When cities locked down, the restaurant industry was one of the worst-hit. Because they can’t host patrons indoors, they had to quickly migrate to online platforms to facilitate food delivery. Even then, sales decreased dramatically.
However, not all food service businesses were in a sink-or-swim position. Food trucks had an upper hand because they didn’t depend on foot traffic in one location. They have mobility, and they don’t need to worry about mass gathering protocols.
Because of a seemingly pandemic-proof operations model, food trucks gained the interest of countless investors. If you’re looking to invest in one, take a look at these tips to make sure you get a positive return on investment.
Know the Law
Even if food trucks are allowed to operate during a pandemic, they have to follow COVID-19 protocols. Having a food truck doesn’t mean you are free to implement your own sanitation guidelines. As long as the threat of the virus exists, the food truck has to follow national sanitation and safety measures. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released food truck guidelines, which include the following rules:
- Workers must wear face coverings over the nose and mouth, as well as gloves to avoid direct contact with the food.
- Workers must maintain a distance of at least six feet between co-workers and customers.
- The business should choose contactless delivery and payment, if possible.
- The business should invest in regular cleaning and disinfection of all touchpoints, countertops, and seating areas.
- Any worker who experiences symptoms of a health condition (COVID-19 or not) should stay home until they are well.
Secure a Food Truck
The price of a food truck varies greatly among models. You can get one for as little as $30,000, but more modern models would cost you $125,000. There are personal loans that could help you finance your vehicle of choice.
While there are more affordable options, food truck owners would advise you not to cut corners on your food truck. A more affordable vehicle would save you a lot in upfront costs, but a sturdier and feature-rich, albeit more expensive, one could save you more in the long run. Your food truck is your only chance for an efficient mobile unit — it’s your dining area, kitchen, and delivery truck all at once, so it needs to be tough and hardy right from the get-go.
Connect with Your Community
Social media is an excellent way to reach out to prospects, especially those around your area. Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are good platforms to start with because these are sites that diners go to or consult for food places to try. Here are a few ways to establish your social media clout:
- Be Creative with Your Menu — Your social media accounts are the best places to advertise your menu. Create fun photos that showcase your dishes. Remember, social media users prize photos—the better the photo, the more they will be encouraged to order. So the best way to showcase your menu is to insert clear, compelling photos of the food you serve. Whether that’s a Philly cheesesteak or vegan pesto pasta, make sure it looks tasty enough to lure patrons to your truck.
- Offer Online-Only Coupons — If there’s one thing that customers love, it’s an exclusive discount. Offer limited, online-only coupons to encourage passive users to order right then and there. They will feel great about saving money, and if you do it regularly, you will have customers coming back.
Like all businesses, food trucks require research and a lot of hard work. You’ll need a hefty capital, plus you have to roll your sleeves up for marketing. However, once you get things going, your food truck will drive you through many economic disruptions, pandemics included.