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July 2019

Boosting Your Food Truck's Menu Profitability
By Richard Myrick for Mobile Cuisine 

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Your menu's pricing is the most important factor in determining profitability. It's what generates 100% of the revenue for most food vendors. So, it's critical that you invest time in developing a definitive strategy to build menu profitability.

Gather data

The first step is to know your current menu offerings: how many of which items you're selling, at what time and what location. Use point-of-sale data to understand demand for items and how the product's volume compares to its overall profitability.

Know your costs

Not all of the items on your menu are created equal... in profitability. Unless you know exactly what you're paying for each dish, you won't really know your money-makers, which items you should suggest more often, the items on which you should raise prices, or which items you might consider dropping altogether. A good first step in figuring out your real costs is to update your inventory list with accurate, current prices.

Develop menu items that are fast but consistent

In addition to knowing where items sell, and how much it costs to prepare, make sure every menu item can be executed easily and consistently. Even more importantly, your menu needs to include dishes which represent your food business. This is one way to make sure first time customers become regulars.

Promote your most profitable menu items

These are the items that have a low cost for the ingredients, can be sold at a high market and require a very small amount of time to prepare. Focus on promoting these items over the other offerings. If you can steer people toward items you want them to order, it can significantly improve your profit margins.

Shrink your menu

Consider reducing the size of the menu through deletion of items that are less profitable and consistently sell less than other items. Additional considerations should include whether the item takes a lot of time to prepare.

Develop daily specials

The use of daily specials can help showcase your creativity and promote local and seasonal flavors. It also utilizes leftover or surplus ingredients. Ensure that these items are priced appropriately. If your service window staff is trained to upsell a special, make sure it drives profitability. The product's profit needs to be equal or greater than other similar products that your customers may ultimately choose.

Improve the interrelation of various menu items

You already know how important it is to have a menu mix that gives your customers a variety of options that will keep them coming back for more. Not as obvious to your success is a menu containing items which play off one another in your kitchen. That way you're using as close to 100 percent of each ingredient as possible.

The Bottom Line

As you consider these menu profitability tips, it's helpful to get advice from your team and fellow vendors. These are people who understand your customer's purchasing behavior. By getting first hand knowledge from these sources, you can learn a lot about purchase behavior and make decisions that drive your food truck's profitability.

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