Food truck followers are more than customers: they make or break the success of your food truck business. The contemporary food truck follower is more than just a customer, he is super plugged-in to the local scene as well as individual trucks. Followers are very connected, using social media adeptly and frequently to keep track of food truck scenes in their ‘hood. Smartphone in hand, super fans take photos of trucks, food, lines, cooks, friends, and share them for better or worse.
The casual eater will happen upon a food truck and take a chance, not knowing much about the truck or the food, when he’s hungry and ready to eat. The focused food truck follower, will have researched each truck in the area, made a choice and a plan based on friends’ experiences, online reviews, and mobile food directories. They’ll know the menu before seeing it in person. They’ll smell the cuisine from a block away and hone in on the truck with the long, smiling line moving quickly.
Understanding Super Eaters Locally
Understand this super eater who is thoroughly plugged in, and food truckers can capitalize on this consumer expertise, connections and experience.
Super eaters are constantly checking out the food truck scene. They walk the neighborhood, use online review sites such as Yelp and Foursquare, and talk to friends and influencers. Research is part of the enjoyment to these hyper followers: eating every item on your menu, talking to others at the truck, reading and reviewing online. But, and here’s the rub: they’ll only eat through the menu and come back again and again if you win them over from the start with great food, service and culture.
Food truckers can use this super researcher by being clear on social media: list the truck’s address, hours and last minute cancellations or pop ups accurately. If you’re not where you say you’ll be, that goes into the negative column of every super follower’s gathered information. Down time due to equipment failure, catering gig or illness is ok, just be sure to broadcast it in a way that lets your followers know when and where you’ll be back, or at least a guess. Those no-shows with a reason and a story win followers for the future. (Closed for a catering gig? Super fans mentally file this info for the big party they or their employer throws.)
The food truck followers’ best tool is their smart phone, full of apps and online connectivity in the palm of their hand. Like any good tool box, it’s functional and used a lot. With their phone, they’ll check in, write a review, influence their peeps, and hassle you if you mislead them. If you disappoint with food, service or a no show, your food truck may not get a second chance.
The Importance of Super Fans
Food truck fans reach out to their friends and other influencers. Sometimes they want some limelight, other times they’re just sharing. Social media gives users instant feedback on a platform for broadcasting their experiences. These are the first to try a new truck, and using this influence is important for food truckers. Identify these people by keeping your eyes open to repeat customers in person, with your point of sale software and on your social media outlets. Capture them with a special word of thanks, by name if possible, so their experience is even better than the last time. This positive treatment will be broadcast tenfold to their friends and in reviews.
Super eaters expect more than your regular customers. They want a relationship with your food truck, so give it to them. Figure out what they want: great food, great service, fame online, the great feeling they get from introducing friends to your truck. Keep your social media focused on all your customers, with the appropriate shout out to super fans. When they show you the love, share it right out to the world. ReTweet, Re-‘gram, comment on Facebook. Let the world know that you have a super fan and you appreciate it.
You’re busy running your truck, and this must include caring for your customers at your window, in line and via your social media. Pick and choose your engagements, focus on the positive and deal with the negative, and you’ll be in great shape. As you engage them in your story, involve them online and in person, you’ll cultivate super fans. It’s a garden of customers, and you will truly reap what you sow with your big fans, in person and on digital media.