Starting your own business encompasses a whole lot more than just the passion that started it all, and as you’re well aware, food trucks are no exception. For example, you probably got into the food truck business because you wanted to make your artisan pizzas or Thai fusion burritos a mobile wonder — bringing food to all areas of LA from Pershing Square Culver City and Glendale to Grand Park’s events and beyond.
But, getting the word out can be a full time job. From keeping your Twitter followers in the know, to making sure your cart gets prominent placement at all the best events, your food passion has morphed into an ongoing battle to create buzz and build momentum. And while we Angelinos have long harbored a deep and abiding love for all things food truck, you’ll need to put in some serious work to keep this relationship going strong.
Here’s a few tips to make this year your best yet:
Keep it Clean
There’s so much to be said about keeping your space clean. A food truck is essentially a restaurant on wheels and the same standards should apply, if not more so, as you’re working with a much smaller space that happens to be much more customer facing.
While there’s a lot to be said about the appeal of kitschy branding and trendy, throwback facades, a clean food truck serving great food is appealing to anyone, hipster, foody or someone who just wants to feed themselves.
Have a Small, Kickass Menu
There’s a reason that restaurants with unwieldy menus tend to not be synonymous with quality and expertise – they’re suffering from trying to do it all syndrome, which leads to poor focus and a confusing marketing message.
Look, a food truck doesn’t offer a ton of space to explore every culinary idea that pops into your head. Focus on a few things and do them well. For example, if you’re a sandwich truck, stick to a few classics and make sure all ingredients are top shelf – focus on great meats, awesome breads and killer, homemade spread, you get the idea. Making rice bowls or burritos? Keep things simple and focus on a few meats and a couple vegetarian options.
Keeping things small keeps your inventory list more manageable, and the quality of food consistent, which in turn, keeps customers coming back again and again.
And a small note — if you do get tired of your offerings, try changing things up with a seasonal menu or rotating specials. It’s all up to you.
Customer Service Goes a Long Way
Even if you’re the kind of food truck with has a surly attitude grilled into every burger, or you’re a serving up punk rock burritos and sassy sandwiches, customer service is king any way you slice it. The best way to get people coming back no matter what part of the city you’re in, is to provide an excellent level of service.
We’re talking basic human decency. Engage in small talk if the customer seems receptive and try to keep things on the move to cut down on wait times. Understand customers may have some questions about ingredients if they’re vegan or have a food allergy. Be cool if you make a mistake. Yes, it’s all service 101, but sometimes it’s easy to forget the small stuff in the heat of the kitchen.
Content Marketing — Introduce the Person Behind the Truck
Again, we’re sure you’re doing social, so no need to hash that point into the ground yet again, but keeping a blog or using Pinterest or Facebook to showcase some long form expertise can work in your favor.
Now, we’re not suggesting you give away all your trade secrets or anything, but giving followers some informational nuggets like a recipe for a killer salsa, or some useful tips like “how to cook the perfect steak in short order,” or “how to make a veggie burger that doesn’t suck” will keep audiences engaged beyond just eating your food that one time.
Serve Specials and Surprises via Social
Give customers an incentive for following you on your preferred channels. While keeping channels updated with pics of delicious food is always a good choice, step up your game and offer secret deals on Twitter, or host an Instagram contest in exchange for some free bites.
And, it’s always a good idea to keep followers in the know — you know, where you’ll be for lunch tomorrow, or dinner on Tuesday.
Or… Gain New Customers Through Bistro Connect
That’s where Bistro Connect steps in. How it works is, food truck owners and operators sign up with us, and are instantly added to our network. Potential customers download the app, which enables them to order food from a number of locations from the Lucky Brand headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and more. When someone orders from your truck, they’ll pay through the app and pick it up once it’s ready. Easy.
Plus, you’ll benefit from extra exposure, taking your marketing dollars and turning them into returning customers. Win win, if you ask us.