10 Ways Food Truck Owners Can Beat the Summer Heat

Protecting Yourself

  • Timing is key.  Whether you’re negotiating a new stop or planning a special event, always try to limit activities during the hottest part of the day. Since lunch is typically the busiest time for food trucks, you may not be able to avoid the summer heat. Make slight adjustments to your start time and the length of your shift. This can make a big difference when temperatures begin to soar.
  • Park strategically.  Be sure to discuss the location where you will be parking your truck with property owners and event planners in order to address any safety hazards and other concerns beforehand.  If you are given the opportunity, select a location where you will not be parking in direct sunlight, and make sure that there are shaded areas nearby where you and your customers can eat and rest.
  • Dress appropriately.  While it may be tempting to break out the tanks, shorts, and flip-flops. Maintain proper etiquette and attire when working in a food establishment.  If you’re working with equipment that requires pilot lights or open flames, or if you’re working near equipment that generates hot liquids, you will want to choose clothing that protects your body from heat, splatters, and spills.  Clothing should be light-colored and made from breathable, lightweight fabrics, such as cotton and other natural fibers, to keep cool.  Loose-fitting attire is not recommended when working near open flames, nor are items made from synthetic fabrics, as they can stifle air circulation and have a tendency to be more flammable.  Closed-toe shoes with skid-resistant soles are suggested to protect again these and other hazards, such as slips, trips, and falls.  Don’t forget the sunblock!

RELATED: Protecting Your Food Truck Employees From Heat Stroke

Important!!!

  • Stay hydrated.  In order to avoid heat stress, it is important to take preventive measures to hydrate your body during the hours leading up to your shift and replenish lost fluids by drinking approximately 1 cup of water every 15 minutes.  Since the heat may cause changes in your metabolism, be sure to consult with your doctor before consuming sports drinks or energy drinks which may contain sugars, caffeine, and other stimulants.  Some of these may actually cause a rise in body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, or changes in blood sugar that may pose risks to your health.   It is a good idea to designate a convenient, secure area for storing beverages and other personal items in order to avoid injury from dropping or spilling these objects near cooking equipment such as deep fryers.
  • Take a break.  Whenever possible, take intermittent breaks to cool off in the shade or find shelter nearby.  When sweating and replenishing with cold fluids isn’t enough to cool you down, you may begin to experience weakness, headaches, dizziness, confusion, fainting, or you may even begin to vomit.  All of these are signs of heat exhaustion, which may lead to heat stroke or death if you do not take immediate action to remove yourself from the situation. If you suspect that your or another member of your crew may be suffering from heat-related illness, call 911 immediately.

Maintaining You Temerature

  • Keep the door closed.  Repeatedly opening and shutting the door to the refrigerator allows cool air to escape and hot air/moisture to creep in.  Keeping the door closed is the simplest and most effective way to maintain the temperatures in your refrigerator.
  • Don’t overload.  Overloading the refrigerator reduces the unit’s efficiency and increases the time it takes to cool food products, particularly when the air flow is blocked.  When space is tight, it may be necessary to divide products into smaller portions, leaving space around storage containers so that heat can escape and become absorbed by the refrigerant.  This will allow items to cool more rapidly, keeping them out of the danger zone.  If the unit is reaching capacity or the cold plate is sluggish at the end of a long shift, you may want to cool items in an ice bath before placing them in the refrigerator, and be sure to store any high-risk perishables toward the back of the unit.
  • Lose the cardboard.  Cardboard, paper products, styrofoam, wood, and other porous materials soak up the cool air and harbor mold, which begins to become a concern when the humidity levels reach 70%.  These materials also act as insulation, increasing the amount of time it takes food products contained within them to cool.  Whenever possible, remove these materials and opt for metal storage containers.
  • Have a backup plan.  You may want to consider carrying a chest to keep extra ice on hand for boosting temperatures during periods of extreme heat. It may also be used to temporarily store and transport product in the event of a mechanical malfunction.  When using ice to help cool items in your refrigerator, remember to place these items on the lower rack to avoid contamination from ice melting and dripping down onto other products.

Save Costs

  • Maintain your equipment.  Be sure to consult with a qualified mechanic to devise a schedule for inspecting and maintaining your equipment, and discuss the proper use of over-the-road devices to maintain temperatures while the truck is out and about.  It is important to maintain your electrical cords and any electrical outlets you may be using to charge the unit.  Ensuring that all three prongs are present will protect against electrical hazards and make the connection more secure.  Thermometers should be tested regularly and used frequently to verify food storage temperatures.

The Bottom Line

The scorching summer heat is hard on our bodies, our moods, and a food truck’s bottom line. Don’t let the high temperature get you down, though. Use these tips will help you keep cool even if it feels like the sun is out to get you.

If you have any tips or tricks for beating the summer heat and staying cool, please share in the comment section below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter

RELATED: Keeping Your Food Truck Kitchen Cool As Temps Rise

Sharing Your Backstory Is As Important As Your Food Truck Menu

 

Every food truck has a story to tell, something that will connect potential customers to your brand. As a food truck owner in the social media age, you have an opportunity to draw devoted customers by rethinking the way you express your food truck’s core value.

In order to engage customers, you need to create an emotional pull. Try these tips to articulate your core value and humanize your brand’s backstory.

Expand your idea of value.

To stand out in today’s food truck market, define your value in human terms, not in business terms. Food trucks often look at their core value in direct correlation with sales. That commercial carrot is very distracting to who they are and who they could become.

Your real value is about what you believe in, what you’re trying to do in the world, and how you make others’ lives better. You need to drill down to why you matter.

For example, ask yourself: How are your menu items created? What is your food truck culture? You’re looking for the thing that your food truck organization truly cares about. This will be the aspect of your mobile food business that makes you unique and valuable.

Establish common language.

Your food truck’s core value is like your vision. Everyone needs to be on the same page. You and one of your staff may describe the company totally differently. Common language creates internal alignment about who you are.

Ask a handful of your staff (or even trusted customers) to share five adjectives they’d use to describe the truck and two aspects of the business that are unique or valuable. Look for themes and build them into a clearly defined description.

Give your food truck a human voice.

Once you know why you matter and how to describe your value, choose the type of person that could best deliver that message. You’re creating a persona. Is it feminine or masculine? Mainstream or quirky? Opinionated or open minded? If your food truck was a human, who would it be and what would it care about?

This clarity leads to a real and relatable persona that helps you build a loyal customer base. The food trucks that have been most successful in the social space have humanized their truck.

RELATED: Learn How To Build Your Food Truck Brand Story

The Bottom Line

You don’t need to have a long history or be run by a famous chef to capture a consumer’s attention. Over the years vendors have told us that word of mouth and personal recommendations, whether from consumers or local food bloggers, were a key driver of traffic and sales. And customers, in particular, are more likely to evangelize about your truck if there’s an interesting backstory to tell.

The point of this article is to make sure you share your backstory, whatever it is. We offer tips on how to tell your brand story. Because, while it’s important that customers know what’s on the menu, what resonates is what you stand for and how you communicate it.

Share your backstory with our readers on social media. Facebook | Twitter

Customer Service Tips For Food Truck Owners

Customer Service

If you want to be a successful food truck owner, you need to be an all-star in so many different areas. You, of course, need to be an amazing chef who cooks up otherworldly foods, but you also have to be rather business savvy if you are going to stick out from the crowd. One area that might go under the radar in the food truck industry is customer service. Needless to say, food truck owners have to treat their customers like they are the most important people in the world — because they really are the most important people in the world.

As a result, we have come up with five customer service tips for food truck owners, and they really need to take advantage of them. Your customers are the ones who are keeping you in business. After all, they are the ones who are venturing to your mobile kitchen and buying the product, which is the food.

Treating every customer like he/she is your No. 1 customer is a great mentality to have. Nonetheless, make sure to follow these five customer service tips.

Sign up to receive the FoodTruckr Newsletter and we’ll throw in our free guide: 6 Free Social Media Tools to Get People Talking About Your Food Truck.

Customer Service Tips For Food Truck Owners

  • Remember That The Customer Is Always Right
  • Don’t Just Take The Customer’s Order
  • Get Feedback So You Can Make Improvements
  • Hire People Who Actually Want To Be At The Truck
  • Engage With Customers On Social Media

Remember That The Customer Is Always Right

You have heard it many times before, and you will likely hear it many times again, but the customer is always right. You have to have that mindset. If there is a problem with the food, an order is taking too long or whatever it might be, just accept that the customer is always right and try to fix the problem. That might mean giving the customer a free meal, or making it all over again (it just depends on the situation).

You May Also Like…  10 Food Holidays Mobile Kitchen Owners Should Watch Out For In February 2018

The last person you want to get into an argument with is a customer, so push your ego to the side, listen to your customer, and once again, do everything in your power to make the situation better. Have you ever seen an employee arguing with a customer? It’s ugly, and it really looks bad for the business.

So, once again, the customer is always right.

Don’t Just Take The Customer’s Order

Don’t just take the customer’s order, interact with the customer. Ask customers how their days are going, ask them if they have eaten at your truck before, recommend something on the menu for them, give them a free sample if they are on the fence about a certain meal, etc.Customer Service

The key here is to make your customers feel special. When they come to your food truck window, you should make them feel like you are buddies. It might sound silly, but that is how you take customer service to the next level.

Here’s the deal: If your food is amazing and your customers love the experience that is going to your truck thanks to all-star customer service, then you are going to retain a ton of customers — and that should be one of the main goals.

RELATED: 5 Unique Things Food Truck Business Owners Should Do Every Day. If you are looking to shake things up a bit, then make sure to do these five unique things every single day at your food truck business.

Get Feedback So You Can Make Improvements

This is such an important part of the process. A good strategy is to literally ask your customers for feedback. After all, these are the people who you are trying to please. If they give you good feedback, then keep doing what you are doing. However, if they have some complaints, then make adjustments so those complaints don’t become an issue for all of your food truck customers.

You May Also Like…  FoodTruckr’s Top 10: Our Most Viewed Mobile Kitchen Articles Of All Time

The key here is to see what is working and what isn’t working. Also, if you are trying out a new food item, then ask your customers what they think of it. If they love it, then you know you can add it to the menu for good. Taking that a step further, you could give away free samples of this food before you even offer it. Not only will the customers enjoy the free sample, but you will enjoy the free feedback.

Nonetheless, feedback from your customers is how you make your business better.

Hire People Who Actually Want To Be At Your Truck

There are a couple of ways to approach this. You could hire enthusiastic people who seem to always be in a good mood (you know, the extrovert type), or you could hire people who love everything about food and the food truck industry. In a perfect world, you will hire employees who are both an extrovert and love this industry.

If you hire people who actually want to be there, then it is going to show in the cooking, the way the employees act and the way the employees treat the customers. Not to mention, they will love everything about their job, which will create an environment that everyone wants to be part of.

Obviously, you aren’t going to hire a person who hates this industry or has a toxic personality, but it’s important to always keep this customer service tip in mind.

RELATED: Wagner’s Pizza Bus Serves Up Amazing Pizzas In Fairbanks, Alaska Year-Round. Food truck stories are the best stories, and Wagner’s Pizza Bus has one heck of a story. Find out more by checking out this article.

You May Also Like…  Your Food Truck Journey Will Begin The Moment You Take Action

Engage With Customers On Social Media

Customer ServiceIf you want to have the best customer service game in the business, then you have to take customer service skills to social media. How can you do that, one might be wondering? Well, you can respond to your followers, for starters. You can also ask them questions, do giveaways and make them feel special in general.

Your followers will likely give you feedback as well via social media, and it’s crucial that you aren’t just shrugging off this feedback in the form of not responding. So, treat your customers right in person, and also treat them right online.

Good customer service can take your food truck business to the next level by itself, so make sure you follow the five tips above starting … well, today!

Customer Service Tips For Food Truck Owners

If you want to be a successful food truck owner, you need to be an all-star in so many different areas. You, of course, need to be an amazing chef who cooks up otherworldly foods, but you also have to be rather business savvy if you are going to stick out from the crowd. One area that might go under the radar in the food truck industry is customer service. Needless to say, food truck owners have to treat their customers like they are the most important people in the world — because they really are the most important people in the world.

As a result, we have come up with five customer service tips for food truck owners, and they really need to take advantage of them. Your customers are the ones who are keeping you in business. After all, they are the ones who are venturing to your mobile kitchen and buying the product, which is the food.

Treating every customer like he/she is your No. 1 customer is a great mentality to have. Nonetheless, make sure to follow these five customer service tips.

Sign up to receive the FoodTruckr Newsletter and we’ll throw in our free guide: 6 Free Social Media Tools to Get People Talking About Your Food Truck.

Customer Service Tips For Food Truck Owners

  • Remember That The Customer Is Always Right
  • Don’t Just Take The Customer’s Order
  • Get Feedback So You Can Make Improvements
  • Hire People Who Actually Want To Be At The Truck
  • Engage With Customers On Social Media

Remember That The Customer Is Always Right

You have heard it many times before, and you will likely hear it many times again, but the customer is always right. You have to have that mindset. If there is a problem with the food, an order is taking too long or whatever it might be, just accept that the customer is always right and try to fix the problem. That might mean giving the customer a free meal, or making it all over again (it just depends on the situation).

You May Also Like…  10 Food Holidays Mobile Kitchen Owners Should Watch Out For In February 2018

The last person you want to get into an argument with is a customer, so push your ego to the side, listen to your customer, and once again, do everything in your power to make the situation better. Have you ever seen an employee arguing with a customer? It’s ugly, and it really looks bad for the business.

So, once again, the customer is always right.

Don’t Just Take The Customer’s Order

Don’t just take the customer’s order, interact with the customer. Ask customers how their days are going, ask them if they have eaten at your truck before, recommend something on the menu for them, give them a free sample if they are on the fence about a certain meal, etc.Customer Service

The key here is to make your customers feel special. When they come to your food truck window, you should make them feel like you are buddies. It might sound silly, but that is how you take customer service to the next level.

Here’s the deal: If your food is amazing and your customers love the experience that is going to your truck thanks to all-star customer service, then you are going to retain a ton of customers — and that should be one of the main goals.

RELATED: 5 Unique Things Food Truck Business Owners Should Do Every Day. If you are looking to shake things up a bit, then make sure to do these five unique things every single day at your food truck business.

Get Feedback So You Can Make Improvements

This is such an important part of the process. A good strategy is to literally ask your customers for feedback. After all, these are the people who you are trying to please. If they give you good feedback, then keep doing what you are doing. However, if they have some complaints, then make adjustments so those complaints don’t become an issue for all of your food truck customers.

You May Also Like…  FoodTruckr’s Top 10: Our Most Viewed Mobile Kitchen Articles Of All Time

The key here is to see what is working and what isn’t working. Also, if you are trying out a new food item, then ask your customers what they think of it. If they love it, then you know you can add it to the menu for good. Taking that a step further, you could give away free samples of this food before you even offer it. Not only will the customers enjoy the free sample, but you will enjoy the free feedback.

Nonetheless, feedback from your customers is how you make your business better.

Hire People Who Actually Want To Be At Your Truck

There are a couple of ways to approach this. You could hire enthusiastic people who seem to always be in a good mood (you know, the extrovert type), or you could hire people who love everything about food and the food truck industry. In a perfect world, you will hire employees who are both an extrovert and love this industry.

If you hire people who actually want to be there, then it is going to show in the cooking, the way the employees act and the way the employees treat the customers. Not to mention, they will love everything about their job, which will create an environment that everyone wants to be part of.

Obviously, you aren’t going to hire a person who hates this industry or has a toxic personality, but it’s important to always keep this customer service tip in mind.

RELATED: Wagner’s Pizza Bus Serves Up Amazing Pizzas In Fairbanks, Alaska Year-Round. Food truck stories are the best stories, and Wagner’s Pizza Bus has one heck of a story. Find out more by checking out this article.

You May Also Like…  Your Food Truck Journey Will Begin The Moment You Take Action

Engage With Customers On Social Media

Customer ServiceIf you want to have the best customer service game in the business, then you have to take customer service skills to social media. How can you do that, one might be wondering? Well, you can respond to your followers, for starters. You can also ask them questions, do giveaways and make them feel special in general.

Your followers will likely give you feedback as well via social media, and it’s crucial that you aren’t just shrugging off this feedback in the form of not responding. So, treat your customers right in person, and also treat them right online.

Good customer service can take your food truck business to the next level by itself, so make sure you follow the five tips above starting … well, today!

Finding the Right Food Truck Insurance

Food TruckThere’s no doubt about it, food trucks are the craze. I remember when I was 16 and working a summer roofing job. During lunch, I would climb off the roof and make my way over to the food truck for a bologna and cheese or, if I was feeling adventurous, a burrito. Now I can make my way down to a Friday food truck event and enjoy everything from sushi and Indian curries to vegan delights and Texas Style BBQ. There is no doubt the food truck has come a long way and offers even the most discriminating foodie a variety of gourmet delights.

As this business segment continues to grow, so will the need for the insurance industry to adapt and offer these modern entrepreneurs advice and protection for their business. Food truck owners and operators have many unique concerns when looking for insurance protection. Since the food truck industry is really a niche all to its own, food truck owners will find themselves best served by aligning with agents and insurance carriers that understand and specialize in their business. As with any insurance coverage you can always cut corners to save a few bucks, however the results of doing that can be catastrophic to a small food truck business. Simply put, without the right coverage you may find yourself out of the business pretty fast.

Your agent and insurance company will want to have a good understanding of your operation so they can help provide the right coverage. Here are few things a carrier may scrutinize about your food truck operation when determining both your eligibility and pricing.

Experience

In the words of the late great Jimi Hendrix, “are you experienced”? Experience matters a lot to insurance companies. Any company that understands the food truck business also understands this business has a lot of new startup operations and many have been in business less than three years. This does not mean if you’re starting a new operation you won’t be able to find adequate coverage, but it will matter what your prior experience has been. If your background has been several years working in the restaurant or catering industry then you’re off to a good start, but be ready to share your background in detail with your independent agent. If you’re not coming from the food service industry, your agent will really need to understand your career change, business plan, and available resources in much greater detail. If you’re an experienced operator, then a review of your prior loss history, if any, will be conducted.

Mobility

It’s a pretty simple theory, but the more you’re on the road the more chance you have for an accident. I recently read a blog about a food truck operator who had not left his spot in the last 12 years! However, this isn’t the norm. It’s expected your truck will be on the move but exposure for a truck moving three times a week will differ greatly from one moving three times a day. Your agent and insurance company will want to have a good understanding of your operation from your preparation practices to hours and locations.

Your Truck

Your agent will need to know the condition of, cost of, and special equipment associated with your truck or trailer. Will you be using propane?  Do you have a proper ANSUL (fire suppression) system? What other items are permanently attached to your truck?

Operations

Your insurance agent will need to know as much as possible about your day-to-day operations to determine whether or not certain coverages are needed. Some questions you may be asked include:

  • Are you operating just as a food truck or are you also catering?
  • Will you be serving alcohol or are you interested in expanding to offer it? You may need liquor liability.
  • Are you accepting cash? Are you protected in the event of a robbery?
  • If you suffer a loss, how long will you be able to last with the loss of your business income? How soon would you be able to be up and running again?
  • Will you have a home office or other location for a business office or commissary to prepare food? What are your exposures at these locations?
  • Will you have staff or bring on extra help as needed, and will that require workers’ compensation insurance?
  • What other requirements or limits will a certain event holder or venue require?  Will there be an umbrella, workers’ comp or additional insured requirement that will need to be addressed?
  • How much could you afford to financially deal with a food contamination or spoilage issue?

It’s important to align yourself with a good independent agent that understands your business. Each operator’s situation may differ so look for an agent and company that will help tailor a policy that best addresses your unique needs.

One more thing you may want to consider is what services are offered from your agent and or insurance carrier. You’re literally on the go so it may be important for you to have options like EFT payment plans or online policy access. The ability to go online and print your certificates of insurance for an event could come in handy. And a good loss control program is a great benefit. These added values can go a long way in helping you save time and money.

I’m thrilled to see food trucks flourishing and will continue to support this emerging industry, not only as an advisor on insurance but also an admitted foodie, one delicious bite at a time.

 

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