You’re out there every day. Getting up at the crack of dawn to prep your ingredients and menus, filling up your mobile food truck with gas, and making a few calls before the lunch rush begins.
You work long hours and earn every dollar with a combination of elbow grease, passion, and tenacity to succeed at all costs. We salute your hard work and dedication and recognize that running a small business while always on-the-go isn’t easy.
That’s why we’ve put together this post to demonstrate how mobile tools can help streamline your operations—and provide better customer experiences—so you can work smarter and grow faster.
Why food trucks need mobile tools
By 2025, 75% of the workforce—people with money to spend at your food truck on lunch breaks and after work—will be made up of Millennials. They were the first generation to grow up with internet access and began using smartphones in their teens and early 20s.
Generation Zs, on the other hand, were practically using iPads from the time they exited the womb. Not only will your current and future customers expect to interact with your business using a mobile device and apps; it’s likely your employees will, too.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to get in the mobile game. Small businesses who invest in digital tools typically grow their customer base by 30%—achieving a 38% increase in sales and revenue, according to a recent Deloitte and Google survey.
Still, you may be hesitant to get started without understanding the relevance of these tools for your business. 40% of survey respondents felt the same way.
It might also appear easier to carry on with the status quo because it seemingly costs you nothing. But is anything really free?
Your competitors will be investing in these tools if they haven’t done so already. So if you aren’t providing the same services, it will inevitably hit your bottom line as your buyers seek better customer journeys elsewhere.
Which mobile products work best for food trucks?
Let’s walk through a strategy for slowly adopting mobile tools for your food truck business, with a focus on affordable options to start.
1. Digital marketing
Your first priority should be to help customers find you when searching for food truck options in their area. You can start by creating a free business listing on Google. Setting up a profile helps you get found more quickly on Google Maps and Search.
That’s important because: “88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours,” according to Nectafy.
Later on, you might want to look into paid search ads or optimize your website to rank higher in search engine listings. However, you don’t need to do it right away.
Next, social media apps like Twitter and Instagram can not only help you showcase your delectable dishes; they’ll enable your loyal customers to track where you’re going to be from day-to-day.
It’s important because: “18-35-year-olds spend [the equivalent of] five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak,” says Raymond Blanc of The Independent.
You should, therefore, create and manage social profiles on these sites and promote your social media handles prominently on your truck. People can then follow you on their phones while waiting in line for their food.
Next, focus on generating positive ratings and reviews. It’ll help potential new customers decide whether your food is worth trying—even when they’re just walking by on the sidewalk.
Reviews must be an essential part of your mobile marketing mix. BrightLocal’s “Local Consumer Review Survey” revealed: “91 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation.” Be sure to make them a priority.
Finally, your long-term goal should be to manage ongoing customer relationships. In the future, you may wish to collect customer email addresses to keep them in the loop on upcoming events or seasonal promotions.
You can also gather feedback through customer surveys. Apps like OnSpot Social and FreshForm let you collect email addresses on your tablet or phone—wherever you’re serving customers.
Now that we’ve covered how to attract and keep customers engaged, let’s talk about money. After all, you can’t run a business without it.
2. Mobile payments and accounting
Mobile tools can help you get paid quickly, while balancing your books on the road.
Your first priority should be to invest in a mobile payment app or point of sale (POS) system, which enables customers to swipe their credit card on your phone.
According to Payfirma, almost half of Millennials prefer to pay with a mobile device instead of cash, especially for smaller purchases. You can also integrate your payment system with apps that enable customers to pay you through their personal devices. Some of those leading payment apps include PayPal, Zelle, and Google Pay.
If your employees are happy using mobile tracking and payment tools, you can take it one step further…
3. Team collaboration and business operations
There are multiple apps that help you stay connected to your employees and vendors on-the-go. These mobile tools will play a key role in your team collaboration now and in the future. According to CIO, 94% of Millennials say collaboration is ‘critically important’ to their work.
Get started with team collaboration apps: Download WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for free and create a group with your employees to share updates on any customer service complaints or supplies issues.
It’s especially helpful if you aren’t always working the same shifts. Or if you have more than one truck and are serving two locations at the same time.
Slack also has an affordable monthly small business plan if you’re looking for a tool with more functionality and better privacy controls.
Use shared planning tools: Apps like Evernote, Trello, and Casual let you try or use them for free. They’ll help you share and plan menus, create lists for ordering new supplies, and any other information you need to work collaboratively on with your team.
Create a shared calendar using apps like Google Calendar: These are helpful for tracking your team schedules, or upcoming events that people need to know about.
Making food mobile and profitable
When building your mobile small business strategy, remember that less is more. A handful of apps is all you need to begin taking your food truck business to new operational and customer experiential heights.
As your budget grows, so too can your arsenal of mobile business products. Until then, prioritize easy wins that help you get found online and grow your customer base.
Also, ensure you can get paid easily by customers, quickly pay your employees, and track cash flow seamlessly on-the-go.
Finally, use apps to work collaboratively with your team from anywhere in an instant—so you’re always up-to-date on the latest customer service and staffing issues. Then, figure out HR-related options like employee rewards and benefits when you have the funds to invest.