The recent rise of gourmet food trucks across the US has lead the way to cash strapped entrepreneurs being able to bring their dreams and creative dishes to market. Long gone are the days of the Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks and Roach Coaches roaming around neighborhoods and construction sites looking for customers. Within a short period this trend has created a craze and completely revolutionized an industry. By combining technology like Twitter, FourSquare and geo tagging with unique menus, snazzy trucks and not to mention thousands of loyal followers these would be restaurateur are kicking the recessions butt.
Desperate times call for creative measures so here are 8 unique lessons that can be learned from the creativity spawned from these meals on wheels.
1. Don’t ask for permission ask for forgiveness. You have to make bold moves to get what you want as an entrepreneur especially when it comes to reaching customers and creating sales. In New York food trucks aren’t granted special parking spots. If they want good locations with high traffic they park at meters and usually rack up hundreds of dollars worth of tickets each month and they just chalk it up as “rent”
2. Completely rock out an old tried and true industry. We all grew up chasing the ice cream truck, or getting hot dogs on the streets of New York and Chicago. Sometimes starting a business is not about creating the next big thing, sometimes its just about breathing life into an existing industry and making people fall in love with it all over again.
3. Keep it Simple- Food trucks don’ t have the liberty of tons of storage space so they can create limitless menu offerings. They focus on providing a few key menu items and preparing those items really well. Instead of trying to have a one stop shop for everyone focus on making sure your core products or services are amazing.
4. Get personal with your customers- Most restaurants aren’t happy when food trucks arrive on their block for fear of them taking customers away. However many food trucks are owner/operator and they have mastered injecting their personality into their business. What restaurant can you walk into on any given day where you can have a personal conversation with the Chef/Owner? Even as you begin to grow your business you must still show customers that you are accessible.
5. Go Directly to your customer- Take a break from the computer or step out of your office and figure out where your customers really are. Find ways to interject your brand into their lives in other ways. Food trucks have the luxury of not waiting for their customers to come to them but going directly to their customers weather it be a street festival or showing up at their office during lunch time.
6. Adapt quickly to change- If a customer complains that a menu item sucks most food trucks can easily erase it off of their chalk board revamp it immediately and keep on trucking without having to waste time and money replacing expensive printed menus. Find ways to make your business flexible and nimble without having to go through multiple chains of command in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
7. Stop using traditional marketing- The biggest push for the food truck revolution was adapting technology. Instead of putting an ad in the paper, or buying radio time most food trucks use Twitter religiously to keep their customers/followers informed about their location and because they move so often this has proven to be cost effective and shows them immediate ROI. Living in such a mobile society it is important to look for new ways to reach your customers and choosing the right marketing mix that works for your brand.
8. When the traffic slows down make a move- Most businesses don’t have the liberty to just start up the engine and move locations when traffic is slow like food trucks can but considering opening a pop-up-shop in a different high traffic area location for your brick and mortar business or web based business.
Felecia Hatcher is the Chief Popsicle of Feverish Ice Cream Trucks, an eco-friendly ice cream truck and upscale ice cream catering company based in Miami. She has been featured as one of the Top 10 Superstar Entrepreneurs under 30 by Allbusiness.com and Feverish has been voted as one of the Top 10 Eco-Friendly Food Trucks in the US by MMN.com. You can find her daily rambling on her blog Ybizbuzz.com or visit FeverishIceCream.com