Thinking of opening a food truck?
Then you might want to check out Running a Food Truck for Dummies, a new book that aims to simplify the process for would be food truck entrepreneurs.
Richard was kind enough to chat with us about his new book and his experience in the food truck space.
TFT: How long have you been involved in the food truck industry?
RM: I started following food trucks back in mid 2010. Prior to that time, I had worked as an architect in the retail development industry. When the recession hit, the company I was working for started laying people off and eventually went into chapter 11 bankruptcy. 3 rounds of layoffs later, they finally found my cubicle and I was out of work, with no prospect of getting another. The recession stopped a lot of construction projects, and I knew it was going to be a long time before the industry started to pick back up. So as a way to figure out another means of income, my wife and I started discussing the idea of opening a hot dog cart here in Chicago. Once I started researching I came to the quick realization that there weren’t any site on the Internet that really covered the industry except for a few blogs on the West coast, and they really only covered foodies type subjects regarding mobile food.
It was this realization that prompted me to start writing about the industry in a blog. My goal was for Mobile Cuisine was to be part industry trade magazine and part entertainment blog. We are coming up on our 2 year anniversary and I have been writing about the industry 5 days a week since I started.
TFT: What made you want you want to write the book?
RM: The book came as a total surprise. One day while writing a blog post, I received an email from someone claiming to be an editor with John Wiley & Sons who wanted to know if I had interest in writing a for Dummies book for people interested in the food truck industry. Since I really had no knowledge of the publishing industry, I reached out to a friend who was. After a quick search on LinkedIn, it was determined that the email was genuine and not some spam marketing ploy. With this information in hand we started discussing what they were looking for, and it seemed as though it was a great opportunity for myself and others interested in getting involved in the mobile food industry. Writing Running a Food Truck for Dummies was going to be a perfect platform to do this.
TFT: What’s the biggest misconception among new food truck owners?
RM: It doesn’t take long for a new food truck owner to realize that while the industry has gained a lot of the foodie spotlight as being an exciting field to get into, it is no walk in the park. There are long hours involved even before the truck gets rolling, and those hours expand once the truck opens for business. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic industry for those willing to put in the hard work, but if someone thinks they can merely purchase a truck with some kitchen equipment in it and start a successful business venture, they need to think again. Throughout the book, I explain the ins and outs of owning a food truck from the developing of a concept to the marketing of their products and service to hiring a great staff.
TFT: What’s the biggest challenge new food truck owners face?
RM: Perfecting their menu and their operational systems. Without these systems in place, it doesn’t matter how well you can market your truck or how long the lines are on your opening day. You need to have a well-developed, tasty menu that you can cook consistently, and you need to maximize the staff you have to prepare the food and get it out the window in a timely fashion. You are going to be introducing your product to new people every day, the goal is to provide them with a meal and fantastic service that will get them to keep coming back, and becoming brand ambassadors who will pitch your truck to their friends and family.
TFT: What’s the one piece of advice you would offer aspiring food truck owners?
RM: Before you jump into opening a truck, you need to make sure you have enough starting capital to help your business make it through its first 6 to 12 months of operation. Many people think that by getting enough money to scrap together to get the truck opened is enough. It isn’t. Just as any small business, the first year is going to be the most difficult and if you don’t have enough capital to pay your bills or your staff (including yourself) you could find yourself unable to purchase the food required to sell of the truck.