Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

Featured Client – Fire Truck Pizza

fire truck pizza

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For February, we introduce Fire Truck Pizza Company based in North Royalton (Cleveland), Ohio.  Are you a current client interested in contributing to our blog?  Send an email and let us know!

Tell us a little about your truck and how you began.

We have been making pizza in a wood fired oven our entire lives.. it is how we do pizza! People started asking if they could have their parties at our house for the pizza alone and soon we were doing parties for 100 in our house! So, we decided to make it a business. Doing a food truck was less start up then a restaurant so went this route. We are in our 4th year and based in Cleveland, Ohio. We learned so much from the build process that we now also manufacture fire trucks with wood burning ovens!  Fire Truck Pizza Fabrication Company began in 2013. 

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Do you have any tips for first timers?

The first year out you have to do a lot of public events, just start googling “Festivals in (your city)”. You have to get your name out there and this is a good way to do it. Even though private events are more lucrative, you need to start somewhere. Another way is to do promotional events at places that will advertise for you like radio or local TV stations, your local newspaper, etc.

Describe one of the major successes or memorable moments you’ve had since opening your trailer.

I attended a party as a guest where our food truck was doing the catering.  As I walked up to the house I saw the truck, our crew and how it was operating as a well oiled machine. It was great feeling to see it in action!

What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve either been given or can give to people looking to start in this industry?

Don’t think you are going to start a food truck for less than $100,000. And don’t think for a minute if you want to survive off this business that it isn’t a full time job. Also, don’t think of other food trucks in your area as competition, if your city has a lively food truck scene it will only help you be more successful by working together.

What are some challenges you have as a food truck owner in your area?

There are A LOT of food trucks in our area, and every year there are more.  So, we need to continue to come up with menu items and other things that differentiate us. It is a constant evolving business!

Networking within your territory can sometimes be a challenge – what are some of the best ways you’ve found to connect with people in your area?

Our city started a food truck association.  It is a great way to connect with others in the same business. We have a Facebook page that we can throw out questions and get quick answers. There are local business groups you can connect with also, just search for when they have meetings and see if it is a good match for you.

Let’s talk about social media presence – where can we find you online?

Social media is such a huge part of this business. We have a FB page, Twitter and Instagram, and of course our website. People get very mad if your truck location is not kept up to date, so make sure you do this! IF you have to cancel, make sure you announce it on social media. Once you have a following they really rely on this as a way to find you. People love pictures too, not only of your food but just of the events you are doing, it helps engage customers.

Check us out on our website, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Insure My Food 2017 Mobile Food Conference Schedule

Insure My Food 2017 Mobile Food Conference Schedule

2017 Mobile Food Conferences

**UPDATED 2/2/17**

2017 is shaping up to be a great year to attend a mobile food conference!  Three different states are hosting expos this year. Joel will be speaking at ROAM and the Columbus Mobile Food Conference.  He will also be on the panel for insurance, trademarks and employment law at the Capital City Convention.

Columbus Mobile Food Conference and Expo

Taking place February 25-26, The Columbus Mobile Food Truck Conference and Expo is back with new topics and more exhibitors. The conference will have over 20 workshops and seminars including an opportunity to attend a separate Food Manager certification course and exam.  The conference will also include some non-food related seminars covering topics such as “Mobile Boutiques”.

Capital City Food Truck Convention

Taking place June 3-4 (NEW DATE!), The Capital City Food Truck Convention is unlike any other conference and trade show in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. This conference gathers together under one roof the industry’s brightest chefs, entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders for two days of education, professional development and networking. The convention features workshops for aspiring and current mobile entrepreneurs, event and meeting planners and local government agencies who license and permit food trucks.

ROAM Mobile Food Expo

Taking place October 6-7, Roam Mobile Food Conference is the premier industry event for all things mobile food vending. From food trucks to carts to kiosks, and beyond, ROAM is the first of its kind serving North America’s mobile vending professionals. The perfect event to attend if you own or want to start your own food truck! You will learn about best practices, innovations and trends in mobile vending technology and operations. Also, grow your network with fellow professionals. Suppliers are located in the conference exhibit area to support your growing business!

How to Conquer Food Cost in 2 Simple Steps

How to Conquer Food Cost in 2 Simple Steps

conquer food cost

Where to Start?

When you set out to conquer food cost, it may seem like a daunting task.  A large percentage of foodpreneuers consider the answer to item pricing is to charge whatever everyone else does.  There is a tendency not to deviate from what your neighbor is doing. However, evaluating ALL your costs, and in particular your food cost, is the ONLY way to price your menu items.

The issue with pricing according to competition? You are not considering what works for you and your business. It’s not a sustainable way to run a business and conquer food cost if you have a pricing structure predicated on what your competition is doing. If you are pricing simply by trying to predict what you think your customer is going to pay for your food, you will not successfully conquer food costs.

Yes, it is important to pay attention to your competition when pricing items.  Certainly listen to your customers, but don’t allow them to dictate your pricing strategy.

How do you know what your competition pays for their food? Do you know what vendor deals they’ve negotiated? What they take in salary? How do you know what profit margin is acceptable to them in conquering food cost? There are too many questions to consider. Regarding your projections onto your customers, the “Oh, they’ll never pay that for my sandwich” will never, ever work. Price your food to make money, always.

At the end of the day, if your product is not priced at a margin that works for you, your business is not sustainable. You will have to close your doors, or best case scenario live with frustration because you’re not making the money you want and conquering food cost. That frustration will translate into all aspects of your business. Your employees and customers will be able to tell if the business has “lost its soul” and sales will inevitably suffer.

So, if you’re ready to conquer food costs there’s good news, it’s a simple formula!  Take the time to “do your homework” and your business will thrive.

1. Calculate

Do simple google search on how to calculate your food cost.  It will yield you the results of a formula to see how much of your profit is going toward the cost of your food. Step one is always to calculate.

conquer food cost 2Take the cost of what you paid for an item (including all ingredients), and divide by what you charge for it. Food cost should typically be no more than 30% of the total price of a menu item.

I have seen many foodpreneurs multiply the cost of an item by three to determine what to charge the customer. However, a more precise formula is to take the cost of an item and divide it by the goal-cost percentage (in decimal form) you are looking to make.

These spreadsheets and videos on Wiki-How simply and effectively give you the tools you need to conquer food cost.

So if it’s this easy, why isn’t everyone making money?

The catch-22 is that making money is usually not 100% related to how much you paid for the actual food item. It’s related to ALL the other non-food-related costs associated with doing business. Those costs are included but not limited to:

  • Labor/Staffing
  • Rent
  • Commercial Kitchen and/or Storage Rental
  • Utilities (may or may not be included in rent)
  • Water treatment/disposal
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Advertising/Marketing
  • Events
  • Equipment Maintenance

2. Control

You may have heard that to achieve success in life, you’re going to have to let go of control. Delegate delegate delegate, right? Well, that’s true in one respect!  You do need to give your employees autonomy and set up effective cost-control systems to measure and track costs and profits. First you must control so that you can then delegate that control to others.

When it comes to food, it’s not what you expect, it’s what you inspect.

And you can only inspect what you measure and “control.”

Everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING needs to be spec’d out, measured, and cost-controlled.

Doing this is also a necessary step in conquering food cost. Steps in this process include but are not limited to:

  • Monthly Inventory
  • Production Sheets
  • Par Levels
  • Recipe Documentation
  • Measuring/Weighing everything that is not single-serving (this could be side items, toppings, sauces, etc)
  • Training/Enforcement of Systems
  • POS Tracking (where applicable)

Conquer Food Cost

Yes, it is POSSIBLE to conquer food cost. It is SIMPLE, yet not always easy.

The good news is that you always have the answer: You are the one ultimately in control because you are the one who gets to choose. You choose how it’s going to go.  What you’re going to value, how you’re going to price your product, how you’re going to communicate that to your staff and customers…EVERYTHING is up to you!

Special thanks to our contributor, Case Erickson.  Case is a Consultant & Commercial Advisor at ESG Realty Advisors.  He also produces the Trucklandia Food Fest in Austin.

If you need help developing cost-control systems or business coaching, Message Case through LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. He offers merit-based consulting. He only gets paid if you make more money, and saves clients 10% on average!

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

Proper Food Trailer Insurance Coverage Basics

proper coverage basics for food trailer insurance

Standard restaurant insurance policies can, unfortunately, leave gaps in coverage for a mobile food vendor.  All too often, insurance agencies don’t fully understand your unique needs when searching for proper food trailer insurance coverage. At Insure My Food, you should know we get mobile food vendors and understand proper food trailer insurance coverage needs.  We offer a competitive insurance policy for food trailers, food trucks, and mobile food vendors.  Due to our experience insuring mobile food vendors, we’re confident we can help you avoid gaps.

Common Mistakes

  • Having property coverage that is limited to just the business address (this is standard practice). Meaning if you go to an event away from your primary location, you lose coverage.  Food trailer insurance coverage needs to be treated differently because you are a mobile business.
  • Using a business owner policy designed for a restaurant, and not for a mobile food vendor operation.

Types of risk Food Trailers and Food Trucks are exposed to are as follows:

In the following examples, you would be responsible for these bills and losses!

Bodily Injury:

Let’s say a customer buys a hot dog from your stand. While eating the hot dog, the customer suddenly chips a tooth on something hard contained inside the hot dog. The customer incurs $700 in medical expenses and $6,000 in corrective dental expenses.

Premise Liability:

Customers are within the premises you occupy choosing the perfect meal. A customer trips over an extension cord lying on the ground and sprains a knee. The customer incurs $1,200 in medical expenses for x-rays and $3,500 in lost wages.

Theft:

In addition to the above, you also need to cover your bases if a theft occurs.  Say the day is over and your trailer is stored for the evening. While you sleep peacefully, thieves are at work!  You awake to find it has been stolen. Therefore, you will now need to spend $15,000 on a new food trailer and equipment.  What a major bummer!

The above are just a sample of some of the situations you can be exposed to as a mobile food vendor.  Don’t settle for food trailer insurance coverage with someone who doesn’t understand this business.  It may seem like a “good deal,” but the gaps in coverage are not worth the risk!

The Insure My Food advantages included:

  • Options for standalone General liability coverage (or package coverage to include property coverage)
  • No liability deductible
  • General Liability limits up to 2 million
  • Security of “A” rated carrier or better
  • Coverage for your trailer or truck
  • Competitive pricing
  • No charge for adding additional insured’s (commissary kitchen, events, etc.)

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Insure My Food offers affordable insurance, made easy!  We cover insurance for food trailers, food trucks, and mobile food vendors. We offer a one page quick quote form, or check out our other blogs and resources created for you.  Joel brings over a decade of insurance experience in helping you determine your proper food trailer insurance coverage.

What is the value of your food truck or trailer?

What is the value of your food truck or trailer?

food truck valueYou have poured countless hours and money into getting your mobile food business off the ground, and you want to make sure your investment is protected, right?  The first question we will ask you is “What is your food trailer or food truck value and what do you want it insured for?”

…crickets! What a loaded question! Let’s dive into how to find the appropriate food trailer or food truck value for you.

Step one:

To determine what you should insure your food trailer or truck for, you need to know a little insurance lingo in determining your food truck value.

Insurance companies pay property claims two main ways:

1) Actual cash value (ACV) covers your property at the current market value. Meaning what the property worth is today.  This takes into consideration the age, condition, and “useful life” left. This is how most insurance companies cover vehicles, trailers, and equipment.

2) Replacement cost (RC) covers your property to buy brand new like kind and quality regardless of age and condition. This coverage is typically only offered on buildings and their contents.

Step two:

Now that you understand how insurance companies value food truck and trailer property at actual cash value, we have a target in mind.

Below is a formula to get you closer.

What you paid for the trailer/truck + What you invested after you bought it (Labor and Parts) = The value.

I know you are saying right about now I did most of the work! However, you do need to add this “labor cost” into the calculation.

To get more comfortable with the value you calculated above; it helps to look on eBay.  You can also look at a truck for sale sites such as Used Vending or Roaming Hunger’s Directory of Trucks for sale.

Ross of Ross RV and Food Carts has also offered to help if you want to discuss with him.

Step three:

Now is not the time to round down to the value of your truck or trailer.  Insurance companies require you to insure to value.  If you don’t, you can be subject to coinsurance penalties, come claim time and nobody is into that!

For example, if your trailer is valued at $35,000, but you only insured it for $20,000. The insurance company will only pay 57% of the claim because you only insured 57% of the value. Ouch!

The reason insurance companies take insuring to value so seriously is without this constant, there is no way to accurately rate insurance cost.

 

We hope this helps you as you are determining your food truck or food trailer value.  As always, we are happy to answer any questions you have in this process.  Give Joel a call at (800) 985-7859 or shoot an email to info@insuremyfood.com.  With over a decade of experience as a Certified Insurance Counselor, he has seen it all!