It’s safe to say there’s an official “food truck craze” now that you can find things like peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese, korean bbq and even dim sum. With offerings like these, you’d like food truck marketing would be simple—just show up.
But with more competition than ever, we’d like to highlight we’d argue that it’s the foodie mania that’s propelling food trucks’ success. Little Sister’s Grilled Cheese truck from CT doesn’t just throw a slice of cheese on bread, they have delicious goat cheese and honey combos along with jalapeno cream cheese and cheddar grilled morsels. It’s all about perspective.
Speaking of perspective, the most popular food trucks have some kind of “gimmick”. Not to be taken negatively, these gimmicks are simply something the food trucks have done to separate them from their competition.
5 Ways to Increase Food Truck Sales (and beat your restaurant competitors)
1. Pick the perfect location
Food trucks are able to come to their customers, unlike a brick and mortar establishment. Being able to head downtown where a festival is underway or go out to a park that is hosting a music event, or being near nightclubs to feed the hungry crowds – food trucks have a major advantage of being free standing establishments that brick and mortar establishments cannot compare with. A great eatery in a bad location is going to close faster than a mediocre restaurant in a good location.
Food trucks can switch up their menu overnight, in season and with whatever ingredients they have on-hand at the time. So make sure you’re offering seasonal menus and capitalizing on people who want to eat local. Offering a few organic dishes is a good way to go, and always keep a handful of hearty vegetarian dishes on the menu. There is a growing trend towards meatless and it allows you to attract a broader range of clientele.
3. Use your space wisely
A food truck has limited space and often the ingredients they use are worked into many dishes. Streamlined preparation of as many dishes as possible keep the wait times short.
4. Stay connected
Food trucks make amazing use of Twitter, Facebook, any way possible to get their fans to stop on by for lunch. Most restaurants have an online menu, but hat’s not enough to stay competitive. Make a point of using Twitter and Facebook to blast a message to your fans – let them know about drink specials, when you offer half-price appetizers, when the new seasonal menu will be out and what’s on it. There is always news! Just share it.
Food trucks have adapted well to the urban climate, using technology to keep their followers in the loop, adapting their menus and standing out no matter what city they’re in. It could be easy for a restaurant to fall behind, but take a page out of the food truck’s book and remember – if it something is really working for them, you can probably try the same thing. After all, they’re taking a few pages from your book too!
5. Have a great food truck design
Food truck concepts should be even more creative than their restaurant competitors. Here are three of our favorites:
A Flying Pig Food Truck
Maximus/Minimus of Seattle Washington
Visitors and locals alike love the Maximus/Minimus when visiting Seattle, Washington. This unique food delivery truck is shaped like a pig and was designed by Colin Reed, an industrial designer.
The front of the truck has been redesigned to look like a snout, ears have been added to the top from sheet metal, and a sheet metal tail has been added to the rear. The truck even comes with a unique license plate that reads “SOME PIG”.
What does the delivery truck serve? Well, pulled pork sandwiches, of course, along with a vegetarian version. The Maximus is hot and spicy and flavored with chipotle, while the minimus is sweet and tangy and flavored with molasses. Food from the truck is only available in the summer. The Maximus/Minimus can usually be found near the famous Pike Place Market.
Food Truck Graffiti
Happy graffiti @ Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck of Kahuku, Hawaii
The truck at Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp started its life as a plain white food delivery truck, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
Looking for a way to make their converted bread delivery truck unique, the owners hit on the concept of allowing visitors to decorate the truck with graffiti. This decision caused the truck to become a popular icon with its own Facebook page.
Visitors to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck will enjoy two scoops of rice topped with its award winning shrimp scampi served in the shell, and caught fresh that morning in the beautiful Hawaii waters.
The food delivery truck has won numerous national and international awards for their hot shrimp scampi. For those who do not love shrimp, the food delivery truck also serves a jumbo garlic hot dog along with two scoops of rice.
A Food Truck Carnival
Carny love @ Fojol Bros. of Merlindia Washington D.C.
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This food delivery truck guarantees a carnival atmosphere for all who are lucky enough to find their truck.
Finding the Fojol Bros. truck is easy though, since they will tweet you their current location.
Like many up and coming food trucks, these guys still change locations on a regular basis. Popular stops include Georgetown, Chinatown, and DuPont Circle.
Diners who rush to the location will be treated to loud carnival music and attendants wearing fake mustaches, bright colored gloves and extremely colorful turbans. The food, created in the mythical land of Merlindia, is Indian cruise including chicken masala, and palak paneer, both of which are best enjoyed with the food delivery truck’s unique Chex Mix.
5 of our Favorite Food Trucks
1. Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ
Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ uses the popular “locally-sourced” element that is so widely encouraged these days. Their ingredients come from local vendors and farms, while local Johnson & Wales students cook their food. In fact, their truck was even designed by RISD students.
There’s nothing un-Rhode Island about this truck except the authentic Korean flavor that they want to share with people. Parked right in the most heavily trafficked college area of Providence, Mama Kims has no trouble getting customers in and out, but their emphasis on authentic Korean food from locally-sourced ingredients has people parking down the street just to get a take-out meal.
2. Chez Pascal
Chez Pascal, a French restaurant on the east side of Providence, RI also has their own food truck. Hewin’s Dog Mobile uses Twitter to let their followers know where they are at any given time, on any given day.
They also use their Twitter account (@chezpascal) to let people know if they’re being rained out, or if they have a new special. Like Mama Kims, Chez Pascal focuses on locally sourced meat and produce. And how could they not, with a lineup of sandwiches that includes “bacon-wrapped meatloaf”, which I can personally give a delicious thumbs up to.
In fact, Chez Pascal’s Matt Gennuso was recently interviewed by Mashable about his stance on social media. “We don’t have any precise formula for tracking the success of social media, we base it on the fact that people show up when we tell them where we are. We do only a few print advertising in local publications, the rest is direct email and social media marketing,” Gennuso told Mashable.
3. Sixth & Rye
At another food truck, Jackie Levanthal from the Sixth & Rye kosher deli truck told Mashable that “without it, we wouldn’t have dozens of deli aficionados eager for our product, tweeting from the line as they are enjoying our products.”
4. Dim Sum Charles
Dim Sum Charlies, not only has an active Twitter account, Facebook account and accepts credit cards, but they also do one fundamental thing right – they specialize. As a patron of Dim Sum Charlies I can tell you that finding this little food truck near downtown Napa, CA was a delight. I didn’t happen upon it while strolling down the street, I found it online and I drove straight to it. After all, it’s hard to find good Dim Sum, but Dim Sum on wheels is a whole other experience. Dim Sum Charlies also adds the delight of a permanent location with picnic tables, a fire pit and late night hours.
Specializing is truly key for the food truck industry which is bound to get over-saturated very quickly; the food truck bubble, as they say. Or maybe I just made that up.
5. Roxie’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese
In any case, people have made grilled cheese a hundred times in their own homes, but they’re willing to dish out $5 or more for Roxie’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese in Boston. After all, they probably never thought to make it with goat cheese and candied bacon right? You can’t be everything to everyone, but I doubt that Roxie worries about offending the lactose intolerant. Instead, she focuses on what she’s good at—grilled cheese. And great, great signage.
That’s another thing you want to think about. Will people stop and look at your truck, or will they simply pass it by?
Niche food trucks are a specialty and food truck marketing doesn’t need to be more complicated than simply specializing. If you own a food truck now that serves everything under the sun, you might consider narrowing down your menu items. Instead of considering your grub just something to eat, try implementing the strategies above to make your restaurant-on-wheels a place where people come to you, and not just the other way around.