Expert food truck entrepreneurs know very well that making great food isn’t the biggest challenge of running a successful business. Making a profit out of selling food is the real challenge.
The price of ingredients keeps rising day by day. Margins are consequently reduced to almost nothing. However, most operators do not want to pass these increases on to consumers to avoid losing clients in the long run. Many food truck owners know that today, the only way to survive and prosper is to closely monitor every step of the food production process, including inconspicuous details such as the napkins and the disposable dishes on which the food is served.
Although reading you customer’s positive reviews about the superior quality of your food may be satisfying, listening to what your accountant says about costs and monthly expenditures is much more important. If you spend your weekends searching for food trucks for sale and don’t exactly know how to make a profit, here are a few tips for you.
1. Carefully Monitor Your inventory
The best way to closely monitor the real value of your inventory and watch it constantly is to reimagine it in a different way. Every edible item you have in your inventory – such as hamburgers, bread, sausages, lettuce or pepperoni – is essentially a stack of cash. You spent real money to buy it, so if you imagine it as a pile of dollars, it’s much easier to quickly spot if something is going amiss.
Daily inventory checks become a breeze. You just need a quick look to see if the most costly items in your inventory are being over-portioned, overcooked, or even wasted.
Nowadays, tracking your inventory is much easier thanks to point-of-service apps and mobile devices. Using a smartphone or tablet, owners of food trailers and trucks alike can quickly cruise through the whole stock and place new orders wirelessly and instantly. If you’re not using an automated system to manage inventory, make sure you’re taking your books seriously. Small mistakes can lead to expensive costs.
2. Order The Right Amount of Food
One of the common mistakes that many managers do is to over-order food items that end up spoiling after a few days. And even if that extra food is used, your cash is still wasted since cooks may overportion your customers’ plates under the false assumption that “if we got plenty of that, we should use it all.” On the other hand, under-ordering is just as dangerous as you run the risk of running out of the ingredients you need for a favorite menu item.
Today, automation has made this process much easier, with back office systems providing a ton of data to show which items are selling and which aren’t. You can easily obtain a lot of info on both short- and long-term sales trends, including all the details about customer preferences and overall consumption of a given item.
3. Closely Check Food Truck Deliveries
Suppose you have an automated system to restock your inventory regularly, and that you now know exactly when your recurrent delivery is going to provide you with what you need. You can sit back and relax, right? No. You can’t.
Even if regular delivery drivers have proven trustworthy, you still need to check each deliver carefully. Mistakes can, will, and do happen all the time. Check if everything you bought was delivered correctly. Ensure that brand names match order details and that the temperature of highly perishable items like seafood meets safety requirements. And spot weigh random cuts of costly food like steaks or salmon. It is important to ensure that you are getting the proper amounts of proper quality products.
4. Accurately Portion Your Recipes
Managing this aspect can be the greatest food truck challenge, but it’s where the higher profit margins are realized. The cost of every food item in your menu should be tracked electronically to understand how ingredient prices fluctuate in real time.
A dish that may be your best profit maker in the winter can become a source of loss in the summer if the cost of ingredients are doubled during that season, or if the demand is not present for that item. Regular and effective cost management can give you a clear overview of price changes to accurately measure that item’s profitability and if it may be more profitable to remove it from the menu altogether.
Print charts and train your cook’s where you need to. It may annoy them a little bit. But it surely helps you keep costs in line and provide customers with a consistent product.
These four key approaches to managing food costs can really boost your profit. But remember: the best way to go is always to increase your profit margins rather than focusing just on lowering your food costs. This way your food truck will make more money without compromising quality.
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