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Small Business Spotlight

Small Business Spotlight: Food Trucks

food truck business

Food trucks are small businesses too. Just ask anyone in a big city across the country; food trucks are everywhere! And they have great foood. Our friend Denny Christner at InsureMyFoodTruck.com was nice enough to sit for an interview on the tasty topic of the business of food trucks.

Why did you get involved in food truck insurance? Tell the whole story. It's a pretty specific niche.

I’ve always focused on helping food related businesses. A few years ago I had been hearing and reading about food trucks, but didn’t really understand their market potential. Then, one of my restaurant clients referred a friend who was starting a food truck and needed insurance. I was able to assist the owner and met him at his truck shortly afterwards. I was amazed with the quality of the food, the awesome wrap (the vinyl designs you see on the gourmet trucks) and the crowd he was drawing. I starting attending more food truck events and talking to key people in the industry to learn as much as possible.

From there I developed the brand “Insure My Food Truck” and had some amazing help developing the design and website. With some old school hustle, 18 hour work days and some pavement pounding, Insure My Food Truck started to boom. We now have a full sales and service staff and are ready for continued growth! Having a supportive family, staff and running routine has helped with the stress and the street food diet that comes with the job!

Do all food trucks need insurance? Is it auto insurance?

Yes, all food trucks need insurance. Whether they purchase the right coverage our use the right agent is another story… We know owners are some of the busiest people around, so we try to keep it straight forward and a simple as possible. We created a menu of coverage here www.insuremyfoodtruck.com/coverage-menu that makes understanding the needs and costs much easier.

Food trucks are small businesses. Do you have any sense of how small? Are most owned by a single person?

Yes, most all food trucks fit into the small business category. Most are single owner/operators or partnerships, but we have seen the more successful operators pick up multiple trucks or add a brick and mortar restaurant to expand their customer reach and experience. What is the common food offered by food trucks? How many food trucks do you think there are in the US? Ballpark.  Yikes! This question has been debated on many forums and articles. I have heard 10,000 alone in California, but that includes the industrial catering trucks. I would guess California is the winner with the most gourmet food trucks at about 2,000, but countrywide I would guess there are probably upwards of 15,000 true gourmet food trucks and trailers.

Which is your favorite?

That would be like choosing a favorite child… impossible and unfair! We love all our clients and their food. Probably the best part of being in our line of work is seeing our clients in action, saying hello and eating some of the best and most creative food around!

What is the weirdest food you ever had at a food truck?

One of our clients is a mobile caterer and serves cooked insects in a variety of ways to help promote this protein rich alternate food source… I had the meal worm ice cream which was delicious and only weird because our culture is not used to insects as a food source.

How can food truck owners market their businesses? Which channels work best?

Social media is the life blood of most mobile food vendors. New food trucks need to take the time to interact with their customers and community through social media. Although they are extremely busy this is a must! We have seen many food trucks fail. Bad food is the number one culprit, but branding, marketing and the lack of social media interaction is probably number two.

Twitter seems to be the most popular; it’s free, simple, popular, and easy to use. Like everything in life, you get what you put in, so only the food trucks that are interacting constantly seem to get the value from using social media.

Is there a “food truck community”?

Food truck owners seem to be very tight. We in the insurance business catch wind of “problem vendors” not playing fairly or hear of turf related issues, but it’s usually the other way around. They share information, work together to build their community and events and share in the growing success of the industry.

Are food trucks common in other cities around the US? Any sleeper cities with great food truck scenes?

We get approximately ninety requests for quotes per month from all over the US. Some from towns we have never hear of where cows outnumber people. The food truck craze has inspired passionate chefs everywhere to start their own business.

The Denver, CO and Greenville, SC food truck scene is growing quite a bit. We have seen several requests from the Midwest which we view as the major area for growth in 2013 and beyond.