If you’ve been following our “How to Start A Food Truck” series, then by now you are aware of the licenses, permits, and regulations needed to start your mobile business; accounted for all necessary costs; and found your niche within your local food truck scene. Now it’s time to put your business out there. In order to thrive as a food truck owner, you need to attract new customers and keep them coming back. In our overview, we discussed a few ways to do just that; now we’ll dive a little deeper.
Nail The Customer Service Experience
According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Conversely, 89% have switched to a competitor following a poor customer experience. Excellent customer service is the nuts and bolts of any successful business. It’s obviously important to have great food, but excellent customer service alone can win over new patrons.
Think about your best experiences as a customer and how it made you feel. Be warm and inviting, but not overbearing. Be sure to make eye contact and smile. If customers come back often, try to remember their name or previous order. Ask them how their day is going. Even if you’re not good with remembering names, you’ll have a better chance of remembering the interaction and associating it with the face. You never know what opportunities can come from just being good to people.
It’s important to hire people with the same vision of excellent customer service as well, since they’ll be an extension of you and your business. Look for people who love people and love food. The more they actually want to be there, the better off everyone will be. Even if you have to pay them a little more, it’s worth it if they’re easy to work with and are bringing back loyal customers.
Know Your Audience
It’s very beneficial to take excellent customer service a step further and get to know your audience. As a matter of fact, by doing so, you are doing your business a favor. Customers can give you valuable insight on how to improve your business processes. Here are a few basic questions to ask that can help you engage customers and potentially improve your business:
“How did you find out about us?”
Nearly any response to this question can give you some helpful information. Even if they found you simply because you were close to their office, then maybe it would be beneficial to put flyers in that office building. If they found you online, where did they look exactly? How did they search for you? You may even consider running an ad and gauging the results.
“Were you satisfied with everything?”
The customer’s response will either serve as affirmation that you’re doing great or a potential opportunity to improve. If they have any negative comments, remedy the situation with the individual customer if possible and evaluate if there’s something you can change to prevent similar issues. You may have to put your ego to the side for a bit, but it can go a long way if the customer sees you going the extra mile.
Get Involved With The Community
The more activities you are involved with, the more people you’ll meet, and almost every person you meet is a potential new customer. If you haven’t already, consider joining your local food truck association, who can help get you plugged into some events. Network with other fellow truck owners to see how they get booked for other events. Your city or county may have events that allow for food trucks, so be on the lookout for those as well as who to contact. Look for event coordinators who can book you for private events through office buildings or other means. We’ve discussed other options in a previous blog entry as well.
Make Your (Online) Presence Felt
According to ad network xAd and call measurement provider Telmetrics, consumers who search the internet for food using their mobile device has a nearly 90 percent conversion rate. In order to get your name out, it’s of utmost importance to take advantage of this very effective form of free advertisement. Even if you don’t have a website, you should at least have well-run social media accounts that, at minimum, communicates to potential customers exactly where they can find you.
When posting your food truck’s location, be as specific as possible. Share the exact street address or cross streets, not just a neighborhood or metro stop. Don’t forget to list the times you will be there. Post your schedule for the week in advance so customers may plan in advance. Check out food truck finders, such as Goodfynd, where you can easily and efficiently set your schedules in advance and have it automatically post to social media for you.
Additionally, use it as an opportunity to engage with others. Consider asking customers where they would like to see you appear next, if there’s anything they’d like to see added to the menu, or anything else you can think of. Reply to as many comments and Yelp reviews as you can. The more engagement you get, the higher you will appear on web searches, especially if you have a website.
There are many elements that tie into running a successful food truck business, and it’s crucial to set a good foundation and positive culture in the beginning. Any more questions about what it takes to start a food truck? Leave it in the comments!