When you begin to consider expanding your food truck business, you may feel like you are drowning in planning and paperwork. There can be so many factors to keep tabs on (from marketing considerations to menu choices and permitting requirements) that it feels tough to know where to start.
There is no need to panic, however. After all, you have already done much of the work required to have great success.
Expansion is a wonderful thing. It means that customers already love your food and are happy with your service. You likely already have a budding social media presence and a number of followers and regular customers. And you probably already have some fantastic possibilities in mind for locations.
The more you maintain and improve these qualities, the more successful your business is likely to be.
As long as you keep your passion coupled with thoughtful strategy, your business has what it needs to thrive.
So, what are some points to keep in mind during the exciting process of expanding your small business? Keep reading to find our best tips for bringing your mobile restaurant to more customers than ever before.
Get More Clients
Before thinking of an expansion, you should work hard to increase your client base, this way, when you open your new location, there will be more people willing to buy your delicious food.
Social media is perfect to interact with your clients
Social media is incredibly important in the modern market and this is especially true for food trucks.
While younger customers are often seen as more reliant on social media for their purchasing decisions, even older generations are coming to rely on it for information.
Make sure to keep customers engaged by replying to their questions, comments, and concerns.
You can also interact with other businesses on social media and their customers, building a rapport that can help integrate you into the local market. If you stay interesting and your replies are helpful, it goes a long way to building up your social media following.
Catering can open the doors to new customers
Starting or improving a catering service is a powerful way to help expand your business, especially during off-seasons.
In fact, catering during the off-season is a great way to keep your business profitable when street traffic is low or nonexistent. Keeping a healthy cash flow is a vital part of expanding any small business.
However, catering is also a fantastic strategy for networking. There is no telling who you will meet at an event, meaning your catering is essentially free advertising for your business.
A catering service is one way to ensure your products and services stay on customers’ radar.
Expand into a second location
It is good to dream of having food trucks and restaurants across the country or across your city. This ambition can take you far.
However, dreams only come true one step at a time. Focus on the current expansion and keep it realistic. You have a finite number of time, money, and resources.
Overstretching yourself or your resources can lead to disaster. Remember, the farther your food trucks or restaurants are from each other, the tougher it is going to be to keep tabs on your locations and share resources.
Don’t do it alone
If you have not yet, you should consult an attorney and an accountant.
These professionals can help you throughout the expansion process. Accountants are able to give you a total picture of your finances, including what you will need to add a second food truck. Attorneys, on the other hand, can help make sure your business’s vital assets are protected during the expansion.
If you already have an attorney and an accountant, you are yet another step ahead of the competition.
After you have a firm grasp on your current finances, you will need to start looking into financing to help your expanding small business start off on the right foot.
There are many financing options available for small businesses and restaurants. Make sure that you talk with a reputable lender with a proven track record of helping businesses like yours.
Your employees are the secret ingredient to a smooth expansion
One of the first things you will need to realize is that in order to open a second location you’ll need all the help you can get from your staff. Since you will be operating your business from two places, you will need to rely on your employees more than ever before.
You cannot be everywhere at once.
During the planning stage of your expansion, make sure to thoroughly train your employees. This way, your workers can operate your new location with a wide degree of independence.
Creating a clear, simple training manual for your employees is the best way to accomplish this. Go over your training plan with your workers to get their feedback on anything that might be unclear.
Quality is the cherry on top
Another important aspect of opening a second location is maintaining the quality of your current food business.
Keeping your food quality on top of its game and keeping sight of customer satisfaction are instrumental to a good reputation. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful advertising methods, so you want to be sure your customers are kept happy.
It can be tempting to think only about your expansion into a new location, but never forget your original customer base. These customers will be key in getting the word out about your restaurant and are likely to be customers there themselves.
Getting to know the market is more important than you think
Before, during, and even after expansion, keep tabs on what the local market is doing.
Who is your new target customer audience?
How much money do they make?
What kind of foods do they like?
Where do they work, and do they tend to go out to eat on break?
Are there ethnic groups that prefer certain foods?
Does your new location have any different laws or regulations for food trucks?
Doing your research on your new city or location will answer a lot of these for you, but some may require getting yourself on the street and asking people questions.
Remember, keep a certain degree of flexibility since no two locations are exactly the same.
Now, there are two main options for a new location, either you get another food truck or you open a restaurant. Let’s take a look at both of them.
Get Another Food Truck
This is the most obvious option. After all, you already know how a food truck works, you know how to manage it, you know how much food you need to make… you know everything there is to know about your food truck.
But starting a second food truck takes a lot of planning.
When looking at possible locations for new food trucks, first consider locations that are easy for you to get to. If your food trucks will share resources or employees, being relatively close to each other will simplify almost every aspect of this.
However, stationing food trucks too close to each other can end up creating overlap and eating into profits. Due diligence in your research will help you avoid being either too close or too far to your other locations.
You also need to take into consideration if food trucks are viable in the new area: do people around there are likely to buy from a food truck instead of a restaurant? Maybe the locals are already used to food trucks, but then that’d mean you’d have competition.
Open a Restaurant
There is a lot of effort, time, and money involved in opening a restaurant. This is true whether you are just beginning your small business or expanding to a restaurant location.
Obviously, if you have already started your own food truck, you will have some experience with the many demands. However, food trucks and restaurants have very big differences, so you’ll have to educate yourself on restaurant management to be successful.
Planning and researching are your best tools when you decide to open a restaurant to expand your food truck business. For example:
- The cost of running a restaurant is not the same as running a food truck
- Food trucks don’t need much decoration, but a restaurant does. You’ll have to decide on a design aesthetic.
- Customers in a restaurant are not necessarily the same as food truck enthusiasts.
Take this into consideration when you start planning your expansion.
The Secret Recipe to a Successful Business is Good Food and Good Service
If you are considering expanding your food truck, take the necessary details into account.
Remember that there are a lot of advantages to expanding your small business, but expansion requires much time and effort to be successful. Keep yourself passionate about your business and figure out which strategies are most effective for you.
Finally, remember that you should never go into an expansion alone: A good attorney, a smart accountant, a loyal team and a solid lender are indispensable tools in your belt.
Our motto at Camino financial is, “No Business Left Behind,” and we have a track record that proves we mean what we say. We offer a variety of intuitive tools and financing options designed for restaurants looking to expand.
We are dedicated to helping your dreams of expansion become a wonderful reality. So don’t wait one more day, apply for a small business loan today and watch your food truck business grow beyond your wildest dreams.