6 Tips to Winterize Your Food Truck

Winter can be a difficult season for food trucks. Customer habits change and fewer people are willing to wait outside for food, contributing to a loss of revenue during the season. As a result, many food trucks shut down until spring. Despite the cold weather and decrease in interest, there are still ways to keep your food truck successful after the temperature drops. As more businesses adopt a mobile food business model, we’ve developed six winter food truck strategies to make the most of the colder months.

6 Food Truck Tips to Prepare for Winter

There are several things you can do to prepare your food truck for winter. If done correctly, you'll be able to stay active, maintain a steady stream of customers, and form new business connections. By adhering to the list below, you'll be able to ensure your business stays profitable during the winter.

1. Winterize Your Truck

Icy conditions and low temperatures can pose a significant challenge to food truck owners. For that reason, it’s important to have a plan if inclement weather occurs. Adhere to the tips below to keep your truck, employees, and guests safe.

  • Purchase snow tires: One essential thing that every winter truck needs is a set of snow tires. Since food trucks are heavy and prone to sliding in winter weather, snow tires provide additional traction.
  • Invest in winter supplies: Consider purchasing winter supplies, such as shovels and ice scrapers, to combat winter weather. These are particularly helpful if your food truck gets plowed in or your windows freeze over. For comfort, you can even install heaters inside your truck.
  • Treat sidewalks: It’s important to make sure the sidewalks and pathways to your truck are safe. Consider buying rock salt to keep these areas clear of ice and prevent customers from slipping.

2. Offer Expanded Services

If you live in an area where winter weather prohibits your food truck from functioning normally, there are still several ways that you can make money. By offering the services below, you can increase profits and even expand your brand during the winter.

Catered food table from Food Truck Business
  • Food truck catering: Through catering, you’ll have the opportunity to maximize winter income and explore new business opportunities. Examples of events that your food truck could service include weddings, parties, and special holiday events. Some event spaces may even allow you to bring your food truck inside!
  • Food truck delivery: Adding a delivery service to your food truck is an easy way to navigate winter weather complications. You can choose to designate a staff member for deliveries or partner with a third-party delivery service to fulfill online orders. This makes your food more accessible, builds awareness of your business, and eliminates the need for customers to wait outside your truck on cold days.

3. Sign Up for Local Events

While the winter doesn't offer as many event opportunities as the spring and summer, there are still plenty of ways to stay engaged in the community. With careful planning and communication, you can keep your food truck in the public eye year-round. Some common examples of winter event opportunities are included below:

  • Food truck festivals: A winter food truck festival is a great way for customers to find diverse flavors in the gloomier months and provide you with a profit.
  • Local gatherings: Events like winter carnivals, tree lightings, and Christmas villages can be valuable business opportunities as they generally draw in hungry and thirsty crowds that are looking for something to eat on-site.
  • Town or city events: Find out if neighboring towns and cities host monthly events like First Fridays or Fourth Fridays. In many cases, these events bring in large groups of people despite the cold temperatures.
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4. Partner with Local Businesses

Partnering with local businesses and organizations allows you to make connections and explore new business opportunities. Not only does this keep you in business, but it can also result in long-term arrangements. In the section below, we've included some common examples of food truck partnerships:

Four people standing near and ordering at red food truck in winter
  • Bars: Consider parking your food truck at a bar that doesn’t offer food to feed hungry customers.
  • Office buildings: Local businesses that operate out of large office buildings can hire your truck to provide employees with a catered lunch. In some cases, they may even choose to host your food truck in their parking lot for the day.
  • Local sports teams: Whether they be professional or amateur, sports organizations in your area may be interested in featuring a food truck at their events. This gives you access to a large customer base and can help to build brand loyalty.

5. Offer Seasonal Deals

The slow winter season is an excellent time to try out new dishes. When you're designing new recipes, try offering menu items that are seasonally appropriate and festive. Take advantage of the tips below to transform your food truck’s menu and merchandise.

  • Holiday menu: Curate a special menu to serve guests over the winter holidays. This can include seasonal drinks, holiday classics, and exclusive winter foods.
  • Meal specials: Consider offering special deals or discounts on your menu to drive sales. This can range from something as simple as half-priced drinks to something on a larger scale, such as holiday meal bundles.
  • Winter merchandise: Beyond food, you can create branded merchandise to sell from your truck. Branded clothing such as hats, scarves, and gloves allow guests to stay warm while supporting a local business. You can also offer stickers, keychains, and a variety of other products to your guests.

6. Find a Regular Location

On days when the winter weather isn't as harsh, some people choose to go out for lunch or walk around the town. To prepare for that, your food truck should find a spot with consistent foot traffic. Adhere to the tips below to find a successful location for your food truck this winter:

Food Trucks Parked on Brick Road
  • Keep it central: People are less likely to travel long distances for food in the winter, making it imperative that you choose a central location.
  • Stay accessible: If customers have difficulty reaching your food truck, you can lose out on a significant amount of revenue. Make sure to choose an accessible location that is easy to find.
  • Keep regulations in mind: Before finalizing your plans, contact local authorities to ensure you are allowed to operate there. Some municipalities may require specific permits and licenses to operate in certain areas.

Once you've found your spot for the day, be sure to post on your food truck's social media accounts to keep loyal customers updated. If maintaining a regular spot in winter weather proves too challenging, try heading to a city or state with warmer weather. You'll need to arrange housing for you and your truck for the season and acquire the appropriate food truck licenses and permits for that state, so be sure to run a cost-benefit analysis before hitting the road.

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Choosing Which Winter Truck Tips to Implement

Before you begin to implement the tips above, it’s important to take a step back and analyze your truck and your local area:

What Are Your Strengths?

Take a moment to consider what makes your truck stand out. Whether you bake the best cupcakes in town or have exceptional customer service, your strengths are the key to devising a successful winter strategy.

How Are Other Food Trucks in Your Area Preparing?

One of the best things about the food truck industry is the strong sense of community among owners. Communicate with fellow food truck businesses to find out what they plan on doing in the winter months. This helps to generate additional ideas and inspirations for what path your business should take.

Talk to Your Guests

Since your guests are the ones waiting in line for your food, find out what you could offer that would make braving the freezing temperatures worth the wait. This can be done simply by having a conversation with your regulars or by sending out a survey via email. You can even offer paper surveys on-site and provide incentives to fill them out.

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Winter is the most difficult season for food trucks, but this doesn't mean that your food truck needs to shut down for the season. By changing your menu, working with local businesses, and searching for events and catering opportunities, you can keep your business open! So, instead of hibernating during those chilly winter months, take heed of these six tips to boost your food truck profits year-round.

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