They say Millennials are the food truck generation, where 47 percent of them have eaten from a food truck in the U.S. As the world consumes this ongoing gourmet trend, you shall be seeing more trucks lining up outside our office or your school. On the flip side, food truck entrepreneurs are trying to make a living serving specialty foods on wheels and competition can get pretty tough these days. Where there’s demand, there’s supply. Sometimes, too overly on the supply side.
The food truck generation is also the digital generation
Millennials are in fact the ones who consume the most digital technology, hence they are also fittingly labeled as the digital generation. Born between 1980 and 1995, the timing of the rite of passage for this generation loosely coincides with the birth of the Internet and when digital technology went mainstream with compact discs, personal computers and mobile phones. What better way to tap into this hi-tech community than the digital way. So, here are five tips on how food truck startups could embrace the online technology to get longer queues outside their trucks.
1. Get food bloggers to blog about your truck
Food bloggers do one thing amazingly well – they blog and brag about delicious foods. These angels should be your targeted evangelists when it comes to spreading your good food around online. Most of them are more than willing to write about your truck in exchange for some free samples. I find that it’s easier to pitch to food bloggers with foods to offer than asking a tech writer to review your brand-new mobile app that doesn’t give much in return to them. Everybody needs (and loves) to eat, including bloggers. There are even blogs that dedicate themselves to the rise of the food truck empire.
2. Social media presence is a mandatory presence
You may have heard of the success story of how L.A’s Kogi Korean BBQ food truck exploited Twitter to announce their location. Social media followers dig that. Prior to that, they used step #1 above with much success. In fact, business wasn’t business as usual when they started. They were struggling to gain customers until they got the idea of asking bloggers to taste their food and blog about them. That publicity led to the rise of their Twitter followers, 151k as of this writing. Newsweek proclaimed Kogi BBQ to be “America’s first viral eatery”. So, go get more Facebook fans and Twitter followers (or whichever that is more popular in your country) and tell your fans where you’ll be.
We will be at the Anime Expo today until 8pm (1201 S Figueroa St, 90015)
— kogibbq (@kogibbq) July 3, 2017
3. Incentivize people to Like, Follow or Share about your food truck
If you’re asking how to achieve tip #2, perhaps the fastest way is to incentivize your customers to Facebook Like or Twitter Follow your truck. I’ve personally seen phenomenal success in offline businesses that offer rewards in return for likes and follows. 1 Utama shopping mall in Malaysia was quick to get shoppers to queue for goodie bags for the exchange of their sign-ups to the ONECARD loyalty program – probably the world’s first mall-wide loyalty card. Even the South Korean Air Force once got me to queue and like their Facebook page, all just for their limited edition poster and badges. If you can’t afford goodie bags, try something as simple as a free mini fries or a small cup of soda (soft drink). Best is to get them to share a photo of your foods and tag the location.
4. Publish your menu online
Probably the reason you’re not doing this is that you don’t have time to update your ever-changing menu online. But if you always wish to attract new customers and keep them coming back, it’s best to keep your menu on your website or social media. Facebook now lets you conveniently upload your menu. Digital Millenials do go online to find foods and your menu could entice them to pay you a visit.
5. Go to where the happenings are
Follow other Twitter handles and Facebook pages and know what’s happening around you. You could also create Google Alerts to notify you of events near you. Get invited to be at those events where the crowd is. And don’t forget to inform your fans.
Food truck is not a social trend, it’s a necessity
Food truck is becoming a norm among Millenials. But some entrepreneurs feel that it’s an upscale social trend for their customers to eat at their trucks since their foods are mainly gourmet-oriented. I beg to differ. Most of us expect prices at food trucks to be lower than typical restaurants. Hence, please don’t expect people to pay for restaurant prices while eating and standing on the streets. I’ve seen countless food trucks come and go because their prices just scare people away. Food truck is not exactly a stylish trend, it’s a necessity – necessity to eat. So, when people are needing or wanting to eat, you better hope they are looking for you online. And above all, people come for the food, not the trend.
If you’re running or planning to run a food truck business, please leave your comments or questions below. I’m more than happy to discuss them.