If you want to make it in the food truck industry, then the only skill you need is to be a beast in the kitchen, right? Wrong.
Before getting started, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Being able to cook up great meals is very, very important in this industry. If someone has no skills in that department, then they probably shouldn’t be trying to be a mobile kitchen chef. After all, the food — you know, the thing that everyone loves — is your product. In theory, the better it is, the more people you will have at your truck. The cooking portion of this gig is essential. With that said, you have to be more than just a chef to make it as a lunch truck owner.
There’s a reason why so many entrepreneurs are being lured to the food truck industry. Yes, they do want to be chefs — if you enter the food truck industry, then of course you want to be a chef. But it’s also because they see a good business opportunity right in front of them.
Here’s the deal. If you are a great chef but you aren’t business savvy on top of that, then you are going to find that life in this industry is very tough. You have to have a business mentality as a food truck owner, because you are literally running a business.
While cooking up great meals will help to lure in customers (people are naturally attracted to the product, which is food in this case), you need to know how to not only lure in customers, but retain them as well. How are you going to make that happen?
First and foremost, hopefully you have a good social media presence. Try to reach your customers on networks like Facebook. If you really want to make a difference with social media, you might also want to think about getting an Instagram account, a place where you can post all of your food pictures (and have them all in one place), and a Snapchat account, a platform that makes it possible for you to show your customers what is going on at your food truck during the present moment.
Speaking of which, more and more people are starting to incorporate live streaming into their digital marketing strategies, and food truck owners should follow that trend to the top. People want to know how to cook your recipes (step by step), and if you are willing to give up some of those secrets, then you can certainly live stream some of your cooking sessions. Or, you can just live stream some of the events your food truck ventures to in hopes of making your followers feel like they are right there with you. You know, like they are part of your food truck community even when they aren’t there in person.
Nonetheless, social media is an invaluable tool that mobile kitchen owners can use to their advantage.
Of course, and going back to the beginning, food truck owners have to know how to make a business plan. Without one, your truck will have no direction. You could end up blowing through all of your resources (money) in no time.
Food truck owners also have to know how to hire, fire, train and manage employees. A good manager is a big plus in this industry — well, in any industry, really.
On top of that, you have to know how to search for catering gigs and food truck events. These types of things will help you secure more than one source of income. Not to mention, they will help you branch out in this industry, which is crucial when it comes to gaining more customers and expanding your target audience.
Before you even step foot in this industry, you have to be business savvy. Not only do you have to create the infamous business plan, but you need to know how to strike business deals in hopes of getting the best food truck (and equipment) for a reasonable price.
You have to know the differences between a cheap truck and a high-end one. You have to know how to come up with a digital marketing strategy. Plus, you have to know what you are going to do during the off-season if you plan on staying open. You have to know how to follow the trends.
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On top of everything else, you have to be a warrior. Why? Well, because you are going to be logging a ton of hours. You might not be making that much money either given the fact that you are just starting out and a business typically doesn’t become an instant success overnight. With that in mind, running a food truck business typically costs less money than running a sit-down restaurant, so that certainly helps.
We are not trying to discourage future or current food truck owners. We are just trying to prepare them for the ride of their lives. Being a food truck owner can be a great gift and journey, and it is also considered a dream job to many. After all, you are cooking food every day, and you are also running your own business.
Being a food truck owner is not for the faint of heart. You have to be business savvy and a good cook. Those are musts.
If none of this is new to you, then you are probably ready to conquer this industry. If it is news to you, then make sure to do your homework before entering this fine industry. “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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