Food Trucks: What Makes Them So Successful?
Posted on September 28, 2011
People have always been able to buy food from street vendors, especially in big cities. No metropolis would be complete without a corner vendor of hot dogs/waffles/crepes/noodles, and around the world even the smallest operation can be successful with anything from a basket of goods to sell to a pushcart to a…you guessed it…food truck. The newest craze in street-vending and mobile food entrepreneurship is operating out of a food truck.
Definition: Food trucks combine transportation, marketing exposure, point of purchase sales, and sometimes even a mobile kitchen set-up.
There has been a lot of hype about food trucks and what they bring to the culinary scene. Food trucks are colorful additions to the culinary scene that have caught on quickly. The Food Network has even aired two seasons of a reality television series called The Great Food Truck Race, which included a battle between seven food trucks racing for victory (and $50,000).
So, why are they so successful?
It’s a New and Exciting Concept
Food trucks are successful because of the novelty. Sure, we’ve seen ice cream trucks, milk trucks, and even the Schwan truck for decades. But food trucks are different. Food trucks are restaurants on wheels. They are more posh than a corner food stand, yet they still cater to the grab-n-go nature of urban-dwelling Americans. They pull up to a curb, serve the hungry crowds, and then pull away to find the next feeding ground.
They Bring Food to the People
Trying new restaurants can be a big commitment, especially when people aren’t sure what they want to order, don’t know about the restaurant, or don’t want to venture outside their normal part of town. A major part of the food truck concept is to find people where they are, and bring the food to them.
There’s Less Financial Risk
With no need for a dining room, hosts or dedicated servers (usually the owners are also the cooks, the servers, the cashiers and maybe even the drivers!), overhead is generally less than it would be in a brick-and-mortar restaurant. This poses less financial risk to the operator, and might even allow them to serve their food at lower prices than a comparable restaurant would. This is a benefit for customers who might love the idea of a hamburger right outside their place of work for a dollar less than they would pay at the restaurant 10 blocks away.
They Be Hip to Social Media
Food trucks need to rely on a method of communication with potential customers so people know where to find the truck on a daily basis, especially if the truck has varying routes. Many food truck operators are savvy to social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, which offer reliable methods of communicating their location in “real time,” meaning there is no lag time, and people can look it up right away. With so many people spending time on these networks, it makes sense to use them as a marketing tool.
It’s a Way to Grow Current Business
Instead of seeing food trucks as threats to their restaurant business, many traditional restaurant operators have embraced the concept of the food truck and use them as opportunities to grow current business. Cake Crumbs Bakery in Denver, Colorado and Steuben’s Food Service restaurant, also in Denver, are two prime examples.