A long line of customers waiting to enjoy food served from your truck is one of the most beautiful sites a concession vendor can see. A far reaching line means you’re doing something right and that you have a loyal following of customers that enjoy your style of food. A deep line also means more revenue for your business.
Although lines are a sign of a profitable concession business, if you take too long to service customers, it can impact your bottom line in a major way. So while you should welcome lines to your food truck, you don’t want to keep customers waiting in that line too long. You don’t want to keep them waiting too long after they’ve made a purchase either.
A key component to operating a successful concession business is to move folks through your line and serve them food quickly. Here are a few ways you can help accomplish this goal and move the line along within your own business:
Four Ways to Increase The Speed of Your Line
Less Menu Items: Have you ever noticed many of the most successful food trucks have the simplest menus? Think burger, taco, shaved ice or ice cream trucks. Each of these has a simple type of food that they stick to and execute well. By only focusing on a specific type of food, it allows you and your employees and yourself to only make a few types of food. All the equipment within the mobile kitchen can also be arranged in a way that helps streamline the creation of these meals. No need to go switching back and forth mentally between cooking tacos and say lasagna.
You should also take into consideration any menu items that take a long time to cook and prepare. For example, a chocolate Soufflé is not be something you can realistically make-to-order. If you have menu items that take even 10 minutes or more between a customer ordering and eating, try to find opportunities where prep work can be done to reduce that time or cut it from the menu.
Finally, you should always be evaluating the sales performance of your menu items. If you have a modern point of sale system (POS) this task will not be difficult. If you have a menu item that is rarely purchased and doesn’t result in revenue, cut that from your menu to simplify operations. You may even reduce waste cost by taking this action. The choice is yours if you would like to cut an item or replace it with something else that could bring in more profits.
The Right Equipment and Kitchen Layout: A poor kitchen layout can result in slower turn around times. Ditto for not having the right equipment installed. You don’t want to have to go from the rear of the truck to the front of the truck and back again to assemble one menu item. If you have multiple employees on a truck, this can become even more inefficient when you start bumping into each other.
Inefficiencies and inconsistency can also rear its ugly head when you don’t have the right equipment for the job installed on the truck either. For example, you may not want to cook a grilled sandwich directly on the grill. Instead, you may opt to install a Panini / Sandwich Grill on that will ensure those sandwiches are cooked more consistently on the vehicle so customers know exactly what to expect.
Process and Training: When a franchise like McDonald’s trains their new employees, they have a step by step process that outlines every task they will complete in extreme detail. For example, when you order a hamburger, that burger is created in the exact same way, using the exact same steps each time. The buns are slid through a warmer that toasts the bun in just a few seconds. Then you move onto the condiments section where onions, ketchup, and mustard are added. Finally, the already cooked hamburger patty is taken out of the warmer, placed on the bun and wrapped. Then you get your sandwich.
There are at least a dozen different steps you could take to produce the same hamburger. But McDonalds has determined over decades in business that this is the most efficient process. Best of all, employees don’t need to waste any “brain power” taking the time to figure out what steps they will take to produce the hamburger. They just follow the set instructions and do it.
As a business owner in the concession business, it’s your job to identify the fastest and most efficient way to produce your food.. Whether it’s a Philly Cheesesteak or a cup of shaved ice. While your businesses training manuals don’t need to be as robust as a global restaurant franchise, they should still address what tasks your employees will complete and how they should do it. This will ensure your mobile restaurant is operating as fast and efficiently as it can be.
Pre-Packaged Items: Many popular restaurants use pre-packaged items that take almost no effort to sell and can provide additional revenue for the business. One example is Subway with Lay’s Potato Chips as a side option. An unopened bag of potato chips lasts nearly forever and can be sold without prep. The same goes for sodas, bottled water or pre-packaged ice cream treats that could be sold as a small dessert. Don’t overlook these items that could result in more revenue without extra work!