If you are still relatively new to the food truck business, you have probably heard how great special events can be for your bottom line, but are still not sure what types are best for your particular food truck. With how much the food truck industry has been booming in the last few years, there are food trucks for just about any type of fare out there and not all types are going to be a good fit for every event. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t special events out there that make good business sense for you to participate in. It is all about finding the best match for what type of food you are selling.
Here are some tips on what types of events are good money makers for food trucks?
Music and good food and drinks are a natural combination so it should come as no surprise that music festivals are a prime spot for food trucks. From regular festival fare like burgers, pizza, pretzels and beer to more gourmet offerings and specialty desserts, the organizers of music festivals make sure they line up a variety of vendors to satisfy all the hungry and thirsty music lovers. When choosing which music festivals to apply to, consider the demographics of the attendees first to ensure that the menu you offer is a good fit. For example, a burger truck might not do so well with a crowd that prefers vegan dishes and organic smoothies.
From Fourth of July Parades to Thanksgiving Parades, each community tends to have special parades they hold every year. Find out which ones are open to food trucks selling food and drink along the parade route. Be creative with your menu for these events and offer special holiday items for those parades. For example, offer a special Shamrock burger for a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
If you sell Spanish food from your truck, then it makes good business sense to have a presence at any festivals that celebrate any of the Hispanic cultures. Likewise for all other ethnicities and cultures. Get yourself connected to events that will help you promote your brand.
Perusing art in the hot sun can make anyone hungry and thirsty. If a community near you has a regularly art festival then find out if they are open to food trucks setting up in the festival boundaries. Also, find out what other vendors and food trucks are expected so there is not too much overlap in what everyone is selling.
Outdoor Movie Nights and Concerts
Who isn’t looking for good eats and drinks during an outdoor movie viewing in the park or an outdoor concert? Find out if you can park just outside the venue so you can catch people going in and coming out. If they run a series of these events, talk to the organizers about being involved in the whole series.
During the summer time, there is no shortage of outside events to go to because who doesn’t like to enjoy the sun while being entertained or shopping? From big city-run summer concert festivals to smaller block parties, there is always a lot of options to choose from. Check with your local visitor’s bureau to get more information about what is coming up and to get a better idea of which ones are open to food trucks.
Wine, Beer & Food Festivals
People attending wine, beer or food festivals are expecting to find good things to eat and drink so you know you have a captive audience. Just make sure you have something unique to offer them that will keep them lined up outside your food truck and not outside your other competitors’ trucks.
In many cities, pop-up beer gardens have become very popular too, especially during the summer time. Parking near one of them could also help you find more customers.
Food Truck Festivals
Due to the popularity of food trucks, it is not uncommon for food trucks to ban together for a food truck festival. This is a way to attract new customers and to promote your business. People love the variety offered by a lineup of different food trucks because each customer can get what they really want to eat instead of everyone having to settle on one type of fare. Just make sure there are not too many of the same types of food trucks all parked near each other.
Cater Private Events
Besides parking your truck at public events, why not consider offering catering service to private events like weddings, graduations and other parties and fundraising events? By adding catering to the list of services you provide, you will be able to fill in any gaps in your schedule as well as open up a new revenue stream for your business. More people will also be able to taste what is so special about your food and spread the word to their friends and family. Eventually when people ask for catering recommendations your names will always be on the list of highly recommended food catering services in your area.
Now that you know what type of events to look for, here are some other recommendations for getting involved in special events in your area:
- Have a ballpark idea of how many events you want to schedule each month, keeping in mind all the other locations you regularly work out of each week. Create a master schedule for yourself so you can at a quick glance see what you have going on each week. If you know there is some lag time in parts of your schedule those would be great times to add in more special events if they are available.
- Not all special events are equal. In busy cities, there are hundreds of special events that are held throughout the year and are food truck-friendly, but not every event will be a good fit for your food truck. Some will draw bigger crowds than others and your brand might not be the best fit for every event. So do some research and make a list of potential events and apply to the ones that seem like the best fit.
- As you are rating different events, one of the biggest questions you need to ask is: How many customers do I need to attract in order to make this event profitable and is this a reasonable number to expect from the event’s sales projections or past sales?
- Keep in mind that you will need to apply to each special event you are interested and you might not always get accepted. If you don’t get accepted to one you were really excited about, don’t lose heart though. Keep in touch with the organizers and ask them for feedback on what you might need to do differently in your application the next time. Who knows, by the next time that event is held, you might be on that coveted vendor list.