One mistake that beginning mobile food vendors make is that they don’t build a plan of where and when they plan to vend. The other frequently made mistake is that they don’t build out enough prospective locations to vend at. These new business owners may have a local flea market in mind or an event they plan to serve at. But if the first location or two doesn’t work out they struggle to figure out what to do next.
When you start a food truck of your own, you’ll be doing a lot of experimenting with locations in the early days to figure out what spots and operation times are the most profitable for your business. It’s important to keep in mind that just because a certain event works well for a pizza truck, doesn’t mean that it will be a home run for a donut trailer. Consumers eat and drink different items at different times so it’s important to give yourself time to figure this stuff out in the first few months of the business.
Building out a daily operations plan doesn’t need to be complicated either. You can open up a Word Document and start planning out what you think a Sunday – Saturday would look like as a food truck operator. A cheap calendar and a pen will accomplish this task just as well. This is a great time to begin thinking about the times and locations your food truck would be most profitable to operate. For many food vendors, the question of when to operate will be straight forward. If you’re planning to serve meals like hamburgers and french fries for example, the most profitable operation hours will be lunch and dinner on Fridays and weekends. If you plan to focus more on beverages, like coffee for example, your most profitable hours will be in the morning.
As you begin to build out this operation plan, be honest with yourself if this is the type of hours you want to work. If you’re a morning person, operating a food unit that will generate most of it’s sales in the evening might not be the right choice. If you’re still in the planning and prep phase of your business this is the ideal opportunity to reflect on the what type of a lifestyle you want to have in addition setting business and revenue goals. The business should serve you as much as you serve and grow the business.
As an example, we’ve published a sample operations plan that you can use as a guide for developing your own operation schedule to show you just how easy this is to get started with. In the example below, we’ve created the plan for a coffee truck business, but you can edit the hours of operation and strategic selling locations to reflect your future business and geographic area.
Serving hours are built to capture both weekday mornings (high-demand time for coffee), as well as weekend evenings (high projected demand for pre-made dessert items). The specific locations we plan to vend are outlined below in the Strategic Selling Locations for Daily Operation
|Weekly Operations Schedule|
Serving Days: Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Serving Times: Morning
7AM- 12PM 7AM- 12PM 7AM- 12PM 9AM- 2PM
Evening: 6PM- 10PM 6PM- 10PM
The desserts and baked goods being sold are already prepared and packaged. Since we want to focus primarily on serving coffees and teas, we will purchase food products from other vendors. The following schedule outlines when food preparation is done as well as the equipment maintenance and communication / business development with other clients. Although we will be handling regular business communication throughout the week, we want to carve out specific times to conduct this work as well to avoid overwhelm.
Food Prep, Equipment Maintenance, Business Development
Tuesday: 2 – 6 p.m.
Thursday: 2 – 6 p.m.
Friday: 2 – 6 p.m.
Strategic Selling Locations For Daily Operation
Selling locations will represent where the coffee truck parks most of the time. These locations are businesses who have given written permission (often times by email) to park its truck at their location. Businesses will do this for goodwill, symbiotic benefit, or sometimes revenue sharing opportunity. At most selling locations, our business will be the only mobile food vendor present. Strategic selling locations inside our city include:
The Temecula Library, Weekly Farmer’s Market at the Promenade Mall, Weekly Farmer’s Market in Old Town, Saturday flea market on Winchester, outside of the wineries, outside of local breweries.
Strategic selling locations nearby Riverside County include:
Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Avocado Days in Fallbrook, numerous hot rod events around the area.
Strategic events are festivals, fairs, and public gatherings that include mobile food vendors. Strategic events very often must be booked very far in advance of the event. They represent opportunity for high volume of sales in a short period of time. In future years as we develop additional relationships, we expect to participate in more of these lucrative annually held events.
Strategic events in Riverside County include:
Ballon and Wine Festival, Summer Concert Series, Summer Movie Nights, Temecula Food Truck Rally, Pet Adoption Events, High School Homecoming, High School Sporting Events, Sport Team Fundraising events, Fall Festivals, Halloween Festivals, Christmas Tree selling locations.
We hope you use this post to develop your own operations plan. If you’re having trouble figuring out where and when to vend one of the best places to start looking is at the social media profile of other food truck vendors in your area. The most popular food trucks will regularly publish their hours of operation / where they plan to vend on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. This makes it easy to find locations that allow mobile food vendors on a regular basis.
Finally, start to be more aware of where you see food trucks operating around the city. If on your next trip to Home Depot, you see a concession trailer take note of the location and add it to your list of potential vending locations. Simply being aware of your surroundings as your doing your regular routine around the city will help you identify other profitable vending locations.