How to Manage Operations for a Fleet of Food Trucks Like Bernie’s Burger Bus | FTE Episode 019

Be prepared to work harder.Justin Turner’s advice on opening a food truck business.

The return will come, I believe. It just takes a lot of hard work and a long time doing it. A lot of people give up really fast.Justin Turner

Class is now in session this week with Justin Turner, owner of Bernie’s Burger Bus, who realized very quickly that he would need to scale his food truck operations if he had a chance of generating the kind of revenue he needed to run a business on his terms. Today, Turner manages three different buses that can be found rolling throughout the Houston area. In 2013, Turner received more incredible news when he discovered that his business was selected to open up shop at Reliant Stadium, where the Texans football games are played.

Prior to starting his own business, Turner was a personal chef for NBA superstar Shane Battier who currently plays for world champion Miami Heat. For years Turner had what many would consider to be a dream job, working only about 20 hours per week, being paid well, and cooking for famous folk and professional athletes like Yao Ming. In 2010, Turner decided that he wanted to start what he thought was at first side project: Bernie’s Burger Bus. However, it became apparent very quickly to Turner that there was an opportunity for this project to evolve into much more than just a hobby. In this interview, follow Turner on his path from running a food truck as a hobby to becoming a mogul in the industry.

Key Concept

Justin Turner’s philosophy on what makes a successful restaurant: 80% serving quality food, 10% customer service, and 10% is the concept.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Turner came up with the unique school-themed branding for Bernie’s Burger Bus
  • Some of business lessons Turner learned from professional athlete Shane Battier
  • How Turner dipped into his personal savings to fund his food concept
  • Why he felt burgers were a tangible food that could more easily reach the masses
  • The story behind using a school bus instead of a traditional truck or trailer
  • The team Turner built to help manage multiple trucks
  • How Bernie’s Burger Bus went from 1 to 3 buses
  • How Turner realized that he needed to transition into a volume based business to avoid cutting quality and raising prices for customers
  • Why truck maintenance can be one of the most frustrating aspects of operating a truck
  • The schedule for the opening of their first restaurant location

Our Sponsor

FoodStart.com – Meet our sponsor FoodStart.com: The crowdfunding platform designed specifically for restauranteurs and mobile food owners. As a listener of the Food Truck Empire podcast, you will also receive $1,000 in seed money after you successfully raise $5,000 and contributions from 20 people. All you need to do is email support@foodtruckempire.com after signing up for a free account on FoodStart.com. Click here to learn more about raising capital for your food business.

Mentioned in the Episode

Bernie’s Burger Bus – The official home of Bernie’s Burger Bus online. Check out the menu, current locations, photos of the bus, and Turner’s food philosophy right here.

Shane Battier – Learn about Turner’s former boss and business mentor at his Wikipedia page.

@BerniesBurgers – Follow the bus on Twitter.

Tikka Tikka Taco’s IndieGoGo Campaign – Visit the crowdfunding campaign of the runner-up from this year’s season of The Great Food Truck Race. This is the featured truck of the month and I’ll be talking to these guys on next Friday’s episode.

S’wich It Up – I’m working with co-founder Anthony Salvagno of S’witch It Up food truck to compile an A-Z guide for getting a food truck business off the ground. This project will serve as part resource and part real-time case study of what it takes to start a food truck.

I will be following Anthony over the next few months to learn how his business progresses from getting funding to meeting city regulations and delivering that content in a variety of formats, including blog posts, audio, Word Documents, and maybe even some video. Here’s a sneak peak on some of the content we’re working on. I believe there will be a ton of value in publishing the highs and lows of operating a food truck as it happens.

I hope to see you next Friday morning for the interview with Tikka Tikka Taco!