You have finally done it. You are making your dreams come true. Now you are the proud owner of your own food truck business. It is a wonderful accomplishment, but you still have much more work to be done to transform your food truck into a successful, viable business. And one of the most important ingredients to that success besides great food and great customer service is knowing where to take your food truck.
Here are the top 6 ideas on where to take your food truck:
If you live in an area that is always hopping with places to go and things to do then why not capitalize on that? Stay up-to-date on all the social goings-on in your area like festivals and concerts and do some research on which ones are open to food trucks. Get to know the key contacts at the visitor’s bureau and the organizers at all the popular events that happen during the year in your area. You will get more invitations to participate in these events, if you start developing good relationships right from the start.
Special events can be a real money make for your food truck because you gain access to the event’s built-in audience which means you have to do very little promoting on your own. Look for events that happen every year and build a good relationship with the organizers so you will be invited back again each year.
There are two things to keep in mind though. 1) If bad weather or other unforeseen disaster cancels the event or causes you to close up early, you might end up losing money. 2) If the audience of the festival doesn’t match your customer profile, even if they have a big turnout, you might not see a lot of that traffic at your truck. For example, burger and fries might not be as popular at a health and fitness festival as it would be at say a battle of the bands.
If you’d like to grow a steady following for breakfast and lunch, then hit the business and financial districts in your area. Hungry employees looking for a quick, but tasty meal in between meetings could create some good revenue for you. Park in the same area at the same time every day and you will get to know your customers by name and develop a loyal following that will help grow your business. Keep in mind that these areas are popular for a lot of different food trucks so try not to set up near one that is your direct competition.
The key to successful street parking is having a good nose for where the hungry people are at. If you have local parks in your area or historical sites that a lot of people flock too, then check out the local ordinances for parking on a street nearby. If there are no legal restrictions, these could be prime spots for catching passersby’s.
If there is heavy construction going on in a certain neighborhood, you could also park for a while during breakfast and lunch hours to feed all the hungry workers.
While the big indoor shopping malls, have a lot of restaurants and usually a food court inside, smaller strip malls or smaller shopping districts inside busy metropolitan areas usually don’t have a lot of quick, good eats options. These could be a good place to set up shop in the evening or on the weekends.
In the spring and summer months, people love to shop at farmer’s markets to get fresh fruits and vegetables. This might be a great place to park for a while if you primarily use local-sourced, organic ingredients in your menu. Besides gaining new customers, you might form new relationships with local growers as well.
Dining hall food options on college campuses is usually one of the biggest complaints on most college and university campus. College students are on the go morning, noon and night and are always look for quick meals to grab in between all their classes and activities. And if you don’t mind working late into the evening, you can capitalize on the late night cravings that always hits college students whether it is after a long night studying in the school library or after an evening of partying.
Besides finding locations with the best flow of customers, there are other factors that you need to consider. Before making a final decision on any location for your food truck, you need to find out if a permit or license is required and how much that will cost and if there are any local ordinances that you need to make sure you follow. Many city governments don’t allow food truck to park within 50 feet of a restaurant and for safety reasons many places require food trucks to be parked near bathroom facilities. Also, consider the size of your food truck and double check that there is enough space for you to park in.
Probably the biggest thing to remember though is to never lose sight of what your brand is. For the best success at any location, your brand must be something that the potential customers at that location would be attracted to. For instance, don’t park your more upscale food truck in a struggling neighborhood where they don’t have a lot of spending cash. Or think twice about setting up your organic juice food truck at a tractor rally where barbecue and beer are usually the food and drink of choice.
But on the flip side, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box either. Sometimes you can have real success by going the path less traveled. Maybe some of the attendees at the truck rally are tired of the usual fare and would love to be offered something different. Always do your research and talk to other food truck owners to get a sense of what you can expect at different locations around your area.