Normally, I use this blog to spotlight a new gourmet food truck or a truck with an interesting twist. However, every once in a while, something gets struck in my craw and I need to vent about it. I became a gourmet food truck devotee about 18 months ago. I haven’t been shy about sharing my passion for this industry and have been a strong proponent for fair business practices for them, as well as speaking out against politicians who bash/ban/overregulate the industry to advance their personal agendas. So, what’s got me so fired up at the moment?
I work for a company in Century City and every Tuesday and Wednesday, we have a food truck come to our building. Just one truck. They have exclusive access to all of the tenants in our 2 buildings, as well as surrounding buildings. They easily write 60-100 tickets depending on how fast they can serve people, in a 2 hour span. Not a bad gig.
In an effort to provide a wide variety, I offered my quasi-consulting services to the guy in my office that books the trucks. He was thrilled, newer trucks got an opportunity they wouldn’t have had access to and everyone was happy … until this past week. On Tuesday, the truck showed up an hour late; no call, just showed up an hour late and 1 less staff person. Consequently, we had long lines & 45-60 minute wait times. For an hourly worker, that’s their entire lunch period. In addition, we also booked a frozen dessert truck, who unfortunately had truck issues and wasn’t able to make it. I had gone to bat for this truck to get them booked due to a competitor bashing them in an email to the booker in our company. Free Tip: If you’re going to talk badly about someone, do not put it in an email. You never know where that email is going to end up.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, on Wednesday, a different truck just plain didn’t show up. When I contacted them, they said their truck was down for repairs & they had no record of the commitment for lunch. I forwarded the confirmation email to them. Several hours went by before they called the booker in our office to apologize but the damage was already done. This was a truck that I recommended and it was going to be their first time here. Guess what? You have ONE CHANCE to make a first impression.
The fallout from this was not pretty. Tenants complained to the booker (you & I know it wasn’t his fault but the buck stopped at his desk) and the booker is completely turned off (at least for the time being) to booking new trucks. My hope is that in time, and with no more incidents of no-shows, perhaps I’ll be able to get new trucks invited.
If the food trucks want to be taken seriously, they have to take their business and their customers seriously. Truck problems are normal & understandable; not calling is not. If you are booked somewhere and you screw up, drop everything and try to make it right. Think about the 60-100 people that were expecting to get lunch from you. I talked to one woman on Tuesday and it was her very first food truck experience. Needless to say, she was underwhelmed. I told her most trucks were not like this but first impressions can make lasting impressions. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.