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What If You’re Not Located In A City
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What If You’re Not Located In A City

The food truck industry is exploding in US metropolitan areas, leaving us to wonder where the suburbs stand in this revolution. Are they totally off the map? The answer is quite simply, no. While suburban areas lack the foot traffic that is common in most cities, these neighborhoods have other advantages that appeal to the food truck industry. Sure, it’s difficult to cater to the spread out – and maybe nonexistent – business lunch crowd. But that’s where acting proactively and creatively comes into play – and these are two elements that chefs keep right under their hats, anyway.

Instead of focusing exclusively on breakfast and lunch menus like most city catering trucks, open your menu to serve snack and dinner options. Individuals in the suburbs are just as time-starved as city dwellers – and this is a point that cannot be stressed enough. In all actuality, many of these “city folks” are commuters coming straight from and back to the suburbs each day.

(Just think about the opportunities that this opens up for food trailers at bus stations, train stations and rest stops as the commuter enters the suburbs!)

So, back to suburbia. Suburban communities are busy with youth sporting events almost every afternoon/night of the week. Local colleges have sporting events, plays, and late night seminars throughout the week and the weekend. College students and recession-bound parents are looking for cheap eats that are tasty, filling, nutritious and at least three steps above cafeteria food. These are the needs that suburban food trucks can capitalize on.

And before you assume that someone has already beat you to filling this need, undertake this task: While at a local part, ask anyone where the closest concession stand is; guaranteed, that individual will point you in the direction of the nearest traveling fair or circus that is at least fifty miles away. If you get replies that report a closer stand, follow up your first question with one more: Is the food any good?

Believe me, the vision of starting a mobile food stand in your neighborhood will become clearer than you’ve ever imagined.

Here’s a list of ideas to get you in the fast lane to success in your neighborhood:

  • Find local sporting events and colleges to station your vehicle at. You’ll quickly start to remember how much children and young adults consume - and it won’t be at times that you’d expect to serve meals (which is why I suggest keeping your menu open to snack items and light dinner options); it will be between classes (2PM, but really, any time) and after ball games (9PM).
  • Reach out to other trucks in your area or in surrounding suburbs. The more trucks you can get to one area, the more draw you’ll have from the communities. It might seem like your competition is increasing – which it is – but the crowds will grow exponentially and business will flow better than ever. You may find that crowds began to prioritize their bites to eat over the events themselves. Food trailers as the main attraction? You bet.
  • If you’re opening up a stand in the suburbs that you would like to operate year-round, it may be beneficial to station yourself in a warmer climate. Unlike in the big cities, you won’t find pedestrians walking on the streets in the winter. Even college kids will remain dormant in dorms and libraries in the colder months.
  • Build your word-of-mouth following. Information spreads rapidly in small towns. Hand out business cards and flyers, start a Twitter page, and develop a website.

You don’t need to live in a city to jump-start your mobile food business. You just need to seize the opportunities that are most lucrative in your town. Don’t worry about how your strategy differs from the trendy trucks’ strategies in cities. You’re tackling a newer market; and in that respect, you have to cultivate your business in a way that suits the market, its needs, and its trends.


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