Since food trucks became visible in the US in 2008, the industry has been booming in popularity around British Columbia. In 2015, it was estimated that there were about 305 food trucks in Metro Vancouver and Victoria with an estimated annual revenue of roughly $50 million.
However, amidst the perceived glamour of owning a food truck, it can be an extremely bumpy road to success. In fact, StreetFood Vancouver Society estimates that there’s an 80 per cent turnover of vendors out of the City of Vancouver’s permit holders.
Mentorship Puts a Brake On High Failure Rates
Like all industries, the food truck business has typical problems that trip up entrepreneurs and lower their chances of success. Fortunately, working with an experienced mentor who’s experienced in the industry can help you avoid these pitfalls and show you what to do to increase your chances of staying in business.
Experienced mentors can help you manage the following four common food truck problems:
1. Poorly Built Trucks and Equipment
Problem: Food trucks and equipment can break down, especially if they have been poorly built and haven’t been tested correctly. Many trucks also have kitchen equipment that can’t handle the high demand for food required by customers, which can creates slow customer service.
How mentors can help: Mentors can introduce you to people in their network who can help you build or upgrade trucks and equipment to make them more reliable and efficient.
2. High levels of Uncertainty
Problem: The food truck business is a lot more unpredictable that owning a restaurant. For example, events can be a huge hit or big miss, weather can affect your turnout, tourism is seasonal and construction and traffic jams can butcher sales targets.
How mentors can help: Mentors can show you how to focus on the aspects of your business you do have control over, such as writing and following a business plan, implementing market research and using a financial management system.
3. Intense Physical and Mental Stress
Problem: Most food truck owners work more than 70 hour work weeks. It can be a very tiring and stressful job, as the work is very physically and mentally demanding. Restaurants have different staff to take care of different jobs. However in a food truck, it’s likely that a couple of people are in charge of everything, from being the truck mechanic and driver to being the chef and cleaning crew.
How mentors can help: Mentors can provide emotional support, which can make you feel less alone and more supported. By working with them, you can find that their encouragement can help you to recover from stress more quickly and reduce your chances of burning out.
4. Immense Competition
Problem: Food trucks are growing in numbers and it can be difficult to stand out from the saturated market. There are a lot of variable factors that can differentiate your food truck, such as pricing and diversity of menu, the layout and lighting of your truck and your marketing presence on the web and social media.
How mentors can help: Mentors with successful food truck or restaurant businesses can show you what they did to stand out so you can model their success and don’t have to figure out everything by yourself through trial and error.
Keep On Truckin’ With Mentorship
If you’re passionate about the food industry, owning a food truck can be a fulfilling and exciting career. It has lower start-up costs than owning a restaurant, and it can lead to a brick and mortar presence if your food truck business takes off.
If you currently own a food truck and want to grow your business, or want to start a food truck business and need some direction, get a mentor today and increase your chances of staying in business and thriving in your market.
Are you taking advantage of Small Business BC’s wide selection of seminars for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners? Space is limited, so don’t miss your chance to register today.