Do you run a food truck business and want to increase sales? If YES, here are 11 smart tips on how to perfectly position your food truck so that customers can find you easily.

The food truck business is quite popular in the United States and it has continued to grow. According to the National Restaurant Association, food trucks generate $650 million in annual revenue. But, even with this impressive statistics, and the fact that food trucks are expected to jump nearly 4% in the next five years, a survey from St. Leo University shows nearly half of respondents had never eaten at a food truck.

Maybe, this can be attributed to the fact that a lot of people do not know where they can find their local food truck. In order to succeed as a food truck owner, you should know how to find the best location for your food truck that can grab people’s attention.

Unlike a brick-and-mortar restaurant that can’t move around, deciding where to park you food truck can make or break you. Picking the best location is fundamental to your success. One very impotent part of starting a food truck business is determining how you can position your business for the best exposure. For some people, this might be an easy decision. For others, the opposite rings true.

Whether you are trying to figure out where you should park for the first time or are in the market for a new location, there are a lot of factors you should have in mind. Finding the right location for your food truck business can be the difference between the success or failure of your business. If you pick a location that doesn’t have much foot traffic, then you might not get enough customers to come to your food truck, which can be a serious problem when it comes to the growth of your business.

In order to be able to run a success food truck business, you not only have to be able to plan a good menu, you also need to know the best locations in your city. Here’s how to find the best locations for your food truck.

How to Perfectly Position a Food Truck for Customers to Find You

1. One of the most important factors you should have in mind when choosing a perfect position is the proximity to your food preparation. This factors only comes to play if you prepare your food off-site. If you prepare all the food in your truck, then this should not bother you.

2. Customer:  customers are the lifeline of any business. You certainly won’t sell any food if you aren’t where the people are. To be successful, you have to meet the demand, and the demand comes from the customer.

However you can bet that anywhere a lot of people are, a lot of competition will also be there. Staying with other food truck businesses in the same vicinity makes a lot of sense. When a bunch of food trucks are clustered together, they tend to generate interest from the community.

If your competition consists of five established pizza trucks, and you are a pizza truck as well, you might want to pick a different location. Now, if in your competition is a pizza truck, taco truck and Hawaiian truck, and you are a Thai truck, then you might have found the perfect spot.

If your competition is already established and seems to be taking all your customers, then it will be in your best interest to move to a different location. Just like any other industry, competition will motivate you to get better, it will help keep your prices reasonable, it will inspire you to try new things, et al.

You can go the alternative route by distinguishing your truck from competition, test the waters on this one. You may find it doesn’t work as well as you’d thought.

3. Obey the Law: another very crucial aspect to getting a perfect position for you food truck is to obey the law in all you do. If you are not allowed to park in a specific location — even if it seems like it is the best location — then you simply can’t park your food truck there. This is just common sense.

Every city has its own rules and regulation governing where food trucks can and cannot conduct business from. For instance, in Kansas City, food trucks can’t park within 50 feet of any type of restaurant. They also have to maintain a three-foot passageway for pedestrians. In Los Angeles, you must have a trash can outside your food truck and it needs to be clearly marked as a trash can and have a sign attached that requests customers to dump their trash in the receptacle.

In addition, they also can’t park within one block of a school on a school day during the 30 minutes before school starts and after school ends. There are lot more rules guiding food trucks and it is up to you as the owner to know these rules so that you do not contravene any of them. You can Google your city and food truck laws to get a full rundown of the do’s and don’ts.

4. If you have to park you food truck in a location where other food trucks are, you should not park your truck close to another truck selling similar food. Give your truck a fighting chance and park next to trucks where you’ll stand out.

5. The campus scene: Another great location is near a college or university. These young twenty-something’s are always hungry. Students often seek dining options around the clock, so this is a great location to park your truck.

6. Parking spaces: Great places to park on street-sides are the downtown business district, outside shopping centers, near the bar district or around nightlife. In addition, festivals and events are great places to park your trucks. You just have to make sure that you park your food truck in a space where it can stand out. Since these types of events necessitate feeding large numbers of people, odds are you’ll be successful.

7. Find a location that has a lot of foot traffic: just like any other business, a food truck business requires that the owner should make business-driven decisions. Not matter how perfect you think a location may be, without a lot of foot traffic, it makes no sense.

You need to pick a place where a lot of people are going to be. You can’t just rely on friends and family member to buy what you sell. Even when you have return customers, a lot of your sales will still come from people who have never purchased food from your food truck. That is why it’s so important to pick a destination that is flocking with people. If you didn’t take this into account, then it might be why your food truck business is failing.

8. Will you have one location or multiple locations?: a very important question that a new or even already existent food truck owner has to ask is “am I going to have a prime location, multiple locations or do I plan on hitting up food truck event after food truck event?” The choice is yours! You can, of course, have the best of both worlds. Since your food truck is mobile, you can set up shop in many different locations.

There are a lot of food trucks that have a main location but also venture to other locations. For instance, your food truck might park outside of a huge business building where there are bound to be plenty of people flocking to your truck at lunchtime.

Likewise, you might have a prime location during the weekdays and hit up food truck events on the weekends. Food truck events could be a fall festival all the way to a concert. Just know what is going on in your area, and then see if your food truck is allowed to crash the party.

For instance, your prime location can be a food truck near a populated locale, downtown, near a business district, et al.

Here is a tentative plan for the week of a food truck owner: on Monday and Tuesday you can go to the farmers market. On Wednesdays you can go to the business district. On Thursdays and Friday, you can stay in your normal spot and then hit up a food truck event on Saturday and Sunday. It really just depends on the food truck and how adventurous you want to be. You can change your locations on a weekly basis.

9. Offer mobile ordering and payment: When it comes to the food business, mobile is the future; and food trucks are no exception. There are a couple of things that you will need to cover in other to ensure that you are going mobile the right way.

In order to help customers find your food truck, there rare mobile apps such as Roaming Hunger and Eat St. that you can use. You just have to list your food truck with apps such as the aforementioned.

In addition to using a third-party food truck locator apps, you can also consider creating an app specifically for your own food truck. The process may sound intimidating, but in reality, it’s relatively simple. Also, you should have a website that is optimized for mobile use.

Finally, if you really want to stand out, consider offering mobile payment and mobile ordering options. In the fast-food world, mobile ordering is a huge trend. As a matter of fact, restaurants like Taco Bell have seen 20 percent average higher value orders when customers used their new app versus ordering in-store.

To take full advantage of the move to mobile for your food truck, the key is to be seen by relevant, third-party apps; to make your website mobile friendly; to consider creating an app; and to offer mobile services such as ordering and payment.

10. Attend local festivals: local fairs and festivals are ideal for food trucks because they provide exposure for the food truck to a large number of hungry people.

You should however not just dive into a festival scene as if it is not well thought out, it could windup to be a waste of time and resource. It’s important to note that you may need to pay a fee in order to sell at a festival, so make sure this fits into your calculations when you’re determining if attending a festival is worth the return on investment.

11. Increase your presence on social media: social media marketing has come to be a very important aspect of business and marketing today. However, the fast-paced nature of the food truck industry makes having an equally responsive, up-to-date social media presence of huge importance.

To make more money for your food truck through social media marketing, you will need to get creative. Don’t just position your business physically, you should also position it well in the cyber space.

In conclusion, food trucks have been rising in popularity over the years and if you are already in the industry or would like to get into the industry you have to realize how important your location is to your success.

It is just as important as the quality of food that you cook because even if your food is good but it is located in a place that is inconvenient, then people would find it difficult to comeback. Where you park your truck determines your financial success. It can be the difference between five customers and 50. To be successful, you have to be seen. That means finding the best location for your food truck. Sometimes, you will.

You may find out that finding the perfect location can involve trial and error. And when you find that perfect spot, you should guard it jealously. You can do this by sending out a staging car ahead of your truck to grab your favorite spot before someone else does. Word spreads, and you have to do your best to keep this location to yourself.

Make sure to tell people where you’ll be. Use your website and your social media platforms to broadcast your daily location to help people find you. Be creative and check your local regulations, and you’re sure to quickly build a loyal following.

Ajaero Tony Martins