Owning a specialty food business requires a tenacious persistence to work through the endless stream of approvals and certifications necessary just get started. After cutting through the legalese, breaking into the different distribution channels like independent grocery stores and even farmer’s markets necessary for growth can take even more time–months, if not years–to figure out. This significant time investment can be challenging for a food business to endure. Fortunately, in the past few years an underutilized distribution channel has sprung up requiring nothing more than a simple conversation and handshake to get started. Sound refreshing? Read on.
Since 2009, the number of food trucks has been increasing nationwide, especially in metro areas. According to Richard Miller of M & R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, a custom food truck manufacturer in Florida, there are two big catalysts for growth in the industry:
1.) The changing national perception of food trucks in part due to massively popular shows like the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.
2.) A low cost of entry in comparison to brick-and-mortar restaurants that empowers more people to start a business.
The large majority of these food trucks are operated by solo-entrepreneurs with complete control over schedules, routes, and menus. That means unlike chain restaurants or grocery stores there is only one person to make an executive yes / no decision whether or not to use your product. No multi-stage application process or corporate org chart to navigate through here.
Food Trucks + Specialty Foods = Partnership Potential
Food trucks share similar struggles and goals as specialty food businesses. Like you, food truck owners are continually working to build more local relationships, introduce their brand to more people, and ultimately increase their revenue. Like all business relationships, finding mutually beneficial reason for a food truck business to sell and promote your product increases the chances for success. Here are some ways to pitch the offering of your product as a win-win:
• Increased revenue by selling your product
• No addition prep on the part of the food truck owner due to your product being pre-packaged. AKA Easy money!
• Your businesses can help cross-promote on Twitter and Facebook and serve your product as a special event.
• Catering gigs can be a money maker for food trucks. If you’re able to connect a food trucker with opportunities for catering gigs, you can serve as a strategic partner for the truck and increase your chances getting your specialty food distributed.
How to Find Food Truck Owners
Here’s the good news. Food truckers are easy to find and communicate with online. Most use Twitter and Facebook to post daily updates on where they will be parked for the afternoon or evening. You can also use a website called RoamingHunger.com to find an updated list of food trucks operating in your city.
After you find a truck that looks promising, send them a short message introducing yourself and the reason for your inquiry. Keep the message short and to the point as the most successful food truck owners are extremely busy.
While not all specialty foods are good fit to partner with food trucks, if you’re a little bit creative you can usually find a way to work with someone in your area. Best of all, you’ll be able to find out quickly whether or not there’s a partnership opportunity so you can move on to your next opportunity.
About the Author
Brett Lindenberg is the owner of FoodTruckEmpire.com, a blog and iTunes podcast that helps entrepreneurs start and operate more profitable mobile food businesses.