Hiring a Consultant (If You Need One) to Help with Your Food Truck Menu
Every food truck owner has his own challenges; this aspect is just part of life in the business world. If you don’t have a strong culinary background and need assistance in putting your menu together, hiring a local chef or a consultant with the expertise, answers, and solutions you need may be a great option.
You need to do some soul searching before you hire a consultant. Are you willing to listen to what she has to say? Are you willing to change your menu or menu items? If not, hiring an outsider will be a waste of your time and money.
If you perform an Internet search on “food truck consultant” or “restaurant consultant,” you’ll see no shortage of firms and individuals who proclaim to be professional thought leaders in the food industry. However, in discussions with food truck owners who’ve had successful consulting experiences, most say that they found their best consultant candidates by getting referrals from other food truck vendors.
- When you find consulting candidates you’re interested in hiring, make sure you take the time to interview each one.
- Speak with candidates in depth on the services they provide and how they can assist you.
- Get their personal background as well as the background of any additional staff members they may employ to work on your account.
- If you already have a concept in mind, ask them to prepare a dish that they feel would be able to work into a future menu; if you don’t have a planned concept yet, ask them to prepare something they feel would work well as a menu item from a food truck.
Taste the item they make and have them discuss the ingredients, the preparation requirements, and how much they would charge for that particular item. If they can’t give you a competent response to any of these questions, they likely won’t be able to provide you with the full service consulting you need.
- Finally, ask them for a list of references you can contact to find out how they performed as a consultant. An important question to ask a candidate’s references is whether they’d hire the consultant again. If they hesitate or don’t give a heartfelt response, it may be time to move onto the next candidate.
After you’ve hired a consultant to assist you in developing your menu, have her help create the menu and recipes before you hire your staff. The project should include tasting and modifying recipes and creating a recipe book with pictures, product specification, and detailed preparation steps.
If you want to get even more detailed, you can have the consultant create a training video that shows the preparation of each item. Doing so is a great way to document all the recipes and cooking steps so all you have to do is hire a chef to execute these items. This step eliminates being at the mercy of an employee who keeps all the recipes in his head.
You have the overall responsibility for the success of your business, so stay on top of every aspect of developing your menu. Using a consultant requires your money and your time, so make sure the consultant understands that you don’t want any surprises in regard to her designs and fees. Menu consultants have different ways of billing for their services, so ask for a fixed fee for the scope of services to be performed. Ultimately, you’ll have to determine whether the total cost is reasonable in proportion to the benefits you’ll receive.