Over the past couple years, gourmet food trucks have exploded onto the scene in almost every major American city. While some view food trucks as a passing fad, a recent study by Technomic shows that food trucks are not going away. Of consumers polled who are familiar with food trucks, 91% say they view the trend as “having staying power and not a passing fad.” The strategies used by food truck entrepreneurs to change the landscape of metropolitan culinary scenes provide any company with lessons on what it takes to be successful.
1. Keep it Simple
Food trucks are masters of simplicity. The most successful food trucks pick an extremely narrow niche, from cheesecake to grilled cheese, and they focus intensively on that area. By providing a few menu items and preparing those really well, they are able to limit cost’s, while providing a top notch product.
Instead of trying to do everything, focus on making sure your core products or services are remarkable.
2. Brand Everything
Every aspect of your company that “touches” your customers is an opportunity to make a favorable or unfavorable impression. The best food trucks understand who they are and they communicate their brand consistently across every touch point. The Fojol’s Brothers in D.C. have a fun and wacky brand – from their fake mustaches and crazy outfits to their silver and purple truck, everything is branded as fun and wacky.
Think about how your customers perceive your brand. Analyze if your brand equity could be improved by being more consistent across all your touch points.
3. Forget Traditional Marketing
Gourmet food trucks have taken major American cities by storm, through their use of social media. The days of, as Seth Godin calls it, the TV-Industrial complex, are long gone. Companies must now find ways to use social media to turn customers into fans. David Garcia, owner of Miami’s wildly successful food truck, The Fish Box, says the key to his success using social media is simply staying active. He tweets locations and posts updates on Facebook several times a day, while also focusing on answering all customer questions and concerns as quickly as possible.
The good news for companies is the new ways of connecting with customer are much more cost effective than traditional advertising.
4. Manage Your Risks
Many aspiring restaurateurs are opting to test their concepts with a food truck, because it is much less risky financially than starting a brick and mortar restaurant. Former investment banker Farhad Assari had a dream of opening a restaurant after quitting his job to attend culinary school. Instead of investing the one million or so dollars it would take to start a brick and mortar restaurant he opted to open a food truck for one tenth of the cost. The result; his concept proved profitable and he now has four trucks, which have generated great marketing buzz for his recently opened restaurant.
What projects could your company do to prove the concept of a larger and potentially riskier project?
5. Collaborate with Others in your Industry
Food trucks understand that they are more powerful and profitable when they work together. Owners across the country organize associations, hire lobbyists and plan large events. Organizations like Mobile Food News set the stage for collaboration to take place. Truckeroo in D.C. combined popular food trucks such as TaKorean, Red Hook Lobster, and Sauca to draw over 18,000 people last month. These trucks, who from the outside appear to be direct competitors, understand the power they have when they work together.