an image of a food truck owner serving happy customer

When you’re in the food truck business, you know how exciting it is to roll up to a festival and find hungry customers ready to try your tasty dishes. However, these kinds of gigs aren’t exactly a walk in the park…. You need a plan.

Boost your food truck revenue with a comprehensive event strategy that includes what to do before and during the event. Here’s what to do! 

Plan ahead

You decided to participate in an upcoming food truck festival — nice! Now it’s time to start planning for the event by scoping out the competition, deciding on your menu and sharing that you’ll be at the event. 

Find out who else is participating

At the festival, there will be several trucks that sell food among other types of vendors. Your goal at this step is to figure out what food trucks will be at the festival and what they plan to offer. 

This serves two purposes. 

  1. Know how to set yourself apart. Ideally, your menu should be different from other trucks but even if there is overlap, knowing your competition ahead of time gives you a chance to add a new spin. 
  2. Partner with complementary vendors. Join forces with another food truck or vendor that offers something that goes great with your dishes. For instance, if your food truck specializes in pastries and cakes, you could collaborate with a coffee vendor. It’s convenient for the customers and a boost for both trucks.

Decide on your menu

You can offer customers your entire menu or a limited menu specific to the event, but most food trucks vary their menu according to their sales expectations and audience.

Offering a limited menu means you won’t need to stock up on ingredients for every dish you sell. Instead, you can purchase only the necessary items to prepare specific snacks, meals, or beverages. You’ll save on food costs and limit waste from unused ingredients.

Another big bonus of a limited menu is that you won’t have to juggle multiple cooking times, prep needs and finishing touches. In short, the whole process will be much more streamlined. 

If you plan to participate in several food truck festivals a month, having multiple menus at the ready is a huge benefit. This is something that Table Needs makes super easy. You can create a different menu for events, online ordering, regular locations and more.


Marketing is critical to attracting attendees to food truck festivals. The festival organizers are likely doing the heavy lifting but you need to do your part as well. Notify people in your area about the food truck festival and what you plan to offer. If you have a social media following or email list, publish a few posts with all the juicy details.

>> If you’re not a marketing whiz, consider working with a digital marketing agency specializing in food trucks. Table Needs Marketer can handle all of your marketing needs, including social media and local digital advertising. 

Tips for a successful food truck festival

Your preparation efforts will pay off at the food truck festival. However, you’ll still need to follow a few steps once you’re there to maximize your sales opportunities. 

Arrive early to set up

The early bird gets the worm, and that’s particularly true for food trucks. So when is the food truck festival and what time does it start? You’ll want to arrive at the festival at least an hour early so you’ll have time to set up your area and test your equipment.

Test every aspect of your customer sales process from start to finish. Start with your menu. It should be in full display and easy to read. Your menu should highlight the foods you offer, their ingredients and your prices.

Next, pretend you’re a customer and order one of the items on your menu. Cook it from start to finish. That way, you’ll know that your cooking equipment is working correctly and that you have all the ingredients you need.

You’ll also want to test your POS equipment. Try running a sale for the item you prepare and make sure you have a solid internet connection that allows customers to pay with a debit or credit card. If you run into issues with your POS equipment, you won’t be able to accept card payments, so it’s critical to ensure it’s working.

Offer non-food vendors a discount

One easy way to capture more sales is by offering other vendors a discount on your meals. Vendors will likely stick around for the festival’s length and get hungry and thirsty. If you offer them a deal, they’re more likely to purchase from you than your competitors.

Make sure vendors know about your discount. Walk around and chat with each vendor in person, create a visible sign that notifies vendors of the promotion or share it on the festival’s guide.

Reduce lines by offering multiple ways to order

Popular food trucks (like yours!) will attract lots of attention and customers. To provide your customers with an optimal experience and keep lines to a minimum, offer various ways for your clients to place their orders.

One of the BEST ways to limit long lines but still rake in sales is to offer online ordering. Instead of waiting in line, customers can use their smartphones to place an online order with your truck and – best part – receive a text notification when their order is ready. To make this happen, slap a QR code on the side of your truck and/or website that’s easy to navigate. 

Another way to keep lines moving is to hire someone to take orders from people standing in line. They can carry a handheld POS system that takes the orders and accepts payment. Done and done! 

At the very least, having an easy to use customer-facing card reader at your food truck window helps avoid ordering mishaps and miscommunications. Plus it allows you to easily track every order, which is great while on the job and afterwards to calculate how much you made. 

Grow your food truck business with Table Needs

From POS to online ordering to marketing and bookkeeping, Table Needs can help you run a more efficient, more profitable food truck business. Get in touch with us today to learn more and see if we’re a good fit.

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