Cruise to success with food trucks

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2013/08/06 07:52:00 (permalink)

Cruise to success with food trucks

Cruise to success with food trucks
 
Now that many restaurateurs are enhancing their operations by adding food trucks, they need to think outside the four walls of their restaurants.
Here are seven tips to help you gear up:
  • Select high-traffic locations. “The pull-up-to-the curb segment is the hardest to crack,” says Mary Sue Milliken, who operates two food trucks in addition to her restaurants in California and Nevada. She recommends street festivals and other high-visibility events where there is a captive audience.
  • Get to know the neighborhoods. Food trucks offer a great opportunity to test different areas, says Rob Wilder, who runs the ThinkFoodGroup’s Pepe food truck Washington, D.C., with partner Chef José Andrés. If one area isn’t a hit, move on to another. If you find an especially receptive audience, consider opening a brick-and-mortar in that neighborhood. 
  • Complement, don’t compete with yourself. Target locales and market segments that won’t chip away at your existing business. Trucks/trailers can succeed near a sister restaurant. For example, Hoover Alexander chose a menu of smoky meats for his Texa-Mexi-Que trailer. They complement Hoover’s Cooking, his full-service eatery across the street. With a lower-price point and a grab-and-go menu, the trailer appeals to a different segment, he says.
  • Pepe Food Truck Sandwiches, Photo Courtesy of Scott Suchman Cash in on catering. Pull-up-to-the curb street service is becoming “a bit saturated,” in some markets, says Roaming Hunger founder Ross Resnick, whose company connects entrepreneurs with truck builders. Many vehicles focus on private events instead. Customers love that food trucks offer an easy way to entertain at home, and that trucks provide restaurant-quality food in remote locations, everywhere from vineyards to beaches. “You’ve got a professional kitchen wherever you need it,” Wilder says.
Toot your own horn
  • Spread the word through social media. Use Twitter and Facebook to update consumers on the whereabouts of your roving restaurant.
  • Cross promote. Brand your truck with your company logo to help drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar, Milliken advises. She says the Border Grill trucks have brought countless new customers to her restaurants.
  • Now available on wheels. Use your restaurant to promote your mobile unit, with a mention on your phone’s hold recording, signage in the entrance and a link on your web site. As a marketing tool, the Pepe truck provides a great “return on investment,” Wilder says. “We’re getting our larger brand out in front of people at events like the Clinton Global Initiative,” he says. “That’s incredible publicity.”
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