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blog category: Festival Food Vendors

FestivalNet, Asheville, NC

Will This Food Booth and Menu Make Money?

by Barb Fitzgerald, posted 01/21/21 10:38:01   category » Festival Food Vendors
This past year has been a year of transition for me. As it turns out, the older I get the harder it is to operate a high capacity tent operation at large events! So, last spring I made the decision to ground my tent/deep fry operation and instead spend the season doing small local events with a new custom built trailer and a new menu. Unlike the tent/deep fry operation that took many hours to set-up, this little trailer is easy to tow and can be ready to serve in less than an hour. The question was: would it make enough money?

Here are some things I learned:

-- Last season was scheduled with a variety of events to learn what market is the best for my new menu. I did the weekly 4pm to 8pm local farmers market plus many community events. All were close enough to home that I could easily commute each day and stock up from home, if needed. This was an important trial for this new menu. This season when I schedule events I'll know the type to target and the ones to avoid.

-- There is money to be made with a simple menu at small events providing you are willing to go to a lot of events! It just gets down to numbers. For example: a simple menu might do well to sell $500 during a four hour farmers market, a large capacity, multi-dish menu operation might sell $5000 at a two day community event. Simple enough. Therefore, to do $5000 with a simple booth/menu you would need to do ten days at the farmers market.

-- However, the math gets a little tricky. For example: the costs of doing business at multi-day events are much higher than short-term local markets because of traveling, lodging and labor. Additionally, event costs such as space fees need to be calculated on an individual basis. The fee for a single day at the farmers market might cost $35, versus the possible $50 to $1000 plus at weekend community events.

-- Food service licensing is also tricky to calculate because every county structures their fees a little differently, depending on what type of license you operate under (mobile or temporary).

As for my new little concession trailer, I designed it specifically to serve my simple menu at small, local events. I had very specific criteria in mind:

-- Foremost, I wanted a booth and menu that are simple enough to work alone thereby eliminating the cost and uncertainty of hiring help.

-- I wanted the trailer to be as "open" as possible. So, I made it a "rag-top" where each side panel of vinyl is rolled up for maximum exposure. Alternately, I can roll down certain panels if the wind, rain or sun is coming in too intensely from one direction.

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-- The menu needed to be simple enough so as not to require hauling extra stock and essentials like propane tanks. Everything I need for a single day of business can be hauled either in the trailer or the bed of my truck.

-- The trailer needed to be light enough to tow with my small pickup truck and wheel around by hand on the jack wheels.

-- The trailer is only ten feet long and fits perfectly within a typical standard ten foot space. The actual box is nine feet long; the tongue is one foot plus a two foot removable stinger.

-- And, it's mounted on a single drop axle – so it's lower to the ground making it easier for kids to order. (The design would work well for selling many things besides food, such as baked goods, crafts or farm produce.)


Food Booth Help

Although the little trailer will make far more money next year when I put into practice the lessons I learned, I am still not ready to throw in the towel on my deep fry menu. So, I'm designing another trailer specifically for that! With it I will do a handful of my favorite, longstanding events and also run the little ice cream trailer at the local farmers market and small, local events. I'm excited because this new fry trailer will get me away from the heavy work of setting up a tent and equipment, plus enable me to continue to serve at the larger events, but mostly because it's going to be an AWESOME trailer.

by Barb Fitzgerald for Foodbooth.net


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No Cost Marketing Tools

by FestivalNet, posted 11/19/20 13:41:10   category » Festival Food Vendors

8 No Cost Marketing Tools For Your Food Truck
by Richard Myrick for Mobile-Cuisine

Savvy marketing tools and techniques can attract more customers to your food truck or food business and more viewers to your website. By building your presence without paying for advertising, you’ll have extra cash to invest in other areas.   


image via arturo rey

Put your URL on all documents and packaging

There's no added cost to include your URL on every single piece of collateral that leaves your food truck or food business. For example:

* Truck wrap
* Business cards
* Letterhead
* Invoices
* Receipts
* Catering presentation folders
* Take-away menus
* Press releases

Be sure your URL appears in all of your advertising and social media. And of course, include it on all forms of packaging: cartons, labels, bags, and any other containers you use.

5 Ways To Build Food Truck Staff And Customer Loyalty

by Richard Myrick, posted 10/22/20 13:39:59   category » Festival Food Vendors
Why do you own a food truck or why are you planning to start one? Is it merely to make money or do your employees and customers factor into the decision making process? Do your plans include staff and customer loyalty?

If you want a successful food business you must prioritize loyalty to your employees, customers and the community, no matter what the bottom line is saying.




Develop Long-term Relationships

No matter what position a staff member is hired for, you need to think about and share your vision for their future within your food truck business. Promoting from your existing staff builds trust and gives employees goals to shoot for.

These long-term employee relationships will also boost morale and productivity within the truck. This helps the business out by providing lower turnover and keeps overhead as low as possible. The lack of turnover will also cut down on the costs of training.

By the time someone reaches a leadership position they will have a thorough understanding of all of the systems and intricacies of your food truck business. This means that they can operate more efficiently.

Buy In Bulk

This one may sound odd at first, but much like successful restaurants, you need to take advantage of your food truck community/organization to negotiate volume discounts with local suppliers. This will also add to building a long-term relationship with suppliers to assure they will provide you with low prices.

Keep Prices Low

This one ties into the previous point. By getting volume discounts from suppliers, you will be able to keep your prices as low as possible while providing consistently high quality menu items. Not only will this keep customers coming back (and drawing new ones), but they'll do so as long as they see the perceived value in the quality of the food you serve them.

Don't Carry Debt

Food truck owners need to try and stay away from long term debt. This may not be the easiest point to follow through with, however, it will help you from having to make monthly debt payments. In turn, it allows you room to earn a profit while still charging your low prices.

Make It A Family Affair

Treat each of your employees and customers as if they are a member of your family. If you take anything away from this article it should be that the best investment to make in your food truck business is to create and sustain the loyalty of employees and customers.

The Bottom Line

It's not always easy to earn staff and customer loyalty, but employing these few tips should go a long way to getting you started!


Visit https://mobile-cuisine.com/ for more food truck tips and resources!

Gotta Love a Drive-Thru Fair!

by Julie Cochrane, posted 09/30/20 12:17:30   category » Festival Food Vendors
Gotta Love a Drive-Thru Fair!
If you are lucky enough to be near Winston-Salem this weekend, you'll want to start getting hungry now and make a plan to get there!

The Carolina Classic Fair didn't close their doors this year because of Covid. Instead they designed a fun-for-the-family drive-thru style event to help celebrate the food and community that fairs typically cultivate. Twelve food vendors will be serving up fair faves that will be ordered touch-free and then picked up at the food and merchandising station.

"It’s about bringing as much of the Fair to the community as possible in a time that we cannot hold our traditional Fair. We hope that you enjoy what is put together with the current state of the country and our available resources. We are excited to work with existing Fair food vendors and support their livelihoods that have been rocked during this pandemic." - Event Website

The Fair put together this helpful video to explain the route and activities to enjoy for the Drive-Thru. Kudos to Carolina Classic Fair! Have fun!




When and Where:

421 27th Street NW
Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Thursday – Sunday: 11 A.M. – 7 P.M.
October 1 – 4, 2020

https://carolinaclassicfair.com/

Reducing Your Food Truck Portions

by Richard Myrick, posted 08/25/20 10:12:13   category » Festival Food Vendors

by Richard Myrick for Mobile-Cuisine

If your books tell you that you need to lower your food costs, reducing your protein serving portions can be a great cost cutting measure. The key is remembering to cut portion sizes strategically so as not to look like you’re "being stingy" with your customers.



image via arturo rey

Celebrating Festival Food Carts During COVID

by Julie Cochrane, posted 06/25/20 13:15:37   category » Festival Food Vendors


One thing that remains "essential" during social distancing is that we all need to eat.

Festival food vendors might not be able to bring their businesses online like their artist, crafter and musician counterparts, but many have found ways to bring their businesses out to their neighborhoods and feed families. And so many others are trying new things to stay afloat during COVID.  We wanted to highlight many of our food vending members who are doing just that.



Keep Calm and Eat at a Food Truck


"Oh My Pizza Pie" in Austin, TX offered buy one get one free pizzas. The free pizza was for anyone that could use it in this crisis time like Healthcare workers, people out of work, & older people who can't leave home. "People would drive through, put money or check in a box (we didn't make change to avoid handling money) and get the pizzas without getting out of the car. This was posted and shared many times on facebook and was successful."


Garden Garlic Seasoning owner Lauren Falcione in Broadview Heights, OH is now selling her goods wholesale to grocery stores.


"My seasonal gelato business will start in May with home deliveries using the food truck for small groups of people. Not sure when the festivals and food truck gatherings will start back up, so trying to downscale my audience with private orders." - Coppa Magica Gelato - Kathryn Kelley,  Portsmouth, ME


Ah’Leisha Cole (Ah’Leisha’s Cookie Co. LLC) in Prairie Village, Missouri is baking from home and delivering or shipping items to customers relying heavily on her Facebook page.


Kona Ice of Boulder's Christopher Geurden in Erie, CO is driving around neighborhoods with his shaved ice truck.

Gold Swan Lemonade owner Brian H. Self in Wake Forest, NC is offering Street Vending and has incorporated online ordering & delivery.


Mother Truckin Pizza Food Truck owner Kellie Ride in Jacksonville, FL is serving neighborhood family dinners from our food truck.  They've added online pre orders that allow for designated pick up times to aid in social distancing.


Partnering with brick and mortar businesses is a popular option. Gess What’s Cookin owner Dave Gess in Naperville, MN did just that. "Found a local spot with one of our Breweries, We are actually doing decent as a few of our local restaurants were closed."


Stargazers Gourmet, Starla Gade in Corvallis, OR:  "Updated web site, created some specials, a few regular events promoting vendors. Local delivery & still donated about $2000 worth of fudge to several folks helping our community. So much better than throwing it out."  


The Cruisin' Chef, Alanna Lieber in Mount Pleasant, Michigan: "We began creating "Heat & Eat" meals for people to preorder or pick up 3 days per week. These are full meals that simply need to be warmed in the microwave. They are delicious and just like a homecooked meal without the effort. We also designate 1 day each week for home delivery within our area for those who can not, or are afraid to, get out. We wear protective masks and gloves when in contact with any customers. The price of the meals includes tax and is a flat rate of $10 each so change is minimal. We keep all incoming cash separate and hand wash it each evening in hot soapy bleach water, rinse individually and lay out to dry. Our card reader is sanitized between each customer and we now accept checks. For days the truck is setup, we are drive through only and one of us goes out to each vehicle to take the order and deliver. Again, protective gear is worn at this time. Keeping our customers safe and fed are our top priorities."


Jay Stafford of California Cuisine in Cameron Park, CA is building a website that will offer custom spices and herbal blends.





To all food vendors getting creative and trying new things right now, our hats are off to you!

Keep truckin', and cooking up good ideas! Thank you.

How to Get Your Food Truck Queues to Move Faster

by Richard Myrick, posted 09/16/19 16:00:58   category » Festival Food Vendors

At some point we all find ourselves standing in line. Never fun, but it feels better if it moves at a nice clip. The thing is, you can get the same effect by making the line appear to move quickly. Managing appearances means managing your customer’s perceptions. Here’s how:



Queue Management

  • Be sure to have a line, not a crowd, standing in front of your service window. An orderly progression towards the service window gives customers a sense of calm.
  • Keep your queues narrow. Single file lines move more quickly.
  • Arrange the line so those waiting can see the person currently being served. Watching another customer being served makes your place in line appear closer. When the actual service is out of site, your turn can seem miles away.
  • After each customer is served, use a light, bell or chime to announce to everyone 'Next!'. This keeps the next person alert (saving time between customers) and gives everyone a regular cue that the line really is moving.
  • When the wait is truly long, send a member of your staff to interact with customers in advance. They can answer questions, provide information and thank them for their patience. Choose staff with personality and make sure they all understand about why there is a delay.
  • Play music inside your truck that is loud enough to be heard outside. Make sure to find out at what levels your local codes permit music to be played.

Vehicle Modifications

  • Put a TV or video screen on the side of your food truck. Choose an appropriate channel for your customer base. This is a great way to toss them some advertising of an upcoming food truck event your team will be attending.
  • Cooking demonstration videos are a great distraction for a hungry crowd.
  • Have menus on display beside the line, so people will be ready to order when they arrive at your service window.
  • Provide information alongside the line to attract the attention of those who are waiting. When customers become involved, time flies faster.
  • Give customers a reason to use their mobile phone. Waiting in your line is the perfect time to check a quiz or competition you are holding on your website, or download your mobile app. Or check in to your page on Facebook, Foursquare or post a quick photo or video on Instagram.

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways to manage your customers while they wait to be served. Choose one or more of these suggestions and try them out. See your queues run smoother! Enjoy those smiling customers!


By Richard Myrick for Mobile Cuisine

 

When Food Carts Close for Winter

by Barb Fitzgerald, posted 11/13/14 14:18:17   category » Festival Food Vendors

 

Recently, as I drove through Portland Oregon, I passed several food carts that were closed for winter. It got me wondering what the operators of these carts do for income while they wait for better weather to re-open in the spring. It also makes me wonder why these people chose to open a food cart rather than sell seasonally at special events with a food concession. I assume the need for a full-time income is the main reason. But, if a food cart is forced to close for lack of sales, what is the advantage of having a food cart? Do they prefer to sell from a stationary location, regardless, rather than set-up at temporary events? Or, are there other reasons?

I suspect that many food cart operators want a full-time income but didn't know in advance of opening how well they would do month-by-month. It is no small thing to design a food cart and menu, become licensed, and commit to a location. And, it is not until the cart has been open through the seasons that they learn if their location and menu will produce a steady income. At that point, if their location doesn't sustain adequate sales, it is difficult and expensive to move a food cart to a better location.

Food carts depend on foot traffic for business. When the weather is cold and wet too many customers remain indoors or rush past clutching their umbrellas. Depending on their location, some food carts can provide their customers a warm, dry place to eat with an awning, propane heater and picnic tables set in front of their cart. Other carts are restricted from doing this.

 

Read more here!

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