How to Use a Food Truck to Supplement Your Restaurant
Most often a food truck is the stepping stone to opening a restaurant. But increasingly the opposite is happening: many restaurants want to open a successful food truck business alongside their brick-and-mortar restaurant business.
The most prevalent business model for food trucks starts with the mobile version of the restaurant before transitioning into the more expensive brick-and-mortar locations. Success stories about food trucks turned restaurant-in-a-building are far-reaching.
Yet, we also see large food brands using the food truck as a marketing tool. Additionally, small and medium size restaurants are expanding their brick-and-mortar restaurants into mobile food trucks to supplement their restaurant by reaching a wider audience and for the added advertising benefit.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 19% of established restaurants say they are very or somewhat likely to launch a food truck within the next two years. This is especially true of fast, casual restaurants wanting to increase their audience.
What is the main appeal for this restaurant-to-food truck revolution? Marketing and audience reach. (tweet this)
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the ways you can use a food truck to supplement your restaurant business.
Reach New Customers
Say you live in a large city, and your restaurant is on the far west side. How can you reach customers on the far east side who aren’t willing to make the 45 minute drive for dinner? What about lunchtime traffic and reaching people with a limited amount of time for their lunch hour? One way to reach them is with a food truck.
Parking a food truck in different locations across town widens your audience and broadens your restaurant’s appeal. You’ll introduce more people to your restaurant through your food truck and hopefully develop a loyal following. While these customers may tend to eat at your food truck most often, you’ll inspire them to search out your restaurant to try your larger in-house menu.
For new food truck owners, following are some tips for getting hungry customers to your food truck:
- Post location updates on your website. Ideally, you should list a month’s worth of locations at a time. If that isn’t possible, post at least your weekly schedule.
- Social media is one of the quickest and easiest ways to update your customers on your location. People expect to find your location listed on Facebook and Twitter.
- Take it to the next level with location apps. These keep your location readily available to potential new diners.
- Post information in your restaurant or hand out calendars.
Update your location regularly to connect with customers who are hungry for your restaurant and their next food truck fix. You’ll reach a wider audience and bring more people to your truck and eventually your restaurant.
Offer Full-Service Catering
Your customers are looking for an easy way to entertain at home without the prep and clean-up work. Your restaurant’s food truck can provide restaurant quality food in offsite locations. Consider the beach, the park or even a home party. Your food truck is your professional kitchen – wherever you need it to be.
If you’ve wanted to dive into full-service catering, but the work involved seemed daunting, a food truck may be your answer. While you already operate your food truck in locations around town with a specific menu, you can also use your food truck to book private events. Your food truck allows you to extend your restaurant operations into a full-service on-site catering option.
Some ways to involve your food truck in catering include:
- Your food truck is on-site.
- A larger, more flexible menu selection from your restaurant is available for the on-site catering. Food is made to order for the event.
- You can offer professional staff members and liquor bars/bartenders.
- Offer a personal food truck catering manager.
- Provide food clean-up.
Offering catering through your food truck again increases your restaurant’s reach and encourages new customers to seek out your food truck and your restaurant.
Promote a Signature Dish
Does your restaurant have a signature dish? Perhaps diners love your empanadas. Take them to more people by serving them in your food truck. Try serving an abbreviated menu, featuring items that blend well with your signature dish, at your food truck. The truck in turn encourages diners to check out your restaurant.
For smartly run trucks, the road from restaurant to food truck to restaurant comes full circle by capitalizing on your most popular items.
On the other hand, you can also use your food truck as a testing ground for a new menu item. This allows your creative chef to try something new without risk to your brick-and-mortar restaurant location.
Just remember that food trucks are designed to focus on doing a few things incredibly well. (tweet this) Space is at a premium, and your food truck menu should be lean and streamlined. Your food truck isn’t a full kitchen – don’t overdo your menu. Recall the old days when trucks or food carts specialized in one food, like hot dogs. Capitalize on their success as you bring your modern restaurant to the food truck.
Capitalize the Restaurant Kitchen
By capitalizing on your brick-and-mortar kitchen, you’ll save money in the long run. Use your restaurant’s kitchen for prep work and avoid renting space. This also allows you to reduce food waste because you can be more conservative when stocking your truck. If you run low on supplies, you can always call the restaurant for more.
Offset the Slow Season
While your food truck revenue might not be vast, your food truck can offset the slow season for your restaurant and allow you to keep staff instead of laying them off. You’ll leverage the same staff and even suppliers during your slower times.
Your food truck also allows you an additional revenue stream. Perhaps the restaurant is busy in the winter, and your food truck is busy in the summer. Running them consistently throughout the year will perhaps lead to a closing of the gap and no slow season for either business window.
Hit the Event Circuit
Walk-up traffic is great, but don’t forget the event circuit. Park your truck and enjoy the easy customer pickings. You’ll highlight your truck and your restaurant at the same time. Your truck’s specialty items will inspire diners to head over to your restaurant for the full menu.
Having both a brick-and-mortar restaurant and a food truck expands your restaurant brand. It allows you to diversify and increase your dining customers.
When branding your food truck, make sure to add your restaurant’s logo to the sides and back. This also helps drive traffic to both your restaurant and your food truck. Name recognition is a key to bringing customers to both venues.
Include signage about your food truck in your restaurant. Mention both sites on your phone hold recording. Cross promote both your restaurant and your truck on your website and in social media.
Have you recently diversified your restaurant and opened a food truck, or are you thinking about it? Count on our expert team to help you build a restaurant website to manage both aspects of your business. Request your free website consultation today!