Food trucks are special little slices of culture. They can be found in the metropolitan areas of almost any country. They serve rich, flavorful food that is descriptive of the tastes of that country’s common man. They simply express something about the world they’re in.
But more than that, they are a business on wheels. Food trucks have advantages and disadvantages that sit-down restaurants don’t. They have undergone an evolution since the beginning of the pandemic. It can be a time of poverty, or a time of prosperity.
It all depends on how you run your food truck.
Which begs the question: How do you run a successful food truck in such a strange time?
1. Know Your Locations
It’s a simple tip, but one that not everyone puts into practice. Some locations are going to be better for your food truck than others. This is really all about knowing what your food truck serves, and who wants that service the most.
The thing is that plenty of beginner businesspeople think of food as a constant. And they are not completely wrong: Food is valuable because of nature, not culture. Everyone needs food, so why wouldn’t a food truck work anywhere?
Well, it is not about working anywhere. It’s about getting the most out of your time anywhere. Burgers, for instance, will do better near a kids’ park than near a graveyard. There are certainly still going to be people near a graveyard, but they probably won’t have an appetite.
2. Know Your Laws
Want to know what rule surprises even the most experienced food truck operators? There’s no law, even during the pandemic, preventing them from serving food during a riot.
There’s no law serving food near a duck pond, a playground, or a high school. There is a law, however, preventing food trucks from operating outside grocery stores, however.
The laws of where a food truck can and can’t be are unintuitive, yes. But they are also revealing. They reveal places where you can find business, like a protest, or a duck pond, that otherwise you might not think to even look for business.
Learn your local rules of where a food truck can operate. It will teach you how to avoid risks, and it may even teach you how to attract some customers.
After all, laws will usually only exist after someone made it necessary for them to exist. There are plenty of other food trucks out there making mistakes so that you don’t have to.
3. Know Your Disciplines
What is a “discipline”? Well, ask yourself these questions: What food will you not make? What stunt will you not pull in order to attract customers?
Thinking in this way can be incredibly helpful in discovering what you will do. Will you not make Mexican-seasoned burgers? Why not? Is it because there’s no business in learning to do it? Are the ingredients hard to come by? There are no wrong answers here. Only disciplines.
This tip is all about drawing a line between stubbornness and purposefulness. There are a thousand good reasons to try a million new things. But you are only one business, and you can’t do everything. Trying to do everything will make running your food truck impossible.
It’s important to figure out why not to try these things. This will better inform why you should try other things. Things that will make running a food truck easier. Things that will make your business more profitable, more stable, and more successful.
4. Know that You’re not an ice Cream Man
Some food trucks are constantly on the move. They drift this way and that, looking for a “silver bullet” location: Some place that will always yield them all the money they could ever need.
The flaw in this thinking should be obvious. Food trucks are not schemes so you can get rich quick. There is no magic spot that will allow you to make money without working. Searching for such a place is like looking for a gym that will get you ripped without working out.
And yes, this sounds horribly obvious, doesn’t it? The thought pattern described above is clearly irrational. The problem is, it is not a habit that manifests itself in such an obvious way. Nobody drives their truck around thinking, “I am currently looking for a silver bullet location.”
What they do is they look for this location without realizing they are driving by dozens of viable business locations. A successful food truck is not made from using your time, gas, and energy looking for the perfect spot.
It’s a food truck, not a spot truck.
5. Know Your Safety Procedures
This is a tip that would need to exist on any list at any point in history, but in 2021 it has to be saved for last so that it’s the freshest in your mind.
Food trucks are a grind. They involve going out, working like a dog, and coming home with a pile of cash to show for it. More than perhaps any other business, food trucks require endurance, patience, and dedication.
If you have worked a food truck before, you have likely developed patience. If you have worked in one for a while, then you certainly have dedication. But endurance is not always up to you. A disease, like the one that holds the world’s attention right now, can take it away from you.
Be safe. Don’t just be safe, in fact, but actively practice safety. Imagine how a customer might violate your safety procedures and plan how you want to act in advance.
This isn’t a tip to say, “Don’t serve customers who don’t conform to your safety procedures.” No, quite the opposite. You have no control over your customers. If they behave in a safe manner, that’s excellent. But you can’t rely on them to do that.
You have to make your own safety. But that has always been the way of food trucks, isn’t it? You make your own business, your own plan, your own food, and your own safety.