#FoodTruckFan: Getting Unstuck & Finding Your Next Big Idea

Running a food truck is an inherently creative endeavor, from the crafting of the recipes, to creating a visual brand for the truck, and especially to conjuring money for truck repairs out of thin air. Creativity, as we’ve all experienced from time to time, can be exhausting. We spin our creative wheels, but like a truck stuck in mud, we just can’t seem to get anywhere.

How do you find creative traction when you get stuck?

As I prepared to write this post—and as my own creative wheels were spinning a bit—it occurred to me that it can be hard to find new ideas in an insulated environment. I think about food trucks a lot, and so do you—and consequently some of my ideas for you may have a certain sameness about them. (Or perhaps I’m just ready for enough snow to melt so that my favorite trucks will come back to my street.)

In an effort to bring you new ideas, I conducted an informal poll of a group of my friends who don’t think about food trucks all day, to get their impressions on food trucks. The hard part about leading a focus group, formal or informal, is learning to be quiet and listen. It’s challenging, when you’re the group “expert” on a topic, to have the humility to let other people talk, too.

I’ll admit to you—I nearly blew it. My friend Katie brought up event catering (Did I know that food trucks can cater events?), and immediately I launched into a bunch of facts about the catering side of a food truck business.

You May Also Like...  #FoodTruckFan: Your Approachability Factor

“This is a dead end,” I thought after five minutes. “I don’t have any new ideas.” Of course I didn’t have any new ideas! I was the only one talking! I needed to hear Katie’s opinion, not my own, and so I asked her to tell me about the wedding she had been to, and then I shut up and listened.

Over the next fifteen minutes, my friends gave me great insights into how they, as casual consumers, view food trucks. I learned about:

  • Their concerns as parents (“I’m looking for food that my kids will find fun but isn’t so sugary they’ll be hyper the rest of the afternoon.”)
  • Their fear of the unknown (“The first time I tried a food truck, there were so many trucks with really long lines that I felt anxious about choosing.”)
  • And why they love events with food trucks (“I get to choose what I want! It’s much more exciting than a buffet!”)

And then, right at the end, Kristin gave me the gem I was looking for. “When it comes to weddings, food trucks are the new photo booth.” That statement, right there, is marketing gold—and I never would have come up with it on my own.

The next time you get creatively stuck, conduct an informal focus group.

  1. Find a group of non-experts. Talk to your book club, your PTA or church group, or even your extended family at the next holiday.
  2. Start the discussion with a question. “Have you ever eaten at a food truck?” “Have you ever been to an event with a food truck?”
  3. Don’t talk except to ask clarifying questions. Focus on any mentions of emotions—this is where you’ll learn why people do what they do. “What about the long line of food trucks made you anxious?” “Why were you excited to see food trucks at the wedding?”
  4. Write down any brilliant ideas you have. Trust me, you won’t remember them later.
You May Also Like...  #FoodTruckFan: Customer Loyalty Programs

Now go forth and get unstuck!

(Oh, and you can use that line about photo booths.)

###

Image from SteveInTheUK

Recently on FoodTruckr

How To Attract More Customers By Making The Food Truck Environment Enjoyable QUICK: What is the most important ingredient for any food truck business? Answer: It depends. After all, every food truck has to have a flawless business plan, recipes that will make food lovers dr...
How to Run a Food Truck 11: What to Do When You Don’t Have Enough Customers Today’s an exciting day here at FoodTruckr—it marks the return of the “How to Run a Food Truck” series! We can’t wait to continue bringing you the brand new business advice and insider tips that will ...
The Ins And Outs Of Getting Food Truck Financing Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to present a guest post from JSL Financial. JSL Financial specializes in providing hassle-free financing for small and medium sized businesses. You can find out more...
How To Make Your Food Truck Business More Profitable We all want to make more money, right? Well, you likely didn't enter the food truck industry to be an instant success. No, you entered this industry to follow your dreams, to live out your true passio...
Food Truck Owners Should Include Live Streaming Into Their Social Media Strategies Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to present a post from Jeremy Adams. Jeremy is the President/CEO of Prestige Food Trucks, which is the world's leading custom food truck manufacturer. In his current...
Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Break Into The Food Truck Industry If you are an entrepreneur, you aren't afraid to take risks, and you are also always looking for that next big project to make even more money. Entrepreneurs and business owners, that big break could ...
FoodTruckr Articles That Will Do Wonders For Mobile Kitchen Owners In The Customer Service Departmen... Whether you are struggling to attract more customers or need to bring your customer service game up a notch or two, we have you covered. Today, we will be providing food truck owners with five arti...
Food Truck Business Owners Need To Focus On Marketing In 2017 Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to present a post from Jeremy Adams. Jeremy is the President/CEO of Prestige Food Trucks, which is the world's leading custom food truck manufacturer. In his current...
10 Motivational Quotes That Will Help Food Truck Owners Conquer 2017 2017 is almost here. That could be a good thing or bad thing depending on where you stand. It could be a good thing because you are ready to take on the new year and you are also on the verge of ma...
How to Start a Food Truck 11: Calculate Profit Margins In last week’s “How to Start a Food Truck” post, we talked about setting goals for your food truck business. Goals are an important component of every entrepreneur’s journey. They dictate where you’re...
How to Start a Food Truck 16: Get Insurance Alright, FoodTruckrs—over the last four months, you’ve done a lot of prep work and research to figure out whether or not a food truck is right for you. You’ve got your business plan, you’ve built an e...
How to Run a Food Truck 25: Set Up a Catering Business In the last “How to Run a Food Truck” lesson, we explored the potential opportunities open to FoodTruckrs who are interested in expanding their businesses to include events. Today, we’ll tackle a simi...
3 Essential Checks To Make Before Launching Your Food Truck Business Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to present a guest post from Hannah. Hannah is the HUB's specialist on social issues and HR. She writes to help readers work in ways that are safer, quicker, and mor...
November Is The Perfect Month For Food Trucks To Ramp Up Their Catering Businesses Believe it or not, tomorrow is the first day of November, which means there are only two months left in the year for food truck owners to meet all of their goals. Are you on track when it comes to mee...
7 More Business Lessons Food Truck Owners Can Learn from Smart Online Entrepreneurs “What do my customers really want?” “How do I attract new customers and convert them into loyal fans?” “Where do I need to focus my time and energy to grow the business?” Entrepreneurs from all wal...

About the Author

Mindy Holahan is a staff writer and the #FoodTruckFan columnist. Indeed, she’s a big ole fan of food trucks, particularly if they sell fish tacos. She has a background in the hospitality industry, loves working with writers, and gets positively giddy about the intersection between cooking and science. Follow her on Twitter @HolaMindy for daily bouts of enthusiasm or on Instagram @HolaMindy for her adventures and epic failures in gluten-free baking.

Love it? Share it: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter