Foursquare and Your Food Truck Business - dummies

Foursquare and Your Food Truck Business

By Richard Myrick

As a mobile food business owner, you can leverage Foursquare by offering deals to customers who check in. Over 6 million smartphone users are actively using Foursquare, a geo-location application that allows them to check-in to businesses around the world, show their friends the places they’re visiting, and leave feedback and tips.

Although most food trucks don’t have physical storefronts, Foursquare is a social media tool that, used properly, can still help you increase your mobile business as well as your profits. Listing your food truck business on Foursquare and using Foursquare successfully are easy processes.

Set up a Foursquare account for your food truck

To get started on this task, head over to Foursquare. To create your account, you’re given the options to sign up with your Facebook account or with an e-mail address.

Because the Facebook option ties your Foursquare account to your business Facebook account, use a general business e-mail address so other staff members can control the account if you choose not to do it on your own and so your personal information can remain private.

From there, fill in your business information to set up your account. (If you already have a personal account, log in and skip to the first step in the following list.) After you’ve logged in to your account, you need to claim your business and provide relevant information about it. Just follow these steps:

  1. Type your business name into the search field on the top right side of the page. When you see your venue on the list, click on it.

    If your food truck doesn’t show up in the search, you need to add it to the system by searching for your location. You’re asked if you want to add the venue; select “yes.” Then fill out the business form (business name, mailing address, type of business, and contact information) and submit. When your venue has been created, go on to Step 2.

  2. Click the Claim Here button to claim your mobile food business.

    Verify the information listed for your business.

  3. Click Continue Claiming this Venue and provide the info requested.

    You’re asked whether your business is a chain; select the relevant answer. Because your food truck is mobile, select a Moving Target as a venue. Foursquare has a number of prerequisites that deal specifically with moving targets, but don’t worry; your food truck meets them all.

    If you choose not to set up your venue as a moving target, when you create the venue, you choose the address where your truck is most often located or where you park your truck (such as at your commercial kitchen), in order to maximize the number of times your truck shows up in the Places tab organically.

After claiming your location, you can log in to see who has checked in at any time, and you can set up deals for Foursquare users who check in at your truck.

After you’ve claimed your listing, Foursquare will send you a window cling for your service window. Be sure to put it up immediately so that anyone walking by will know you’re on Foursquare.

Make your Foursquare presence felt

After your Foursquare account is up and running and your food truck is listed as a local business, take advantage of the free tools the Foursquare developers provide you. Check-in-based deals can be a powerful tool for both attracting new customers and rewarding loyal customers. Here are some of your options:

  • Reward your mayor: The mayor is the title Foursquare hands out to the individual who has the most check-ins at a particular location over two months. Only one person can be the mayor at any given time, and many Foursquare users will visit your truck just to attempt to attain this coveted title.

    The beauty of the Foursquare mayor title is that the system allows you to give something to the mayor if you like. You can make it as simple as offering free food or even a piece of promotional swag.

    Although your mayor would undoubtedly love to get a free meal every time he comes to your food truck, you need to select a reward that isn’t cost-prohibitive. A free T-shirt saying “I’m the mayor of [insert your food truck’s name here]” is easy, cheap, and the equivalent of a moving billboard.

  • Reward repeat customers: Foursquare allows you to offer a special reward to customers who check into your place a certain number of times. You get to set the number of times a customer needs to check in and the reward he receives for doing so. Pick a reward with a low cost, say, a free item or a percentage off the customer’s next meal.

    Then, whenever a customer checks in at your food truck the requisite number of times, he’ll get a message such as “You’ve checked in five times; you’ve earned a free side order or beverage on the house!” or “You’ve been here ten times; you now get 10 percent off your next meal!”

  • Promote the food truck industry: To show the popularity of food truck check-ins on Foursquare, the developers have created a badge that allows food truck followers to earn a little recognition. The Ziggy’s Wagon badge is presented to users who check in at three food trucks listed in the food truck category of the Foursquare database.

  • Be sure to inform customers who check in at your truck that they can receive this badge merely by eating at more food trucks. Customers who visit three different food trucks are awarded the badge with this message: “Waffles and tacos and dumplings and BBQ and . . . looks like you’ve found three of your city’s legendary food trucks. Enjoy!”

Social media platforms are designed to be tied together. When you decide to utilize a Foursquare special or reward, tweet about it on Twitter and share it on your Facebook Page. The more involved your customers know you are, the more likely they are to track down your truck.