9 Strategies to Increase Your Food Truck Revenue

In Portland, Oregon, food trucks are abundant and offer a variety of delicious options.

The popularity of mobile eats has been rising, with industry revenue increasing at an annual rate of 12.4 percent between 2008 and 2014. Although the momentum has slightly slowed, food trucks continue to be a profitable restaurant business model.

However, simply buying a truck and offering a few favorite recipes is not enough to maximize profits. Here are 9 effective strategies to increase revenue, attract more customers, and grow your food truck business.

1. Establish a memorable concept

Creating a memorable concept is crucial for increasing food truck profits. A strong concept not only leads to news coverage but also generates word of mouth, which significantly impacts sales. If 1,000 customers talk about your brand, it can potentially generate 500,000 conversations. Therefore, encouraging customers to talk about your business is a solid strategy for generating more revenue.

What does a "strong concept" mean? It involves a cohesive design, a clever name, an established brand, and a unique offering. Take for example Tampa, Florida’s I Wanna Wok and Portland, Oregon’s Kim Jong Grillin. Both food trucks nailed their concept with memorable and funny names, distinctive logos and branding, and a cohesive menu that reflects their brand.

2. Provide a unique offering not found in other food trucks

9 Strategies to Increase Your Food Truck Revenue

What is the most popular food truck cuisine in your city? Is your town populated with endless carts serving up sandwiches? If so, that’s one thing you shouldn’t be serving. 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 niche that no other cart is occupying. Steven and Colleen Sheehan opened their Delacata food cart in Eugene, Oregon, when they realized there wasn’t much in the way of traditional Southern food. Their food truck was so successful that they’ve since expanded and opened Elk Horn Brewery, a brick-and-mortar brewpub location. To tap into this suggestion, start by doing some market research. Dive deep into the menus and offerings of other local food carts; instead of looking for popular options, by finding out what is missing, you’ll be looking for inspiration.

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3. Offer mobile ordering and payment

Mobile is the future for both restaurants and food trucks. To "go mobile" with your food truck, cover several facets. Use mobile apps like Roaming Hunger and Eat St. to help customers find your food truck, make sure your food truck is listed on popular apps in your area. Additionally, consider creating an app specifically for your food truck. Beyond that, make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. Stand out by offering mobile payment and ordering options. In the fast-food world, mobile ordering is a huge trend. Taco Bell saw 20 percent higher average orders when customers used their app versus ordering in-store. One survey found that 69 percent of consumers have ordered food online with their mobile device. To take full advantage of the move to mobile for your food truck, be seen by relevant, third-party apps; make your website mobile friendly; consider creating an app; and offer mobile services such as ordering and payment.

4. Change or add to your menu seasonally

Vary your menu seasonally to bring in more customers and make more money. Califarmia has built their concept around seasonal ingredients and varying their menu based on what produce is available. Offering seasonal items can cater to what your customers want each time of the year. This can mean offering hearty meals during winter and frozen desserts or iced drinks in the summer. Adding seasonally appropriate items to your menu is a sure-fire way to keep your customers coming back and bring in more money. 59 percent of customers are more likely to purchase a menu item if it’s described as “seasonal.”

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5. Partner with other local businesses

Building relationships with other local businesses is a great way to bring in extra money. Approach nearby businesses and drop off menus or partner with offices and offer lunchtime specials (potentially with delivery). This spreads the word about your food truck to local businesses and allows you to embed yourself into the lunchtime culture of nearby offices. This also allows you to take advantage of the trend toward office catering.

6. Cater weddings, parties, and office events

Food trucks are becoming a fun alternative to traditional catering for corporate events, weddings, and parties. Food truck weddings are especially popular due to their uniqueness and lower cost. To break into the food truck catering scene, research local laws and your market. Establish what type of events you’ll target and determine what dishes you’ll serve.

7. Attend local festivals

By attending local fairs and festivals, you’ll maximize your visibility and position your food truck where hungry diners will be congregated. However, thorough planning is necessary to avoid wasting time and money. Note that there may be fees associated with selling at a festival, so consider this in your calculations.

8. Grow your social media presence

Having a responsive, up-to-date social media presence is crucial in the fast-paced food truck industry. Get creative with your social media marketing, such as creating a "Waffle of the Week" poll on Facebook and Twitter to engage customers. Integrating customer suggestions and naming dishes after them can be a hit.

9. Offer delivery

Offering delivery is a great way to increase sales. Data specific to the food truck industry is limited, but 61 percent of millennials consider takeout and delivery options when choosing a restaurant. Partnering with third-party delivery services or establishing your own in-house delivery can take advantage of the money-making possibilities of delivery services.

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Ready to start your food truck business?

If you’re eager to try these suggestions but don’t have your food truck up and running yet, we can help you get started. Check out our guide on how to open a successful food truck and explore our library of free sample business plans.

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