Regardless if you have been in the food truck business for years or if you are just starting out in the mobile food industry, festivals are great locations to find customers.
For many Jersey Shore restaurants, September is not only the beginning of the Fall season and cooler weather, but it is also the time of year when they say goodbye to many of their customers, until next summer that is. From the kickoff of Memorial Day Weekend, every eatery within a short distance of a beach, lake or tourist attraction saw an increase in customers compared to the quieter winter months. With schools back in session and summer vacationers heading back to work, those that were retreating for seafood and ocean views just a month ago, are now spending their weekends at outdoor fairs and fall festivals, leaving restaurateurs looking for new ways to attract customers.
It seems like every weekend between September and December, there is some kind of festival taking place within just a few miles away. (Seriously, here’s a list of the many festivals going on in the next few months in New Jersey alone). Adults can enjoy the sunshine, musical entertainment and oftentimes a bottle of wine, while the kids jump for a spot in line for face painting, bouncy castles and outdoor games. But probably one of the main crowd pleasers at these events: mobile food trucks. Here’s some ways that participating in food truck festivals can help your business.
Regardless if you have been in the food truck business for years or if you are just starting out in the mobile food industry, festivals are great locations to find customers. The popularity of festivals has skyrocketed over the years since more food trucks have been hitting the road. Now, there are events specifically organized for food truck operators to serve their buzzed about meals and they have been a great addition to other annual festivals as well. Having one location to taste all your favorite dishes is ideal for those who can’t decide between indulging in a pork roll sandwich from Johnny’s Port Roll and Coffee Too or a taco from Tacoholics.
Not only do these special events generate a lot of additional business if you are already operating out of one permanent location or if you are shelling out food out of a food truck at a few regular stops, it is also an opportunity to expand your audience of foodies. According to FoodTruckOperator, you may not get an immense amount of business posting up at an event for one day, however attendees will become aware of your business and keep it on their radar next time they are in the mood for your particular kind of product. With a strong social media presence, people may start seeking your business out post-event when the smell of your meatballs just couldn’t escape their minds. You can even get a feel of what customers think of some possible new dishes you are thinking of adding to the menu by utilizing these events as a trial period before making it official. Customer feedback is much appreciated, especially from people who may be trying your food out for the first time.
If you are interested in taking your ingredients on-the-go and going mobile, RewardsNetwork suggests that you make sure that you choose dishes that can be prepared quickly and served to large amounts at a time. Festival-goers prefer smaller portions that they can eat in one sitting (no doggy bags necessary here). Also, do your homework to determine which food festivals your business would benefit from. Find out if they did well previous years and if it will be worth it before sending a crew out for the day. If you choose the right festivals and market your business well, customers will leave remembering your name for next time, and will probably make the trip to you.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.