If you own a food truck you know how competitive the industry can be.
In most metropolitan areas, these brightly colored vehicles painted with taste bud tempting images can be found throughout cities, parked on side streets, in vacant lots, tucked into alleyways and located outside transit hubs where a steady stream of commuters makes their way to work and tourists venture past on their way to hotels and sightseeing destinations.
Capturing the attention of these passersby is crucial if a food truck is going to be successful. But there is a secret ingredient to attracting even more customers that many business owners haven’t thought about—text message marketing.
Food truck owners get a taste for text message marketing
Texting adds a new flavor to your food truck business. Rather than scouring an area for a prime parking spot that won’t require a costly permit (good luck) or hoping that hordes of hungry people will suddenly walk by (highly unlikely), an increasing number of food truck operators are taking matters into their own hands. They’re picking up their laptops and sending text messages to customers using business texting software.
That’s right, food truck owners are logging on to computers and texting their customers to help promote their businesses. Professional texting software includes a mobile texting app that lets you send messages from your cell phone as well if that’s more convenient. Because these texts are sent using mobile phone software and not the native SMS and MMS texting apps on cell phones, the messages are more secure and easier to track.
For more information and best practices regarding texting customers, read our blog post on why businesses shouldn’t use personal cell phones.
Customers are hungry for businesses to text them
Our 2019 State of Texting report found that consumers wished more businesses would text them. Take advantage of this fact and stand out from the crowd by reaching customers with texts that share news about your unique food truck. It just might have them beating a path to your door or, in this case, your window.
Competition among food vendors can be fierce, especially in urban areas where people live and work in heavily concentrated neighborhoods. Not only do food trucks need to legally secure a space to park on crowded city streets they also need to compete against other food trucks, sometimes entire rows of them.
If you’re able to land a prime spot outside a large office building where workers come piling out at lunchtime you may not worry about drumming up business. But for most food truck operators, finding customers and helping customers find you can be a real challenge. Neighboring trucks may offer a similar cuisine, lower meal prices or serve exotic foods or fusion flavors that consumers are eager to try.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, over 300 cities across the United States have food trucks in operation, making it a 2 billion dollar a year industry. Startup costs average between $50,000 to $60,000 per truck, so advertising your business is a must. Text message marketing is a cost-effective option.
Send texts with offers and to let customers know your location
It won’t matter how good your food is if customers can’t find you. Sending a text with your location, hours, and a few words about what you’re serving is a good way to draw a mealtime crowd. It’s also smart to include a special offer and show some mouthwatering pictures of what you’re serving to gain a following.
You may also want to include a photo of your truck to remind people what to look for, especially if you’re in an area with other food vendors that could tempt them away. A clear photo can help keep their mind on your business so they’re less likely to stop by a competitor just because their food truck is on the way to yours.
Besides social media, what’s driving your marketing efforts?
Using social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote your food truck is a common practice and a great idea. But those avenues require users to visit websites or monitor message feeds on their phones to see what you’ve posted. With texting, your business can send a message right to the native texting app on your customer’s smartphone, a place they already check and engage with throughout the day.
Data shows that most texts are read within 30 minutes, so if you send a text at the right time (a couple hours before the lunch rush or dinner hour) you can be sure it will be seen. On slow-traffic days, sending a text with an image of that day’s special and offering a discount code or free drink with purchase can do wonders for pulling in more business.
Occasionally sending a “last call” text an hour before you pack up could bring in diners who may be hankering for something but are still on the fence. Getting an alert on their phone that you’re open for business could be just the enticement they need to stop by and satisfy those hunger pangs.
Keywords feed information directly into the hands of consumers
Keywords make it easy for you to share information with consumers without having to lift a finger. You simply create a keyword for any subject that you think people will want to know about. For example, you can let consumers know they can get a list of ingredients and/or dietary information about your menu (such as gluten-free and dairy-free options) by texting the keyword INGREDIENTS to your text line.
Advertising keywords on your menu board, social media pages or elsewhere lets consumers know they can get detailed information about your dishes. It’s also a good way to convey if you use ingredients that could cause allergic reactions, such as peanuts and soy. Do you offer heart-healthy food? Letting customers know could increase your bottom line.
When a consumer texts your keyword, a text message is sent to them with the information they requested. That frees you from having to answer questions when they’re standing right in front of you trying to decide if they should order while others are waiting behind them.
Keywords provide a unique way to communicate with customers. Encourage regulars to save your number in their contacts so texting a keyword is easy. Say you want to share what your specials will be for the week. As the example below shows, promote the keyword MENU and create a text that lists that week’s choices. When someone texts that keyword to your number, from home, work or anywhere, they’ll receive a text with your menu items listed. You can also promote other keywords and include photos in your text.
Scheduled messages let you send texts at the perfect time
When you own and operate a food truck you have a lot on your plate. Aside from preparing the food, managing a staff and maintaining your vehicle, you need to share the news that you’re open for business.
Text message marketing helps you get the word out. But sometimes the best time to send a message isn’t the best time for you personally. You might be in transit to your location or busy with other parts of your business. By using the scheduled message feature available with business texting software, you can create your text and schedule the date and time for it to be sent. That allows you to compose the text when you have the time to focus on it and check it for accuracy, spelling and punctuation.
Communicate with staff members and your suppliers by text
Another way to use business texting is for internal communication. You could call or email the people on your team, but a text message is usually the best way to reach them fast. Did an employee call in sick and you need to find a replacement pronto? Texting your entire staff with a single group message is the quickest way to find out who’s available to cover the shift. Texting is also an effective way to reach out to any food suppliers or vendors you rely on if you have an urgent request or need a question answered.
Auto reply texts respond to incoming messages – automatically
When you’re busy prepping for the day and a text message arrives, you don’t always have time to respond in that moment. With auto replies, another popular feature of business texting software, you can compose a message in advance that lets people know you’re currently unavailable and that you’ll respond as soon as possible. The message is sent automatically which reassures the sender that their message was received.
Ensure customers opt in to receiving texts from your business
Before sending texts to customers, it’s important to make sure that they have opted in to receiving messages from your business. The good news is that according to TCPA regulations (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), consumers willingly provide consent when they initiate a text conversation with you.
When you advertise your text number by posting it on your truck, website, social media channels or other marketing materials and a consumer texts it, they have automatically opted in to receiving texts from you. However, it’s important to note that you should only send texts that are in line with why they texted you in the first place, which is to get information about your food truck’s menu, location and related information.
For more information, download our small but mighty e-book on TCPA compliance.
Pop-up stores can use text marketing to attract shoppers, too
Text message marketing works great for any type of commerce, but retail locations do exceptionally well. Businesses with a temporary location like trendy pop-up stores that have smaller footprints and shorter-term leases than traditional retailers can also benefit from texting their customers.
Letting shoppers know where you’re located and why they should visit your pop-up store can create some much-needed buzz for your brand. Limited engagements create a sense of urgency. If customers are aware your store is only going to be around for a short time, they’re likely to visit so they can be part of the fun.
Pop-up stores range from luxury brands like Fendi (shown above) to seasonal shops that focus on holidays like costumes for Halloween and gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah.
Popping up in a vacant retail location if only temporarily means getting a great deal on rent by filling a void left by a former tenant. Shop owners can take advantage of the benefits that text message marketing provides like creating awareness and driving traffic to their location. Customers like to try something new. Maybe it’s time your business did, too.
Zipwhip is the leader in Texting for Business™ software
Learn how business texting software can help food trucks and pop-up shops engage with customers quickly and affordably. Our easy-to-use apps for desktop, web and mobile allow you to text customers from wherever you work. Simply log in, upload your contacts and start texting customers using automation tools.
Our direct connections with top-tier wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint set us apart from other texting platforms. You can rest easy knowing your company and customer information is sent and stored safely with data encryption in transit and at rest. For more information, visit Zipwhip today!