5 struggles of a street food vendor and how to overcome them!

From our founder’s first-hand experience…

The street food industry has experienced a significant surge in popularity in recent years. Food vans and pop-up stalls can be found worldwide and are enjoyed by more and more people every day. This is amazing to see but it is not without its struggles.

“After just a few months of running our food van, I realised there were clear pain points. From connecting to customers to heading home with food waste, I wanted to address these issues to help not only my own business, but to enable other vendors to run their food vans more effectively and connect to more customers, in turn guiding more people to delicious food!”
– Miles, Founder of My Streats

1. Increasing costs

Produce, equipment, events fees, VAT – the costs of running a business are constantly rising. On top of this, the street food industry is highly competitive, and the financial uncertainty associated with fluctuating customer demand, changing market conditions, and unpredictable weather can create additional stress.

My catering business launched in 2016, in an empty garage with a smoker just outside. I spent months trying to perfect the ultimate pit-style brisket, and in my humble opinion, I eventually did (though it took far longer than a few months)!

Fast forward to 2021, after a year of no weddings (we don’t talk about 2020), I looked forward to placing plenty of brisket orders again. But briskets had quadrupled in price, and it was no longer sustainable for us to offer it on our menu without charging customers what they would think was an obscene amount – and I would agree!

I therefore made the difficult decision to take our bestseller off the menu and quickly set to work replacing it with another option. We rolled our alternative out, the feedback was amazing, and it quickly became our new customer favourite.

My point is that whilst there are always going to be times when you must pivot your business, it doesn’t mean it will end in disaster.

 

2. Intense (sometimes stressful) workload

The street food industry can be a demanding and high-pressure environment. Irregular work hours, physical demands, and maintaining high quality food can be a struggle, especially with long queues of customers expecting super speedy service.

Behind the scenes, staff members are often multi-tasking food prep and managing inventory to keep the menu full and customers happy.

As a consumer, it’s important to appreciate the dedication of vendors and support them however possible. This can be in the form of being patient, sharing great experiences in-person and on social media, and continuing to delight our taste buds with vendors’ culinary creations! This way, we can contribute to a more supportive street food industry.

 

3. Finding the time to catch up on admin

Managing food and packaging inventory, scheduling shifts, responding to emails and social messages… admin sure piles up when you’re running a food van!

Implementing digital tools can help simplify administrative processes. Maybe you already use QuickBooks for bookkeeping or Connecteam to schedule shifts, so you know there are ways to streamline workflows and save time.

My Streats is a place to keep the information your customers need in one place. This week’s locations? They’ve got it. Up-to-date menu? It’s at their fingertips. Not to mention service timings, special offers, and allergen information – it’s all there, and easy to edit should you need to.

 

4. Reaching your entire audience

Relying on social media platforms to communicate changes in your location, timings, or menu items can be timely and ineffective if it doesn’t reach all your followers. And when it comes to real-time updates, it’s often an inconvenience that takes you away from service.

Even if you’re running paid adverts to reach a wider audience, this costs time, money, and it might not even reach the people you want it to. Plus, a vendor’s passion is creating delicious food, not digital advertising!

As a vendor on the My Streats app, you can update your menu, timings, location, and special offers for every user to see. You can also send notifications directly to customers who have favourited your business, so they’ll never miss out! Then reach out to new customers to let them know you’re nearby, which brings us on to our final point…

 

5. Being found by new customers

Establishing a strong brand and increasing your visibility can be a challenge, especially for new vendors on the block. Standing out in a crowded market and capturing the attention of potential customers can be difficult without a well-defined brand identity and targeted marketing strategies.

Most vendors share their location on Instagram. The problem is, most of the people seeing that post will be your loyal followers, so the chances of gaining news customers from that post are small.

My Streats provides vendors with a straightforward way to connect with customers. When you create a profile on the app, you can reach a broader audience and attract customers who may not have found you otherwise. If they’re in your area, they’ll know about it and if they’re looking for your cuisine, you’ll be at the top of their list!

 

Our aim is to provide vendors with enhanced visibility, help streamline operations, and offer seamless customer experience. In a nutshell, we want to find solutions to every vendor’s struggles.

So, are you ready to put yourself on the map?