Check out some of the most successful locations food trucks go to make their money
One of the major advantages of owning a food truck, over a brick and mortar business is that you are mobile.
You can go where the people are and if footfall dries up you can move on to the next.
So where are food trucks most successful?
There are a number of traditional locations where food trucks find success, such as music festivals, street food markets, sporting events and business districts.
However, as the food truck scene grows and evolves so do the locations where food trucks are finding success.
You may be surprised are some of the other places you will see food trucks.
In this article, I will list the locations where food trucks are the most successful, along with tips on what to look for when deciding on a place to trade and how to contact the right people.
Street food markets
Street food markets, food markets, farmer markets, these types of places are called a number of different things depending on where in the world you are.
But they all mean one thing! people go there to eat.
Usually made up of food stalls and food trucks, where you can find everything from gourmet burgers and Mexican burritos to Jamaican jerk chicken and Thailand’s famous Pad Thai
Business districts are clusters of office blocks that are often in locations that are cut off from other types of retail outlets such as cafes and restaurants.
A lot of the workers in this industry are cash-rich and time-poor, which means people have the disposable income to buy food that is good quality and can be taken away
Therefore, food trucks tend to be pretty successful at these types of places.
Retail areas such as shopping malls have a lot of footfall and people are there to spend money, especially over the weekend.
This is an opportunity for mobile caterers and in some cities, you will see food trucks in these spaces.
You will have to contact the property management company directly to see if they will allow you to pitch up and negotiate a price.
Parks tend to attract a number of people, especially in the spring and summer months.
You normally see ice cream or coffee trucks in these types of places but there is definitely room for other types of trucks selling hot food.
Music festivals are one of the main places where food trucks are most successful for two very good reasons.
Firstly, music festivals are mostly held in fields, where you can’t gain entry without a ticket.
Secondly, music festivals typically have a high volume of footfall, especially the most popular ones such as Glastonbury in the UK or Coachella in the US.
With music festivals, you, therefore, have what is known as a “Captive Audience”, whereby people are in a space where there are no other options for a particular product.
In this case food trucks!
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Think of a scenario for one moment. You are running a marathon along with a few thousand other runners.
You get to the finish after running 23 miles and are very hungry and thirsty.
If there was a food truck or mobile juice and smoothie bar at the finish line would you want to get a buy something?
I know I would.
This is just one type of sporting event and other types of events where food trucks are popular include soccer matches or baseball games.
In my home town of Bristol, there are a lot of disused factories in industrial areas that are now being turned into breweries.
The brewery not only makes the beer they also have a bar/pub on-site where the public can go-to drink.
But there’s a problem.
These breweries are on industrial estates and the nearest food outlet could be 2-3 miles away.
This means the food has to come to the brewery, which in most cases means food trucks.
Event planners, PR and marketing companies are always trying to do something a little different for their clients and to stand out.
This often means booking food trucks for things like corporate events, product launches and conferences.
Corporate events also offer a few additional benefits.
All the food is paid for by the client which means there is no second-guessing about how much you will see.
This means it’s much easier to plan for how much stock and staff are needed.
This is now big business and on a personal note, is a large part of my mobile catering business.
It’s important with corporate events, however, to have a website, as in this type of location event organizers will reach out to the food truck business.
Like corporate events, weddings are another location where food trucks are finding success.
People are always looking for something different and many wedding event planners are jumping on the huge popularity of food trucks.
Its also often cheaper to get food truck caterers than traditional wedding catering companies
Again having a website with this type of location is very important.
When driving large transport vehicles it’s not always easy just to pull over on the side of the road to grab a bite
That’s why we have service stations and truck stops.
However, sometimes the offerings at these types of places can be pretty limited which means there is a demand for good food.
This is where food trucks come in!
Retail car parks
Large out-of-town stores such as Walmart or Best Buy have a lot of people going to them each day.
Most of these retail spaces are out of town which means food outlets may be a little thin on the ground.
So you have a combination of high footfall and few food outlets in the area.
This is where food trucks come in and these sorts of locations can be very profitable for mobile caterers.
Millennials (people aged 19 -36) are big consumers of food truck cuisine and significant contributors to the growth of the food truck industry. When you also factor in that a large section of those that attend college is between the ages of 18 and 24 you can see why food trucks may be popular in this type of location. College or university campuses also are typically isolated away from other food outlets.
Street food halls are becoming very popular these days and are in fact a sign of the evolution of the street and food truck industry. In fact, it’s predicted that there will be 300 food halls in the US in 2020, up from 50 in 2015.
There’s the popular Seventh Street Indoor Truck Park in Minnesota where an array of food trucks pitch up under one roof or the famous Borough Market in the UK.
Some food truck owners are in fact ditching the food truck altogether and opening up small fixed premises in food halls side by side with other traders.
How to find a successful food truck location
Sometimes choosing the right location for your food truck, especially when you have little experience, can be a case of trial and error.
However, there are a few steadfast rules to follow, which will apply to many types of businesses.
– Find areas that have a captive audience
– Find locations that don’t have many restaurants or cafes
– Find a location where people are ready to consume and spend money
– Consider the demographics – spending power/eating habits/lifestyle/age
– Have a website and /or social media presence
– Find who owns the land or the event organizer
– Always negotiate on price
– Evaluate competition (are there food trucks selling the same food?)
– Think outside the box (try things others are not doing)
How to get a food truck location
How you get a spot for your food truck at that location will depend very much on where is it or what type of event it is.
Below is an example of how you would get a pitch at the locations we’ve discussed above:
Street Food Market – Contact the event organizer direct on their website
Business districts – Contact property management company if on private land/local authority for public land
Retail Area – Contact the property management company
Parks – Contact the local authority
Music Festival – Contact the event organizer direct on their website
Sporting Events – Contact the event organizer direct on their website
Brewery – Contact the event organizer direct on their website
Corporate events – The event organizer will contact you, often through your website or social media
Weddings- The event organizer will contact you, often through your website or social media
Highway/Truckstops – Contact property management company if on private land/local authority for public land
Retail Carparks – Contact property management company or retailer
Food Halls – Contact the event organizer through the website
If you only take a few tips away from this article, then let it be location, footfall, location, footfall!
Of course, there are other things that influence where food trucks find success. Such as the demographics and the competition in a particular area.
It’s also pretty important these days to have a social media presence, especially if you want to grow a food truck business and extend your reach.
But it’s not an exact science and at the end of the day, there is a lot of trial and error. But if you follow the fundamentals success can be found.
Gavin D is the founder of Street Food Central and Tru Foo Juice Bar Co. and has worked in the mobile catering industry for over 7 years.