As an existing brick and mortar restaurant, you are always seeking to find ways to expand your bottom line. Whether it’s increasing marketing strategies, changing up the menu, hosting events or expanding your catering, you should be finding ways beyond the normal day-to-day business to grow. Have you thought about adding a food truck or concession trailer to your services offered? A food truck or concession trailer can also get your food concept in front of new customers, ones who don’t yet know you exist.
Food trucks and concession trailers offer you a wide variety of options for growing your profitability, marketing your business and expanding your reach. Here are just ten ways to help you see the benefits these great mobile restaurants offer your existing business.
1. Moving Billboard.
Long gone are the days of the yellow pages. Billboards on the side of the main roads are extremely expensive. A person standing in a suit or with a sign advertising your restaurant can be seen by people in your location. If you build a custom food truck with your location and branding wrapped around it, you now have a moving billboard. Every time the food truck or concession trailer is on the road, your billboard is seen. Add some mouthwatering food photos and you have drivers getting hungry for your food.
2. Expanded Catering Service.
Traditionally, restaurants that offer catering cook food on site and deliver it to the customer’s location or have them pick it up. That’s still a great catering model to have. However, did you know your food truck can bring a whole new experience to your customers’ parties? Food truck rentals for private events, including weddings, corporate events, and holiday parties have been all the rage for several years now. It’s more than the food. The food truck or concession trailer brings a new experience to an event. One that just isn’t there for catering alone. In May 2015, the Kansas City Star reported that “More couples say ‘I do’ to food trucks”. In the article, they stated, “Bridal magazines and websites like the Knot don’t mince words: “Food trucks are the next big wedding catering idea.”
3. Better Onsite Catering Experience.
For venues that do not have onsite kitchens, or small ones that won’t work for onsite catering, your concession trailer or food truck provides food services available in places that were once difficult to manage. You are taking your kitchen with you. You can prep foods ahead of time and cook ‘made to order’ items right there in your food truck. This allows you to reach out to those venues that once turned away events and become their preferred catering vendor. It expands their bottom line and yours. A win-win for all.
4. Take Your Restaurant to the Fair.
Local area events, fairs, outdoor shows and green markets that are far away from your brick and mortar restaurant can now become a money-making opportunity for you. For many events, you pay an entry fee for your food truck or concession trailer to participate as a food vendor. Make sure to consider the cost of the entry fee and your potential return on investment (ROI). With the right marketing before and during the event, you can increase the odds of a great return in your favor.
5. Support Your Local Little League Teams.
If your local little leagues teams have fields but no concession stands, you have an opportunity to promote your restaurant and sell more food. Concession trailers allow you a wide array of food opportunities. What little sports hero doesn’t like the experience of getting food at a food truck or concession trailer?
6. Parking Lot Events.
Do you have a large parking area around your restaurant? Why not put your food truck outside during the warmer weather months to have a customer appreciation day, sell quick foods to those passing by or as a way of adding attraction to your restaurant? Since its your lot, you already have the permission to use it.
7. Late Night Appetite.
If you have a breakfast or lunch only restaurant, you can get an early start by offering food to late night crowd as they are leaving night clubs, local bars or late-night events. Go where the hungry people are before they drive off anywhere.
8. Construction Site Visits.
Depending on city permitting and regulations, during the day your food truck could find construction sites with long term work to provide breakfast and lunch meals to the workers. Identify the sites ahead of time, research any regulations and plan your trips to as many sites as you can during the breakfast and lunch hours.
9. Marketing Your Business.
Want more foot traffic to your business? Create a smaller portion menu with key items from your restaurant’s menu or create a couple of sampler plates of a few items combined. Go out to areas where there are large crowds of people and either sell at a reduced rate or give out samples. Make sure to include a brochure or card with the locations and benefits of dining in your restaurant.
10. Test New Menus Items and Concepts.
Want to test some new menu items or concepts, but don’t want to interrupt the taste buds of loyal customers? People visiting food trucks are widely open to trying new, fun and creative culinary inventions. The sales of the items themselves will show you a trend of what works and what does not. Any one new recipe tested favorably on the road can create a great return when you add or replace an existing item in the restaurant itself.
According to Statista.com, “In 2015, the value of the U.S. food truck industry increased to 856.7 million U.S. dollars. The industry was forecasted to increase by another 140 million U.S. dollars by 2020.” This ‘Food Truck Craze” is not going away, it’s only growing (at a rate of 7.9% annual growth). A restaurant is the best business to tap into this growing trend with a vast array of opportunities to enhance their bottom line, expand their customer base and much more.