You finally have accomplished your dream of owning your own business, a food truck. You researched ways to start a food truck business, did a ton of work to get it going, and now you’re the happy owner of your own mobile business.
But food trucks are not immune to problems. A myriad of things can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Knowing what can go wrong will help you know how to handle a food truck emergency.
What Could Go Wrong on a Food Truck?
The same things that happen to a traditional restaurant could happen to a food truck. So to avoid emergencies, you need to imagine them first. Research restaurant emergencies, and then picture them on your truck. Check out these potential food truck emergencies, and then take a look at the solutions provided below.
A power outage spells trouble for a traditional restaurant. Food will spoil without adequate refrigeration.
The same goes for a food truck. If this happens, you will find yourself with compromised products. According to the FDA, you have four hours before refrigerated food spoils if you do not open the refrigerator.
Not having the appropriate change for a customer qualifies as an emergency that will negatively affect your business. When a customer gives you a twenty-dollar bill, you need to have adequate change or you will immediately gain a reputation of inefficiency and inexperience.
You are a great cook, and you can make amazing food. But then your customers begin to complain: the food doesn’t have the same zing it did before. It’s bland or too salty.
Inconsistent taste can detract from customer experience and give you a reputation that you’ll not recover from quickly.
The same kitchen accidents that happen in a traditional kitchen can easily happen in a food truck. In fact, the small quarters make accidents even more likely.
A knife slips, grease splatters, a kitchen fire breaks out, or an employee slips on a slick floor. All of these could shut a truck down indefinitely.
Robbery and Theft
Whenever you run a business, you’re at risk for robbery.
Food trucks make an easy target, especially if you’re servicing customers late at night. Many food trucks run late-night hours for bar patrons looking for a bite to eat on their way home or concertgoers who need a late-night snack. In some cases, you’re a sitting duck in a darkened area, waiting for someone to hold you up.
You may have had a booming success at the start when curious individuals patronized you. But now you’re noticing no return customers, and business as a whole is dwindling.
This truly is a food truck emergency because you need revenue to run your truck. And you cannot pay yourself, your bills, or your employees if you do not have customers, no matter how well you manage your money.
How to Respond to a Food Truck Emergency
Knowing your potential emergencies is the first step to the solution. Planning for such emergencies is the next step.
Have Backup Power
Most food trucks have the option to use a generator or hook up to electrical shore power, when available. Invest early on in a reliable generator that will run your entire truck. Make sure to have both your shore power cable and back up generator fuel available.
You’ll also want to test your generator regularly so you can fire it right up when you really do need it.
Keep Cash on Hand and Go Digital
Make the plan to never run out of change by having an adequate amount of cash on hand. Go to the bank daily, and keep a fixed amount of cash in your drawer every day.
However, don’t keep too much cash in your vehicle in case of a robbery. Make a bank deposit daily. This way, if a robber does target your business, you will lose only a small amount of your overall profits.
Also, invest in a credit card reader. Even a simple set up like a Square will help make your business less like a neighborhood lemonade stand and more like a corner diner.
Scout Out a Location
The right location will deter would-be thieves and potentially boost your client numbers as well. Look for a well-lit area with a roaming police force nearby. You can help feed the boys in blue and keep your business safe at the same time.
Stay Consistent to Stay Tasty
Once you develop your secret recipes, write them down. Then make sure you’re using the same brand of ingredients whenever you cook. Keeping the same brand and following the recipe’s precise details will ensure a consistent product every day. This will boost your reputation as a great food truck with consistently tasty food.
Plan on tasting your food every day to make sure the quality stays the same. If you are the cook, it’s important to make sure you haven’t missed something. And if someone else is cooking, you need to make sure that your cooks are not fudging the recipe.
Post and Practice Emergency Procedures
Have a plan for physical emergencies, and practice a dry run of that plan. Keep your safety protocols posted in the truck for all employees, like making sure burners or gas lines are turned off.
Plan staff emergency training, even if your business consists of just you and your family. Make sure everyone knows what to do if there is a fire in the truck or if another physical emergency occurs.
Keep a fire extinguisher handy and current. Write a note on your calendar or set a reminder in your phone for close to the expiration date to make sure you never have an old extinguisher.
It is also essential to keep a well-stocked first aid kit, with the essentials to address kitchen related accidents, like burns or cuts.
To avoid kitchen emergencies, consider the flow of your kitchen. A small space can lead to more accidents, so having a set work pattern and a smooth flow will help you avoid problems and also increase your efficiency.
Know Your Market
To fight dwindling business, research your potential customer. Understand who you serve at your location, and make sure you have food your potential customers will be interested in eating.
Know your community and park in an area where you’ll have a good customer base.
There are lots of strategies you can implement to grow your food truck business.
To keep your customers coming and avoid declining clientele, make your food, your packaging, your service, or your delivery unique. Ask yourself: “What will make my business stand apart from the others?”
Prepare for the Worst
By understanding possible food truck emergency you may face, you can plan solutions that will help you avoid a disaster.
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