Even as the frigid winter months begin, it's still the perfect time for food trucks -- in this case, however, it's planning, designing and building rather than operating! The winter months historically slow down with events, festivals, and catering gigs; however, the manufacturing side of the coin is busy, and manufacturers' schedules begin to fill with custom food truck builds. The goal for the majority of food truck owners is to launch a new food truck in spring, just in time for those festivals and events to get started again. Let's explore some tips for ensuring your build is locked into a production spot and on time for a spring launch.
Although we cannot speak on behalf of all food truck builders, APEX Specialty Vehicles focuses on designing, engineering and building a select number of custom food trucks and trailers each year for brands, restaurants, business owners and caterers nationwide. As an ISO 9001 certified company focused on high quality builds, APEX's production calendar for 2019 is booking up quickly. APEX's production process differs from many other specialty builders in a few ways that are important to point out.
For starters, APEX focuses on the design and engineering element prior to beginning procurement or production. The focus on getting the design and engineering of the custom build correct is imperative in APEX’s standard of superior quality. Many of our customers take the time to visit our Kansas City-based, 50,000 square foot facility prior to beginning their build for a face-to-face design and project overview meeting. These onsite visits have proved to be invaluable as the customers can see first-hand how the production process works.
From a business standpoint, the winter months offer a great time to begin social media marketing, teasers, establish a marketing plan for 2019, and have everything from the menu to the exterior graphics laid out and complete. Focusing on raising awareness and engagement should be key while the food truck is being built. One easy way to market your brand during the build process is to ask your builder to send progress pictures. You can incorporate the progress pictures into a teaser video and publish on your social outlets.
Foodtruckr.com published an article, “How Your Food Truck Business Can Rock Spring” and highlights a list of reminders when Gearing Up for a Spring Food Truck Launch. The suggestions from Foodtruckr.com can be implemented during the winter months while your food truck is in the build process.
- Start hiring employees.
Great employees can be hard to find, so it’s a good idea to get started on the hiring and interview process before business becomes too busy and you’re scrambling at the last minute. Even though your food truck is not built, you need to have the staff ready to rock when you receive the food truck and are ready to hit the events.
- Market, market, market.
Get a plan together to market your food truck and get the word out for your upcoming events and locations. Have you set up social media accounts? Reached out to local event coordinators about space? Create a buzz! Video is key right now, so ask your builder to shoot a basic video, or even a timelapse of the build, and post that on your social streams. Reach out to your chamber, radio stations, companies with promotions to increase business out of the gate.RELATED: This video from Foodtruckr.com provides some insight for owners to create a community for their food truck brand. Click here to watch it!
- Set your event schedule for 2019.
Even if your food truck is not yet completed, you can still begin to book events, get permits, reserve your catering gigs, etc. Begin mapping out your event schedule for 2019 and make the most wise business decisions while increasing brand awareness and reach within the community.
- Menu Creation and Pricing.
The menu truly defines so much about your brand. Make careful decisions about what to offer, prices charged, and specials included. Once you have your menu finalized, be sure you add it to your social streams and have it accessible so all know what they can expect when visiting your food truck.
- Inventory / Replenishment Schedule.
As your first year on the road with this food truck, you are new to the inventory / replenishment schedule (unless you have other food trucks in operation). Understanding that you will have greater uncertainty for how your inventory will be adjusted, it's important to remain flexible and willing to adapt throughout the first year.
- Get creative with attracting customers.
Everyone loves samples, so set up at a great place for foot traffic and give away samples of your food. You can do this while your food truck is being built! "Try before you buy" is effective in the food truck realm. Explore some new and creative ways to get people to try your food, then the rest is history!
- Have fun.
At the end of the day, you own and operate a food truck - a dream for many and a reality for you! Be sure you keep in mind your primary reasons for starting this food truck and make each day count.
We hope you're inspired to begin the selection process of your custom food truck build. If there are any additional questions that APEX Specialty Vehicles can answer specifically about food trucks – designing, engineering, building, etc. – please give us a call. 816.853.3360
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