Where Can You Find Data on Your Food Truck's Competitors?

Keeping tabs on your food truck's competition is a great strategy for your growing business. By continually monitoring your competitors, you get to know their good and bad behaviors and anticipate what they may be likely to do next, which helps your business gain a competitive advantage over them.

Using this data, you can plan a business strategy that helps you keep your current customers and win (not steal) customers away from competitors.

You can gather information on your competitors in several ways, including the following:

  • Direct observation: Visit all your competitors yourself, or ask one of your staff members to dine from their trucks. Act as a prospective customer and ask questions. You can learn about their menu and service and compare it to your own.

    Don’t use an alias or disguise to gather intelligence about your competitors. Although doing so may seem like a trivial deception, it’s dishonest and can come back to haunt you and your business’s reputation. In fact, it’s best to introduce yourself as a potential new food truck operator. Most operators love to help the new guy.

  • Social networks: Given how food trucks and restaurants are increasingly using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools, you may be able to pick up interesting facts about your competition by checking out their social media feeds. Using social media is a cost-effective way to stay in tune with and in the know about the public’s sentiment about your competitors.

    You can also track this information by keeping an eye on review sites, such as Yelp. Read your competitors’ reviews to find out about events they may be attending, deals they may be offering, or certain service practices you can learn from.

  • Google search: Any research project these days should begin with a simple Google search, so start there. You may also want to visit your competitor’s web page.

  • Newspaper and magazine articles: You can check out articles about your competitors found in newspapers and magazines (as well as those media outlets’ websites) to get an idea of what they’re planning for the future, how their organization is run, and what new innovations they may be planning.

    Be on the lookout for company profiles or dining reviews in local newspapers or magazines; they can reveal a competing product’s strengths and weaknesses.

  • Advertising: Advertising not only gives you a competitor’s prices, but it also provides some insight into a competitor’s promotional budget. When you find a competitor’s advertisement, be sure to note the following: which publication it showed up in, special offers, product features, and benefits highlighted.

    If a competitor suddenly places an ad in a new restaurant industry publication that neither of you have used, that may be an indication that it’s trying to reach a new market segment.

  • Suppliers: If you’re in an area where you’re bound to share the same suppliers as your competitors, asking those suppliers some simple questions, such as what cuts of meat they typically order, can’t hurt (at least not too much). Although some suppliers may not tell you what or how much your competitors order, others will, so it’s worth a try.

    If these suppliers disclose this type of information about your competitors to you, you can safely assume that they’re doing the same thing with your competitors.

  • Customers: When it comes to identifying sources of information about your competition, don’t skip over your customers. Speaking with your customers is one of the best ways to gather real information on competitors.

    Even though talking about your competition may be awkward for your customers (and yourself), you can merely ask their thoughts on how your food and service compares to another truck you’re attempting to get information on.

    If you’re able to gather enough information, you’ll have a good idea of what your competition is offering that customers like or dislike. You’ll then be able to adjust menu or service to improve your business.

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