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How Do You Remove Stains from White Kitchen Restaurant Towels?

Keeping white kitchen towels from becoming discolored isn’t easy. Restaurants and food trucks are tough environments to stay clean. Especially when you might relying these versatile towels to wipe up grease, clean food prep areas, or utilize as a make-shift oven mitt. The uses of these towels are many and you’ll need a lot of them. It’s not easy to keep these white towels white!

There’s a reason most restaurants don’t use brilliant white tablecloths. Doing the laundry is a significant added expense and something you’ll  find exclusively at high-brow eateries. There are added costs to clean, replace, and added labor associated with handling linen tablecloths and napkins. Although maintaining clean towels is less work than the prior, the basic maintenance is the same.

Aside from improving the appearance of towels, you’ll need to keep them clean from a health perspective as well. The last thing you want to do is clean up a kitchen with a greasy towel. Appearance is a side benefit of running a tight ship!

But how do you keep these towels that sparkling white long term through all the daily wear and tear? In this blog post we’ll outline the three options you have to ensure you’ve got spotless towels in your food truck or restaurant. Choose the option or combination of options that are best for your situation.

How do you keep restaurant towels clean?

Replace Often

One of the secrets that isn’t really a secret is that no matter how much care you put into washing towels, you’ll need to replace these regularly. Between grease, sauce, and the occasional coffee stain, these linens are put through the ringer daily. At a certain point, no magical combination of OXI Clean, bleach, or soaking is going to save these things.

Thankfully, you can buy 12-dozen Terry Rag restaurant cleaning towels for under $50 with free shipping on Amazon. These work towels are not intended to be kept forever so don’t make this mistake. Another tip is to only use well-worn towels to wipe up grease. After wiping up grease throw the used towels into the trash receptacle. Wiping up grease will reduce the life span of any restaurant towel.

Hire a Towel Service

If you want an industrial level clean, hiring a towel service can be an effective use of monthly spend. Many of these laundry services will pick up dirty linens at your restaurant, minimizing the hours needed to keep things clean. If you have a small food operation, like a food truck, you may be able to pay for these services for around $100 monthly. You can find nearby commercial laundry services by searching Press Cleaners or heading to Google to find providers near you. These services are available in nearly every U.S. city.

Aside from a time savings, a commercial service will use their equipment and products including lye to wash your towels. Lye, will decompose grease and make the gunk easier to rinse off. Even if you’re vigilant and pre-soak your greasy towels, you do not want too much of this gunky, clogging stuff getting into your home washing machine. You also don’t want to mix your families clothes with restaurant linens in the event you plan to bring items home to wash. It’s not worth your time for the amount of money you’ll save!

DIY Wash Process

Not ready for professional laundry services yet? Follow the steps below to extend the life of your towels.

Step 1 – Divide and Conquer: Separate your lightly soiled and stained or greasy towels into three separate plastic bins.

1.) The lightly used towels can go straight into the wash. Put them on a cold rinse cycle and off you go.

2.) Food or beverage stained towels go into their own bin.

3.) Greasy towels go into the third container.

Step 2 – Pre-Cleaning Rinse

The food stained and greasy towels will be soaked in cold water. After about 15 minutes, take the towels of of their respective bins.

Step 3 – Use Bleach or OXI Clean. 

Add bleach if it’s safe with your towels… It will be for most kitchen towels. Many folks also swear by the effectiveness of OXI Clean so that’s another option. Soak for another 15 – 20 minutes and then rinse off water. Finally, rinse off the towels with clean cool water.

Step 4 –  Hot Wash 

Finally, was the towels on the hot cycle using your detergent of choice. After the towels come out of the wash you should see brilliant and desirable looking restaurant towels.

We hope this post has helped to outline the steps needed to keep your towels clean! As mentioned previously, even the best most industrial level clean won’t keep these linens spotless forever so plan to replace your kitchen towels every 3 – 6 months.

Can You Trademark a Food Truck Name?

Can you patent trademark a food truck’s name? In fact, you can! Just like any other type of business you can acquire a trademark to protect your brand and its likeness.

There are all kinds of reasons that you may want to register for a trademark, but the primary reason for many includes protecting your brand against other companies entering the space that may confuse customer or too closely resembles your business name. Imagine how frustrating it would be if someone in your city started a food truck with a nearly identical name, logo, and menu that was so close that your customers actually became confused between the original and the knock off. This is the type of bad scenario a trademark can help protect you from.

Should Your File For a Trademark with Your Food Business?

Should My Food Truck File?

Of course, most food trucks never file for a trademark at all and get along just fine. Whether or not you decide to file for a trademark depends on your goals. If you plan to operate a single food truck, there’s probably no need. Especially if you plan to start a truck that targets consumers based around convince like a lunch truck, where brand recognition isn’t important this is a step you can forgo in the startup process.

One the other hand, if your goal is to use a food truck as a proof of concept for launching a nationally recognized brand than by all means, now is the time to start the filing process. You’ll want to ensure you have a trademark and name in place before going further down the path of developing logos and other branding.

There are a couple different options you have when filing for a trademark. You can acquire a trademark at the state level, which will protect your brand within the borders of your state within the United States. These state level trademarks are often easier to obtain and cost around $100 – $200 according to LegalZoom.com.  You can obtain a federal trademark to protect your brand nationally for between $275 – $375. After acquiring the trademark there’s a small ongoing fee required to keep these active. After you obtain the designation, a trademark will never expire assuming you continue to pay the annual fees.

Filing For a Trademark

Before you file for a trademark or even select a name for your food truck for that matter, it’s important to conduct basic due diligence on your end to make sure the business name you want isn’t already being used elsewhere. There are a lot of creative people out there and you might be surprised to discover there’s another business already operating under your name a few states over.

The first step you should take before beginning to file is to conduct a few Google searches for your desired brand name. This will help you identify if there’s anyone else that’s operating a business under the same name as you. Assuming you find what appears to be a medium to large size business operating under the name, it’s better to pass on the brilliant name idea and get back to the drawing board. If you have questions about whether or not another businesses name is too close and you’re in love with the name, now would be the time to contact an attorney that specializes in trademark and patent law. If you live in a metro area of any type, you will be at to find an attorney nearby that focuses on this area of law.

Assuming there’s nothing that turns of online from your searches, great! It’s time to take the next step in your trademark search by visiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. Here you’ll be able to search a database of existing trademarks to see if your name is already taken. This service is free and competing this step is highly recommended before taking any further action to file.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that even if you identify a name that hasn’t been taken, you may not be able to register the name for a trademark. If you try to file for a trademark under the name “Boston Burgers” the filing probably won’t be approved because it can be easily confused with the city of Boston.

Bottom line, before you file it’s recommended to schedule a 30 minute or one hour initial conversation with a patent lawyer. This will cost you more money, but these professionals can help answer your questions and give you a good sense of whether or not your filing will be approved.

Ready to File?

If you’re ready to file you can do so by following the steps outlined here. There’s also an extremely helpful 41 minute video below that highlights what every small business should know now, not later when filing for a trademark. This is worth watching first to educate yourself further about trademarks and help you determine if it’s the right choice for your business.

We hope this article has helped give you some background information about the trademark process and some basic considerations. If you have questions about the process, contact an attorney that specializes in patent law for guidance. If you’re looking for more help naming a food truck, read our previously published blog post for more information.

Six New Revenue Stream Ideas to Grow Your Food Truck’s Brand and Business

The last time you visited a local Starbucks or Caribou Coffee shop you may have noticed something: There’s a whole lot more for sale than a simple cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich. The last time I frequented my local Starbucks location (a location I visit about 3 times per week) the store had a variety of items available for purchase. Here are a few items I observed at my location:

  • Mugs and tumblers with the Starbucks branded logos selling for between $12.99 – $19.99 on average.
  • Gum and mints strategically placed by the cash register to remind me that I will have coffee breath later.
  • Bags of coffee available for purchase that can be taken home and enjoyed. These sold for around $9.99 – $12.99 per bag.
  • Gift cards and a small selection of greeting cards for common occasions.

As the holiday season approaches later this year there’s no question the number of gifting options will balloon to include stocking stuffers and other coffee related gadgets. But instead of purchasing your coffee and moving on with your day, I recommend seeing what you can learn from a coffee business doing over $22 billion in annual sales.

Believe it or not you don’t need to be a multi-national conglomerate to offer value adding products for customers. You can offer similar items for your boutique food truck affordably if you know the options are and where to look. Here are a few smart ways you can add exciting new revenue streams for your business and grow your food trucks brand while you’re at it.

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

Six Ways to Increase Food Truck Revenue

Swag – Thanks to advances in printing and technology, you can get your log or brand message professionally printed on almost anything without spending a small fortune. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, hoodies, cups, hats, tote bags, and just about any other item you can be produced reasonably through websites like https://www.brokenarrowwear.com/. Here you can get 100 black shirts for around $7.62 a piece with free shipping. This leaves you with a lot of profit if you plan to sell for $15.00 – $20.00 per shirt.

Profit Potential: Low – You can usually sell one or two shirts per day, but selling branded items isn’t a huge revenue generator for most vendors that have tried. Still things like t-shirts, mugs, and other items don’t expire or spoil so you can retain inventory until it sells.

Food Products Seasoning Blends / Sauces – If you operate a BBQ concession business, bottling your blend of rubs or sauces makes a lot of sense. Once you start building a name for yourself through winning competitions this side of the business can be a real income booster since the price to make a rub is often low. Additionally, seasoning and sauces have a long shelf life so you won’t feel pressured to sell out at each event.

Profit Potential: High – The sky is the limit for this revenue stream. You can start by selling your product wherever you vend, but as your name grows continue to add distribution channels such as online and retail.

Advertising – More food trucks have gotten into the sponsorship game in one way or another. It makes sense because food trucks can serve as mobile billboards promoting a brand message in some of the most well attended events around a city. Often a brand will pay to wrap your truck with a brand message for this type of marketing often referred to as a food truck takeover. The city you operate will determine if these opportunities exist locally. Places like New York City or Las Vegas will have much more opportunities to monetize in this way.

Profit Potential: Medium – A vendor can expect to make a few thousand dollars per advertising event with their truck, but the opportunities can be few and far between.

Did you know? You can offer cooking classes on a food truck.

Cooking Classes –  Due to the popularity of cooking television and The Great Food Truck Race, cooking on a food truck is an experience people are willing to pay for. The average cost of a class will vary and depend on the type of food you plan to serve. Many vendors will choose to conduct their cooking classes during slow time periods like the A.M. on weekends or evenings on weekdays. You can expect people to pay between $50 – $100 for a single lesson or more if you plan to hold a once per week class.

Profit Potential: Low – You will be limited to the number of students you can teach. You also need to ensure your class hits a certain threshold of people to be worth your time. Also, keep in mind that there will be expenses associated with ingredients for cooking the food.

Cooking Competitions – If you serve BBQ, you already know about the opportunities here. Almost every weekend in the summertime you can probably find a smoked meat competition of some type near you.

Profit Potential: Low – Participating in a BBQ competitions can get expensive fast. You also need to consider the gas, time spent on travel, and entry fees for each competition. This is a great way to introduce your brand name, but it is expensive and extremely competitive. Many of the BBQ teams consider it a win if they break even on expenses at the end of the year.

Become a Food Expert – Transforming yourself from a food truck vendor into a food expert won’t be easy, but it is possible. There are many ways that you can develop into a food expert and make money: writing a book and making money from sales, creating a blog and generating revenue through advertising and product sales. Eventually you will be able to charge to speak at events.

Profit Potential: High – While the income potential is high as an expert, it will likely take you many years to reach a respectable income level. You will need to master your craft and spend years finding your unique voice for this to work.

As you can see there are many ways you can leverage the platform that is your food truck to build a lager food brand and increase overall profits. Have you tried any of these ideas in your business? How did they work out? Let us know in the comment section below.

The Easy Search-Engine Optimization Guide (SEO) For Food Truck Operators

Want to market your food truck on on major search engines like Google and Bing? Getting the major search engines to pay attention to your mobile food business is one of the easiest ways to generate new customers in addition to capturing lucrative catering opportunities that can really benefit the bottom line.

In order to get Google to take notice of your business, you’ll need to complete a little basic SEO or search-engine optimization. In layman’s terms, SEO is all about ensuring search engines find and display you prominently within results pages. You can get technical with it, but for this guide we want to give you a straight-forward trade manual you can use to improve the overall marketing of your business.

Many of the advice in this simple guide is requires minimal technical prowess or specialized knowledge. For the most part, all you need to do is set it up and enjoy the benefits.

Create a Google My Business Account

If you only take away a single tip from this guide… Do this one thing. Setup a Google My Business Account. If you’ve ever seen a bunch of listings in a map in the search results of Google like the image below, you’re seeing Google My Business listings displayed. If you don’t register for one of these free and easy to create accounts then you won’t be listed here. Instead one of your competitors will likely be displayed that is wiling to invest 30 minutes of personal time.

The process for registering a food truck on Google My Business is easy. Be as complete as possible when it comes to filling out your profile during the registration process. Questions that will be asked include asking your business name, telephone number, business address (you can note that you travel to customers by selecting a check box), and include a short description what your business does and a link to your official website or social media profile. After entering this information Google will verify your business account by phone call or postcard to ensure you’re a real person.

Although you aren’t required to add photos or video to a Google My Business listing you should to maximize the benefits of this tool. Google states that profiles that include more photos get more views than businesses without them. Plus in 2018 it’s really easy to get high-quality photos at no cost by using your phone. You can view a full list of image types that be added to Google My Business here.

As a food vendor, adding compelling photos to Google is really simple. Some good photo opportunities of your truck serving at an event is a quality option. Other opportunities are to take photographs of your food after it’s plated. Finally, be sure to take some action shots of food being created along with you and the staffs friendly faces. Customers like to see the people behind their favorite food trucks.

Finally, after your Google My Business profile is complete, be sure to encourage customers to leave honest reviews for your business on Google. Getting between 20 – 30 reviews for your business on Google will put you ahead of 95% of the competition in your area and help you secure more business.

Related Reading: Check out our post on marketing your food truck using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

A clear cab highlights the mobile kitchen interior of Triple J’s Pizzeria.

Optimize Your Website

After you’ve setup your Google My Business profile, the next step is to optimize your website for search. This section will only apply if you own a branded domain name like MR-Trailers.com for example. If you plan to use a Facebook page for the food trucks web presence you can skip this step.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, the goal of this step is the let search engines know what you are. In this case, you are a food truck that operates in a certain city.

Make sure to include the following type of statement within the text area of your homepage: Bob’s Rolling Pretzel Shop is a Food Truck Serving the Miami Area. 

This type of a statement helps search engines to understand what you are and where you serve customers. This basic statement should be included in the text area, title tag, and meta description fields of the website if you have access to all of them.

Another best practice is to include your telephone number, the name of your truck, and other contact information clearly on your website. This makes it easy for customers to get in contact you with catering opportunities or questions. Don’t make finding your contact information difficult!

Take Advantage of PR Opportunities

Without getting too far into the weeds, one way Google and other search engines algorithmically decide what results to show is by checking where are business has been referenced online. For example, if your food truck was quoted in a online news report about a fundraiser you participated in… This type of online reference would help your businesses placement in search.

Google views references or links to your food truck business sort of like a vote for your business and site. The more votes you get, the stronger signs of validation for search engines. Aside from press, other ways to further validate your business is to register with popular review websites like Yelp.

In conclusion, you could spend years mastering SEO for food trucks but as an operator you won’t have time. Fortunately, if you follow the advise outlined in this post, you’ll better positioned to compete in search compared to most other food vendors.

Ultimate Guide to Menu Display Options For Food Trucks

Every food truck has to display their menu on something, and every business owner has their preference. Some go for the simplest methods at their disposal, with the barest outline of items and prices (with or without descriptions), while others go for big pizzazz, flashy designs and sometimes even tech help! Does one’s choice in mediums for this affect final outcomes and success in any way? Ultimately I’d say that depends on the business owner’s perspective, the answer being similar to your thoughts on the necessity for a highly attractive and interesting wrap/graphic design for your truck/trailer as opposed to keeping a single matte color with minimal display.

At the end of the day it’s all about presentation, with various arguments going back and forth for what truly is necessary for the most successful. If there is anything truly important, however, it’s making sure to choose the right menu display option that fits YOUR business and particular needs. One can always change it in the future, supposing you’re starting off with an easily ditched style and replacing it with a just-as-easily attached one, but getting it where you want right at the start leaves one less hassle down the line. Of course sometimes one simply has to settle for a different idea due to lack of funds, yet another factor to take into consideration.

So towards this end, I thought it’d be fun to go over a collection of the main food truck menu styles that have seemed rather popular here and there, listing the Pros and Cons of each. For your consideration, here they are:

fm4WhiteBoard

The a-typical display in office board rooms and small neighborhood cafes, this smooth blank surface houses the familiar space to be filled with notes, drawings, and other things via marker, coming with an eraser that clears every bit of it within the blink of an eye.

Pro: Very inexpensive, super easy and fast to clean/wipe off and redo each day, so very accessible to changes. Also easy to find and set up on the side of the truck.

Con: Little to no real presentation value, tacky, often looking as cheap as they are unless one REALLY puts a lot of attention and effort into designs and writing on it. Parts of it can smudge/smear/wipe off easily from outside factors, so sections can need frequent re-writing and fix-up to keep looking decent (though not a problem if already planning to clean off and redo every day).

Chalk Board

fm2One of the favorites for menus both on the truck and sign-posted outside, something about the simplistic and sorta-rustic, sorta-old-school feel of the chalk board has seemed to thrum amongst truck owners. Likely due to the ability to portray their personality through its particular medium.

Pro: Much more attractive than the white board, seeming clean and smooth when done well, still in an affordable range, and with the ability to erase and change menu when needed. Very good at displaying one’s artistic sense if so inclined.

Con: A little more labor intensive when it comes to cleaning off as well as writing (if trying to make it look very clean, attractive, and professional; simple printed ‘item+price’ styles are easy), not to mention there ARE a lot of trucks using them so it’s not that unique on its own. One of the menus you’ll be spending the most time with very likely.

fm6Laminated Custom Menu Display

When you just have a design, logo, layout, and all manner of ways you want your menu to look that can’t be portrayed another way, getting something made custom to slap on the side is the way to go. These babies are usually laminated and/or placed under a case, are often made of unique set dimensions, and fit exactly what the truck owner wants (very much the difference between restaurant daily print-out menus and the ones that you know were hired out to have someone make at one point in time).

Pro: Custom, attractive, very presentable, this is purely expressive of YOUR truck and food, and needs no further effort once installed (besides giving a spray and wipe to make all shiny and stuff, but that’s done with cleaning).

Con: Specialty stuff always costs more money; and if you want it bolted on in a solid presentable way, then that will take some work (or likely, money to have someone else do). Also, this is one of the set menus, this is what you WILL be serving from now on, though there is the possibility for swapping it out with another custom menu later, but again that will be a cost. Additions can always be handled via extra cards and stuff attached/written on the side.

Metal/Hard Board Attachments

fm3Whether it’s a piece of metal bent and displayed beside the window, hard plastic filled with slider slots, or the typical cork-based tack-boards, having something more solid brings a clear and orderly approach to the customer’s eye. Many of these styles, custom made and attached, can have the menu painted on or used in conjunction with tabs that are attached or slid in on a daily basis.

Pro: Custom, often very nice and presentable looking, can be made to hold interchangeable menu item slots/cards for adjustable daily options, especially durable and long-lasting. Computer/spray printed words carry less worry and effort into the effect of writing it by hand every day.

Con: Besides the tack-boards, more costly still for the custom work compared to buying something one can put on the side of the truck yourself.  If getting one made with painted on menu, then flexibility in future offerings once again drops.

fm9Menu Cards, with or without Pictures

When you just wanna take the lazy way out, one can print out squares of paper from your own computer, each with a food item name, price, even description and/or picture if you want some. These can be attached to the afore-mentioned hard boards, stuck onto the side of the truck, or taped to a window.

Pro: No cost, very easy to put up as well as change display depending on menu for the day, the pictures CAN be a good way to give customers an understanding of what they’re getting. Presentation is also quite flexible, getting it wherever on the truck you want without being tied down.

Con: It’s tacky; even the pictures, which CAN be used positively, can often be viewed just as low quality (think of restaurant menus with pictures of almost everything vs simple, clean text). It’s often quite obvious that it came out of a word document.

“Butcher Paper Roll”

Whether it’s attached to the truck like a big brown toilet paper on a giant handlebar, or simply pulled off in sheets at home when needing to make a change, brown butcher paper (or similar material) can act as a quick and easy source of providing a BIG and LONG menu for a dynamic yet sort of rustic display.

Pfmro: Easy to change and redo, little actual maintenance (what’s ruined gets scrapped for something else), unique look, can be rather cheap up front depending on what and how used.

Con: Will have to continue buying more as time goes on and you run out of the roll. Black marker handwriting CAN come with similar associations as whiteboard look as opposed to clean text font if not done well enough (it’s less a pro-con situation and more just a choice on decided final look, unless handwriting of whoever does it sucks). If you have the roll attached to truck, it does LOOK nice and cool, but need to ensure proper protection in case of rain, so a small awning of sorts over it will be needed.

Television Screen

fm5Oh yes, why stick with simple boards and printed pieces of paper with stuff written/printed on it when you can just get a Flatscreen Television stuck into the side of your truck!? These have definitely become popular with some of the new wave truck owners, connecting it to the computer and pasting a slide of their menu to cover the whole screen as their choice of menu display.

Pro: Very distinctive and eye-catching, easy to see when dark out, and with a graphics screen purely in control by your computer, you can make the menu look however you want. Can also be used to show movies, sports games, slideshows, and other fun things depending on your crowd and event’s interests. Obviously also easily changed to meet seasonal menu needs.

Con: Usually needs to be installed IN the truck during the initial design, ending up a very costly choice for menu; and come on, TV vs Cheap board, it’s already a pricey upgrade. One also needs to ensure absolute protection, being difficult and costly for fixing and replacing once issues come up (luckily it’s being used for simple purposes). Depending on where it’s placed (most trucks have it in the notable open space to the side of the window, but I’ve seen ones that are peaking from within the serving window, requiring you to step up to see), one may want a secondary standing or side menu for people to study from a distance/off to the side.

Truck Graphics

Probably the simplest idea and most popular idea for food trucks, not even messing with getting something else and having it printed on the side of the truck along with whatever graphics you’re getting it ‘wrapped’ with. No room for wondering, people can just come up, look at the truck and know what’s there.

Pro: Fully Customizable, easy to see, attractive/interesting, no need to worry about special maintenance or cleaning, and if you’re already getting the truck wrapped/painted in unique graphics than there’s no extra cost in it.

Con: There is NO changing this menu at all, so you BETTER be confident that this is the food you’ll be serving from the truck from now on. Little seasonal additions can be added on with some printed paper and tape, but if you want a notable menu change then you’ll need a new wrap, and that’ll cost you. Thus it should only be attempted by certain kinds of trucks.

However you choose is up to you, there really is no right or wrong option here, so long as you find the one that fits YOUR Truck best. With luck hopefully this has helped your narrow down, or at least widen your idea to some of the different options. And I’m sure that’s not even all that’s out there, heck we didn’t even mention having it spray/painted on the window. If you want to explore even further or think of something new and unique all your own, go and do it! That’s the great part about this business, the adventurous spirit.

Custom Built Bubble Tea Food Trucks for Sale in Florida

Bubble tea got it’s start in Taiwan in the 1980s, but has quickly become an internationally consumed beverage served in many Vietnamese and Asian-inspired restaurants around the world. This beverage is also commonly called pearl milk tea, boba juice, or simply boba.

If you’re one of the few people left that isn’t sure what exactly bubble tea is, you’ve probably seen it. The beverage is quickly identified by the “boba” or tapioca balls that rest at the bottom of the drink. The image below displays a variety of popular bubble tea flavors, including green tea, honey dew, mango, and more. Note the black tapioca balls, also referred to as pearls, inside of each cup.

A variety of bubble tea flavors and colors.

A World of Flavors and Styles

There is a very wide-range of flavor combinations and style of bubble tea. Each truck or restaurant you frequent will have their own unique spin on the product. You’re job as the future business owner will be to figure out what style and flavor combinations perform best in your area.

Popular Boba Tea Flavors

Below is a list of the most popular flavors of bubble tea. We recommend conducting research in your local market to identify top sellers near you and continually testing flavor combinations to find what works.

  • green tea
  • mango
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • strawberry
  • coconut cream
  • passion fruit
  • bannana
  • lime

Sealed VS Not Sealed: There are also style and serving considerations that must be made before starting your boba business. One major consideration is the type of cups you will serve the product. Many establishments choose to seal their drinks so they can be more easily taken to-go and consumed later. Below is an example of an air-tight sealed cup that is often used. If you plan to serve this way, you will need a sealer machine like this installed on your vehicle.

Example of a sealed cup.

One important note is that boba is served with a wider and larger straw than most drinks. This is to allow the tapioca balls to be consumed through the straw. A regular sized soda straw will not work.

Bubble Tea Food Trucks

If you’re thinking about starting a boba tea truck, the business model works well on mobile food units. The operations of a boba tea truck is highly-similar to a coffee truck or van.

One of the advantages of operating mobile business that serves bubble tea is that it’s a habitual drink, meaning it’s a product that many customers will want to enjoy many times per week or even daily. In the United States, you see this all the time at coffee shops and Starbucks. Customers may come in and purchase the same drink, at the same time 5-days a week. This kind of highly-valuable repeat customer is possible with boba too!

There are a few ways to serve this type of drink. If you already own a coffee truck or kiosk, you could add the boba to your list of drink options as a strategy for attracting a larger customer base. Boba pairs well with coffee shops because it can serve as a catalyst for afternoon or evening sales. Many customers will turn to bubble tea for a sweet afternoon pick-me-up while there are many people that only consume coffee in the morning.

Bubble tea is the ideal addition to a coffee truck menu.

Profit Margin and Operations

The profit margin on bubble tea is high compared to other food items. In the restaurant industry, a profit margin of 33% for each item sold is considered acceptable to restaurant owners. With bubble tea, however, you can expect to profits of 55% – 75% depending on the drink being sold.

In most areas of the United States, you are able to sell a cup of bubble tea for between $4.00 – $6.00 depending on location. That mean’s you should be profiting at least $2.00 per sale conservatively.

In order to make restaurant-quality bubble tea, you won’t need a lot of special equipment. Space is always an important consideration on a food truck and you can easily install all the equipment you’ll need onto a standard sized food truck. Here’s the equipment you’ll typically need installed on a boba truck:

Blender: You’ll need a commercial-grade blender to mix flavors together. Many establishments serve ice blended variations of the drink so make sure you don’t cut corners on this piece of equipment.

Automatic Sealing Machine: As mentioned earlier in the article, if you plan to seal each drink, you’ll need this.  Commercial grade sealers can be purchased for between $1,500 – $2,000 online.

Shaker Machine: Some shops opt to shake the bubble tea by hand. This is a viable option if you want to save money, but if you plan do a high-volume of boba sales you’ll want to invest in a shaker machine. You can purchase a commercial grade shaker machine for $1,499 here.

Fructose Dispenser: This is another optional item for small shops that simply want to add boba as a profit center for their business. A fructose dispenser ensures that the right amount of fructose is dispensed each time you serve. In the long run this can help save money and improve product consistency.

Refrigerators:  Your going to need plenty of refrigeration space on your truck to keep things cool.

Whether you’re planning to operate your business in Florida, the United States, or across the world M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks can custom-build the bubble tea truck that fits your exact specifications and needs. Contact us here for a free, no-obligation quote on your bubble tea truck. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Five Awesome Custom-Built Mobile Video Game Trailers

competition video game

Photo Credit: Major League Gaming

Looking for a way to capitalize on the $16.5 billion dollar video gaming mega trend in the United States? One of the fast growing categories of mobile businesses we’ve seen in recent years is the rise of the video game party trailers. These trailers offer everything you need to host a truly memorable party for the serious gamer. These trailers combine all the  creature comforts of home, including built-in sofas, gaming chairs, and a easily assess refrigerator stocked with everything from snacks to sodas. In addition to everything you would expect to find in your living room these trailers also deliver an enhanced gaming experience that includes high-quality movie-theatre inspired surround sound, large high-definition televisions, and an isolated environment that allows you to really immerse yourself in the game.

These types of mobile entertainment businesses have popped-up in every metro across the country due to the popularity of video games especially first-person shooters like Halo and Call of Duty. These modified trailers can be the perfect addition to someone that already owns a local event or party company that usually delivers things like bounce houses. At a certain age, kids stop wanting to jump around in a bouncy castle as they progress into their teens and this can be the ideal way to continue to serve your base of customers as they grow.

There are multiple catalysts for growth in this category. First, many of the most popular multi-player online games now involve team play. This means that you can get together three or four of your buddies and do battle against another team. Over the past few years these video-game teams have become increasingly competitive and there are now leagues with professional video-game players. If you’re good enough, you can actually make a living playing video games these days.

Risks and Challenges

Although this is a proven model there are some risks associated. The primary risk is not the demand in on-site gaming, it’s actually how often you may need to upgrade your equipment. As you know video game systems, games, and technology change considerably every two – four years. To stay relevant, you will need to reevaluate your hardware needs on an annual basis at least to make sure you’re providing the type of entertainment experience that is in-demand by gamers right now. Here are a few examples of these custom game trailers that we like:

Key Components of a Video Game Trailer

Stereo Surround Sound – Sound can be a huge differentiator for your trailer and help gamers really hear the difference. Make sure you’ve got high-quality surround sound that includes sub-woofers for that bottom end difference. You need the sound effects to be an improvement over what the typical gamer has in his living room.

Television Screens – Everyone has a large flat-screen television at this point. To impress you’ll want to install something that is at least 60 inches in size. Fortunately, the price to invest in a large flat screen television gets cheaper each year.

Gaming Systems – Top of the line game systems like Xbox can be purchased for under $500 new. Make sure to ask your customers about new consoles that are coming out so you stay on top of the trends.

Seating Options – Many of the latest games involve team play. We recommend installing large sofas that can comfortably seat four player at a time. Four players is the standard for many of the multi-player team games at this time.

Refrigerators / Beverages – If you’re going to pull an all-nighter you’re going to need fuel. Make sure you’ve installed a full-size refrigerator and in some cases a mini-bar for players. These creature comforts are a nice touch that won’t go unnoticed by gamers.

If you’re looking for a cutting-edge video game trailer to be manufactured for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. We offer free build consultations and can make your vision a reality. 

Does it Make Financial Sense to Rent a Food Truck?

Depending on your needs, renting or leasing a food truck instead of buying can make sense from a financial perspective. In today’s article, we outline some of the situations where it makes sense to rent instead of buy so you can make the right decision based on your needs.

Generally speaking, if you plan to operate a food truck for any extended period of time it will be more affordable to buy the vehicle. Primarily because the cost renting a food truck on a monthly basis will be much higher than making a monthly loan payment. Renting a food truck on a monthly basis isn’t cheap. You can expect to pay between $3,000 – $6,000 monthly depending on the vehicle and who you’re renting from.

rib customer

Smokin’ Bull Shack

Additionally, when you rent, you aren’t “paying down” anything. The monthly expense for a lease will remain the same each month and never goes away. We find that proprietors that own a food truck can be paid off in full after a couple years of operation. We have many examples of folks that have fully paid off their food truck investment within the first year of operation. These individuals now have an asset they can quickly convert into cash if needed.

In addition to a high monthly cost, it can be difficult to find a food truck to rent depending on where you live. Full-time food truck vendors will make more revenue by operating their business than by renting out the vehicle longterm. Also, there’s a lot of trust that must be put into the renter from the ownership side. Will the renter take care of my kitchen? How will the renter drive the vehicle? There’s a lot of risk from the owner side is a reason this arrangement can be hard to find.

Finally, another challenge with renting a food truck is that it may not have the equipment you need to execute your menu idea. There are very different equipment needs if you plan to launch an ice cream versus a wood-fire pizza truck. If you plan to start something that’s frequently made on a truck like burgers or tacos the right leased vehicle will be easier to find.

When Does Renting a Food Truck Make Sense?

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

There are some scenarios where renting instead of buying is the smart move. Here are the situations we think you’d be better of leasing:

Short-Term or Special Event Marketing –  Do you only need a food truck for a few days all the way up to a month? In this case, renting is the way to go. You can use the food truck for a few days or weeks and then return it. You see this a lot for short-term events like music festivals or sporting events. You see this a lot with companies that may want to reach a targeted audience at an event to make the group aware of a product or service that’s out on the market. You can see how one of our customers uses vehicles built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks to provide major alcohol brands with a mobile presence here.

Test Run – If you’re not 100% sure you want to be a food vendor longterm renting can be a low-risk option. Not everyone is a good  fit for operating a mobile food business. If you’re not sure about whether you want to operate this type of business, testing it out for a month on a rented truck can be smart. This strategy could also be used if you have a innovative food product that you’re not sure if customers will pay for. At the end of the test month, if you decide you don’t want to operate a mobile food business longterm just return the vehicle and you might even break-even on the deal if you generated enough sales. If you do enjoy operating the business, you can begin making plans for your own food truck from there.

Where to Find Rentals

If you fit into a situation where you do want to rent there are a couple of good places to start the rental search process. First, you can contact the local food truck association in your town. Write them an email and let them know you want to rent a truck for a certain time period. Then the head of the association can reach out to their members to see what is available. You can also contact a company called MobiMunch.com. MobiMunch.com offers high quality food truck rentals in select cities across the United States.

Learn More about Food Truck Fanatics the Merrell Twins

What do two 20-year old twin sisters have to do with food trucks? In the case of the Merrell Twins they have their own online YouTube series called Food Truck Fanatics, where they travel around the Los Angeles area to meet, eat, and learn to cook food from some of the best food trucks in the city.

Food Truck Fanatics is more than just a couple girls and an iPhone traveling around to eat at different trucks. The program is part of the AwesomenessTV media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles that is valued at over $600 million. While you may not have heard of AwesomenessTV before, you’ve probably heard of the companies that have invested in them like Verizon and DreamWorks Animation.

While you may never have heard of the Merrell Twins, it’s probably because you’re too old. The online program is targeted towards preteens and early teens. Food Truck Fanatics episodes regularly receive between half a million and a million views online per episode so these girls are extremely popular. The Merrell Twins (Veronica and Vanessa Merrell) were born in 1996 in Kansas City, Missouri. Both moved to Los Angeles at 16 and have been extremely successful in the years that follow landing roles on current television shows like Jane The Virgin.

About Food Truck Fanatics

At the heart of this series is a cooking show. The Merrell Twins find a food truck famous for making a particular type of food ranging from tacos, to crepes, to bagel sandwiches. After a brief intro learning about the truck and the food they serve, the Merrell Twins learn how to make a specific menu item from the vendor. At the time of writing the series had 13 episodes that were 8 – 14 minutes in length on average. The program is well edited and will teach you more than a thing or two about cooking. You can watch a couple previous episodes below or binge watch the full series right here.

Ice Cream Waffle Challenge

Bacon Mac and Cheese Challenge

Bottom line, if you’re over the age of 16, this show may not be right for you. Still, you can learn a lot about cooking and the program does a nice job educating the youth of America about the work food truck vendors and helps promote the industry to a younger audience.

Less Vendors = Happier Food Business Owners

There’s a really interesting new blog series happening on the website FromAway.com right now on the topic of food vendors, vendor relationships, and time management. To get you up-to-speed, Malcolm Bedell owner of the food trailer ‘Wich, Please is sharing his lessons learned after his first 12 months transitioning from an employee working a desk job to being the CEO of his very own food business. It’s a riveting read that takes readers along on the critical first year in business.

You can get caught up on this series of posts below. Although Bedell’s lessons in the past year have ranged the gamut of hiring employees to his perspective on operating at large events, the lesson we’re going to lock in on for today’s post is Bedell’s topic of working with vendors. Or more specifically making sure you’re not spreading yourself too thin.

Lessons Learned: Part One – Learn Malcolm’s experience navigating local laws and why the support of the community is so critical for your business. 

Lessons Learned: Part Two – In this post, Malcolm explains his mindset shift from always needing to purchase the most expensive and artisan breads and cheeses when starting his business to having to make the tough decision to cut costs for the long-term health of the business. Malcolm also shares how interesting it is to work in an 8″ by 12″ foot trailer for a summer.

Lessons Learned: Part Three –  In the third and final segment, Malcolm shares his exact process for building a following on social media be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Additionally, he shares how the mentorship of other concession owners has been invaluable in the process of learning how to operate effectively.

wich,please

Less Vendors = Happier Food Business Owners

One of the topics in the lessons learned post above that really hit home to us was the insights learned about working with outside vendors. As a manufacturer of mobile food units, we have seen other vendors struggle with selecting food vendors as well and wanted to discuss the topic on a deeper level here.

When you’re in the early stages of starting a food business or are re-evaluating business relationships there are a couple important points we recommend taking into account. They are two of the most highly valuable resources your food business has:

malcolm1Time: As a food business operator, you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions every day. A typical day will include speaking with customers, booking catering gigs, cooking food, serving food, and we haven’t even gotten to the accounting part yet. To make things simpler on yourself, we recommend working with 1 – 3 food vendors only if possible for your food startup. This means less phone calls for you, but it also means less coordinating with other business owners, and even less travel.

Starting any type of business requires a gargantuan effort. Don’t make things even more difficult on yourself than they need to be.

Money: Anything you can do to cut food costs without compromising quality is a smart move. Ultimately, you as the business owner need to make the tough decisions on this one. Sure… It would be wonderful to go out and purchase artisan bread from three different bakeries and serve high-end $18 mustard with each sandwich. But if you do so, customers may not be able to afford your sandwiches if you want to make profit. You could also be cutting profit out of your service, which is not going to help you continue operating for long.

Overall, we thank Malcolm for sharing his experience operating a food trailer in his first year. It not only demonstrates some of the frequently made mistakes to look out for when getting started, but also shows that if you’re willing to learn and adapt with your business, you can be a successful operator on your own terms.

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