Location is a key factor in any restaurant’s success. But a food truck’s whereabouts can change from one day — or hour — to the next. This inconsistency may leave customers unable to find you, which hinders sales. To maximize your profits as a food truck operator, it’s important to find a regular place to call home at a specific time each day, advises Inc. executive editor Christine Lagorio.
Here are six pointers to help you find the best spot in town:
1. Look for foot traffic. Foot traffic can make or break a food truck. Although some consumers may drive to your location, you’ll probably create a more loyal following if you appeal to customers within walking distance. A spot in the center of a downtown area at lunchtime on weekdays is ideal, but permits can be tough to obtain. Instead, consider setting up in the parking lot of a group of adjacent large office complexes. Workers will love being able to enjoy delicious food without having to leave the property.
2. Consider your surroundings. Before you park your truck outside the largest business complex in town, take a look around. Do the workers have numerous other dining options? Are there service-oriented businesses (dry cleaners, a drug store, other shops?) within walking distance that may draw workers out to run errands? Parking close to several small office buildings may bring you more business than setting up near one large complex surrounded by dozens of restaurants.
3. Accept credit/debit cards. Restaurants, including food trucks, that accept only cash limit their customer base, according to the SBA. If you’re parked in an office complex parking lot, chances are the workers inside the building won’t drive to an ATM to get cash to buy lunch. Mobile payment systems make it easy for food trucks to increase sales by accepting debit and credit cards.
4. Be courteous to your competitors. Avoid parking in front of a restaurant or near other food trucks. These vendors will not appreciate the competition and may create trouble for you. It’s good to maintain a positive, professional relationships with others in the food industry in your area.
5. Obey the law. Before doing any business, get the proper permit(s) and license(s). In some areas, officials cap the number of food trucks that can operate within city limits. Cities like San Diego now require food trucks to display health scores similar to the way traditional restaurants do.
6. Promote your food truck. As with any business these days, social media is important. Encourage your loyal customers to “like” your fan page on Facebook, perhaps by offering giveaways or regularly tweeting your whereabouts on Twitter. Make sure your truck shows up on “food truck finder” apps like Food Truck Fiesta.