Dos and Dont's for Mobile Businesses
When you decide to go into business for yourself, it's always a good idea to do research and gather as much pertinent information as possible. One definition of wisdom is to learn from other's mistakes so that you don't make the same mistakes yourself. With that thought in mind, we decided to ask some local business owners and operators for their tips on what to do and what not do in getting a mobile business up and running. As property managers, understanding some of the challenges or points of concern for your mobile service providers can be extremely helpful when trying to put together your own food truck rotations, schedule mobile services for your properties, or planning events that incorporate mobile vendors.
Robert Bullock, Jr. of Smokehouse Bandits BBQ Food Truck
We spoke to Robert Bullock, Jr. who runs Smokehouse Bandits BBQ Food Truck in central North Carolina. Robert has been competing in BBQ competitions since 2009 and started operating his food truck full time in 2018. The BBQ menu includes brisket, wings, and his famous Loaded Brisket nachos which are always a quick seller so if you see them on the menu, order them fast! Robert suggested:
Patrick Dieudonne former GM for Adobo Joe Food Truck
- Don't EVER go full time starting in the winter!
- Keep your menu as SMALL as possible! Ingredients costs add up.
- Make sure to have a menu that resonates with a WIDE group of people.
- Always be on time for a shift.
- Don't ever beg anyone to schedule you for a mobile event. If they really want to give you an opportunity, they'll make a place for you!
Patrick Dieudonne is the former general manager for Adobo Joe Food Truck which serves the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. He offered this advice for how to help run a mobile business:
Tameka Whitaker of Endless Expressions Photobooth
- Create an environment that people want to work in...and if you have employees, treat them well.
- Make friends with other truckers.
- Social media is a free tool. USE IT!
- Take pictures of your food.
- Taste your food.
- Don't go to the same place more than twice a month. People can get tired of your food.
Tameka Whitaker is the owner of Endless Expressions Photobooth, a roaming photo booth used for events. The company has been in operation for seven years. In addition to the mobile photobooth, Tameka operates a traditional photography company as well. She shared:
Derek Smith of Smith Superior Pressure Washing
- Stay approachable and give off good vibes.
- Have backup equipment and a backup plan.
- Know the property layout and ask the people booking your business questions.
- Think outside of the box and be flexible.
- Show the value of what you offer. Remind people how important it is to capture the moment.
- Don't try to offer everything. Know your lane.
- Get a support team and network.
Derek Smith owns Smith Superior Pressure Washing. He has been pressure washing commercial and residential properties since 2012. He shared with us some things that he feels are important to his business:
- As a mobile business, intentionally set standards of high value, communication, and invest time in social media. Use these areas of focus to generate repeat customers. Without a brick-and-mortar location, people won't just stop in. You must provide high quality service in order to get customers to call you back.
- To show customers value, Derek says he exclusively uses high quality products to do high quality work. This guarantees he can show customers, whether new or existing, what services they will be receiving. Set an expectation for a customer, and then exceed it.
- Communication is key. There are times where a customer's vision doesn't align with their budget. By discussing the work to be done with customers in advance, Derek finds that he can provide work quality above what a customer might be expecting. It's equally important to communicate that work that isn't necessary won't be performed. This level of communication builds trustworthiness.
- Time spent on social media is an investment. Let your customers take the lead on social media, and match where they are spending their time. If Derek gets followers on Instagram, he posts more pictures. If he gets questions on Facebook Messenger, he makes sure he answers them as quickly as possible. Based on the questions asked, he also considers creating a post to answer questions before they are asked.
When it comes to running a business, or even in just attempting to live our lives, it's important to get good advice and pointers from others. Read books, talk with other people who are further along down the road in what you want to learn about, and be willing to learn. It will serve you well in the long run.