Do you own a food truck business and you need ideas to grow it successfully? If YES, here are 10 strategies and tips for running a BBQ food truck. Running a BBQ food truck is not as easy as it may seem. Indeed, it may seem as simple as selling some of your family-tested recipes at the local park, but you would definitely be surprised at the hurdles you will pass through before you can get started.

However, to succeed in this line of business, you have to understand that the mobile unit that you choose to house your BBQ business is more than just a cooking vessel. You have to see your BBQ food truck as an instant billboard on wheels.

You may find a used BBQ truck for sale, or you can mount a smoker on a trailer. A build-out that includes a mobile kitchen and staging area is necessary. However, you will also need room for storage and a generator. Some trucks have a mounted generator on the back end, and others set one behind the parked truck.

Believe it or not, one of the most important elements of your barbeque food truck is the exterior design. Take your time to consider the mission of your business and the best way to convey that through the images on the outside of the truck. Hire a designer and invest in a vinyl wrap or paint. You want the design to make an impact. The look of your truck is a key element in your marketing strategy.

While a BBQ food truck is easier and more affordable to start and run than a normal brick and mortar restaurant, it tends to require time and effort to ensure success. However, there are certain strategies that can help you stand out from other BBQ food trucks, gain new customers, retain loyal ones, and maximize your profits.

Strategies and Tips to Run a BBQ Food Truck Successfully

  1. Be Unique

To experience success in the food truck industry, it is advisable you find a specific niche that no other business is covering. Note that the last thing you want to do is become the tenth or eleventh truck in your area that offers barbeque chicken. Take your time to look at the menus and different offerings of other BBQ food trucks in your area and figure out what is missing.

Note that finding and filling the void will be key to establish a unique BBQ food truck. Create a strong, memorable concept because you not only want people to appreciate your food, you also want them to remember your brand and the experience you offered. A clever name and cohesive design will ensure your customers are talking about your brand and telling others to give your food a try.

  1. Conduct Location-Based Advertising

Thanks to technology, you can pinpoint a customer’s location and provide location-based advertisements on their mobile and other devices. Social media marketing is proven to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of creating brand awareness, maintaining relationships with customers, and acquiring new ones. You have to make sure to give up-to-the-minute updates on all your major social media platforms on where you are, where you will be in a couple of hours, and the type of menu that you have on board.

  1. Loyalty Programs

There are plenty of ways you can reward the loyalty of your frequent BBQ food truck customers. Your system can be as simple as a buy 10 get 1 free punch card or, if you want to build it into your POS system, as complex as a points system.

You can also urge customers to bring friends and family members to experience your food with buy one, get one half off types of deals. Also, note that you can offer “bouncebacks” which are promotional offers given to your customers to encourage them to come back soon.

(Think of the specials offered from time to time at Starbuck’s where you can come back later the same day for a highly discounted afternoon beverage.) Bouncebacks could be a basic discount, time- or product-specific offer, BOGO (buy one, get one), or whatever your creative team comes up with.

  1. Leverage Social Media

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter provide wonderful opportunities to utilize the power, reach, and low cost of social media marketing. It is advisable you get creative with your social posts – make use of images or videos to show behind the scenes action, happy customers interacting with your food (with their permission, of course), and encourage your customers to post their own content with a brand-centered hashtag.

You can also use your social media accounts to announce daily specials and to keep regulars in the loop regarding any menu changes that occur. Also, consider offering specific social platform-based discounts. Reward your customers for interacting with your brand on social media accounts and offer them exclusive discounts. Post a time-sensitive code with the content to encourage people to take advantage of the offer NOW.

  1. Consider Email Marketing

You can also tap the power of email marketing as a no-cost means of reaching your customers. Make use of catchy, concise, and enticing subject lines. Don’t be tempted to use click bait tactics. Try to keep your subject lines relevant, short, and to the point of the enclosed information.

Also, note that your email campaigns can include a weekly or monthly newsletter that includes the content you’ve pushed out on social media. Also make sure it links back to your website, blog, and social profiles. You can use email messages to communicate any upcoming holiday specials and events. Additionally, to reward people who actually open and read your emails, consider running an email contest that can only be entered via an email invitation.

Note that this will also encourage customers to open future email communications. You can also use your email list to push out customer surveys. Asking customers for feedback can provide insight on everything from service to menu options to food presentation and more.

Mobility is the greatest marketing challenge for BBQ food truck owners. Customers often decide on the go where they want to eat for lunch. While they always know where their favorite restaurants are, your food truck doesn’t have a fixed location. Focus your marketing efforts on letting your customers know where to find you.

  • Use social media to broadcast your location.
  • Send out texts or emails to notify customers where you are for the day.
  • Try to park in consistent locations on certain days of the week, and provide a schedule with a map on your website to help people plan ahead.
  1. Mobile Friendly

First and foremost, ensure that your brand’s website offers to mobile users a high level of user experience. Have it in mind that a mobile friendly website is seen as the bare minimum mobile design strategy any brand should have for its website.

Therefore, these websites were originally designed for desktop users and while they may be functional, they don’t provide the highest level of user experience for mobile users. Mobile optimized websites are more advanced than mobile friendly websites as they let users with smaller screens to easily navigate and engage with the sites.

It is also advisable that you list your BBQ food truck on mobile apps like Eat St. and Roaming Hunger to make sure that potential customers’ can find you. If you have either the technical know-how or budget, you can create your own app specifically for your food truck. Offer mobile ordering and payment to keep your food truck business at the forefront of restaurant technology.

  1. Catering

In this age, food trucks are gradually becoming an increasingly popular wedding trend. They are a less-expensive dining option than traditional wedding food service and offer a fun and unique alternative to a sit-down catered meal or buffet. Note that large parties for all occasions and office events are also a wide-open market for food truck entrepreneurs.

However, make sure you extensively research the market before putting together this part of your marketing plan so you can explicitly outline the types of events you will target. You’ll also want to fully understand any state and local laws regarding catering businesses.

  1. Design Your Truck with Marketing in Mind

Have it in mind that food trucks with cult followings attract more customers, can operate at higher margins, and have more leverage when negotiating with food truck associations. Therefore, it is imperative that you print your Instagram handle clearly on the truck, and consider adding an original hashtag that coincides with your overall brand.

Also develop a couple of superlative dishes, such as the world’s spiciest donut, that also show up well on camera. Consider offering professionally designed but inexpensive merchandise, like stickers, that also tie into your theme. Finally, add some designs to your truck that might not be obvious at first glances, such as the perfect background for selfies, a funny license plate frame, or subtle, etched designs on your hubcaps.

  1. Get Festive

Have it in mind that your BBQ food truck is, after all, a truck. So, why not take it on the road? You can maximize your visibility and ensure large crowds of potential customers by having a presence at local fairs and festivals. Remember that you will most likely be charged a fee for participating in such events and will need to be aware of and follow any local regulations regarding food service.

Take your time to do your homework to fully understand the investment it will take and what the typical attendance is for events at which you think you might want to have your food truck.

Solomon. O'Chucks