Upgrading Your Food Truck: 8 Impactful Changes
Starting a new business is a huge financial investment, and food trucks are no exception. Between licensing fees, food costs and other miscellaneous expenses, you may have little money left over to invest in high-tech equipment from the get-go. As your business grows, however, you’ll start turning a profit, some of which you can reinvest in your truck.
If upgrading your food truck is an option now, consider making one — or all! — of the changes below. These simple ideas will impact both your customers and your business as a whole, so what are you waiting for? Let the truck transformation begin!
1. Replace Food Prep Equipment
One of the best upgrades you can make to your food truck isn’t to the truck at all. Rather, it entails replacing your food prep equipment. Without the proper tools, devices and utensils, running your business would be next to impossible.
There’s plenty of equipment out there now to make prep quicker and your life easier. Serve more guests in less time with new thermometers, cutting boards, knives, friers and other items. Kitchen tools with built-in timers and automatic settings can save time and space, too.
2. Upgrade to a Digital Menu Board
If you like to keep a rotating menu and frequently introduce visitors to new dishes, upgrade your handwritten menu board to a digital one. A digital display will allow you to update meal options in real-time and offer customers a better user experience.
Plus, more people will be able to view the menu from further away, which means faster decisions at the window and a shorter turnaround time for getting meals out the window. Add photos, showcase meal specials, advertise limited-time menu items and more.
3. Use Specialized POS System
A specialized point-of-service system is key to your success as a food truck business, especially if you’ve only taken cash payments thus far.
Use a portable POS system and pair it with an iPad to process credit cards and quickly send orders to kitchen staff. Link it to your menu board to make updates and customize features. You can even use the POS to manage inventory and simplify operations so you can focus on customer service rather than the behind-the-scenes responsibilities.
4. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint
Perhaps you’ve already upgraded your menu board and even added flashing lights to attract more customers. If these tactics fail to yield significant results, a fresh coat of paint may be in order.
Transform the entire look and feel of your food truck by painting the interior and exterior trim, adding a bold design or coating the entire thing in a bright, attractive color to catch passerby’s eyes. Durable and long-lasting finishes can make any old truck look good as new with just one coat.
5. Install LED Lights
At night, string up some LED lights around your service window to make your truck more noticeable and increase revenue. This smart upgrade is affordable yet highly effective, especially if your hours of operation extend past sunset.
Feed the lights’ electrical cord through the service window and into an outlet to keep them flashing all evening long. Alternatively, you might use battery-powered lights to save electricity and lower business expenses. Just remember to swap the batteries before the bulbs start to dim.
6. Invest in Solar
If you have a few extra thousand dollars to invest in your business, consider adding solar panels to your food truck. Whether you strap them to the roof or place them directly beside your truck, using the panels to power your setup can cut energy consumption and easily save you money in the long run.
You’ll still want a generator to deliver backup energy in case of emergencies. However, relying on renewable energy as your main power source is sure to attract sustainably-minded customers and provide a decent return.
7. Get a Chest Freezer
Commercial refrigeration can easily cost thousands of dollars, especially if you opt for one with extra storage or a sleek new design. If you must freeze or refrigerate certain items, choose a residential chest freezer instead. Foodies recommend opening it less often since it’s less efficient at retaining temperature. However, if you only use it to stock up on extra ingredients, this kind of freezer will serve you well. It can even double as a countertop, prep area or storage space.
8. Set Up a Seating Area
Whether you’ve established a permanent spot for your food truck or constantly move it around town, it’s a good idea to set up a seating area for guests. Invite customers to sit and stay awhile by installing a pull-out foldable bench or simply putting out a few cute folding chairs and tables. The more welcoming your space is, the more apt people will be to approach your truck. Maybe they’ll even order seconds when they’ve finished eating and lounging in your comfy-cozy seats.
Upgrading Your Food Truck Periodically
There are tens of thousands of active food trucks operating in the United States alone. With so many competitors rolling around the foodie scene, it’s wise to periodically upgrade your truck to stay trendy and relevant. Whether you update your menu, invest in new equipment or redesign your entire look, changing things up every now and then is key to attracting new customers and keeping old ones coming back time and again.
With a lot of planning and a bit of luck, you’ll likely stay in business for years to come.