Boosting Competitive Advantage
Ensuring your food truck operation is in top shape will keep you in the game, but to compete with the best you need to stay relevant in the market and provide more value to your customers than other trucks do.
To gain significant competitive advantage, you’ll first need to know your market.
This will allow you to align your products and brand with customer needs and wants. Conduct market research and listen to feedback to find out what customers like, what would improve their experiences, and what would make visiting your food truck more convenient for them.
Implement new items and processes to deliver. For example, if your patrons value supporting local business and eating healthy, add fresh, nutritious, sustainable, and locally sourced foods to your menu.
Make creative changes, especially to your menu, to attract and hold customer interest. The bolder, the better, as long as an item’s taste isn’t sacrificed for novelty. Add a unique flare to something traditional or create something entirely new. If you can develop a unique and delicious signature item, you won’t have any competition when it comes to that particular dish.
Customers won’t be able to get it anywhere else, so they will come to you if they crave it. Emphasize and flaunt the item’s originality by referring to it as “the one-and-only” or “the original”.
Thoroughly promote your interesting menu through various marketing platforms. Increase visibility with creative promotional campaigns so that customers hear about your food truck and can’t wait to try it.
Focus on social media specifically to engage and interact with your clients, making their experience with your truck personalized before they ever order from the window. Social media is also valuable for connecting with returning customers. When used correctly, effective social media marketing allows you to build relationships with customers at any time and place, maximizing a campaign’s potential reach and success rate.
Diversify marketing across different digital and traditional channels to expose the most people to your business. A robust promotional program in alignment with your food truck’s brand will give you an extra edge against other popular vehicles.
Powerful strategies to maintain and enhance competitive advantage over other food trucks include expanding your business and going after new markets.
This could only mean finding a new, lucrative lunch location or be as complex as starting a brick and mortar restaurant. These options for business differentiation and everything in between, such as selling merchandise, breaking into catering, and opening a second truck, will help your food truck business reach more customers and drive sales.
Expansion can also create a buzz surrounding your truck and therefore attract the media’s attention and provide promotional exposure. Recognize opportunities for growth, especially if they will allow you to make sales during hours you are not usually open, and capitalize on them to stay ahead of the competition.
Stay on top of industry trends to uphold competitive advantage.
Set up a Google News alert to receive notification of articles relevant to the food truck industry in your area. This will ensure you are aware of any changes in legislation or other happenings that could potentially influence your food truck, like a proposed law that would allow food trucks to sell beer and wine as long as they meet certain requirements. Knowing about this type of change as soon as possible will give you the most time to make any needed adjustments and take full advantage of situations that may support your truck’s growth.
Also, monitor trends by building relationships with other food truck owners and employees. Talk to people in the industry, pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for other mobile food businesses, and learn from their experiences.
Follow other food trucks’ social media channels and watch for menu changes, sponsored and attended events, alternative services, locations, and customer interaction and engagement.
If you observe how other mobile food businesses are run, you can discover new approaches and strategies that have the potential to help you reach your food truck goals.
Competition VS Collaboration
Understanding how other food trucks operate and having relationships with their owners can also be helpful when you face even bigger competition – brick and mortar restaurants.
As a lone food truck, surviving in a sea of established restaurants would be daunting and challenging. But, collectively, food trucks give restaurants a run for their money. Remember that for your food truck to exist, there has to be a food truck industry, and that means there have to be other food trucks. Food trucks collectively benefit from each others’ existence. They can benefit even more by teaming up to take on their traditionalist rivals.
Even though there are many food trucks on the road today, in the major metropolitan areas, there are also many areas to explore and serve.
By collaborating with other food trucks to bring interesting fare to different parts of a city, you can effectively create new markets for yourself and other food trucks. With new markets comes new customers and growth, for your individual truck as well as the food truck industry as a whole.
Reach out to the owners of popular trucks and build relationships with them. Once you have established positive, working relationships with other food trucks, consider partnering with some of them to open a food truck park, host a weekly food truck gathering, or run a cross-promotion like a joint contest.
Look to pair with non-competing trucks, or trucks that don’t sell the same type of fare that you do. Each truck participating in a partnership or a cross-promotion will benefit from exposure to the other trucks’ existing customers and the trucks will collectively attract a larger group of visitors than any of them would individually. When you collaborate with other food trucks to offer customers greater variety and differing experiences, you are strengthening the food truck industry and supporting its longevity by keeping customers interested, entertained, and satisfied.
That being said, you can also create new, unique experiences that will attract and engage customers by collaborating with other local businesses.
Working with local bars, shops, venues, clubs, and organizations will expose your food truck to a greater portion of the community and peak the community’s interest in your food truck, the food truck industry, and the greater food and beverage industry. Partner with a brewery to provide food for their patrons or park outside of a club late on a busy night.
Be creative, and you’ll come up with many ways that you can grow your business while being an active participant in the community and making a good name for food trucks.