We, at FoodTrucksIn.com, believe that communication, defined as something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted, is one of the most integral tools for food trucks and the food truck industry to use as a means to establish a place in the food service industry and to increase the exposure, sales and presence of individual food trucks. This concept of using communication in our industry is one the primary goals of FoodTrucksIn.com.
For one thing, our tools and solutions easily improve the ability for any food truck to communicate with existing and potential customers to let them know where they are serving at any time, and how long the truck will be there. But, communication plays a much larger and important role for food trucks than just letting customers know about locations. We know first hand, as you do, just how excited people can get about visiting their favorite food truck, or the prospect of going to a food truck festival, maybe even for the first time, or having a new food truck arrive on the streets, or about inquiring to hire a food truck for all kinds of events, or trying to locate a food truck event.
And there's more than those things! Lots of questions arise: Do you do catering? Do you have gluten free options (or offer other diet restricted items)? Will you come to our town? What was in that great sauce on a sandwich I tried? Do you know about this upcoming event and will you be there? Can we hire you for a private party? And, many many more! How do you communicate (inform or engage!) or have the opportunity to answer these questions?
Here's another issue that I have noticed for food trucks owners and operators, and quite frankly the same is true for many small business owners who often work irregular, long hours, six and seven days a week: there is often an inability to answer or respond to every call promptly enough, return every email in a timely manner or see every Facebook or Twiiter message as it comes in. How do you solve these problems?
In my experience most food truck and small business owners have set up a communication schedule even if they are not aware of it. For many trucks they return phone messages at the same time each day after or between a lunch or dinner service. Other trucks may reply to all emails between 9pm-11pm daily, and yet others check their Facebook and Twitter messages daily at 9am. And, of course, many do not find the time for days or, at least, in a timely manner. How do resolve that common lapse?
My recommendation, which I have employed frequently and successfully in my own businesses, is that food truck owners develop a clear, reasonable and achievable pattern of communications that is easy to commit to and that regularly shares information with customers as well as perhaps other food trucks or other interested parties. The end result is that customers, potential customers and other perhaps interested people, will learn more about you, understand and know the best way to reach you, when they will hear back, and the problems associated with not always being able to get back to people quickly enough will be alleviated.
Here are some different examples of ways to share your communication procedures as well as some ideas and suggestions for you to use:
Voicemail message: Thank you for calling My Food Truck your call is important to us. We are currently unavailable. We check our voicemail messages daily and return calls most evenings between 6pm-9pm. Feel free to visit our website at MyFoodTruck.com to learn more about us. We look forward to returning your call soon. If your inquiry is time sensitive within the next 24 hours, please send a text message to 123-456-7890
Set up an email away message: Thank you for your email and contacting My Food Truck. Your inquiry is important to us. We check emails daily and reply to all emails between 8:00am-11:00am Monday-Wednesday-Friday. If you need an immediate response, please text us at 123-456-7890
Pin a message to your Twitter page: For inquires regarding hiring us for events or catering please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We check & reply to emails daily. Thank You! (Twitter pinning instructions)
Put a post on Facebook and re-share it weekly: For questions about our food truck or for any inquires regarding pricing or our menu, the best way to reach us is by email. We look forward to hearing from you at email@example.com
Include content on your website, Facebook page, FoodTrucksIn.com detail page and other descriptive sites: We look forward to hearing from you. We can be reached by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram. For the most immediate reply, we answer all calls unless we out serving customers, and return all voicemail messages daily.
Of course, if you master some of these tools and are looking to do more you can send out weekly or monthly newsletters or email blurbs: Highlight a new recipe or menu item, talk about new locations you are taking the truck, share information about catering or private events. This will not only keeps customers and others informed but it keeps you in their minds, and taste buds!