Are you going to this year’s food truck festival? If YES, here are 20 tips on how to make your food truck stand out and make more sales at food truck festivals.

Food truck festivals are great news as far as food truck owners are concerned. Though these festivals come with a lot of stress and put a lot of demands on the business, but these events are terrific opportunities to generate huge revenue. Not only generating revenue, but a food truck festival can help to increase popularity for your food truck business.

If you want to increase your food truck sales at festivals, then you need to think of creative strategies to lure people to your mobile kitchen. You can do this by creating a friendly and upbeat atmosphere, playing some trending music, or putting up a catchy show that can provide added entertainment.

As a food truck business that is about to face its first food truck festival and is at a loss on how to rake in clients, or as an older food truck business that has not been doing well at festivals, we are going to provide you some tips on how to market your food truck business to ensure it becomes a success at food truck festivals.

Preparations to Make Before the Food Truck Festival

  1. Check your menu

In a food truck festival, a lot of trucks usually converge at the event making people to have a lot of choices they would not have had on a normal day. Your menu ought to be catchy enough to draw patrons to you. If you have issues with putting your menu together, then you may lose customers to your competitors. To ensure that you appear skilled and professional, and to maximize efficiency and revenue, take a careful look at your menu and ask yourself these questions;

  • Is my menu easy to make? In a food truck festival, speed is the key. You do not want your customers to stand too long in the line waiting for your meals to get ready. This can get those behind the line discouraged causing them to abandon your truck.
  • Are my item prices outrageous? Food truck festivals are exhilarating for foodies partly because there are so many foods to sample. By having a couple of low-cost items, you lower the barrier of entry for people hopping from one truck to the next. Yes, you may not be making a lot of profit per item, but the key here is volume sales.
  • Can I offer an event-exclusive menu without losing efficiency? Exclusivity sells, but if you sacrifice efficiency for a couple special items, you’ll lose the gains those items brought you when customers walk away from your long line. Striking a balance between price, diversity, and simplicity isn’t easy, but it’s not something you can afford to take lightly. Give yourself a couple hours to run the numbers, evaluate the speed of certain items, and create a strategic menu.

2. Abandon the known

It is very necessary to find out the popular meals food trucks usually serve at festivals. When you have found this out, then stay clear of that particular meal. This is one instance where going against the grain will help your food truck make more money and bring in more customers. To make more money as a food truck, you’ll need to find a specific food truck niche that no other cart is occupying.

In order to tap into this suggestion, start by doing some market research. Dive deep into the menus and offerings of other local food carts. By finding out what is missing, you can easily latch onto that and create a memorable menu for yourself.

People love certain types of food in the summer and the winter, and going along with those seasonal concepts could help you attract more customers, and it could also lead to you keeping things fresh at your food truck since you will be adding more recipes to the mix.

3. Establish a memorable concept

Perhaps the most important aspect of making more money as a food truck is establishing a concept that is memorable. Not only will a strong concept encourage news coverage, it will also increase word of mouth about your business, which would have a huge impact on your sales.

If 1,000 customers talking about your brand, this can potentially generate 500,000 conversations—so making sure your customers are talking is a solid strategy to help you make more money. Thus, your food truck should have a cohesive design, a clever name, an established brand, and a unique offering.

4. Promote your food truck on social media

As soon as you have settled the issue of your menu, you should now start thinking of promoting your food truck. When the festival begins, you’ll be surrounded by other trucks trying to lure in customers, so even a small amount of proactive marketing weeks before the event can go a long way. You need to bring your food truck to the attention of people so that they can recognize you in a crowd. You can offer promotions for that D-day to encourage them to seek you out.

Social media is the obvious way to get your name in front of potential festival foodies. Every business will go this route—and you should too. Here are a few ways you can stick out on social media when it comes to promoting for the festival specifically:

  • You need to use relevant hashtags for the festival
  • Endavour to engage with regular people who are excited about the event
  • Post pictures of your menu beforehand
  • Promote event-exclusive items
  • Tell people your trucks’ location during the festival

5. Use fliers and posters

Fliers and posters are probably the most popular medium for event marketing. They are very low-cost, and are especially effective when placed on local bulletin boards in college campuses, gas stations and other retail businesses to encourage people to attend the event and visit your stand. You can print up a bunch for your food truck and also share it at the event ground.

6. Make plans to partner with food trucks that complement your offerings

The ice cream and waffles business started in this fashion. At a food truck business, an ice cream truck ran out of cones and had to turn to a complementary business besides it that makes waffles and got them to partner in selling off their remaining ice cream, and thus started a very successful partnership. You too can use this strategy.

Partnering with complimentary food trucks at the festival provides you both an easy, inexpensive way to attract new customers. To understand the best types of businesses to collaborate with, you need to know your target market. Once you know who your audience is, what they like, what they buy, and where they go, you can start brainstorming other ventures that may attract the same type.

For example, cross-promoting your burrito truck with an exotic churro truck a few spots over can create a dish-dessert combo that resonates with customers and contributes to the growth of both businesses. Again, you can partner with another local business or organization. This will increase your marketing power and reach a broader audience. Consider co-sponsoring an event with a local charity, company or even a local bar.

7. Make Your Truck Visually Striking

When your food truck is lined up on the street next to other trucks, if people are not aware of your brand and the delicious fare you offer, how else do you intend to make them stop and check you out? A striking truck wrap with fun graphics and vibrant colors can really make you stand out. You can paint it in bright colors such as yellow, red or orange, you can embellish the truck with unusual designs such as stripes or dots, or make it look unusual such as like a cow or pig.

Think about how you can make the entrance to the order window more striking.  You can add a cool chalk board with the day’s menu, or add some benches or tables and chairs with an umbrella with your brand stamped on it for people to eat at. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing so you get a sense of what to do and not to do.

Even simple things like a quirky license plate or one with your name on it and custom rims in the color of your brand will be noticed by your customers.

8. Organize your kitchen and staff

Chaos in the kitchen is the fastest way to kill productivity, extend lines, and lose customers. Before the event proper, you have to go over every detail on which food ingredients to bring along, who is going to be in charge of frying, cooking, serving, cleanup etc. Wherever you find a bottleneck in the system, do something about it—or face the consequences come the event rush.

9. Create a smooth ordering system

One problem food trucks have during festivals is when orders get misplaced, when orders are not properly taken, and when illegible handwriting mar the interpretation of an order. You may have to make arrangements for a digital screen that would enable orders to be passed around smoothly. This keeps everything in order, eliminates the risks of bad handwriting, and ensures no orders get lost underneath the stove top.

10. Key into the latest trends

Trends rule the world, and people always want to key into the latest trends in the market. It is the same with the food industry. Don’t be afraid to re-event yourself a little if there is a particular hot trend that you think your customers will love.

One of the big trends in 2017 for the food truck industry is the emphasis on organic local food. A lot of food trucks are concentrating on getting their supplies from local organic farms. With fresher ingredients, you can add extra flavor to your dishes that your customers will love.

And with more and more people focused on reducing their carbon footprint and paying more attention to where their food comes from, it will help you recruit more customers if you can tell them the name of the farm where you got your ingredients from. People will trust your food more if they know exactly where it comes from.

11. Make the best use of bulk discounts

When purchasing food ingredients for your truck in preparation for the festival, you would usually buy in bulk, and buying in bulk makes you eligible for discounts.

You should lean hard into those discounts. Don’t just buy extra. Buy far more than you think you could ever need, because running out of ingredients or supplies can mean thousands of lost dollars in revenue and hundreds of potential customers not reached. If possible, find someone who can be available that day to make last-minute runs to the store—just in case.

12. Take care of logistics before the big day

Minor logistics problems can turn into big headaches when you discover them on festival days. Here are a few things you should check up on before the big day:

  • Up-to-date insurance and additional certificates for the event organizers
  • Proof of food service training and food safety compliance
  • A full tank of gas plus extra gas for your equipment

Double-checking shouldn’t take too long and will keep you from setting up shop only to discover you’re not approved for service.

How to Ensure Maximum Sales During the Festival

13. Do not keep customers waiting too long

At the festival proper, people may see your menu and decide to order something from you, but one big put off is if they have to wait for an eternity for their meals to arrive. Give your customers a way of knowing when they can expect their food to be ready. This often means giving a quick verbal time estimate, but the best way to keep customers patient, especially at big events, is to use an automated numbering system.

14. Promise only what you can deliver

A lot of food truck owners, in order to appear versatile usually list things in their menu that they are not able to serve. You would be seen as fraudulent if you ever do this, so stay clear of the act. Another way this can happen is if you indeed serve the meal, but as the hours roll by, you run out of ingredients.

This usually happens at the tail of the event. You have to think of a way to strike off items that are no longer available on your menu. A POS system that tracks inventory keeps you from accidentally promising what you can’t deliver.

15. Make provision for additional internet service

Large events tend to make WiFi and cell service inconsistent, and losing your ability to accept credit cards can alienate customers by the dozens. This can pose a major drawback for your business. You need to find an alternative way to get internet reception so you don’t get stranded. You may have to find a POS system with an ‘offline mode’ for these stressful circumstances. You can also go along with your own broadband reception so you don’t get stranded.

The most efficient way to make sure you don’t fall into one of these traps is by adopting a POS system designed for food trucks with all these solutions already incorporated.

16. Make your menu noticeable

The old adage “make it and they will come” isn’t exactly wrong in this scenario. At food truck festivals, customers actually do come to you. However, when there are dozens of options to choose from, you still have to make your business stand out.

You have to make sure that people get to notice your offerings. You should have someone pass out menus to folks in line or wandering close to your food truck. Make sure your signs and prices are readable from far away.

17. Get vocal with your menu

During a food truck festival, there is a lot of competition. A lot of food trucks are all lined up and they are most likely offering the same things. For you to get more customers, you have to start thinking outside the box. Don’t be shy, call out your menu, declare your specials proudly, and engage with passersby. The more attention you bring (without becoming irritating), the most people will consider your truck.

18. Don’t settle for normal

Plain trucks can serve delicious food, but they don’t usually generate the attention that more wild, weird, and colorful trucks do. To stand out and sell more, you need to abandon what is considered normal in this scenario. You can play noticeable music, dress up in eye-catching costumes, give all your customers bracelets—whatever it takes to drum up attention. It’s your moment to shine (and make some serious cash). So, make the most of it.

19. Create new food concepts

Whether it is putting your sandwiches into ice cream cones to make them more portable or inventing a new flavor of ice cream, offer your customers something that they can’t get anywhere else. If you love to play with spices, come up with your own special sauce that wows the taste buds. If you are able to get a unique concept, promote it as much as you can. Once you get people to buy and display them, others would be curious and come over too.

20. Train your employees and put them to work

Any employee of your food truck should be trained in the act of personal selling so that they can bring customers to your truck. Train your service window staff members as well as all of your on-board truck staff to engage in personal selling outside of the truck. The more people you have out there speaking in favour of your food truck at food festivals, the better for you.

Ejike Cynthia