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Food Truck Nation: Expanding your business while standing out from the crowd.

It seems like food trucks are everywhere these days, and with Summer fast approaching, the thought of spending an afternoon in the sunshine, enjoying truck-style treats, is more appealing than ever. Whether you have already opened a truck or are considering opening one in the future, this list of pointers will guide you towards success.

Make a Plan: You might naively assume that opening a food truck will be a whole heck of a lot easier than opening a traditional brick and mortar restaurant. Not so fast, Sherlock. Food trucks take just as much effort and planning as any other restaurant venture: sometimes even more. Take the time to make a solid plan. If you need to hire a consultant, do it. Your planning will pay off down the line. Promise.

Get all of your paperwork in order: As with any food-related business venture, you will have to jump through a lot of hoops before you are able to actually open for business. Do your research and make sure that you have all of the permits, licenses, and insurance required to operate a legitimate and successful business.

Service: Just because you’re slinging food from a truck doesn’t mean that you can chuck customer service out the window. One of the benefits of owning and operating a food truck is the ability to limit your staff. This means that a lot of the time, you’ll be running service, connecting with and serving customers all at once. If you are an introvert with a general dislike of people, don’t open a food truck. It won’t suit you. Make sure your personality is up for the job.

Consistency: If you are lucky enough to gain a following, your repeat customers will expect to be able to order the same items time and time again and to experience the same level of quality and flavor with each consecutive order. Once you’ve worked out the kinks, nail down your foundational recipes and stick to them.

Be Friendly: Operating a food truck is like extending an open invitation to total strangers to strike up a conversation. The warmer and friendlier you are, the more likely folks will be to visit you again. If you have been working in kitchens for years with out much exposure to the dining public, you should really consider getting some practice talking to people who don’t curse like sailors. Also: remember to drop the snobbery. There are better ways to translate your passion than making your customers feel like a bunch of amateurs.

Use Social Media: One of the advantages of a food truck is having the option of mobility. This increases your visibility while allowing you to pick and choose your location on a daily basis (depending on city rules and regulations). However, it’s always a good idea to let folks know where you’ll be. There are a multitude of methods these days to let people know exactly where you are at all times. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Foursquare are just a few of the ways that you can connect with your fans and let them know where you’ll be and when.

Do you own or operate a food truck? What kinds of pointers would you add to this list? As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment below.