As a reminder, I am not a food truck lot operator.
I can not help you get into a lot rotation, and I do not schedule food truck lots. However, I am glad to direct you to promoters. You can try contacting these people, but please remember that there are more food trucks than there are spaces in the lots. Meaning, the food lots can be booked for months before an opening comes up.
As you wait for an opening, why not try your hand at being your own boss? Hopefully the reason you opened a food truck was to be your own boss, and not follow the coat tails off other people's successful gatherings, right?? I didn't mean to come across as rude, but new truck operators seem to think that the food truck industry is easy and stress free. Sadly, it is not. It has become an over saturated market, and veteran food trucks are not always willing to lend a helping hand.
There are some operators who MAY help new trucks. You can contact them, and see if they can point you in the right direction. Remember, they may also turn you away, so good luck!
- Street food events. Runs mostly in the South Bay Twitter: @StreetFoodEvnts
- Atomic Eats: Runs mostly in Cerritos/ Artesia area. Twitter: @AtomicEats
- Lot Mom: Rolls in the Valley, Santa Monica. Twitter @LotMom
- Food truck army: Booking agent for trucks. Twitter: @FoodTruckArmy
- Street Chef Stop, Runs mostly in Irvine area Twitter: @StreetChefStop
- Curbside bites: Rolls in OC, LA (including Pomona area) and even San Diego Twitter: @Curbsidebites
- IE Food Trucks: Rolls mostly in the IE, but now trying in the OC. Twitter: @IE_foodtrucks
New lots -- as of August 2015:
- Food Truck Haven: Run by @BellyBombz from Tuesdays to Thursdays, both lunch AND dinner at the Outlets of Orange Twitter: @FoodTruckHaven
- Street Food Wednesday and Thursday:Dinner in Garden Grove Contact: @DosChinos
HELPFUL TIPS FOR NEW FOOD TRUCKS
Interact with the fans on Social Media.
Help them find you! Tweet your location before you leave your commissary (exact address appreciated). Tweet before service, especially when hungry people are looking for places to eat. Tweet again as you arrive at your location and tweet again during service.
Post on instagram pictures of your fans, your food, and your location. Hashtag and geocache your location. Add upcoming events on your Facebook account. You can also synchronize your Instagram to post on Facebook, as well as your Twitter.
PERISCOPE! Don't know what it is? It is a way to broadcast from your location in real, live time! All you need is a twitter account (which you should have, right?) and download the Periscope app. Click here and check it out!
Web based information:
DO have your web site updated and running before posting your URL information to the public.
Its always good to have Twitter, Instagram or Facebook available to the fans if you don't have a web site up yet. A web site without any information, or has the word "still under construction" is 100% useless, not to mention annoying! Hey, its part of your bread-and-butter, so get it up and running before you launch!
If you can't get a web site running, use a blogsite such as blogger.com or wordpress.com as a backup. On a blogsite, such as this one, you can post information such as your calendar or events, and let people know where you will be, in case they miss your tweets. You can also have your tweets embedded also.
Keep your calendar posted! Using Google Calendar seems to be the easiest way to update and post. It is also easy for other people to copy onto their own calendar, so they can keep track of where to find you. The calendar you see on this blog's home page is from google, and I have also integrated other food truck calendar onto mine. I would be happy to add your calendar on it, so just ask!
Do your own thing
If the other food trucks aren't helping you... roll up your sleeves, scout your own lot, and be in charge of your own rotating food lots! You wanted to be your own boss... so do it! Micro brewers and residential complexes are great venues to work with.
Working as a Gourmet Food Truck
- DO keep your commitment if you're are scheduled at a venue. Also if you double book yourself, DO give ample notice to back out... and be respectful by finding a replacement for the venue.
- Do NOT crash other lots unless you are invited. Many cities require a permit and are allowed only a certain number of vehicles per site. Crashing a site may mean disqualifying a permit, and no one likes a party crasher.
- Do not park your truck across the street, hoping to get the other truck's leftover customers. The food truck community is small, and operators will remember who don't play nice with others.
If you only accept cash, post that information on your web site, and on the front of your food truck window. There is nothing worse than a customer ordering a bunch of food, and realize they can't pay because you are a cash only venue.
Warn the customers ahead of time that you don't accept credit. Or, perhaps DO consider investing into a portable credit card reader? Many food truck fans don't carry a lot of cash. You will get more business if you accept debit or credit. The percentage a credit card company charges is minimal compared to the loss of the sales you should be getting.
Most of the GFTS are using a credit card swiper like Intuit or Square Up, where you can attach to the iPhone / iPad/ Smartphone. I saw one at Best Buy in the mobile phone section, but I am sure you can find it online like on Amazon, Paypal, Apple, or Google.
Protect your account: Don't get hacked!
The newer food trucks seem to be the most vulnerable. Create a password that uses UPPER and lowercase with $ymbo!s, and Num3ers or a Comb!n@Tion of such to make it harder for your account to be compromised.
...and more importantly, Make sure your truck has gas.
Food trucks are known to drink a lot of gas, and your truck is also carrying a heavy load. The gas gauge may also not be accurate, and will run out before you know it. There's nothing worse than canceling on an event because you ran out of gas. So, before hopping on the carpool lane, or making that second service, fill up the tank.
Your food truck is also experiencing a lot of wear and tear compared to a "normal" food truck. Keep a log of the maintenance, and service your truck regularly. Too many trucks on the street seem to have mechanical failures because the food trucks are overworked. Be proactive!
If people like your food, the word of mouth will happen. So encourage people to use social media, and as a food truck operator, it is your responsibility to do the same, and respond to the cheers and jeers. Check up on Yelp and see what the foodies say about your food, your service, and respond to their opinions accordingly.