You may have wanted to open up a restaurant from the start, but opted for a food truck to get some experience and capital under your belt. Your concept and food found a strong following, some of which have been clamoring for a restaurant in which they can linger and enjoy your delectable food—and not have to wait for your truck to show up. The signs are evident—it’s time to pursue your dream.
The benefits of going mobile before settling down are many. One of these is the fact that you’ve been roaming the streets and know what locations have brought in the large drove of customers. You probably have a good idea of the persona that is called to your concept—your target customer. This information gives you an advantage over others just entering the market from the ground floor. Stick to the locations where you’ve experienced a loyal following and be sure to make your grand entrance into a brick and mortar location just that…grand.
You’re also ahead of the new competition when it comes to menu and food pricing. Well, at least the menu part of the equation. Your historical data tells you what worked and what didn’t and what plates offered the highest profit. Take into account what your following’s favorite menu item is and consider making that your signature dish. With the increasing costs you are going to incur, you will need to make sure that your food is consistent and priced to provide a profit. Food costs generally fall into the 28 to 32 percent of total food sales. You will need to take into account prep time, portion control and additional labor costs.
All or Nothing
You don’t have to say goodbye to your food truck because you are opening a physical location. If you experienced multiple areas that hosted a good following, consider keeping the truck in operation a few days a week and focus on those areas that you previously served. You can also use it for catering for special events or as a marketing tool. Spending half-a-day at the local farmer’s market, serving up great food and talking-up your restaurant is a great way to entice loyal fans. Another benefit: Many food trucks require a commissary in order to prepare food in health inspected food prep facilities. That additional cost and sometimes headache can be done away with. Your restaurant staff can now help prepare food truck items in their down time.
Multiple Streams of Income
“In today’s uncertain economy, the safest solution to be wealthy, be in total control and enjoy freedom for you and your family is to have multiple streams of income.”—Robert G. Allen
This is a wonderful opportunity to follow Robert Allen’s suggestion and create multiple streams of income. In addition to keeping your truck operating and adding catering to your offerings, gain an additional stream of income by creating a specialty line of products.
Skillet began as a food truck in Seattle, Washington about 10 years ago. Today, three food trucks, three restaurants, a catering company and a product line make up their enterprise. Besides selling their own products, they also found a niche in specialty food stores. Their bacon jam is an example of someone who knew the benefits of casting their net wide. Not only is the product in specialty stores, it’s also in some Costco’s, Whole Food locations, and flying the friendly skies on Alaska Airlines.
Know your numbers and do your homework before signing a lease. Consider industry-standard restaurant benchmarks and how you plan on meeting those. Determine the capital you require and the costs involved in creating your brick-and-mortar. Many landlords will negotiate with a proven-venue that has a brand and loyal following in place, so don’t forget to put your past history and present success to good negotiating use.