Prior to 2014 Travis Reeks of the Mexi Dogs food truck never ran a mobile food business. Yet, in just a few months Reeks has booked 20 events per month for the summer months across Oklahoma by targeting three types locations: festivals, churches, and parking lots of small businesses. Today, Travis outlines his process for identifying quality and profitable events in his area in addition to how he pitches local business owners to allow him to park on their property. Even for longtime truck owners finding and vetting new locations or backup locations is extremely valuable.
In addition to sharing tips on booking events, Reeks also shares his experience using GroupOn for his food truck. Although this isn’t well known among restauranteurs, you can negotiate the percentage of each food sale that goes to a restaurant instead of GroupOn. Reek’s breaks down how to negotiate the terms in your favor.
Finally, Reek’s explains the importance of registering for local food and directory websites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon in your area. Reeks attributes this important step to helping him book more consistent catering gigs and helping him to land a spot on a new Food Network pilot called Carnival Eats that will air in the fall of 2014.
Quotes from the Show
I started writing the business plan in December, which is the most important part of opening a food truck. – Travis Reeks on getting started the right way.
Staying focused and being great at about 2 or 3 items is extremely important because space is limited and it helps you develop your branding. – Travis Reeks on the food truck business.
What You’ll Learn
- How Travis came up the the concept to serve Sanora-style hot dog
- How Travis differentiated himself early on from other food trucks in Oklahoma City
- How Groupon can be used for a food truck.
- Tips for negotiating rates with Groupon so you get to retain more profits.
- The importance of being on all the major local food review networks (Yelp, UrbandSpoon, Google Maps, etc.)
- How Travis finds festivals, churches and local businesses to partner with and book events.
- Why Travis cross-references events with local chambers of commerce to get a better perspective on what the projected attendance of an event could be like.
- How Mexi Dogs is establishing connections with small business owners to consistently park for lunch
- The Mexi Dogs rough qualifications for going to an event: At least 200 people with no competing trucks or festivals with 1,000 attendees per food truck.
- How a nice looking email packet can be used to book more events.
Mentioned During the Interview
Mexi Dog Food Truck – The official home of Travis Reek’s Oklahoma based food truck.
FairsandFestivals.net – This is one of the websites Travis Reeks uses to find out about festivals and events in his area. This is a national website that can be a great resource for mobile food vendors located across the United States. As a paid subscriber, you can also be alerted of local events first.
TravelOK.com – This is a database of events that are going on in the Oklahoma area. Your state might have a website similar to this that you can keep tabs on for upcoming festivals that would be valuable to attend.
Carnival Eats – Upcoming show that is scheduled to be broadcast on the Food Network. Although Mexi Dogs has only been in business a few months, the business was filmed for the program in part due to registering their business on sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. The show is expected to air in September, 2014.
The Mexi Dog Groupon – Pay $11 for $22 worth of Sanoran-style hotdog yumminess. Check it out if you live in Oklahoma City.
Some websites you should register for as a food truck owner. These websites have helped Mexi Dogs be “discovered” by Groupon and the Food Network:
UrbanSpoon – National restaurant / mobile food website.
Yelp – National restaurant / mobile food website.
Eat Around OKC – A local Oklahoma City restaurant review website.
Food Truck Fiesta – DC-based food truck location and directory website. If you operate a food truck near a metro area, the odds are there’s a local directory website near you. Make sure to conduct some Google searches to ensure your truck is included in the local directory websites near you.
Come back next Friday morning for part 2 of our interview with Mexi Dogs!