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Food Trucks Continue Serving Communities After Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Texas coastline from Corpus Christi to Houston while uprooting thousands of families in between the two cities. For many residents, their businesses and homes have been completely destroyed. Some areas were hit hard by the hurricane winds. Others had walls torn down by rising and rushing water. According to this article from Fortune.com, the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey could top $180 billion.

While there has been a level of destruction and damage the likes we haven’t seen in the United States since Hurricane Katrina there are always examples of the resilience of the human spirit that go on display when events like this happen. Times like these remind us everyone is in this thing together and that we share more similarities than differences.

Hurricane Harvey & Food Trucks

One such example that’s come out of Hurricane Harvey is the story of local food Texas trucks that have donated their time and equipment to serve the residents of their community. Instead of closing up shop these small business owners have mobilized their eateries to deliver much needed meals to areas that have been impacted the most. It’s important to point out as well that these are not Fortune 500 funded companies, but sole proprietors that are operating without the help of multi-million dollar advertising budgets. Their contributions are literally coming out of their own pockets. More often than not they are already donating their time, money, and equipment without any compensation or media attention for their important work.

Texas resident Joel Paprocki of InsureMyFood.com saw first-hand how local food trucks were helping their communities and mobilized a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to help local food trucks serve even more people impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Below is a description of this initiative published on the You Caring page:

As we all know, Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of Texas earlier this week leaving many without food and water.  Several Texas based food trucks and trailers have graciously volunteered to donate their time and vehicles to provide food for those desperately in need in the small coastal towns that are still in the process of being evacuated. 

Monies raised will go directly to the cost of food and drinks that will be served to evacuees and first responders from the trucks and trailers that have volunteered their time.  These individuals need our help and this is a great, tangible way to contribute from all parts of the country.  The trucks will deploy to several different smaller cities along the coast that may not be receiving the national attention but are still in need of help. Thank you so much for your support, a donation as small as $5 will feed someone and make a difference!

In addition to the crowd funding campaign organizations like InsureMyFood.com, 5000 Burnett, and Cincinnati Food Truck Association, and U.S. Food Truck Fest have all made significant financial contributions to the cause. As the crowdfunding campaign states, it only takes a contribution of $5 to feed someone and any additional shares on social media makes an impact as well.

Could Negative Yelp Reviews Be Hurting Your Food Truck Business?

online reviewsWe live in a world where customers read reviews and view food photos well before they ever step foot into a restaurant or dine at your food truck. That means that for many prospective customers, if you’re online reputation isn’t pristine you probably won’t get their business.

There was recently published article of MarketPlace.org that says negative Yelp reviews could actually be helping to put some restaurants out of business. The punch line of the article is that a restaurant with only two or three stars will be 14% more likely to go out of business in the event of minimum wage hikes. Restaurants on the other end of the spectrum and receiving mostly four or five star reviews, you are not likely to be impacted by wage increases. Although this article didn’t reference mobile food businesses specifically, it’s easy to see how food trucks could be impacted in a similar way by wages or reviews.

The thought process behind this report is that lower ranked restaurants are less profitable and operating on the edge already. Anything that increases the restaurants costs, like an increase in wages could put them out of business. You can listen to the full story below:

What Can You Even Do About Yelp Reviews?

Even if you are a concession vendor with a stellar online reputation, monitoring your reviews on popular review sites like Yelp.com, Facebook, or Google is a smart idea. Even if you don’t have any negative reviews at the moment, one bad customer experience or misunderstanding could completely change that. The goal of this article is to provide you with some concrete action steps you can take to improve your reviews online.

But before you can take action to improve something, you need to know what your working with. We recommend checking online reviews monthly and building this process into your regular routine. Most months, you will likely discover that you don’t need to do much assuming your business already receives mostly positive reviews.

  • Encourage Feedback: If you’ve been operating successfully a few years, you’ve probably formed relationships with your customers. Maybe you have some regulars that you see every week or every couple of weeks that you know by name and continue to return to your business. If the opportunity presents itself, mention that you would appreciate if they shared their opinion of your restaurant online and how their feedback can really help your business. Most customers that you’ve built a rapport with will be more than happy to help you out. According to this article 70% of customers will leave a review when asked making this a very effective way to generate more reviews.
  • Make Providing an Online Review Easier: Believe it or not, most of your customers will not be publishing reviews of your food online even if they had the best experience ever. While a lot of individuals like to read reviews, many people don’t think to leave their own. Part of the reason is that there can be technology challenges. Some of your customers may not know how to log into Yelp and then find out how to leave a review. A website called Grade.us can make it easier for your customers to leave reviews online. Another benefit using Grade.us is that it can help you filter out negative reviews by having any negative feedback emailed to you instead of published online for the world to see.
  • Be Consistent With Responses: It’s natural to want to have a slight freak out when you see a bad review. It’s also normal for a lot of business owners to focus on and respond only to negative reviews. If you do decide to respond to reviews directly, make sure you respond to both negative and positive reviews of your food. This will demonstrate that you value everyone’s opinions and make the negative ones stand out less.
  • Take control of your profiles: While you can’t control reviews on your website there are a lot of things you can control on websites like Yelp.com and others. Typically the owner of the restaurant can upload their own food photos, make sure the telephone number and hours of operate are all accurate. While these updates don’t impact the reviews, they will help improve the overall perception to prospective customers.

In conclusion, it’s important to remember that a single bad review isn’t the end of the world. An occasional poor or average review will happen to even the best rated restaurants in your city. If you are already a restaurant or food truck that receives positive reviews on a regular basis continue providing excellent food and service to your customer base.

Will Automation Technology Replace Food Truck Employees by 2025?

According to this study from McKinsey & Company, a whopping 73% of foodservice activities have the potential to be automated. This report comes at the same time automation efforts in the transportation sector are in full-swing as well. Ten years ago, the average person may have felt driverless cars was something only dreamed up for sci-fi movies. Today, driverless cars are actively being tested by companies like Google and Tesla on real city streets. Some analysts have predicted that you will be able to buy a driverless car as soon as 2025.

Even the pizza business is encountering further automation from a partnership between Ford and Domino’s. This partnership will allow Domino’s to deliver pipping hot pizza pie in a driverless car. When your pizza arrives at your home, you receive a text to you cell phone alerting you that the car is just outside. Then you simply go outside, grab your pizza, and enjoy. Best of all for budget minded customers, you won’t need to tip! Even though you won’t need to tip there will likely be some added fee for delivery.

Van D’s Dutch Delights Desert Trailer. Built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

Due to all these major automation developments in the food and transportation space, it is inevitable that the food truck industry will also face opportunities and challenges depending on how you look at it. In this post, we offer our thoughts on how mobile food industry could be impacted by these changes.

What Will Food Trucks Look Like in 2025?

Let’s tackle the big one first. Are food truck jobs safe or will you be placing your order with a cyborg five years from now? First of all, the majority of food truck businesses are owner operated. As a result this is going to be a decision on whether or not a machine makes sense for their particular business. Some machines could help business owners cut out routine tasks, but the investment also needs to make sense from a business perspective. If it’s more cost effective to hire a part-time employee that’s the path most food truck owners will stick to the status quo.

Here’s an example of restaurant automation in action from the Pasadena based burger joint CaliBurger. The robot shown below is able to work side-by-side with a human and cook burgers that are made to order. According to reports, the robot named “Flippy” can cook well done, medium, toast buns and remove food from the grill when ready. As you can see though the machine still needs assistance of living, breathing employee to assemble a burger.

It’s easy to see how this type of technology could help reduce the amount of labor and make the job of running a food truck easier for employees, but we are still very far away from a employee-less food truck.

The part of food truck automation that is likely much closer is driving from point A to point B. If the operator of a food truck didn’t need to drive, they could potentially be doing other administrative and sales type work with this downtime. Operating a food truck requires a lot of coordination to make the business work. Most vendors are regularly staying in contact with catering customers or ordering supplies for weekend service.

Once the vehicle arrives at it’s destination, however, there are still tasks that will be more complex to automate at the food truck level. For example, supplies and ingredients must be loaded onto the truck daily. This could be a complex task to instruct the machine on how much product is needed to place on the vehicle, where certain ingredients should be stored, and of course all the prep work that goes into preparing a truck for service.

How Close Is This Reality?

At the end of the day, automation will impact the food truck industry employment in some ways. But any major staffing reductions are likely more than 10 years away. Further, the cost of automating a food truck is unclear at this time. Automating foodservice work with machines only makes sense as long as it is economically beneficial for the owner of the business. Similar to the personal computer industry in the 80s these machines will likely be costly and potentially become obsolete quickly. Many small business owners will want to sit on the sidelines for the first few years the technology is available.

For the time being, jobs in the food truck industry are safe and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Still, it will be fascinating to see how the food truck industry changes in the future due to it’s position sitting in the middle of two sectors that are becoming more automated: transportation and foodservice.

Take The Food Truck Operators Survey from the U.S. Chamber Foundation

Sprinter Van built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

Are you a food truck operator with concerns about regulations or industry challenges? The U.S. Chamber Foundation wants to hear from you. You can respond to their 10-minute online survey by clicking the green take survey button on this page.

The goal of this survey is for the organization to better understand the regulatory challenges that operators face. These understand challenges are often unique to each city, which makes blanket legal food truck recommendations more difficult. What may be a huge issue in Chicago, may not be the same issues faced in Washington D.C. due to local code.

These are a couple examples of issues the survey wants to identify and address:

Operations Restrictions – Within the city of Boston, food trucks can only legally operate between the hours of 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. This leaves out a lot of potentially valuable vending hours that mobile food units do not have the opportunity to capture. In some cities, vendors rely on the bar closing rush as their primary means of sales. This is not possible in Boston and stymies growth for operators.

Strange Size Restrictions –   The city of Madison, Wisconsin, is well known for their unique size restrictions with a maximum foot print of 10 feet by 12 feet for all food cart vendors. This had led to a style of food cart builds makes Downtown Madison one of a kind. On the flip side, the size restrictions have also limited the types of food that can be served from these units. Some food concepts require more space too cook and these restrictions can limit entrepreneurial endeavors.

Taste of Jamaica Trailer in Madison, WI. Photo Credit: PublicHealthMDC.com

Survey Says….   

This survey has just over 20 total questions to respond to. The survey kicks off with straight-forward questions about your business that will not require much time or research on your end to complete.  What’s the name of your business? How many employees do you have? How long have you been in business and basic contact information including your email address is requested. These mostly fill-in-the-blank questions make up the initial 25% of the survey.

After the first section is complete, you will be prompted to respond to queries about regulations on a scale between one and five. One means that the regulations in question are “Very Unreasonable.” With a five being assigned to anything you feel is “Very Reasonable” as a vendor. Below is a sample of the questions you will be prompted to answer in this section:

  • How reasonable are local vehicle safety and hazard prevention requirements for food trucks?
  • How reasonable are local employment requirements for food trucks?
  • How reasonable are local zoning requirements for food trucks?
  • How reasonable are local proximity restrictions for food trucks?
  • How reasonable are local insurance requirements for food trucks?

If you have experienced pain points as an operator in any of the areas listed above, please take the survey now and share your feedback. One of the nice aspects of this survey is that you can also request that your business name not be shared so that you can feel free to respond truthfully and without worry about local regulators identifying you as the respondent.

In 2015, food trucks brought in $1.2 billion in sales. This number is expected to top $2 billion before the end of 2017. With these growth projections it’s clear food truck laws need to be reevaluated in many areas to ensure this industry continues to thrive.

Is it Possible to Serve Beer and Alcohol from a Food Truck?

Is it possible to start a bar food truck that serves beer, wine, or hard alcohol? The simple answer is that in most situations you won’t be able to. Liquor licenses are determined on both the state and city level. As a result, you will need to look into your state and city laws to determine if this is an option for you. With that being said here are some things to consider if you’re in the planning stages of starting a food truck that serves alcohol and the reasons why accomplishing this goal will be difficult.

There are a couple reasons getting a mobile liquor license will be a challenge. First, most counties have a limited number of licenses that they can grant each year. If you live in California for example, after successfully completing your application, you will be placed into a lottery to receive your license. According to this report, there were 25,000 applicants for a liquor license and a total of just 25 new licenses would be approved. Depending on the municipality you plan to operate the wait time may not be as long as with this example.

The second challenge unique to mobile food units is that a liquor license must be submitted for a specific location. Each location has its own set of unique zoning requirements. As a mobile drink vending unit, you would probably like to be able to take advantage of your mobility right? With the existing laws, you would need to have a different license for each location you planned to serve. With liquor licenses starting at $12,000 it won’t make financial sense to operate your business this way.

beer truck

Example of a beer serving truck in Germany. Photo Credit: Pinterest

How this Concept Could Work in Your Area

You will still need to confirm your operations are on the up-and-up with the local municipalities with each of these examples, but in some situations you may be able to acquire a food truck with the intent of serving alcohol. Here are a few scenarios where a food truck that serves alcohol could work:

  • If you currently own or manage a golf course, you may be able to use a mobile food unit to serve alcohol on the course.
  • If you already own an establishment such as a brewery, you may be able to serve food and beverages from the vehicle while on your property.
  • Special event or temporary licences: Events like rock-and-roll concerts often have temporary permits that can be acquired to serve at a specific event.
  • Want the look of a food truck, but don’t actually plan to move it? If you have a permanent location it will make the process of obtaining a license much easier.

Basic Steps to Getting a Liquor License

Step 1: Determine type of liquor license you need: Beer and wine VS liquor licensee. Many areas have less stringent rules for businesses that only plan to serve beer and wine versus hard alcohol or mixed drinks. Depending on the concept your planning to launch.

On-sale or off-sale: If you plan to serve drinks at your location an on-site license will be needed. If you would like to sell 6-packs of beer for enjoyment at home you will need an off-sale license.

Step 2: Contact Information for State Liquor Licensing Authority. These are the entities that will understand the specifics of registering for a license in your area.

Step 3: Complete License Applications. In some situations, it may make sense to review this license with a legal professional to ensure you understand everything that is being required.

Step 4: Completed Business Plan. You will need to complete a business plan that demonstrates how you plan to use the liquor licenses and what type of sales volume you expect to generate with the business.

Step 5: Money for fees. In many scenarios you will need to pay in excess of $10,000 to get started so make sure this expense is accounted for within your business plan.

How to Get a Liquor License Video

Do the Cottage Food Laws Apply to Food Trucks?

In 2013, a bill passed called the cottage food laws. These laws made it legal to sell small amounts of food using a home-based kitchen. While not all types of food businesses can be opened with the help of a cottage food law, the new law could create opportunities for you as a food truck vendor as well.

canned-foods

The cottage food industry is continuing to grow.

In a nutshell the cottage food laws were created to make it easier for micro-food businesses to get started. At the time of writing the maximum gross revenue a cottage food business can generate is $50,000 during any one calendar year. If you’re an established vendor this restriction will make the entity not worth pursuing. However, if you’re just getting started in the mobile food business or only want to operate the business part-time during the summer months for extra cash this could be a viable way to start the business even if you don’t plan to operate this way permanently. This could also work well if you have a BBQ trailer that you plan to use on weekends only or a hotdog cart. When the business gets to the point of surpassing the $50,000 threshold you can always change the business entity to something like an LLC when the time is right.

One important point is that these cottage food laws vary depending on the state you live. Jennifer Lewis of SmallFoodBiz.com has created a helpful resource that can point you in the right direction for figuring out the laws in your state. If you happen to reside in California, FoodStarter.com offers the most straight forward explanation of the laws. Forrager.com also does a nice job laying out all the requirements in California.

Key Limitations

From a food truck operator perspective there are two key limitations that you should keep in mind before considering this type of a license.

Revenue Restrictions: Most states will limit the amount of gross revenue you can make per year to $50,000. This makes it difficult to turn this into a full-time business. It is designed more as a way to supplement income or start a food business with less financial barriers to entry. If your goal is to grow a big business this entity is not appropriate.

County: In many areas the law states that you must sell food only in the county it was produced. This could be a major restriction if you operate a concession trailer since you’ll be limited further on where you can vend.

Cottage Food Law: Licensing Requirements

Although one of the goals of cottage food laws is to make it easier for artisan vendors to sell their food there are some common sense requirements that these business owners must have to operate legally.

Food Handler Training: To start a cottage food business you will need the right safety training. In many situations acquiring your food handler card will accomplish this goal. The requirements will differ by county, but this is a great opportunity to learn ways to make your food safer, prevent cross-contamination or food-borne illnesses. Some districts like Riverside County in California may even allow you to complete the course online from the comfort of your home.  The fee to get your license is usually reasonable and will run you between $25 – $50 on average.

You will also need to select the class of operation you plan to run. In most situations, a food truck or cart could operate under the “Class A” distinction since most sales will be done at events.

“Class A” Cottage Food Operation: This is what you will need to acquire if you have a truck. This allows you to sell directly to consumers at events like farmer’s markets.

“Class B” Cottage Food Operation: If you want to sell your food online or at a retail location this is the classification is what you will need to acquire.

Bottom line if your goal is to dip your toes into food entrepreneurship the cottage food industry can be a great way to accomplish the goal. You won’t get rich, but it will allow to supplement your income while perfecting your recipes.

More Reading on this Topic:

Cottage Food Laws: Bake and Sell From Home via MoneySideofLife.com

This article does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your county for up-to-date cottage food laws that are applicable to your situation / region. 

Should Your Food Truck Use UberEats for Meal Delivery?

The technology transportation company Uber has already disrupted the taxi and transportation industry. Previously, taxis could charge pretty much whatever they wanted, provide bad customer service, and still operate a profitable business. That was until companies like Uber and Lyft entered the space, bringing in not only price competition but usually faster and better service. Now, Uber has its sight set on disrupting home food delivery the same way they did transportation.

ubereats-burger

Have food delivered to your door with UberEats.

If you’re not familiar with the Uber, here’s how the platform works. An Uber customer will download and app to their phone and create a profile that is connected to the credit card. When the customer is in need of a ride, they are able to open the app and see a map of drivers operating in their area. Then they schedule a ride pickup though the app. Payments are made within the Uber-app to the drivers after they’ve successfully completed a trip. The food delivery service called UberEats works much the same way.

Uber users can select the EAT button located in the upper right hand part of their app to switch over to UberEats if they want food delivery instead of a ride. Although UberEats was technically rolled out in 2014 it is still a fairly new product and not yet available in all cities yet. Similar to the ride-sharing service Uber, it will likely become available across all major metro areas in the United States within the next 12 – 18 months. Click here to find out if UberEats is currently available in your city.

How Much Do UberEats Driver’s Make?

Drivers for UberEats get paid $3 per delivery and make between $10 – $20 per hour. This does not include cash tips that are offered to the drivers that could substantially increase the hourly wage. You must be at least 19-years of age to drive for Uber, have a valid drivers license, a clean driving record, and own a vehicle with the model year 1996 or newer. You’ll need a much newer car if you want to drive for other ride-sharing apps so this is a good opportunity to individuals that wanted to earn extra income, but weren’t able to due to the age of their vehicle. Learn more about the requirements for UberEats drivers here.

How Your Food Truck Can Be Eligible for UberEats Delivery

If you already own a food truck, right now could be a great time to enroll in UberEats for your food truck. If you’re interesting in getting registered for your food truck or restaurant you can complete the interest form. We believe the time is right to get enrolled in this food delivery service if it’s available in your area. Since this technology and service is so new you have the opportunity to be one of the first 10 food trucks within your city available on the app. Since it will take awhile for other food truck owners to get involved in the service, you could be developing a customer base through UberEats months or even years ahead of your competitors. Here are a few other smart reasons to join:

Increased Revenue: UberEats estimates that the average restaurant is able to generate an additional $6,400 in sales per month that use their app. That adds up to about $75,000 in additional sales per year. While there are a lot of unique factors that will go into how much money you’re food truck is able to generate through the app, the potential revenue number is not insignificant.

Advertising: Paying for traditional advertising in local newspapers or television is not only expensive, but it can be almost impossible to measure how well it’s working. By joining a platform like UberEats you are essentially getting free advertising in front of the local users of the app.

Not a Coupon:  One of the big complaints of technology based promotions for restaurants and food trucks in recent years is that it is all discount or coupon based like Groupon. Many restaurant owners have found that marketing on these websites or using coupons does not attract the type of customer they’re looking for. The nice thing about UberEats is that it is not designed to attract customers that are only looking for deals and not interested in paying full price for their meal. This offers restaurants a better marketing option than was previously available.

Can You Install a Bedroom in a Food Truck or Concession Trailer?

At M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, we’ve been contacted to build all kinds of unique features into a mobile food unit including a bedroom and bathroom. From a build standpoint installing both a comfortable bedroom and functional bathroom is simple as a food truck has many similarities to an RV in terms of plumbing and electric. The addition of a bedroom can make a concession trailer a lot more comfortable to operate as well if you’re planning to travel to different events throughout the summer or are participating in a competitive BBQ circuit. Having a place to rest within the trailer can also help you cut travel expenses significantly since you won’t need to fork out $100 a night for a hotel room.

The example below is the floor plan of a concession trailer we installed with a 6′ X 8′ bedroom located at the front of the unit. This bedroom also has direct access to a bathroom with a wall hand sink that is similar to what you would find in an RV. You can check out the complete concession layout below to see how the kitchen and bedroom were organized into the floor plan below. You can very comfortably fit a full size bed in this space:

bedroom concession

Concession Trailer with Bedroom and Bath.

 

Notice that you enter the bedroom area from a separate door than the kitchen. This setup is by design and establishes two clear areas between the rest and work areas. You would not want to install a bedroom in the same area as your kitchen as this would disqualify your trailer from operating legally due to health regulations in most areas.

Considering a bathroom on your concession trailer? Check out this post on the topic

Space Considerations When Installing a Bedroom

Whether or not installing a bedroom into your concession trailer is the right choice comes down to your personal preference and needs. The first and biggest consideration is space. Even 20′ foot trailers have space limitations and every foot that the bedroom requires will result in less space the mobile kitchen. If you plan to offer an extensive menu with over 10 items or have four or more individuals working on the trailer at any one time, you may want to consider leaving the bedroom out of the trailer.

However, if the plan is to only have two employees operating at one time and have an efficient menu the bedroom and bath is a viable option. The example above is for a gyro concession trailer and the vendor has plenty of space for prep, food storage, and cooking. It all depends on your personal preference for how much space you require to cook and serve food efficiently and comfortably.

One situation we would not recommend installing a bedroom is if you plan to operate a Sprinter or other type of transit van as shown in the video below. There are many great examples online of individuals that have transformed a Sprinter Van into a mobile home, but not a food service vehicle and RV. There just isn’t enough room to pull this off and in 99% of the scenarios you would not be able to pass health inspections with this type of unit. You can install a bathroom on these vehicles as shown in the example below, however.

At the end of the day, installing a bathroom in a food truck or trailer is a viable option when purchasing your food truck. If this is something you’re considering give us a call at 904-397-0246 or contact us here.

More Details of Above Concession Build: 

Base (8.5×28-Flat Front)
      Color (Exterior) – Charcoal Grey
      Color(Interior) – WHITE
Extended Tongue – (7′)
Floor (Plywood)
15″w x 30″t Horizontal Slider TINTED
Extra Entry Door
6×3 Concession Window System (Frame)

 

(2) – 42″ x 28″ Concession Doors (Frame)

Thermal Cool Roof Liner
Additional Entry Door
.030 Siding Upgrade
7000lb Jack and Axles
7.5′ Ceiling
(2) Pair of 5000# Scissor Jacks
Walls & Ceiling – Aluminum
Insulation (Walls & Ceiling)
Electrical Package (Stub Wires Only)
(2) – Wire and Brace for A/C
Plumbing Package (2 Waste Tanks Lose in Trailer)

What is a Food Truck “Takeover?”

A food truck takeover is a marketing strategy where a company will update the branding on a food truck to generate awareness for their brand or product. There are numerous brands that have used this strategy from food and beverage to alcohol, pet supplies and even video game releases.

One upcoming example of a massive food truck takeover event during the summer of 2017 is by specialty beer REDD’s Apple Ale. A total of three branded REDD’s Apple Ale food trucks will be criss-crossing the continental United States to help people discover this unique apple ale. Free samples of the product will be provided to individuals over 21 years of age at festivals, town events, and event grocery store parking lots. So be on the look out for this example of a food truck takeover coming to your neighborhood this summer. Read this article to see the role M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks played in this national promotion.

Another great example of a food truck takeover was executed by Roaming Hunger on behalf of the video game release for Gauntlet. Those of you over the age of 30 may remember the old Gauntlet game positioned in every shopping mall in America during the 80s. As part of the video game, your player could eat massive turkey legs as a way to rebuild strength in the game. The real-life Gauntlet food truck that was launched to help promote the release of the 2014 reboot of the game served massive turkey legs as well and generated a ton of press for Arrowhead Game Studios the developer of the game.

gauntlet food truck

Photo Credit: RoamingHunger.com

Big Brand Benefits?

There are a few key reasons that major brands have begun to use takeovers as a marketing strategy. Other brands that have used this strategy include Jaegermeister, Dunkin’ Donuts, AppleBee’s, Texas Roadhouse and many more.

Generate Hyper-Targeted Awareness – If there’s an event or storefront that attracts your target demographic, you can attend and reach those people using a food truck at an event when they are primed and ready to try new things and have fun. Whether the destination is a rock concert, sporting event, or something as simple as a super market stop. If you know where your audience hangs out you can drive to them and reach them.

Taste / Feel the Product –  The free taste test is a tried and true marketing tactic that allows people to try something new without taking on the risk of buying something they won’t actually like. The marketing strategy is old, but it continues to work as any longtime member of Costco will tell you. The only difference is if you pair free samples with a food truck, you’ll get a lot more exposure and excitement from prospects. It’s not every day that a food truck comes to a local grocer and hands out free samples. This is something different and intriguing that gets a better response rate and offers a more memorable experience than any free sample stand could ever offer.

Viral Components – You can leverage “selfy-culture” for your brand. There is much debate in the media on how to best market to and attract the attention of young millennial customers stuck in their cell phones. One proven way is to offer this demographic a new and unexpected experience. Combining a branded food truck with a giveaway is one way to accomplish this goal. Millennials, Generation-X, and Baby-Boomers all enjoy taking photos in front of food trucks and sharing them on social media. As you can see, if you want to reach a target demographic in a memorable way a food truck takeover is an effective way to accomplish this.

Should You Invest in the Stock of a Food Truck?

Want to invest in a piece of a growing food truck franchise? The Grilled Cheese Truck is now seeking investors for their mobile grilled cheese concept that is extremely popular in Southern California. The Grilled Cheese Truck, founded in by Dave Danhi in 2009 has been featured across major media outlets from the Cooking Channel to Fox News and built a hungry following of over 100,000 across Twitter and Facebook along the way.

According to a press release from the company, The Grilled Cheese Truck wants to use their investment capital to expand the business nationally and internationally with new food trucks, kiosks, pop-ups, and even retail locations. This expansion would be happen through a combination company owned locations and the franchise marketing model. A preference would be given to veterans to enroll in the franchise opportunity.

You can learn more about this investment opportunity here: https://app.microventures.com/crowdfunding/the-grilled-cheese-truck. Investors can stake their claim for as little as $100 and receive a variety of perks including t-shirts and of course grilled cheese sandwiches from one of the trucks.

Taking Stock of This Investment

One distinction that we want to make is that you can’t buy a piece of stock through this company in a traditional sense at this time. When you purchase the stock of The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), you can quickly convert that piece of stock into cash on the open market. This is not the case when investing in The Grilled Cheese Truck since you are not buying a share of stock, you are investing in a convertible note.

Here is the definition of a convertible note from FundersClub.com

A convertible note is an investment vehicle often used by seed investors investing in startups who wish to delay establishing a valuation for that startup until a later round of funding or milestone. Convertible notes are structured as loans with the intention of converting to equity. The outstanding balance of the loan is automatically converted to equity at a specific milestone, often at the valuation of a later funding round. In order to compensate the angel investor for the additional risk of investing in the earlier round, convertible notes will sometimes have additional clauses, such as caps, and or discounts.

In case you didn’t already know, we here at M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks do not have MBA’s in finance. But when you retain a convertible note as an investment there is no available “marketplace” to sell the note as there would be with a stock. As a result, there is increased risk to the investor since this is a very early-stage company. Be sure to check out the terms and conditions of this note here. As with any type of investment, you need to conduct own due diligence before making a major investment and determine if it’s the right choice for your risk profile.

Is the Food Truck Industry Growing Up?

Could this round of fundraising signal a further maturation of the food truck industry as a whole? Maybe. The Grilled Cheese Truck has certainly proven over the last the past eight years that they have both a product that consumers crave and a business that has a track record of operating profitably on a smaller scale. At the time of writing, the company has already exceeded their $50,000 fundraising goal. It will be fascinating to watch how the Grilled Cheese Truck story continues to develop and we wish the business and investors continued success in the coming months and years.

Do you think this is the beginning of a larger trend of established food truck brands expanding nationally through franchise opportunities? Do you think other food truck brands will seek to raise money from investors in 2017?

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