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A gourmet gastronomic offer, a differentiated concept and a route through the city can attract more consumers. At a time when mobility is setting the rules in many areas of Mexicans’ daily life, this is the Food truck appear on the big metropolitan scene as an alternative on wheels to restaurants and food companies in general.
The concept originated more than 100 years ago in the USA with the car as a means of transport. Over time, it developed into an authentic rolling restaurant mounted on customized or manufactured vehicles per seYou have what you need to prepare food on board and distribute it in different geographic locations.
Infographic: Andrés Gras
In Mexico the trend came about a decade ago, but it wasn’t until 2014 that they reached an explosive development with trucks with wings, hamburgers, Paninis, Ribs and salads. Even with more elaborate menus – in the purest style Gourmet on the go– which in many restaurants do not require anything à la carte.
Today the turning point continues. On the one hand, it is still waiting for legislation to encourage its expansion and, on the other hand, for more entrepreneurs to embrace new approaches. You are ready?
Infographic: Andrés Gras.
As with other innovative twists Millennials are regular consumers of what is sold in the Food truck. Goldman Sachs states that these buyers are between 15 and 35 years old; They are educated, technological, and set consumer trends. Likewise, they look for brands or concepts that are aligned with their values and focus on healthy products that respect the environment. all of this without forgetting about the shopping experience, instant satisfaction, customer service and attention on-line. In Mexico, this segment consists of 30 million people, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
“Many said that at first Food truck They were only for Juniors or hipsterbut we realized that the market is broader and that although we are very focused on it Millennials“Whole families also come who want to get to know our concept,” says Roy Arceo, CEO of the Food Truck Station agency.
In this sense the market is growing because in addition to the fact that at least one in three Millennials The Strategic Communication Cabinet (GCE) estimates that three in ten Mexicans eat out, which is a great opportunity. How much do you invest? This depends on each pocket, culinary tastes, and even time of the month, although families who eat out generally allocate 9.8% of their annual budget.
“The Food truck You are part of a movement that is democratizing food. makes it available to everyone anytime and anywhere. There are different types of something: tacos or ice cream priced at $ 15 or $ 20; Product menus for up to $ 200 or $ 300. There are options for everyone, ”adds Roy Arceo. This entrepreneur whose agency brings together around 100 Food truckerbelieves that the critical mass of consumers will increase as business is regulated and more public spaces are reached.
The concept of Food truck started out in music festivals and alternative venues. Little by little, it permeated the daily life of big cities to be a constant in metropolises like Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla and Querétaro. Their proposal is simple and very successful: they are trucks specially designed for the preparation and sale of food (they have a kitchen on board), with the peculiarity that, by simply starting the engine, they can be transported from one place to the next others can be brought.
In this way it is possible that one day you will be in the south of a city and then move to another city the following weekend for a festival of Food truck or to a massive event; All this in order to bring the gastronomic offer closer to the guests. American cities such as Miami, New York and Los Angeles report on the success of the concept. as well as some regions of England, France, Canada and Germany. In Mexico it starts thanks to the impulse of the associations of Food trucker, Travel festivals and a number of benefits.
This business works like a full-scale restaurant, only on wheels. It has a kitchen that you can outfit with an iron, burners, fryer, sink, and even a taco shelf. The advantage is that you can do many things and not have to commit to a single concept, but rather break your proposal down into many parts, says Fernando Reyes Lomelí, President of Food Trucks D.F. , an association that groups around 40 Food trucker.
And it is precisely this concept of mobility that is a magnet for the entrepreneur, who can explore different places in search of new markets, but also for the consumer, who has the opportunity to try out new concepts or to follow those he already knows. -.
“We don’t compete with street vendors or restaurants. We’re just a different concept. We have the highest quality raw materials, we prepare food in hygienic places, we adhere to safety standards and we have our own concept that we bring people closer, ”adds Fernando.
There are three main points to mention: a) Most trucks have developed (even registered) a concept that makes them almost iconic in their specialty. b) they create a consumer experience based on sustainability and camaraderie; c) The price of end products is usually between 30% and 50% cheaper than the average for established restaurants.
“70% of what you pay for in a restaurant is the property, the decoration and the staff, all rolled into one Food truck These costs are reduced and what you pay for goes to the product, ”adds Roy.
If in other business areas you had to worry about how to deliver your products or services, with a Food truck This is resolved in the sense that it is you, with everything and a truck to bring them to the guests. At first glance, this seems very simple: you start the truck, drive and park it in an area with high pedestrian traffic coming from a residential, commercial or office area, and deliver the product your consumers need from Hand.
The bad news is in Mexico Food truck They are not regulated and to this day there is no regulation that governs how these restaurants on wheels can operate. In 2013, the PRD tabled an initiative with a draft decree to create the Law on Food and Drink Vehicles in Mexico City despite making no progress in the Federal District Legislative Assembly (ALDF).
In September 2014, the PAN presented the ALDF with an initiative with a draft decree to create the law to regulate the trade in prepared food through mobile structures on wheels, which include all types of structures, vehicles, trailers or other goods on wheels. Nor did he advance. The situation is similar in the other states: there is no law or order in this regard.
Given this scenario, and to avoid the risk of authorities dragging your truck into the corral for sale on the public highway (the fine for removing it is approximately $ 30,000), you are attacking street vendors for using them for unfair competition or that you are a victim of extortion by an official or a mafia, associations have emerged that bring the union together and try to set parameters so that the Food trucker deliver their products in the best possible way and in a safe environment.
One of them is Food Truck D.F. The company responsible for Fernando Reyes has safety standards that all of its members must meet. It also organizes travel festivals (almost always on weekends) so that its partners can easily sell to a captive market. The Food Truck Station itself is an agency and has 100 employees. He currently has one Food truck park in the area of Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport, where it offers rental space.
These and other groups aim to represent and support the sector as laws emerge that will enable them to bring their products and services to consumers.
Relationship with the customer
Commit with one Food truck It means a lot more than a truck that food can be prepared and sold in. It’s about understanding and participating in a culture that is equally committed to the environment and sustainability as it is to new trends that are always looking for the collective good.
Therefore, those who choose this round should remember that the customer is and will be their priority. So it’s worth considering a variety of strategies to identify, incorporate, and maintain. Roy, for example, is committed to the concept of interacting with his customers. For this he does not skimp on the efforts to convey his guests – as whom he sees Gourmet consecrated – have an unforgettable moment in yours Food truck park.
“We attract them with a first-class concept that ranges from the image of the participating trucks and the furniture of the place to the facilities we offer the participants, such as clean bathrooms, toilets, wardrobes, Racks Park bikes and recreational areas for children. It’s very important that every customer feels like someone special, ”he explains.
With this in mind, make sure your employees are polite, greet customers with a smile, and do everything possible to provide excellent service from the moment they deliver the product to the store. Food truck until they collect or collect the plates and glasses.
At the same time, make your social networks an extension of your company and use them as a connection with your customers to publish your location and your menu. but also special offers for your followers.
“When you start it is very difficult to sell and get known. However, you can help your social networks tell the consumer where you are or where you are going to be moving,” said Leonel Bernal, 26, owner of El Buen del Puerco, loc Food truck that fused Mexican and Italian food into one product called taco pizza. The required networks are: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On the other hand, you can try the Periscope application (to make transfers) and even invest in one App to view the menu and manage orders online. When your concept is mature, you can invest in a sample to gain exposure in the community and create a brand identity.
If yours is the most traditional, go for the typical Flyer, the same one that you can distribute yourself Food truck, in areas related to your mobile business, at trade fairs, exhibitions, bazaars and office areas.
Streams of income
The main source of income in a Food truck is the direct sale of food and beverages in Food truck parks (Garages shared by multiple trucks), guild festivals, and mass events such as car races, music concerts, or sporting events. Or you can earn income from renting the truck to third parties from attending private or business events
or even to take part in catering for all types of events, like Luis Pineda, owner of Los Po’Boys (facebook.com/Lospoboys), a Food truck Ribs and meat with a Texas-style BBQ sauce. “We’ve been hired for Coca Cola business events. We were also at Week, Cervefest and even birthday parties, “says Lorena Guadarrama, who runs Mezquite with Héctor Quezada (facebook.com/MezquiteRibsandWings). Food truck specialized in texmex food. “There are many opportunities; The most important thing is to identify them and be ready to respond, ”he adds.
How much does an average truck cost? That depends on the gastronomic concept, the location of the Food truck and administration. For example, the Mexican Food Trucks Association warns that between $ 100,000 and $ 150,000 per month can be billed. That number could double if trucks could park freely on the city streets.
Since this is limited to the approval of neighborhood committees, tolerance by the authorities on any demarcation, and / or vehicle access to garages or large lots, it is ideal to attend union parties and special events. While these don’t guarantee sales, they can lead to an increase in revenue streams.
“At our events, we place between 250 and 500 orders per day. Neither guarantee actual sales, but we have an estimate. For example, two years ago Corona Capital had trucks that sold 2,500 orders in a day, ”says Fernando Reyes.
Of course, don’t expect to reach these ranks when you’re just starting out. In fact, the flow of income can be complicated at the beginning as nobody knows you and you have to position your concept. If this is your case then don’t despair and be persistent as the business owners in the sector warn. Above all, it assumes a business plan, proper administration and objective financial forecasts.
Everyday life in the ecosystem of Food truck It requires a complex network of physical, human and financial resources. To start with, you need a truck that can be adapted or specially made to curve, says Fernando Cantú, founder and owner of Food Trucks de México, a company based in Monterrey, NL. That specializes in manufacturing, design, remodeling and equipping specializes in these vehicles.
They usually have a stainless steel roof and walls and a non-slip aluminum floor. They have different extraction, cooking and cooling devices as well as gas, water and electricity systems. The average dimensions are 2.5 x 3.5 m and 4.5 x 2 m, depending on the truck, explains the businessman from Monterrey.
Prices for these developments range from $ 100,000 (for a simple customization) up to $ 1.4 million, depending on the complexity, Cantu explains.
Roy Arceo of the Food Truck Station, who also dares to sell standard trucks, calculates an average price of $ 899,000 for each new unit of the International brand. These are equipped with hot and cold stoves, they have two burners, an iron and a grill; Oven and salamander (for gratin); Pantry, work table, savings cabinet, power consumption with minimal consumption, power station, drinking water and waste water container, waste tank, sink and service bar. Everything is made of stainless steel.
Regardless of the vendor you choose, ask about their projects, reputation, and experience, as one mistake in choosing can result in you losing a lot of money. It was what the cook Daniela Maldonado, the owner of the Food truck Calish Cochinita Pibil.
“My husband Leonardo Rodea and I look for trucks on the internet. We ended up buying one that cost us $ 180,000; but they saw our faces, it was badly done and the facilities were a fiasco. We had to remodel it and invest $ 400,000. That was our first stumble, ”he recalls. A year later, this businesswoman parked her truck in front of her home (in Mexico City) after overcoming the cloudiness of poor unit selection and unable to park freely in public places. He uses supplies (water and electricity) from home, cooks right there and his concept was a revelation in that he already has a second truck under construction.
What about the HR department? According to Roy Arceo, the workforce can be as resilient as your business model requires without losing sight of the fact that both a shortage and an excess of staff can lead to failure.
“The salary of the staff depends on the position. For example, a chef makes between $ 250 and $ 350 a day. However, for events that require up to 20 hours of uninterrupted work, the price can go up to $ 1,000, ”says the entrepreneur.
Due to the wide variety of operating schemes of the Food trukcs, It is possible to hire permanent and temporary staff for hours, weeks or seasons.
A restaurant on wheels has important activities related to hiring staff, food delivery and production, customer service, and marketing.
In terms of human resources, it is necessary to hire people with experience in the kitchen and with a spirit of customer service. To identify the ideal people, you can use the job boards of universities and catering schools or advertise on websites that specialize in personnel recruitment. To get started, you basically need a kitchen manager, a helper, and a general helper. As an entrepreneur, you can be an administrator or a manager.
It is also important that you identify suppliers. Something Food trucker They do the pantry once a week and buy perishable goods daily or every other day. Little by little you will find out what best suits your company. At this point he sets up a warehouse control system that takes into account the famous FIFO system (first entries, first outputs). Don’t forget to buy the packaging for your food. Choose recyclable materials.
After overcoming the above, prepare a menu. Develop it based on your concept, without forgetting a few variants for special consumers like vegetarians / vegans. Include 2×1 promotions on non-working days (usually Tuesday and Wednesday) or create a frequent use loyalty program and spread it on your networks.
Pinche Gringo BBQ is an example of good social media management. It is a hybrid place whose central theme is an authentic one Food truck From 1976 – which came to Mexico after 15 hours on the road from McAllen, Texas – but far from rolling the streets to sell its now famous BBQ ribs, it has limited space on a lot of the Narvarte district. in Mexico City.
Almost two years after it opened, the place owned by Dan DeFossey and Roberto Luna has 25,000 fans on Facebook and 7,600 followers on Twitter. accepts online orders and PayPal payments. The place has grills outside Food truckwhere food is prepared many hours in advance, despite using this iconic vehicle to ship other food.
Similar to Dan and Roberto, you can set up an external production facility and just put the finishing touches on your dishes on board Food truck. “Of course, people want to see the dish in full, but this can be impossible at mass events where long lines of guests have to be served. A preproduction scheme in an outdoor kitchen can work here, ”says Roy Arceo.
Finally, pay attention to the presentation of the dishes, the packaging / plates and the image of your employees. Try to adapt them to the concept of your company.
Operation of a Food truck requires strategic allies – so you can grow your business. For suppliers, you need allies who provide you with perishable goods, groceries, and other goods like packaging, straws, napkins, and bags. There are special directories on the Internet. You can also contact them directly at the supply centers and / or markets. Another alliance to consider are trade union federations, whose job it is to represent their interests, organize events, find spaces and spread the culture Food trucker. Food truck D.F. fulfills these goals. This association organizes a travel festival once a month – the Food Truck Fest – at strategic locations in the country’s capital.
“We do the festival in different places, even in the rooms of some delegations. We usually gather between 3 and 6 pm Food truck and we add up to 5,000 people who enjoy artistic and cultural activities in addition to the gastronomic offer, ”says Fernando Reyes, President of this association. Its members have to pay an entry fee of USD 700 per month, the rental of the room in question, which is prorated among the festival participants.
You can also look for alliances with Food truck parks and with agencies like the Food Truck Station, which rents space for up to eight trucks. “We have plans starting at $ 400 per day and lower prices (starting at $ 200) for fixed plans when the full monthly payment is paid. The advantage is that we have all the services: electricity, three bathrooms, communal dining room, children’s swings and even showers because it can be a production center. In fact, it’s the first place for Food truck with a private event room, ”explains the founder.
Finally, you can also create alliances with others Food trucker find alternative locations Food truck parks or roundabouts. Mezquite, for example, allied with another Food truck and together they were in a garage in Colonia del Valle; Daniela Maldonado from Calish Cochinita Pibil worked with her father Calixto Maldonado, who already had a Yucatec restaurant.
The most important thing to remember in any case is that there is no legal regulation that allows this Food truck When you park on the streets of the different cities in the country, you need to take advantage of them with important strategic alliances.
Commit with one Food truck That means an average investment of $ 900,000 to $ 1.4 million to buy a new truck that comes with kitchen furniture and the required safety standards. There are several providers in Mexico. If you want to optimize your money, you can opt for a medium weight customized truck that can cut costs by up to 60%. Another alternative is to customize a vehicle yourself, which is not always cheaper or safer.
At the same time, you should invest in kitchen utensils (pots, pans, ladles, containers and utensils, etc.) as well as plates, glasses and cutlery (preferably biodegradable).
Aside from that investment, you’ll need to join an association (around $ 700 per month), pay some safety certifications, and get an insurance policy (which requires around $ 6,500 total). And very important: invest and give tolerated permits; but in others there is a witch hunt, ”warns Fernando Reyes.
Finally, you should consider capital to operate for at least the first six months, as you will have to pay salaries, supplies, and gasoline, and an average rent of $ 200 to $ 400 per day in a year Food truck park.
As you can see a Food truck It’s much more than a food trailer: it’s a real restaurant that requires investments and processes similar to those of these establishments. When you are ready to get into the business, draw up your business plan, prepare your financial projections, and get your development from the hands of someone with experience in the industry or under the umbrella of an association.