With the pandemic and restaurants limited to takeout and delivery, some are closing, and nobody knowing what will happen next, it was an eventful year for all of us. But have you seen a rise in the need for mobile kitchens and food trucks? Because of this, have you considered incorporating a food truck or other mobile unit into your business? Check if mobile is right for you by following these easy steps.
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Step 1: Locate your device
It might be difficult to decide which food truck or mobile unit is ideal for you. Knowing what kind of notion you want is the first thing you should do. Will you concentrate on catering, vending, or both? Which kind of oven do you prefer—wood-fired or gas? You should find out what standards your local health agency will ask of you if you decide to vend at any point. This will assist you in choosing between an enclosed trailer and an open wood-fired trailer, for example.
Consider the advantages and disadvantages of both mobile units and food trucks before making your decision. Do you have someone who can drive a trailer? If the food truck breaks down, how would you get to the event? These are two important benefits and drawbacks to think about.
The exciting part is about to begin: choosing the business you wish to invest in. Many firms exist that produce mobile units, but only few of them do it really well. Consider reputation and work quality while evaluating units. Do they have any particular expertise with pizza? Do they provide a mobile training course? I really like examining a unit’s welds and the quality of the steel while assessing the build quality. Indeed, that does exist! I want to be certain that a weld will last for the long haul when I’m driving something that weighs more than 10,000 pounds down the road and things are trembling and moving all the time.
Ever hear the expression “don’t marry your oven”? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “that’s a pretty oven so that’s the one for me” because there are so many firms now producing ovens. Sure, appearance matters a lot when it comes to your appearance, but can that oven accommodate the demand you anticipate? Is there enough insulation in it to keep the heat in the stones? Can this oven withstand being shaken and moved continually for hundreds of miles? Take your time during this process to avoid wasting money and coming to regret your buy later.
Knowing the Numbers in Step Two
Though it may seem easy to add a food truck or mobile unit, some of them might actually be more expensive than launching a new physical location. Take your time and become well-versed in the figures before you ever consider signing on the dotted line. I always begin with a basic P&L and add details later. For one week, one month, and one year, what sales goals do you have? What expenses, such as start-up charges, insurance, gas, labor, and food prices, will you incur? Once you know how much it would cost to operate your unit for a month, figure out what the worst-case sales scenario would be and enter those figures into your P&L. Are you still earning money? Should that be the case, are you open to continuing? Everyone has a propensity to overestimate sales while, in reality, not being authentic with themselves. Therefore, don’t be afraid to write down the worst-case situation. Include the weather in your calculations. Do you reside somewhere where it snows and rains for half the year? Making plans for this might help you figure out your true figures because it can lose you a lot of sales. Keep in mind that since your mobile business doesn’t have the overhead of a physical location, you may maintain a low monthly spending budget.
Step 3: Hiring personnel
Staffing, as we all know, can make or break us, and it may be particularly difficult to get the ideal employees who are also clean drivers and capable of operating a mobile unit. For your mobile operation, take your time selecting and onboarding new employees. You must be able to anticipate any potential issue that may arise while driving and teach them how to resolve it. A flat tire, a malfunctioning generator, and a truck that won’t start are just a few possible issues. Create protocols for every one of these tasks. When my manager Chris initially started working, I recall that the truck’s battery was dead when he attempted to start it. He needed to know how to change a battery in a diesel vehicle, which has two batteries instead of simply one, so I told him it was something I did on purpose. For the trailer, I would make an effort to get a committed workforce. Additionally, don’t be afraid to implement a profit-sharing or ghost ownership scheme for your senior manager or even shift leader. Since operating a mobile business might involve more physical labor than operating a brick and mortar, knowing how much demand you’ll have can help you determine how many employees you’ll need.
Step 4: Understand your market
Being aware of your market is essential to running a profitable mobile business. Consider an area larger than simply the three miles surrounding your pizza place. You can work anywhere these days, so driving an hour away for a three-hour assignment and earning $1,000 is nothing. Are there office parks, breweries, and companies employing more than 300 people in your market, as well as communities with more than 200 homes? If the response is in the affirmative, this is excellent news for your mobile endeavors. How many food trucks are currently in the market is another important thing I consider. If the market is overcrowded, you will have to work much harder to get into locations because everyone is vying for the same spots.
When we first entered the mobile industry in 2018, there were a lot of things we needed to focus on in order to develop and prosper. We now have three units that are reserved six days a week for the next four months. Planning should be done slowly, and you’ll succeed!