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5 Reasons to Go from Restaurant to Food Truck

5 Reasons to Go from Restaurant to Food Truck

Once thought of as suitable only for construction sites, food trucks (which were often referred to as “the roach coach”) were usually stand-alone entrepreneurial enterprises that made their money serving workers on lunch breaks. Somewhere along the way, however, this concept created intrigue in the U.S., where Americans have not only accepted but embraced the food truck, elevating some of the best to “must see” destinations for local residents and tourists alike, like this list of the 101 Best Food Trucks in America featured on thedailymeal.com.

The Smithsonian Magazine describes the phenomenon this way, “At a time in America when finances are shaky, yet even modest big-city restaurant spaces involve multimillion-dollar build-outs, when consumers have wearied of giant chains but still demand food that is novel, inexpensive and fast, food trucks are the new incubators of culinary innovation.” Indeed, movies like the 2014 low-budget indie film Chef, starring (and directed and produced by) Jon Favreau and featuring big names like Scarlett Johansson, Sophia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr., and John Leguizamo, have even inspired aspiring restaurateurs to launch their own food truck businesses.

Inspiring stories aside, there are also practical reasons that it might be desirable for a growing restaurant to expand with a food truck instead of a new brick-and-mortar location. Here are five reasons going from restaurant to food truck could be the right road to take.

5 Reasons Going from Restaurant to Food Truck Could be the Right Road for Growth

  1. Going from Restaurant to Food Truck is Economical

According to a restaurantowner.com survey, the average cost of opening a restaurant is $498,888. By comparison, the cost to open a food truck ranges from $30,000 to $200,000 depending on whether the truck you purchase is new or used and how much it costs to make it right for the type of cuisine, brand, etc. you plan to operate.

  1. Going from Restaurant to Food Truck Adds Audience Segments

The peak hours for a brick-and-mortar restaurant vs. those of a food truck could be dramatically different, as could the buyer personas that represent their best customers. Expanding your restaurant with an essentially identical brick-and-mortar version, if located too close by, could even mean that the new location takes patrons away from the other, instead of helping to grow market share. Given that a food truck’s appeal will attract new patrons from outside of your regular target markets, it will enable you to introduce new market segments to your restaurant’s brand.

  1. Going from Restaurant to Food Truck Breathes New Life into the Brand

Adding a food truck can breathe new life into your restaurant’s brand. Not only can it help to introduce your brand to new target markets, it also sends the message that your brand is innovative and growing.

  1. Going from Restaurant to Food Truck Offers Differentiation Opportunities

Launching a food truck business to expand your restaurant gives you the unique opportunity to create a modified – or even a completely different – brand feel, look and specialty menu items that will be unique for food truck patrons. This could be especially important for a brand whose restaurant dining experience is – for instance – an upscale, long, drawn out affair since this is not something that a food truck patron’s experience will be likely to replicate.

  1. Going from Restaurant to Food Truck Provides a Ready Test-Market

In the movie Chef we watch as the food truck goes from town to town, writing its menu and pricing on a chalkboard every day. While a brick-and-mortar restaurant is likely to have costly menus which are not often reprinted, a food truck’s menu could change often and provides a great format for test-marketing new menu items to gauge customer feedback and perfect them before they become regular fare at your restaurant.

Best estimates put the number of food trucks in the U.S. at more than 4,000, but a recent Kabbage blog interview with Denny Christner, owner of InsureMyFoodTruck.com says the number could be as high as 13,000. While many of these are stand-alone food trucks, going from restaurant to food truck as part of your business plan to grow your restaurant’s brand could be an ideal strategy.

What about you? If you are food truck owner, we would love to know what you consider to be the greatest advantage food trucks have over your brick-and-mortar competitors. Tweet your answer to us at @KabbageInc or leave your comment below; we would love to hear from you.

 

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Kabbage Team

The Kabbage Team is here to not only fund the small business loans you need, but to help you grow your business through free marketing tips, webinars, tools and more. Is there something you'd like us to cover or want to get your small business featured on our blog? Send us a note at content@kabbage.com.

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