The coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, and when it comes to owning a food truck business, many have needed to park their trucks and ride out this pandemic. With people getting stuck at home, businesses incurred a massive loss because of a sudden halt in operations. But thankfully, we can now see some light at the end of the tunnel.
While some have been using their time to start a business, many businesses are beginning to reopen, but under some strict mandates.
To restart a food truck business in this new normal, entrepreneurs will need to take a more holistic approach. From rethinking and redesigning strategies to motivating employees to return to work and taking care of their safety, a business needs to take various steps to navigate through these tough times. Since the pandemic has not disappeared completely, there are various challenges that a business needs to overcome to survive in the market.
A Checklist for Reopening Your Food Truck Business
The hospitality industry was severely affected due to this pandemic. However, some restaurants and bars are reopening, but with certain restrictions and precautions. Owners are adapting and refining their operations to suit the new normal. These changes can help them bounce back and restore the level of revenue they had before the wheels fell off.
Here is a helpful checklist that you can follow to reopen your food truck business to help you get things moving once again.
1. Get Your Paperwork in Order
It's possible it has been an entire year since your food truck business has been open for business. Start by looking over your paperwork to get your legal obligations in order. Some of the things to look at specifically include:
Renew or Update Business Licenses: Are all of your business licenses up to date with your local governing body and state? It's easy to get out of the swing of things when you're not operational, and not having all of this paperwork in order for your food truck business could sideline you and delay your reopening even further. If you need help ensuring you are all set when it comes to business licenses, Incfile has a great business license service that can look into everything on your behalf and report back to you with what you may still need before reopening your food truck business.
Check on Your LLC Standing: Is your business still in good standing with your state or did it lapse? Not being in good standing is like deflating the tires on your food truck. You're not going anywhere and you're not going to be able to reopen for business. Did you pay the fee and file your annual report with the state (if you live in a state where this is required)? You need to ensure your information is up to date with the state and inform them of any changes that may have happened, such as a new partner or manager or a lost partner or manager. Regardless, the state needs to be made aware of these important changes before you hit the road again.
Get an Insurance Policy: If you terminated your business insurance during the pandemic, or let it lapse, take the steps to get your policy back in order. The last thing you need is for something happen to your food truck business and you come to find out you're not covered because you allowed your insurance to lapse.
Re-setup Your Utilities: Look at your utilities and contracts to ensure they are all current and no further action is needed. This can be anything from contracts you have with water companies to replenish the water on your truck to the propane contract you have to refill the large propane tanks on your food truck so you can cook up your masterpieces. What about your electricity? If you rent something like a gas generator, is that contract secure and ready to go?
Don't wait until the last minute to check these things because if they take time to complete and be finalized, it could set you back weeks or even longer.
2. Prioritize Cleanliness and Hygiene
To venture out again in the post-COVID era, making people feel safe is the most important thing. Businesses should take various precautions so that people can visit your truck without worrying about hygiene. Here are a few steps to take:
Thoroughly clean your truck, especially if it has been sitting dormant since last year.
Evaluate all your stock and toss any expired or damaged products.
Develop a new cleaning schedule and train your staff to follow any new hygiene guidelines and measures. You will likely need to clean more frequently than you did pre-COVID.
Provide sufficient safety equipment to the staff, like a PPE kit, gloves, masks, etc.
Make sure that the food is prepared in compliance with all safety standards.
Check the temperature of employees on a daily basis.
Provide utensils and items such as sauces in single-use containers.
Provide hand sanitizer for guests to use.
Move as many tasks to be virtual or contactless as you can for employees: clocking in and out, taking orders, etc.
These steps will not only make your customers feel safe but also give them a reason to support your food truck business again. Don’t be afraid to post and announce all of the precautions you have put in place to ease your customers' minds.
3. Grow Your Online Presence
Maintaining an online presence has become increasingly important in the new normal — much more so than ever before. The one thing to note is that you shouldn’t expect everyone to flock to your food truck business as if nothing ever happened. It will take some time to get the same traffic flowing back to your truck as many people may still not be comfortable leaving the house or are simply out of the habit of eating out.
By focusing on growing your online presence, it not only helps enhance the visibility of the business to the audience, but also potentially attracts new customers. So, the food truck owner should try to:
Communicate any offers, coupons and deals to the customers via social media platforms.
Establish trust within the audience by communicating your social distancing and hygiene measures.
Adopt new marketing and communication strategies after reopening.
Promote the times and places where customers can come to purchase their favorite food from you.
Regardless of how good you were doing before the pandemic, you cannot rely on your pre-pandemic strategies to reach out to people. You need to make certain modifications if you want to survive and stand out of competition in the new normal. The good news is, you can still run a successful food truck business and become a city staple.
4. Maintain Social Distancing
To make your food truck business relaunch a success, you need to make sure that you maintain a clean and safe area inside your food truck, as well as around it. You need to leave behind old practices that may not be acceptable with the new standards and offer customers a safe environment where they can enjoy your food and provide them with something they loved and may have missed during lockdowns and when you weren’t operational. For that, you should:
Maintain social distancing within the workplace and do proper sanitization.
Conduct training sessions for staff regarding the social distancing measures.
Minimize the interaction between the customers and staff by utilizing new measures such as contactless payment options and online menus.
Set up markers spaced six feet apart so that people waiting in line can easily keep their distance.
If you have tables, space them at least six feet apart from any neighboring table.
5. Offer a Memorable Experience
What’s better than offering a memorable experience to customers during these trying times? Apart from the product/service you provide with your food truck business, offer your customers something that encourages them and build a long-term relationship. Here’s what a food truck business can do:
Add new welcome signs and greet your customers with a friendly and welcoming presence since (currently) they won’t be able to see your wonderful smile behind your mask.
Create signage that ensures your customers of your cleaning standards.
Focus more on the quality of the products and the experience you are offering through your food truck business.
Play music that keeps your customers engaged and lightens up the mood (simultaneously, listen to the feedback you hear about your music selection and make changes if what you’re playing is not preferred).
Consider offering delivery if you haven't previously. Hesitant customers may decide to purchase from you if you offer this service.
Make your customers believe that they made the right choice by supporting your food truck business. You only get one opportunity to make a lasting impression, so treat every customer as if it is their first time visiting your food truck business, even if you’ve seen their face hundreds of times prior.
Open for Business!
To reinvent your food truck business, you need to respond quickly to the changes in the environment and adapt accordingly. Be agile and flexible with how you operate your business as the restrictions with the pandemic are extremely fluid still and seem to be changing quite frequently. In fact, stay on top of the news and pandemic briefings to ensure each day you open your food truck business, it is in line with any new changes.
The transition to the new normal is not going to be easy, but by adopting these safety measures and strategies, you can streamline the process and get ahead of your competition, which will help to accelerate the growth of your food truck business.
Matt Weik is the Founder/Owner of Weik Fitness, LLC and is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. He’s a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. His work has been featured in over 85 fitness magazines and over 1,500 websites. You can contact Matt via www.weikfitness.com or on his social channels found on his website.