Happy New Year, FoodTruckrs!
The start of a new year is a magnificent time to reflect on the joys you experienced in the last 365 days as well as everything you hope to achieve in the future. Entrepreneurs and small business owners commonly use this time to think critically about how they can start or grow their businesses over the next 12 months. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at a fresh food truck business or you want to take your truck to the next level, now is the time to rev those engines!
So, what types of resolutions should you make? And how do you make resolutions that you’ll actually follow through on? Well, the key to getting your resolutions to stick is to make commitments that are:
- and specific.
The best resolutions target something that you really need or want to do—and they’re doable within the time frame you’ve set. Most importantly, successful resolutions are tailored exactly to the needs of you or your business. If you can master these three essentials with each one of your New Year’s resolutions, you’ll be in great shape to make 2014 your best year yet.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled some business resolutions that we think every food truck owner can benefit from. Each of these six New Year’s resolutions is relevant and realistic—but we’ve left them a little vague on purpose so that you can appropriately fill them in with specific information for your food truck. Whether you commit to one, two, or even all six in 2014, these resolutions will help you take your truck to the next level.
1. Review Your Food Truck Business Plan
The start of a new year is the perfect time to go over your truck’s business plan again to see what went well last year and what you’ve got coming up over the next 12 months (and if you don’t already have a business plan, now is the time to create one!). Your annual business plan is effectively the road map for your goals—so it may be time to adjust some of last year’s plans or to make some decisions regarding your next move. Before you get busy with spring weddings and summer festivals, set aside a day to review your business plan and think about what 2014 will hold for your truck.
While you’re at it, think about setting a weekly or monthly date for yourself to review the business plan throughout the year. Many small business owners don’t look back to their business plans often enough, so they forget important details and goals and stray away from their long-term paths. You can prevent this by remaining involved and engaged with the goals and projections you’ve set down. Frequent review sessions also allow you to break your goals and tasks down into smaller, bite-sized pieces that are easier to accomplish.
Many entrepreneurs also regularly review their business plans and progress with other people who can hold them accountable to their commitments. Consider working with a mentor or forming a mastermind group with other food truck owners who can help you stick to your plan and guide you through tough challenges.
2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Entrepreneurs wear a lot of hats to get their businesses up and running. When you’re incredibly excited about your project and the work is new, it’s easy to maintain the pace. However, you can’t keep pushing yourself to your limits day after day without getting fatigued or sloppy.
Here’s something most small business owners have a tough time accepting: you don’t need to manage every single aspect of your business yourself. In 2014, learn to delegate. Make a list of all the tasks you complete on a weekly basis, along with the amount of time it takes you to complete them and a short description of the benefits of completing each one. Next, think about which tasks you could hire someone to do or ask one of your employees to complete, such as managing your Facebook page or ordering new paper products.
Now, we know, we know—why would you spend your truck’s hard-earned cash to hire someone to do something that you can do yourself? Well, it’s important to realize that you really can’t do everything on your own. Eventually, you’ll get burnt out and it won’t be long before your dream of owning a food truck has become a nightmare and a chore.
All small business owners struggle with this issue, but here’s something that most people don’t realize until after they’ve hired someone: once you’ve started assigning tasks to other people, you might just find that work is completed more efficiently because it’s done by someone who specializes in the field or by someone who has more time to commit to the job than you do. You’ll also be able to accomplish more big-picture work that leads to greater overall success for your business. Delegating is a win-win scenario and a smart, strategic decision that has big long-term benefits for both you and your food truck business.
3. Take Time Off
In a similar vein to finding someone who can relieve some of your burden, resolve to take some time off in 2014. We see a lot of food truck owners who work long hours every day of the week and rarely take a full weekend to themselves—let alone something closer to the standard two-week vacation that most Americans take each year.
You need and deserve time to get away from your daily routine and relax and unwind. But who will watch over your truck? What will your regular customers do if you don’t stick to your normal lunch schedule? Taking a vacation from your truck might feel a bit like leaving your child unattended—but your vacation doesn’t have to cause a major disruption if you plan it well in advance.
Schedule your vacation now so that you can plan for it throughout the year. If your truck will be parked while you’re away, figure out how much money you’ll need to make in addition to your monthly averages in order to afford two weeks without making any sales. Let customers who are interested in catering services know that you’ll be unavailable during that time period and update your regular fans a few weeks in advance. And while you’re at it, remember that you need regular rejuvenation throughout the rest of the year, too. If you’re not taking a little time for yourself every day and every week, you’re going to get burnt out.
If your truck will keep going while you’re busy relaxing, make sure all of your employees are fully trained ahead of time so that they can handle whatever your truck throws their way. More likely than not, some kind of challenge will come up while you’re gone, and that’s okay. When your employees are trained and empowered to handle the rough patches, your truck will keep running smoothly and you’ll be able to rest easily during your time off.
Now that you’ve handled the prep work, tackle the fun part of planning for a vacation or weekend off—figure out what you want to do with your free time!
4. Explore A New Marketing Channel
No matter how popular your truck gets, it can never hurt to expand your customer base.
In 2014, resolve to explore a new marketing channel. We especially like this tip because it’s so scalable. Regardless of how many ways you’re already marketing your truck, you can always add one more just to see what kind of results you’ll get. Here are a few ideas:
- If you’ve been relying on foot traffic, set up Facebook and Twitter pages to connect with customers online and let them know where you’re heading next.
- If you’re already rocking it on social media, think about ways to get local media coverage from a newspaper or TV station in your area. Submit a press release, introduce a newsworthy new menu item, or participate in a community event.
- If your truck already has a prominent name, consider running a radio or television ad or releasing a mobile coupon program. These marketing initiatives remind people that your food truck is one of the tastiest options around, which can bring more traffic to your truck.
5. Deliver A+ Customer Service Every Time
Sure, your food rocks peoples’ socks off—but so can the food from 30 other trucks in your city. How can you set yourself apart and build a loyal fan following that will travel anywhere to meet your truck?
The answer is simple: deliver A+ customer service every single time.
But wait…is this really a New Year’s resolution? After all, aren’t you already doing your best to deliver great service to your customers?
Not necessarily. Even if you emphasize excellent service, there’s a difference between delivering great customer service in the general sense and actually prioritizing customer service to every single person that walks up to your order window. The difference lies in treating each and every customer like he or she is your biggest fan. Get to know people. Learn their orders. Remember their names when they return. Slip in a freebie once in awhile. Be sure to offer your most sincere thanks every time you process a payment.
Always remember that your customers are truly the lifeblood of your business. When you please them and make them feel appreciated, they’ll be happy to return for more. And remember that unexpected acts of kindness are the true embers of everlasting loyalty.
6. Dream Big
Last week on FoodTruckr, we revealed a special gift that’s coming up in 2014—the debut of the “How to Start a Food Truck” blog series, packed full of all the information you need to get your food truck business running from start to finish. But here’s something we didn’t mention: this massive resource we’re building is also the cornerstone of our own 2014 resolution: to create the definitive online resource for the food truck community. We’re dreaming big, but it’s a goal that’s incredibly important to us, and we’re ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
That’s also what we want to see you do in 2014—and that’s why it’s our sixth and most important food truck resolution.
Reach for your dreams, no matter how large they are, and figure out how to make them a reality. Now is the best time to start thinking about where you’d like to be one year from now. When the start of 2015 rolls around, what will you have accomplished in the past 365 days? What will it take to make that happen? Write everything down. Getting those things done should be your most important resolution for the entire year.
Of course, the resources we’re going to have available on FoodTruckr throughout 2014 will help you get there. Whether you’re just deciding to open a truck now or you’re looking for ways to grow your audience, we’ve got loads of insanely in-depth content on the way that will help you achieve those big dreams.
Making Your Resolutions Stick
At FoodTruckr, we believe that passion and commitment are two of the most essential components of any successful food truck business—but we also know that hard work and action are the most important factors of all. We believe you can achieve the food truck fame you’ve been dreaming of if you take the time to fully commit to making your dreams happen. After all, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about.
What’s your greatest food truck resolution for 2014? Tell us what you’re going to achieve this year on our Facebook page or in the comments below.
image by danielmoyle