How to Protect Your Food Truck’s Bottom Line – Loss Prevention

How to Protect Your Food Truck’s Bottom Line – Loss Prevention

As a Food Truck owner, growing your business is key to success, but preventing unforeseen losses or damages is an important part of getting your business going and keeping it profitable. By managing your risks, you can lower the frequency and cost of losses that will directly impact your bottom line.  Unfortunately, you can’t control every risk in your business.  However, you can take steps to protect your assets and prevent what could be a business ending loss!

To put into perspective how preventing accidents on your food truck can help the bottom line, consider this example: Let’s say you have your generator stolen, and even though you have coverage for the loss on your insurance policy, your deductible is $500. How will you pay the extra $500?  Sell more food!

Breaking down the math, if your average order is $10 and your profit margin is 40% (being generous!), it will take 125 more orders to make up for the loss or $1,250 of sales. From this example, you can see how it might be worth while to practice prevention to protect and grow your bottom line!

We put together the following checklist to get you started (Click to download the full pdf here)

 

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The comprehensive checklist covers Food Operations, Food Handling Practices, Vehicle Safety, Fire Prevention, Electrical Equipment, Cold Storage, Walking Surfaces, Exterior Areas, General Safe Practices and Crime Risks.

Phew! Quite an exhaustive, yet important, list of things to think about when running your business.

The list will help get ideas flowing about what risks your food truck business faces.  It also shows how to reduce or remove those risks. We designed this checklist based on industry standards for the restaurant industry and adapted it specifically for Food Trucks.

Also important is keeping track of near misses.  Near misses meaning a loss almost occurred, but you fix the issue before a real loss occurs. For example, did someone trip on a cord you left out but caught their balance? Or, did the awning on your trailer blow off when you weren’t serving customers so it didn’t hit anyone?  When you have safety guidelines in place, you greatly reduce your risk opportunities.

We admit this topic can be a bit overwhelming.  We can’t stress enough the importance of a loss control program for your business.  Risks are all around us, but the sooner you identify and address them, the less likely they will be to cost you money in the long run.  As the great Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Featured Client – The 13th Taco

Featured Client – The 13th Taco

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For October, we introduce The 13th Taco from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Along with his wife Marilyn, Chef David Peraza creates outside of the box, delicious taco creations!  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…

My husband, Chef David, and I (Marilyn) have been in the food business for over 30 years combined. Having had brick and mortar restaurants in the past, we both decided we wanted to look into a food truck for their next restaurant venture. Three years ago, we started looking for a truck. Finally, by accident, we found the truck we would use for our mobile food unit (MFU). We purchased the truck and began the build out process. Chef David, originally from Mexico, specializes in world class Mexican Cuisine, but wanted something more suitable for street venues – simple, but upscaled slightly – made more with the American palette in mind, The 13th Taco was born. Our motto: Everything Fits in a Tortilla! We have had our truck on the road since Friday, May 13th of this year and operate in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina.

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

Researching the venues where other trucks were going to sell their food. Many postcards were sent out introducing The 13th Taco, and phone calls were made to begin booking dinner services and then lunch services to larger businesses. Tip: Open a facebook page and start marketing your truck early, before it is completely ready to hit the street so people get familiar with your name.

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

Our very first event was at a local brewery. Unknown to us, a major food critic came to dine “curb side” with us and loved the food so much that after only two weeks of being open, we had our first “major” review in the News & Observer (Raleigh’s largest newspaper). You can read the review here. Most food establishments (truck or brick and mortar) don’t see a review within the first six month or so of being open. This was major for us. We also just learned that we are going to be featured on the local news. Another huge success for us. The most “memorable” moments are when people receive their plate of either 3 tacos, chips and salsa, or Nachos – take a look at it and say: “Oh Wow” then come back and tell us how much they love the food – That’s what we’re here for!

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 run out of food! That’s our advice to you. It’s very difficult to judge how many people you will feed at any given event, so do some research and be as prepared as you can.

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

The biggest challenges have more to do with the permits and ordinances within each city. They are all so different, and unfortunately, although we are really no threat to any of the brick and mortar restaurants, many of them don’t want us around and fight via the city councils and other local offices to keep us away. Sad, because they should realize that we actually help bring more people to areas some people may never go to – thereby introducing them to the surrounding businesses and restaurants as well. Everyone could benefit from the food trucks coming into their areas.

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?

Luckily for us, we have a couple associations specifically for food truck owners/operators in our area. We all support each other and help each other however we can.

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

We have our own website, and we are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. People follow us on Twitter and Facebook to find out where we’ll be. They love to see photos of food, and especially learn about any “specials” we may be preparing.

Featured Client – Twisted Mike’s

Featured Client – Twisted Mike’s

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Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For September, we introduce Twisted Mike’s from Springfield, MO, where Mike creates delicious comfort foods with a twist!  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…

I have always wanted to own and operate a restaurant, but never had enough money to open one. I had worked in the restaurant industry since I was 16, and had been blessed enough to travel the country opening restaurants, being General Managers, and a Multi-Unit General Manager. Great experiences, but I wanted to do something a little more fun. Like a lot of people, the “Great American Food Truck Race” on the Food network got my attention on a new possibility of opening a restaurant on wheels. 

 

I started my research and after much thought, decided that having a truck built was the best option. I also found that it was cheaper than buying a used one and then refurbishing and fixing it. Now like most things new, it ran eleven weeks behind being completed. At first, I was a little angry, but with this business you learn to roll with the punches, and it actually ended up being a very good thing. It allowed me to work on my menu. I had no concept of what kind of menu to do when I ordered the truck. I changed my mind over and over again, and to be honest my menu is always fluctuating. I am constantly adding and deleting items, rotating items, to keep the menu fresh. My friend who does our signs laughed at me when I told them I wanted a professional sign done. She couldn’t believe that I had actually settled on a menu. Truth is, that’s my regular menu, I am constantly adding stuff on a chalk board menu. I made the mistake when I first opened of creating a menu that I thought would “sell.” I didn’t really enjoy creating it, and after a while i found out that was a mistake. I needed to make food that I enjoyed to cook and that I thought was fun. Our menu focuses on home cut fries. We offer a large variety of fry topping, such as crack fries, cashew chicken fries, duck confit fries, general chicken fries, sushi fries, etc. We also offer a variety of sandwiches and tacos to help balance out the menu. Now, we kinda break the rules to what I read about what a food truck menu should be. We offer over 24 menu items, sometimes as many as 30 at one time. Now the key to this is making sure our those items can all be prepared within 3 minutes and we only prep 13 items. The menu is just a combination of those items, and we could actually do many more, but we have to stop at some point!  We opened in Springfield, MO on September 19, 2015. We operate the truck within Southwest Missouri, but are beginning to venture out a little further.

How did you first go about finding spaces and events to sell around? Any tips for first timers? (Sidenote – We LOVE this answer!)

Finding a good location can be extremely hard, and it really depends on the rules for your city.  We started out renting a location in front of a shopping center. In Springfield, the city has a list of approved spaces that we can rent from. From that location, we can move anywhere to do events, we just need to have a home base. After a couple of months, we decided that location was a mistake (granted, it was winter), and we moved to the Food Truck Park. We find it as a great home base, but we find that we do a lot more sales when we roam to various businesses and festivals. 

 

We are constantly looking online to see what events we can find. We look everywhere, from local event pages, Facebook, news papers, to anywhere where they list the festivals for Southwest Missouri.

 

The majority of the businesses that we travel to on a weekly bases actually contacted us. It is really important to develop a great reputation right off the bat.  We really focus on quality food at a reasonable price. (a little higher than Wendy’s, but not by much).

 

You also need to keep your promise. If an event asks you to do an event for a certain price in a certain amount of time, you need to make it happen. One of our events wanted us to serve 150 people in 90 minutes. They wanted 15 menu choices, and we made it to order. We accomplished it, word spread, then another company ask us to serve 82 people within 30 minutes, and we were to do this at the top of each hour. We made it happen, word spread.  

 

Your reputation is as important, if not more important, than the location you choose. You can always change location, not reputation.

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

Our opening weekend was a doozy.  Our first day open was Sept 19. It was the first ever food truck festival in Springfield, MO, and we had a wedding the next afternoon an hour away for 250 guest. There were 10 food trucks for that event, over 8000 people showed up. Guest waited 2 hours in line to eat our food, and we were dishing it out fast, we were exhausted. I got the truck home around 9 pm that evening, bed by 10, and was at Walmart at 1 am to shop and start working on the food for the wedding. That was a crazy weekend. A hugely successful weekend. Like I said before, do it right. We gave away a ton of business cards at that wedding and have had done several other weddings because of it! Your reputation is super important!

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

Like I have mentioned before, your number one priority is your reputation. If you can’t do a event right, don’t do it. If you sign up to do it, do it better than everyone else. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Besides reputation, you gotta love what you do. It’s not just about the money, granted that is why we do it, but you have to love doing it. There are good days and bad days, and sometimes more bad days than good, but that is ok. Even when I am tired, and sales have been low for a few days, I can walk onto the truck and I get all excited. The possibilities for the day,  I feel like a little kid living his dream.

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

There are always challenges to operating your food truck. I think our biggest challenge is opening the doors to new businesses and of course those “waiting list”. We have found that there are many businesses that would love to have us come out and serve their staff, but once they start to look at their lease agreements, they find that they are not allowed to do that. Many festivals have a waiting list for food vendors, sometimes as long as five years until you can get in. Getting a good reputation has helped us break down some of those walls, but some of them we can’t (lease agreements).  We are also a fairly new industry in the city and all the food trucks are working hard to educate the community about our business.  Challenges are just that, challenges, and challenges are new opportunities.

 

I think it is also important to understand that a food truck is like any other business.  We also have the challenges of a brick and mortar location.  We have to market and sell ourselves, we can’t expect people to just show up. It can be a challenge to decide what marketing and advertising you want to do, and yes, you have to it. 

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?

Don’t be a snob. You are not better than anyone else. It is important that you develop a great relationship with other trucks.  We all find ways of helping each other. If we are booked and we hear of an opportunity, we tell the other trucks, so if one of them are not booked, they can do the event, and they do the same with us.  It is about us all helping each other grow.

 

Events, we take as many as we can in our local community, even if that means turning down a larger event out of town. I know that if i can make that local event awesome, my name gets out there more and we get more events.

 

The booking agent for each client, we treat to free food. Not just once, but every time we go to there business, as a thank you. We help support their charities by giving back, we become a part of the community.  We are working now on using locally grown and produced items on our truck, again, it helps to network.

 

There are many local events that the “who’s who” attends, that is why it is important to impress every single time you do something. If you do, they will contact you.  We did an event not long ago. It was a two day festival, and we had a blast. We were suppose to open at 5 pm the first night, but we sold our first order at 11:32 am.  People at the event had heard of our reputation and came to see and try our food. We opened just for them and ended up serving almost as many people before the official opening time as we did after. These people were impressed that we made the effort to make their staff happy, which has lead to a ton of new business events.  Never complain, find a way of making it happen, and impress when you do. Best networking advice to remember is that is not about you, it is about them, and when they see that,  your business will grow. 

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

I cannot stress how important your online presence can be. Fun fact: Over 95% of our business luncheons, weddings, festivals, and events are booked via email and Facebook. We don’t even meet most of these guest until the day of the event. (which surprises me, especially when we consider weddings). We have our website, twistedmikesfoodtruck.com, we use twitter, (twistedmikes1), Instagram (twistedmikestruck), and Facebook (Twistedmikestruck).  We get the most response from placing pictures of our food online and when we post pictures of our clients.  The pictures that we use online are actual guest orders, every order going out should look like the picture!

Why You Need Mobile Food Insurance

Why You Need Mobile Food Insurance

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As a mobile food vendor, your day likely begins before dawn as you carefully procure ingredients, prep food, hand letter your menu board and ensure everything is ready to go before greeting your first customer. Your schedule is far from a traditional 40-hour work week and you know a thing or two about what it means to dedicate your life to the culinary arts.  Insurance is probably one of the last things on your mind!

There is nothing quite like owning your own business; the sweat equity you’ve poured into your creative pursuits is priceless. A satisfied smile from a happy customer makes it all worth it, and when a line forms and someone takes the time to tell you how much they enjoy the day’s special, you know the heart you’ve put into your work has translated beautifully.

With a long list of to-do’s and responsibilities, it can be hard to find the time to research the best options available to insure your mobile business. Thankfully, we “get” the mobile food industry! We know how full your schedule can be, as well as the unique nature of your office on the go. Often, your desk is your food prep area and your computer is your smartphone…we get it!

Why insure your business?

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Not only is a level of insurance often necessary to do business (such as the general liability required by most commissaries, landlords and many events), it is a critical step in protecting your food business investment. Things like collision, theft, vandalism, extreme weather and more have a way of making an unwelcome appearance at the worst of times; we tailor your Insure My Food coverage to work well with your needs and your budget. In fact, we even offer a no liability deductible!

We streamline the process!

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Instead of wasting time on tedious applications or trying to explain how your workflow is structured, we are trained to make the process smooth and headache free! We know and work with food vendors in a range of areas, including concession trailers, food carts, pop-up vendors, hot dog carts, street vendors, food stands and catering trailers.

As the leading mobile food vendor insurance company, we insure in nearly every state and take pride in supporting this community all over the country.  We promise working with us is affordable and easy!

Request a quote online or call us at (800) 985-7859.

Featured Client – Wok Sticks

Featured Client – Wok Sticks

Wok Sticks Truck

Each month, Insure My Food shines the spotlight on a featured client doing big things in the mobile food industry.  For August, we introduce Wok Sticks. An Asian Fusion food truck based in Gilbert, Arizona that grew out of a brick and mortar location.  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’ve had a successful South Chandler, AZ brick and mortar restaurant, Otaku Sushi, in operation for 6 years. We wanted to find a way to do special events, private parties and catering events more effectively and efficiently. We focus primarily on the central and east valley, but don’t be surprised to see us at great events anywhere in the state! Or, at least as far as we can drive without getting distracted by something sparkly 🙂

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

We started by looking at events we had attended, going through each one and considering whether or not we would have eaten at a food truck if it were an option. If we said “yes” we added to our potential list.

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

The first time we rolled up to an event and made a dish for a customer’s order. It was a great feeling to see something we had put so much time and effort into come to fruition. That and its always amazing to have people pay us to have this much fun! It’s a mind blowing experience to be able to do what you love. #micdrop

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

Pick the food you want to do, and don’t suck at it. Customers will respect and search out good food. You want to be memorable and not by leaving a funny taste in their mouth.

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

Having to remember to put everything you need in the truck before you leave. The second time (or third).

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?

Definitely talk to everyone. Get to know other truck operators and talk to local businesses. You’ll be surprised at the interest people have in your truck when you are passionate about what you are doing!

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

Everywhere. At least, everywhere that customers can be found! We have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and an upcoming mobile app launch. #stalkthewok and keep up with the latest fun from your new favorite party on wheels!