Americans love food trucks for good reasons. Food trucks are not only convenient and quick, but they also offer customers an opportunity to sample some fantastic cuisine.
Food trucks have become so popular that according to market research, they are worth $1.1 billion in the U.S. and $4 billion globally. They are expected to grow steadily in the next decade, despite pandemics.
Food trucks are an excellent way for chefs and entrepreneurs to enter the restaurant business. They can also be used as a launching pad to build their empires. Food trucks are an excellent way for entrepreneurs to experiment, learn and express themselves.
Food trucks can teach small business owners much about starting a business and taking it to the next stage. Their lessons apply to any business, whether it is mobile or not.
Lesson 1: Be all in if you’re going to be in.
There are no half-measures for anyone who is considering starting a business. You must either invest the time, money, and energy to build a brand or company or believe in your idea.
LaToya Gardner worked in corporate America with her husband before starting Holy Rolly, a truck that serves rolled ice cream made from scratch in Charleston, South Carolina. She told Clover that her husband worked in retail and she in financial services. After we had our children, we both wanted to do something that would allow us more flexibility.
Gardner: “We both decided to quit our jobs and go all-in,” Gardner. We devoted all our time, energy, and attention to building our business because we believed in it and saw its potential. It was a full-time job to get a truck made, develop our branding, and taste and create all of our flavors!
Holy Rolly has become a local favorite. Holy Rolly was open during the COVID-19 outbreak, even though most restaurants closed. They took advantage of their unique mobility, which a food trailer offers.
Gardner said, “We focused on neighborhoods only.” This was a time when most restaurants were closed or only offered takeout. We did well during that time. Our business doubled, dramatically increasing sales because many restaurants were shut.”
Lesson 2: Have a community-minded mindset and be rooted in generosity
Small businesses have deep roots within the communities where they operate. Food trucks are among many small companies that have developed robust and unique ways to give back to their communities.
Jeanette Lopez, Georgia, founded the Salty Sistas Food Truck in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. She said, “For ten years, I ran a soup kitchen and a food pantry and fed about 1,000 people per month.” “I was always trying to raise funds to help the people in need in my area.”
Georgiti had been fundraising for years and decided to launch a business to fund her charitable work. Georgia said, “I love to cook.” “Whenever I am upset or stressed, I spend so much time cooking. So I bought a food trailer. I thought it would be a good way to give back and go out to the community. It was!”
After only three months, Georgiti’s mobile business was successful enough to open a brick-and-mortar store. She did so while keeping sight of her mission to give back.
She said, “Meals-to-go was one of my passions when I ran the soup kitchen.” To raise money for the nonprofit, I did it once a month, where people could choose from these different meals. We cook, and the customer has to pop it into the oven. I wanted to be able to do the same thing, and people started to like to order food. I had a small eatery in this space.
Start small and grow.
Rollin’ Smoke Barbecue began as a trio of men with a mission to compete.
Dejuan Smith, the owner, said, “When I first started cooking, my uncle and a family friend joined me to form a backyard BBQ team. We competed in local competitions and traveled to other states. From there, our skills and name grew.
In 2010, Smith decided to take his barbecue business seriously with Taneesha. They began in a backyard without a truck and served prepared food to the locals.
Thomas explained that we call this our “prime real estate” because it is where we have built our brand. When Dejuan started without a truck or anything else, he brought already-cooked food here. Now, our food trucks live here the majority of the time.
The Rollin’ Barbecue truck is based in this yard today. Smith explained that the Rollin’ BBQ truck is a complete backyard experience. We have set up a few tents and some tables underneath the tents. While they wait for their food, people grab a sandwich and a lawn chair and sit down to listen to some old blues or jazz. “This is where we like to be.”