Things you will need:
Napkins, plates, straws, plastic utensils, condiments, sauces, paper bags
- Ask someone familiar with the route what sells and what doesn’t. If you are buying a route, ask the seller or the person that previously serviced it. If the route is new, find out about the people you will be serving. For example, if your catering truck is going to industrial parks, go to the businesses and find out if there is a predominate ethnicity represented. Stock ethnic foods to match your customers.
- Locate the local commissary, which is a facility that provides food and beverages to catering trucks. Here, you can buy hot foods, sandwiches and all items necessary for your operation.
- Alter your menu to match the time of day. If you are selling in the morning, breakfast fare such as coffee, scrambled eggs, wraps, muffins, biscuits and gravy is appropriate. A coffee break would include some healthy snacks, yogurt parfaits, granola, fruit cups, with the usual coffee, tea, and biscuits. The afternoon and evenings will bring out people looking for sandwiches, wraps and fried chicken. Meat dishes and mashed potatoes and gravy are also good to stock later in the day, and can make your customers feel like they’ve had a real meal. Include salad and vegetables in your menu, changing the type on a daily basis. Pizza can be a good seller any time, and you can make a deal for a few pizzas from a local shop. They will be happy to have them ready for you at a certain time every day.
- Stock a variety of soda and packaged snacks. Include variety drinks like fruit drinks, coffee, hot chocolate and iced tea. They have a long shelf life and a good selection of these items is better than a large amount of one or two things. Make sure you have diet and non-diet drinks. The same goes for snacks, such as cookies and chips.
- Include high-quality hot beverages. Coffee is perhaps your biggest and most important seller. A catering truck selling bad coffee is a bad advertisement, so only serve fresh coffee. If you have a long route, pull over and make a fresh pot. Hot chocolate, especially in cold months, is also a good seller and is easily stored in individual serving packets. Stock a variety of tea bags as well, ranging from black and green to herbal varieties. To complete your hot beverage service, make sugar, sweetener, cream and creamers available to your customers. Keep three different sized cups so your customers can get exactly the size they prefer.
- Have a different special each day if possible. It won’t be long before the people on your route will know your daily special and will look forward to it. Try out such popular specials as spaghetti, Chinese food or Polish sausages to see what works best with your customer base.
- Stock cigarettes. It’s impossible to stock all brands, but make sure you have each type available including menthols, filters, 100’s and light brands.
- If you don’t carry something that someone asks for, write that item down and tell the customer you will stock it.
- Don’t sell day old sandwiches. They may look okay, but one bad sandwich can ruin your business.
- Be a good shopper, watch your prices and find the best deal.
- Make sure you have all the proper permits before you begin your business.