This will be a regular feature of my blog reviewing questions, tips and comments from around the internet and from my communication with my vending clients.
I found this tip on a Facebook group: “Get yourself onto Google Maps!!!!!”
This is a tip I am ashamed to admit I have forgotten. My first exposure to Google maps was in 2013 when I started my Philly Cheese Steak restaurant. We took over an existing Quiznos that had closed and did a very minor remodel. Google maps, of course, still listed the Quiznos. I had to edit the information and Google had to verify it before the change was published. I believe it took a couple of weeks before the change was approved.
As a mobile vendor setting up in a certain area you will need all the free advertising you can get. Just make sure you list all your services like catering, deliver or online ordering with links. Go here to get started: https://support.google.com/business/answer/6174435?hl=en
“What do you recommend? Inc, LLC or sole proprietorship?” This is a FAQ on many Facebook groups and forums. The biggest problem with this type of question is general groups and forums are the WRONG place to ask this question. I have written an article here that explains one of the simple reasons why an LLC may not be the best choice. Bottom line with these types of legal, tax or accounting questions should be directed at professionals NOT public forums.
“Diamond Plated Flooring or a Rubber Flooring and why?” Diamond plate can be either aluminum or steel and each has good and bad points. Firstly, diamond plate is hard to clean and while often presented as slip resistant it can present a trip hazard for certain types of soles. (Think hard large tread soles) Another issue is the quality of the material. Low grade aluminum alloy is often used by smaller trailer manufacturers since it is lighter and cheaper. Aluminum will etch and pit when bleach is used as a cleaner and strong degreasers will actually eat away and discolor cheap aluminum.
Diamond plating is visually attractive especially when brand new and is a “wow” factor manufactures use to increase the perceived value of their products. However, suppliers of diamond plate recommend a different floor solution when wet conditions prevail (like in a food trailer). Since metal bar grating is not practical in a food truck rubber flooring is the way to go. Rubber flooring while not as attractive is a better choice for your feet and is easier to clean.
“Anyone use square pos. If so, what are thoughts of it? I use it just as credit card reader.” Another FAQ on every vending forum everywhere. This one comes up every couple of days. A POS (point of sale) is fancy terminology for cash registers, while “credit card reader” is the device that swipes, taps or dips a credit card to read the card information and process the transaction. As far as the POS part of Square, vendors will find it more than adequate for their needs. Square POS has middle of the road sales reporting capabilities and is fairly easy to program and operate. The best part is the price- FREE. Square does offer subscription based addons like inventory track, guest loyalty and additional reporting schemes. For me Square POS is good solid and reliable. There are other alternatives out there and this article reviews the major players.
“Here we are at a small event with our fully licensed, inspected and LEGAL food trailer and right next to us is a tent where the folks are cooking and selling FISH dinners with Cole slaw... NO REFRIGERATION just a cooler... NO 3 SINKS OR HAND WASHING container... it’s just not right they get away with it.. people cooking and serving are smoking like chimneys OVER the food and utensils!! ... stuff like this really burns me up! Local health department doesn’t ever come to these small events so they get away with it! It’s just not right...” I see these comments too often. Someone starts a food business will little care or concern for doing things safely and properly. They seem busier than the big flashy truck that is operating in a safe and sanitary manner. It is scary to me as a vendor to observe this behavior because we all share the same guest pool. One bad experience and the guest may never try eating at a street vendor again. That same bad experience, if made public, could lead to more stringent regulations for the “good” vendors. The bad vendors won’t care since they are not following the regulations anyway.
The way to handle a situation like this is to engage the event organizer and demand something be done regarding public safety. Point out the vendor and the unsanitary practices. Asking the organizer to do something forces them to either act responsibly putting the public’s safety first or ignore the problem. In which case the organizer becomes complicit in the unsanitary activity. At this point as for a full refund of event fees and state you are considering a lawsuit for damages and lost wages. Big events generally will act responsibly because they deal with these situations every year. Small or new events may need a little prodding in the right direction. Either way do what is right and get the organizer involved, don’t just complain on Facebook.
I'll be back next week with more questions and comments. If you have something you need answered send me an email.
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I have had a passion for helping people since an early age back in rural Kentucky. That passion grew into teaching and training managers and owners how to grow sales, increase profits, and retain guests. You’ll find a ton of information here about improving restaurant and food cart/trailer operations and profits. Got questions? Email me at Bill_Moore@live.com