Many restaurant owners worry about competing with trendy food trucks that have less overhead, greater mobility and strong support from consumers who appreciate unconventional dining options.
Restaurateurs can counter these advantages. The simplest ways of doing that is by not forcing a brand choice on customers, but highlighting both businesses strengths.
Also, you can offer faster take-out service, marketing box lunches/picnic items and offering expanded choices during daylight hours.
An even better idea would be undercut food trucks by launching your own.
Leveraging Popular Trends to Increase Restaurant Sales
Food trucks have been common since the 1950s, but social media, Instagram publicity, media support, lower prices and increased gourmet food options have made food trucks extremely popular.
- Petitioning city government to limit parking near restaurants and to enforce health and licensing regulations rigorously
- Offering competitively priced options, easy mobile ordering and faster preparation of food during lunch
- Providing delivery service in the neighborhood
- Emphasizing the restaurant’s food safety process in newsletters, advertising and social forums.
- Holding special events to attract customers
- Increasing loyalty rewards for dining when food trucks are most active
Any marketing or campaigning where you try to squeeze out food trucks directly can backfire. You have to consider the public relations consequences and if your attempts at creating a better business environment will be successful. Ask yourself: will you turn locals against your business?
Consider the Advantages of Buying a Food Truck
If established restaurants still lose business after employing countermeasures, then one option is to buy a food truck for the restaurant. Owning a proprietary food truck provides a restaurant some compelling advantages over competitors.
Competitors frequently are required to lease an approved kitchen space for preparing and storing certain foods and sanitizing cooking equipment.
There are marketing benefits too. A brick-and-mortar restaurant that has a mobile marketing platform can expand its operations with mobile catering and selling food at fairs and festivals. This attracts new customers for the restaurant’s permanent location and increases the number of foods that trucks can offer.
Competitive Advantages of Restaurant Owned Food Trucks
Other advantages of restaurant-owned food trucks include:
- Menus are easy to change seasonally.
- Parking in front of the restaurant won’t generate complaints. This may make sense during very busy periods at the restaurant.
- Restaurants can explore business opportunities in different neighborhoods.
- Using sustainable local produce, the food truck promotes the restaurant and vice versa.
- Bulk orders and catering become easier when managed on location.
- Food trucks are great for testing new recipes and food niches.
- Restaurants can offer lower prices than other food trucks because they order in bulk and have established vendor relationships.
- Food trucks can offer custom menus for different neighborhoods and build business by offering certain menus on alternating days.
- Food trucks have small, simple kitchens that lower paid staff can operate effectively.
- A food truck hedges business strategy: On pleasant days, food trucks do more business, but during bad weather, the brick-and-mortar facility generates higher sales.
- Restaurants can use slow restaurant employees effectively during slow periods to clean, sanitize and maintain food trucks.
Most restaurant-owned food trucks get the benefits of greater food and safety expertise, higher name recognition by diners, supervision by experienced chefs and stricter quality controls.Countering food trucks is just one of the problems that any restaurant faces. But strategic planning, nurturing loyal customers, providing better food and supporting increased dining options for consumers are the safest ways to counter competition without offending food truck supporters.
Buying a food truck offers many advantages for restaurants, and in many cases (especially urban) the strategy complements and enhances brick-and-mortar operations.