Terrence of TBD Foods offers his take on what to look for in a prospective employee for your food truck. Terrence wrote this article while he was an employee of a Food Truck and now owns TBD foods.
If you’re doing things right in running and growing your food truck business, eventually you will need to hire employees to help out with daily operations. At this point, it is tempting to go around asking friends and family for help but in my opinion this is a huge learning experience for new entrepreneurs and is necessary for the success of your food truck.
What will happen is the opportunity cost (cost of doing one aspect of your business instead of another) or yourself working the truck versus say calling potential catering or event client will begin to lean in favor of the later.
Here a few tip and key characteristics of hiring a prospective employee and retaining quality food truck workers.
To begin, reliability is the most essential quality in hiring a prospective employee in any field. If you employees don’t show up, are consistently late, or not keeping up with their responsibilities they are hurting your business. In a business with uncertainties at every corner your employees should not be one.
Check references, past employees and get a strong feel for potential employees work ethic. Having a no call no show can add a serious amount on unwanted and unneeded stress on a days service no only for yourself but other employees
Desire to Learn
Owning a food truck typically means you operate on a fairly small profit margin and profits are not typically astronomical, Meaning food trucks can not typically pay their employees top dollar.
In order to attract strong talent, focus on what else your food truck has to offer for these potential employees. Remember: An opportunity to learn can be a huge incentive for these hopeful truckers.
Food truck employees tend to be younger and “foodies” (as much as I hate the term). If you’re lucky, they want to cook for a living too!
So give them what they want: Teach them, coach them. It’s a strong way to keep employees happy. Get them interested in your food and who knows maybe help with menu item development. The best thing is all it cost your is your time.
Customer Service Oriented
You are in the customer service industry so it would make sense that your employees keep up with the old adage of “the customer is always right.”
I don’t believe customers are right all the time. Honestly customers can be needy, cranky, and sometimes even unreasonable! However it’s your job to ensure that you and your employees make the customer feel at ease. Remember, it’s always best to take the higher ground. Build a reputation for incredible food AND customer service.
Also, remember people can be fickle. They’ll have 9 good experiences at a food truck and on the 10th have a negative experience. Unfortunately, that bad one is the one that sticks in the customer’s memory.
My advice, your prospective employee should be happy! Hire people who are energetic and flexible enough to go out of their way to cater to each customer’s needs. Retaining customers is important as it helps maximize your profits.
As always, If your employee makes a mistake first let them know it’s OK. Due to the error, have them ask the customer if they can offer something for their troubles. Most offered is free drink or side, ideally something with a low food cost. Also, worst-case scenario you can give their money back. I recommend that should be the absolute last scenario because it costs the most money.
You understand the value of your customers, and you should be hiring employees that feel the same.
Adaptable/Wear Many Hats
If you are already operating you food truck, you can attest to the uncertainties and speed bumps that come along the way to running a successful business. Consequently, your prospective employee needs to “be like water” and roll with the punches from day to day.
Personally I found it fun! Having different challenges thrown at you each day it keeps things interesting. Find employees who like a challenge and can handle the stress. Additionally, find people that take pride in their work.
If your employees are adaptable, they will be able to take on many roles of the truck. Being a newer industry and mainly first time ventures for entrepreneurs, there really isn’t a specific job function listing for each position on the truck. You may need someone who is a manager, line cook, prep cook, marketer, cleaner, etc.
Think of all the hats you had to wear at the start of your business. Now, think of how you can try to find employees to fill these roles on your food truck.
Lastly, know that many of these roles can be taken on by an individual with the right mind-set and attitude. Continually be on the lookout for these potential employees. They can and will help your business (and you!) grow!