COVID-19 (AKA the coronavirus) has disrupted the food truck industry. Concerts, events, and food truck festivals around the nation have been canceled as the public is strongly encouraged to stay inside their homes in an effort to minimize the spread of this nasty disease.
But you already knew this.
The goal of this post is to remind you that this too shall pass and to keep this health crisis in perspective. We’ll also offer some practical ideas to keep your food business operating during these difficult times.
Do we know how long the current situation will last? Nope. No one does. On the optimistic side, there are folks speculating we could be out of the woods in a couple of months and life will gradually return to normal during the summer months. If this scenario plays out…. great!
On the more negative end of the spectrum, some speculate this disease will take the lives of many people while putting us into a global recession that takes years to come out of. Hopefully this worst cast scenario doesn’t materialize.
Either way, at some point this pandemic will end and people will be able to safely go out again. Spring always follows winter. How long will this take to run its course? That’s the question we don’t know and creates all sorts of uncertainty for businesses and individuals.
This Impacts Many Industries
One important thing to realize is that food trucks aren’t the only industry impacted by this terrible pandemic. In some areas like New Jersey, restaurants are being forced to close indefinitely because they create a risk of too many individuals gathering in one place.
Same goes for bars and nightclubs, churches, sporting events, and schools. Conferences and musical acts have been forced to cancel or postpone touring. Neighborhood businesses like swimming pools, barbershops, coffee shops, and nail salons are losing business. Many retailers and shopping malls have also closed for the next few weeks.
This event has impacted on every industry. The food truck industry is one particularly bad area because it depends on serving the public. But there are many other small businesses facing the exact same challenges.
Practical Ideas for Operating a Food Truck Business During this Outbreak
In order for a business to sustain, you need revenue. In the short term anyway this means you’ll need to get creative with how you market and sell your product.
In many cases, you won’t be able to rely on traditional catering or trying to find events because most of those opportunities have dried up in the coming months. Here are a few ideas to keep revenue flowing inward during these challenging times.
Deliver Meals: What do you do when no one is going out? Take food direct to the homes of your customers. Whether there’s a health or financial crisis, people need to eat. A fresh cooked meal from your food truck can be a welcome change of pace. You can drop the meal off at the door and be accept payments through a service like Square or PayPal without ever needing to speak to the customer.
You don’t need to get fancy with this either. Let your followers on social media know you’ll be doing delivery. Email nearby friends and colleagues. Post this information on your website.
One tactic could be to reach out to individuals living in 55+ communities. These are the people most the highest risk to this disease and are being highly encouraged to remain indoors. By delivering meals to this segment of the community you’ll be doing an enormous favor.
Sign Up for Food Apps: Food apps like GrubHub are notorious for collecting high-fees that cut into the margins of food business owners. With that being said this service has temporarily paused fees for food makers due to this crisis. With everyone staying at home, the volume and frequency of people using these apps is going to increase. It could be worth temporarily joining one of these food delivery apps to generate more sales.
Share Your Sanitation Process: Your customers are already thinking it. Is this food I order going to be safe? You might as well get out and address it head on by sharing what you do to ensure the food you prepare and cook is safe. Make sure this information is shared on your website and social media to reassure folks when they order from you.
Teach a Virtual Cooking Class: This is a little outside the box, but folks in your community are going to get bored and you can only binge on Netflix for so many weekends in a row.
Why not host an online cooking class for a small fee? These live video classes can be conducted on Facebook, YouTube Live, Zoom or Instagram. Make this a fun learning event that people can participate in the comfort of their own home.
Trying new ways to generate business for your food truck isn’t always easy, but it’s essential as a business to adapt to changing environments. We are hopeful this health crisis will pass sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we recommend trying some of these new strategies listed above to adapt to the current state of affairs.