loan will still have to be repaid but an investment does not have to be returned. Also because dividends are based on profits, the operating budget of your business does not need to be reduced just to give returns to investors, making this financing option less stressful and less risky than incurring debt.

But having family or friends as investors can put a strain on your relationships if the details of the investment are not spelled out comprehensively. Adhering to a “company constitution”, a list of rules and roles that will guide the business owner and investors on what are to be expected from them, can prevent any complications from arising. Depending on your preference, you may let investors participate in running the business. But persuading investors to be silent partners is an option that can stop the business drama from spilling over to your personal relationships.


The rise of online crowdfunding platforms give mobile food entrepreneurs a new way of financing their dream businesses. Most crowdfunding websites are intuitive enough that setting up an account and starting a campaign will only take a few minutes. And with a great idea, presentation, and right incentives or rewards, people can back your food truck idea with monetary contributions.

Crowdfunding is considered as a low risk financing option for mobile food businesses because an entrepreneur only need to have a compelling idea, commitment, and a bit of creativity in spreading the word about the campaign. This is a unique way to fund and even run a business because the marketing part happens even before the product is available to customers. There are also insights to be gained based on people’s reactions to the campaign, giving entrepreneurs valuable data that can be used to tweak and improve the original idea.

Customer participation also has a positive effect because backers can become “evangelists”, as long as the promises of the crowdfunding campaign are fulfilled. Taking part in the building of a business by backing it through crowdfunding makes most people feel invested on its success, even if they are technically not considered as investors because they will not get future returns beyond the rewards offered during the campaign. This sense of “investment” is a powerful psychological pull that mobile food business owners can capitalize to create brand loyalty and also attract the interest of other customers.crowdfunding

Yet, despite the simple mechanics of crowdfunding, it is not as easy as making an awesome presentation video. It is low risk because entrepreneurs do not have to shell out a lot of money to get started. But creating a compelling narrative that will persuade people to give you their money is an art on itself. Differentiating your food truck idea in a crowdfunding platform can be a challenge today, with the industry starting to saturate as more mobile food business launch year after year.

Also, planning the campaign very carefully is crucial. Many crowdfunding initiatives fail because entrepreneurs underestimate the amount of work, commitment, and consistency needed. Some also set funding goals without careful cost-benefit analysis that either makes it impossible to achieve or cause the business to run out of money right after launching. Failure to deliver on your campaign promise can also lead to irreparable damage to the food truck’s brand, so only offer realistic rewards in exchange to people’s backing. It is also worth noting that in some crowdfunding platforms, money will not be released if the final goal is not reached. Some entrepreneurs may find this discouraging and may think all the hard-work during the campaign had been for nothing. It is best to learn and understand how a crowdfunding platform work before utilizing it to fund your food truck business.

quote1Cash is the life-blood of any business. But as a food truck entrepreneur in the twenty-first century, you have a lot more options than those who came before you. With a compelling idea, steadfast commitment, and a bit of creativity, you will realize that there are always options to solve financing challenges for today and even those that will come in the future.

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By |March 28th, 2016|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, payments, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Frozen Food Tips for Food Trucks


Being a part of modern life, refrigeration is something that many of us do not really pay attention to. But for food truck entrepreneurs, not understanding this process and how it affects the quality of food can spell disaster to the business. Here are some challenges that mobile vendors need to understand regarding frozen food products.

Keeping frozen food at a safe temperature is one of the biggest challenges when it come to food trucks. This is dependent on the design of your electrical system. Food truck operators that want to use their refrigerators while in transit can use generators or dedicated battery banks to operate the equipment. But some states do not allow generators to be operated inside trucks while others do, as long as the vehicle is fitted with an exhaust system and have sufficient ventilation.quote1

Mounting the generator outside the truck may be a good solution. Some suggest using the batteries of the truck to keep the refrigerator or freezer powered up but this may only work for small appliances (usually those that only require 12Volts to operate). Commercial-type refrigerators often run on 120Volts. It is best to check local health codes and regulations to make sure if you can install such electrical systems to operate refrigerators or freezers while in transit.

Fortunately, modern refrigeration equipment can keep its contents cold or frozen even if it is turned off, as long as the food to be transported has been pre-cooled to zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) prior to loading. A full freezer can keep its temperature for up to 48 hours (24 hours if half-full). This means you do not have to keep the equipment powered on while traveling from one vending spot to the next.

foodtruck_fridgeAnother challenge regarding frozen food is the necessity to design and integrate efficient procedures that the staff can easily adhere to. Document protocols that employees will follow in reaction to various situations, including:

  • How to maintain consistent temperature of frozen products?
  • How to prevent cross-contamination?
  • How to label and rotate inventory of frozen food?
  • What is the quickest way to serve frozen product?
  • What to do when the freezer suddenly fail?

Because frozen food are perishable items, having the right procedures for storing, handling, merchandising, and contingencies will not only preserve the safety and quality of your products but also help prevent added costs or profit loss to your business even in time of emergencies.

Here are some things to remember so you can cope in case the power goes out and your refrigerator or freezer stops operating:

  • Make sure your refrigerator or freezer has a thermometer to make sure food are kept at safe temperatures. The safe temperature for refrigerators is 40 degree Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius), while for freezers is zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) or lower.frozentomatoes
  • When choosing vending spots, know where you can find dry ice or ice blocks on that area in case of emergency.
  • When the power goes out, keep the doors of refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible. Full freezers can hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours for half-full). If the freezer is not full, arrange the contents to form an “igloo” so that food that do not easily thaw can keep others cold longer.
  • Separate frozen raw meat by putting them on trays to prevent their juices from dripping to other food when they begin to thaw.
  • Discard perishable foods that have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.44 degrees Celsius) for two hours or more.
  • When in doubt to the quality of the food, throw it out.
  • For frozen food, check for ice crystals. Food that have been partially thawed can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or has a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Never test the safety of food by tasting it. provides convenient charts that can help you evaluate whether to save or throw out food in case of power outages.

Chart for refrigerated food:
Chart for frozen food:

This can be the trickiest challenge when it comes to frozen food. Different products require different storage temperatures. Knowing the right storage temperature not only affects food safety but also food quality. Heat shock, temperature fluctuations due to the process of freezing, thawing then refreezing, can cause the development of ice crystals (most noticeably in ice cream) that can affect texture, consistency, and even taste of products. Another example is delicate leafy greens that are susceptible to freezing or wilting when not stored at the right temperature.frozenfruit

But the science of frozen or refrigerated food is not limited to storing. Knowing how to properly thaw or defrost food for preparation is vital to avoid negatively impacting the way they get cooked. Moisture build-up on the surface of certain foods (like french fries or breaded chicken) due to temperature fluctuations can lead to uneven browning, flaky texture, or drying out, which can turn off customers. Improperly stored or thawed food can also impact the usable life of frying oil and increase your operating costs.

Refrigeration and frozen food are blessings to mobile food vendors due to the convenience they provide. Inventory with long shelf life, a wide variety of available products, and the ability to create various dishes anywhere free food truck businesses from limitations. Ideally, nothing can compare to the taste and nutritional value of fresh ingredients but frozen food can also have its advantages. And with adequate planning, good research, and proper implementation mobile food entrepreneurs can break the ice, get pass the challenges, and succeed with frozen food products.


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Why Food Trucks Should Accept Apple Pay

Perception has always been a powerful factor that affects businesses. And the integration of high technology to the everyday lives of customers is starting to influence how they evaluate, choose, and pay for products and services today. As the near-omnipotent smartphone pushes the boundaries of convenience, mobile and contactless payments like Apple Pay are gaining more traction, setting expectation, and affecting perception on businesses that could not keep up with the changing technology and behavior of consumers.

card_photoDue to their mobile nature, food trucks project a certain expectation of convenience to customers and can greatly benefit from utilizing mobile payments. But choosing the right system is vital. There are many products and services that offer food truck owners the ability to integrate mobile and contactless payments into their operations, but most are designed as accessories to consumer-grade hardware. Some have limited functionality, lacking the ability to process contactless payment transactions like Apple Pay. This can give a “non-professional” impression to customers.

Food trucks need proper mobile point-of-sale systems like the Clover Mini and Clover Mobile that are designed specifically to accommodate any type of mobile payment: conventional Magstripe cards, EMV chip cards, or contactless payments like Apple Pay. In addition to accepting various types of payments, the Clover Mini and Clover Mobile deliver integrated hardware and design that can streamline operations and elevate customer perception, which include:

Neat and compact sizepay_photo
3G and Wifi connectivity
Front-facing camera (barcode and QR code reading)
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (Clover Mobile)
Built-in printer (Clover Mini)
Antimicrobial touch display with on-screen signature capture (Clover Mini)
Customizable system using applications
Cloud-based data storage


Investing on a mobile point-of-sale system that is feature-rich and “future-proof” is important for food trucks. Apple Pay is the latest contactless payment option now available to customers. With more and more companies adopting the payment service, many believe that use of Apple Pay is going to grow even further in 2016. According to a 2014 Business Insider article, one million credit cards have been registered to Apple Pay in the first 3 days of availability and made it the largest mobile payment system in the US, at that time.


Despite having contactless mobile payment options before Apple Pay, the service is getting attention due to its simple, integrated, and secure features. Utilizing the Touch ID sensor in the latest iPhone models, Apple Pay solved inconveniences and issues that many experience in other platforms. When integrated to your food truck business, there is no need to ask for identification cards or signatures from customers anymore because their identity has been verified by their fingerprint. Business liability for fraudulent cards are also minimized or even eliminated, saving entrepreneurs from financial losses and needless stress.


In addition, the natural motion of holding the phone and touching the biometric sensor speeds up the payment process and turnaround for each purchase. Shaving off even a few seconds by eliminating the act of “getting wallet from pocket, taking card from wallet, handing card to cashier, swiping card, signing receipt/typing PIN/checking ID, giving card back, putting card to wallet, and putting wallet to pocket” results to faster food truck service and more satisfied customers.

Apple Pay is also great for customers who do not want to share their personal information. Without the need to give a physical card, customers do not have to show the cashier their name, account number, or security code. Customers are also reassured that they will not be victims to crimes like card skimming.

quote2With more merchants integrating Apple Pay to their system this year, food truck owners should consider accepting the contactless mobile payment to reap the benefits linked to it. On top of faster and safer transactions, food trucks that can accommodate Apple Pay can enhance customer perception of the business and help boost brand value. If Starbucks, KFC, Domino’s Pizza, and Cinnabon believe it is worth integrating, maybe your business can benefit from Apple Pay too.

Need help on how to start accepting Apple Pay in your food truck business? We can help!

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By |March 14th, 2016|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, payments, starting a food truck|0 Comments

Advantages of Specialized Bookkeeping for Food Trucks


Being a unique niche in the food industry, working with the right type of expert to handle your food truck’s books is vital due to the mobile nature of the business.

“Food trucks and food vending is such a volatile industry. Small menus, mobility, and changing regulations all have a great effect on success or failure. This volatility makes for an added adventure that most chefs and owners live for. Each day is a fresh start with its own unique challenges and blessings,” according to Cherie-Lee and Joshua Mason upon sharing their thoughts regarding the food truck industry’s differentiation to other niches. Their company, Panther Bookkeeping, specializes in bookkeeping for food trucks and food vendors.


Food truck owners are motivated by their passion of providing delicious food and great service but rarely get excited with analyzing the balance sheet. But seeing that cash flow is considered to be the lifeblood of any business and its management can either spell the success or failure of a venture, having organized bookkeeping is extremely important for food truck and food vending entrepreneurs.

Cherie-Lee and Joshua Mason understand this well. Motivated by the freedom to do what one enjoys, love of food, and admiration for small businesses, the two US Air Force pilots decided to extend their expertise and assistance to passionate mobile food entrepreneurs who become less enthusiastic when keeping track of the business’ financial side is concerned. 

“Cherie-Lee’s family has been in the food vending business for the last 4 years and we have seen some of the struggles and victories that occur on a regular basis. Many of the chefs and food truck owners we talk to have neither a love of numbers nor the training to keep their books or analyze them in a helpful way,” says Joshua.

Though handling your own bookkeeping is not impossible, business owners can greatly benefit from hiring an expert. Getting on top of a food truck’s financial statements can be challenging due to the long to-do list required to operate the business. Keeping track of receipts, invoices, withdrawals, and deposits plus analyzing what they mean to the current and future status of the business can be daunting to most people. Fortunately, professional bookkeepers or accountants can assist entrepreneurs make sense of their financial statements and even give invaluable information or analysis to help grow their food truck business.


Compared to a conventional restaurant, the factors that affect the profitability of food trucks are varied and very dynamic. Consulting with experts who understand these factors offer advantages to entrepreneurs due to the extensive analysis and insights they can offer. Some financial hurdles may be overlooked if the bookkeeper is not well-versed on how much the mobile nature of food trucks affect the performance of the business. Factors such as low margins, limited storage capacity, and high seasonality, among others, can greatly impact revenues while failure to plan for them can be the end of a food truck, no matter how great its concept or products.

Some entrepreneurs may think is it wise to do their own bookkeeping first and just get help later on. But failure to have a plan and system based on reliable information, especially financial information, is one of the most common reasons why food trucks get into trouble.

“Without a plan and good information to back that plan, it is easy to fail in this industry,” says Joshua. “The first budget will be only as useful as the time spent building it. A budget based on guesses will be much less helpful than a budget based on research and estimates from other food truck owners.”

Getting expert financial advice at the early stages of the venture to create a plan that prevents problems can save a food truck business later on. Though not all future issues can be prepared for, juggling a food truck’s operation while trying to fix a financial problem can often lead an entrepreneur to break under pressure and the food truck to fail. Without a plan business owners will have even less time to solve a problem if one arises, which is why it is best to ask professional help and plan for contingencies as early as possible.

“It is going to be tougher than they thought, harder work than they expected, longer hours than they want, and not as profitable, at first, as they dreamed,” as Cherie-Lee puts it.

Accounting is the language of business and bookkeeping can be a great way to assess a food truck’s current success. An experienced professional can offer much more information than the current status of your business. Receipts, invoices, and deposits can provide important information that can guide food truck owners on how to efficiently manage and grow their business. The financial information, when analyzed by capable bookkeepers, can reveal key performance indicators: quantifiable measurements that affect the success of the food truck business such as food cost percentage, sales per head, bestselling items, staff performance, customer satisfaction, marketing cost, and conversion rate, among others.

Key performance indicators can be used to advise business owners whether to continue with the current business plan, reevaluate certain operations, or change the direction of the business. Such vital information can be drawn from analysis that specialized accounting professionals provide.


“We can help organize their finances so they have a better understanding of where they stand, where they need to be, and steps they can take to be more profitable,” Joshua says regarding how Panther Bookkeeping’s specialized services can benefit food truck entrepreneurs. “We can help take their jumble of receipts and create easy to understand financial reports. Our system uses online, secure accounting software so they can have easy access whenever and wherever they need.”

Cherie-Lee adds, “We can automate their bookkeeping and show them how to reconcile accounts or take on all bookkeeping. As a bookkeeper, we can also connect clients with businesses that help food trucks run smoothly and more efficiently so they can focus on other aspects of the company and spend more time doing what they love.”

Make sure to check out Panther Bookkeeping to learn more about their company and learn how to keep your bookkeeping up to date. Also check out Xero, the software Panther Bookkeeping uses, which helps manage anything from bills & expenses, inventory, purchase orders, and much more. Clover food trucks will automatically sync with Xero to help make your bookkeeping easier. The features and benefits that Food on a Truck uses are optimized to help your bookkeeping more organized with help in your location and schedule management, sales trends, hourly sales, and more. To learn more about these features (and compare them with Square) make sure to request a comparison here!

Thank you for reading!

Be sure to check on our Twitter and for more information about Food Trucks and check back here for more blogs!

About Joshua Mason & Cherie-Lee Mason.

Joshua_MasonJoshua Mason is a pilot in the US Air Force as well. He graduated in 2009 from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Humanities and Minors in Russian Language and Philosophy. He is currently working on graduate studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University seeking his Masters in Business Administration in Aviation. He admires chefs and owners who have taken the bold step and launched a new endeavor in the growing industry of food trucks and food vending. Food trucks represent a sense of freedom and adventure. He feels that few chefs and owners are trained in financial accounting and many find bookkeeping a stressful hassle and distraction from their normal operations. He would like to take that stress and give you back your valuable time.



Cherie-Lee Mason is currently a pilot in the US Air Force. She is a graduate of the Air Force Academy where she studied Astronautical Engineering and of the American Military University where she studied Business Administration.  Food trucking/vending has been the family business for the last 4 years. She wanted to use her recent business knowledge and her passion for financial organization and number crunching to help those that are passionate about their food business but not so excited about keeping track of the financial side.
By |January 25th, 2016|Categories: blog, growing a food truck business, starting a food truck|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.


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

The Rising Popularity of Food Truck Festivals

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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