Making a Donation Happen: What I learned while serving others in Houston, TX

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there are many opportunities for all of us to donate and offer help.  I’ve learned there are 4 key elements that have to exist before the donation actually comes through.  I’ve broken them down as follows:  Knowledge, Ability, Willingness and Action.

Knowledge:  You have to know about the need and opportunity to help before you can contribute.  Until we learn about the avenues of where to donate our resources, this alone will prevent us from putting forth the effort.

Ability: Whenever a catastrophe strikes, the needed resources to help everyone are so great that one individual or one organization can’t serve everyone immediately. This is why you or your organization can only help within your means.  You can only donate financial resources with what you can afford or have raised.  You can only donate time if you can afford to be away from other obligations.  You can only provide material resources if readily available or within your financial resources.  You can only donate resources with what you are able to part ways, without creating additional hardships on your own family or organization.

Willingness:  Most of us have a big heart willing to help others but not necessarily everyone.  Depending on who or what organization the help is for, will determine your willingness to help.  If the catastrophe is happening to your own area or your own family, your willingness is greatest.  Areas more distant or outside of your immediate relations may or may not get your willingness to offer help.  Once you are willing to help, any challenges ahead will only be viewed as simple obstacles to overcome.

Action:  Great intentions without action are nothing but a great idea.  Now that you have the knowledge, ability and willingness to donate and/or offer help, sitting around is nothing but a wasted opportunity.  Stand up and do what is necessary to fulfill your desire to offer help.  Take Action!

Recently, I joined a couple local chefs in Raleigh, NC area to venture out to Houston, TX to serve one of many neighborhoods severely hit by Hurricane Harvey.  Their entire neighborhood was under 6’-10’ of water during its peak.  During our visit to the area, every home in the neighborhood had piles of furniture, clothing, toys, appliances and construction material in their front yards. Many of them had vehicles in the street or drive way that were water damaged and would not start.  Until we arrived, many had not had a hot meal in almost a week. 

We were blessed with the support of our friends and family who donated financially to fund our trip to Houston.  We purchased and prepared enough food to feed 1000 meals during our visit.  Setup in the neighborhood park, we assembled our buffet line for the families to enjoy a hot meal.  All of the families had lost just about everything they owned.  However, all of them could still come to us with a smile on their faces, as they were ultimately grateful for our efforts.  This couldn’t have happened without the support and contributions of everyone who made this happen.  We couldn’t help every family with all of their needs, but we sure made one hot meal become one step closer to their recovery.  This experience helped me better understand the power of giving, but ultimately the priceless assets we as chefs have to give during this crisis. 

With the impending destruction from Hurricanes Irma & Jose, we hope this story inspires others to plan to help those in need in some way.  Concerted efforts can do so much, every little bit adds up and can make a big difference in recovery for those impacted by these natural disasters.

Make Today Great by helping others for a Greater Tomorrow!

Ray Chow
CFTO (Chief Food Truck Officer)

The Power of Food is a Valuable Asset

The Power of Food is a Valuable Asset

Many food truck owners and restaurateurs work with food on a daily basis.  We are busy professionals multitasking every moment of the day.  One important aspect of business success is the impact you make to others in the community.  During all of our daily activity, we sometimes forget The Power of Food is a Valuable Asset.  Everyone needs to eat everyday.  There are many who are challenged with not knowing where their next meal will come from.  This is an opportunity for us to give back and make a positive impact on our community. 

Working with food everyday, we sometimes forget what a priceless asset we are working with.  We spend most days working on our product generating sales to support our business, team, families and investment.  Without a doubt this is an important piece of the business.  We must stay profitable in business in order to support our future efforts of growing our success and continued efforts to give back.

Stepping away from focusing on the financial rewards of the business we need to be reminded of the emotional rewards of entrepreneurship.  This piece includes experiencing the appreciation, smiles and gratitude from those who are at challenging times in their lives.  The Power of Food is a Valuable Asset.  Everyone should experience first hand how rewarding it is to bring a large amount of food to his or her local shelter or church.  The holiday season is upon us.  We have our parties where we attend and bring a dish.  We see the smiles on the faces of our friends, families and co-workers at our parties.  It’s a welcoming feeling.  Now imagine bringing that same dish of food to a church or shelter…I won’t share with you what you will experience.  Words can’t describe the feeling.  This is something you’ll need to experience yourself. 

This holiday season, I challenge everyone to add a different aspect to their usual holiday routine.  Isn’t this what life is all about?  Learning and growing everyday.  Make that extra effort to really learn The Power of Food is a Valuable Asset. 

Ray Chow
CFTO (Chief Food Truck Officer)

Do You Know WHY a Food Truck online calendar can’t be trusted 100% of the time

Food trucks are mobile. They venture from location to location serving up some of the finest meals on-the-go that many patrons seek. More importantly, they’re local cuisine, local businesses and local entrepreneurs hard at work to make a good business a reality. Many of the food truck owners are first time entrepreneurs. It’s their first time in business for themselves. Typically, it involves marketing their business for the first time as well. One of the strategies of telling their guests where they will be serving is through an online calendar. It’s a great way to help manage and organize where you’ll be serving on a given day and time. However, it’s time to understand why a food truck online calendar can’t be trusted 100% of the time.
Online calendars are a great way to help the food truck owner organize and manage their food truck event bookings. You can simultaneously update changes to your calendar and your guests can view the changes in real time. So why would the calendar not be reliable or be trusted 100% of the time? Food trucks are a mobile business. Many unexpected things can happen to a mobile business just before an event occurs: equipment fails, truck breaks down, flat tire, supply shortages, staff shortages, inclement weather – the list goes on and on. Anything can happen days or just seconds before needing to arrive at an event to serve a large group.
On the flip side of this scenario, when another truck breaks down, your truck may be available to fill in the void. Either side will experience a last minute change to their online calendars. In the midst of dealing with an issue that results in your food truck missing an event, updating your online calendar is usually the last thing on the priority list. The same goes for the truck picking up the event at the last minute …a lot of preparation is needed to just make it to the event on time, properly staffed and supplied. Many times, updating the online calendar of a new event picked up is typically last on the list as well. As a result, other apps that help to market food trucks in multiple cities rely solely on the validity of the food truck calendar content. If the information is wrong, so is the content shared by the food truck app and other websites.
Another reason why a food truck online calendar can’t be trusted 100% of the time is the outdated content. Some trucks still operate with outdated content. They may use the calendar to list interested events but never confirmed. They may confirm an event but never list it on the calendar. Some events get cancelled due to rescheduling or inclement weather. The calendar content relies entirely on the food truck owner keeping all information current and accurate as possible. These other food truck apps that republish food truck calendar events have no clue how true or accurate the information is from their sources. However when the information provided is wrong, so is the trust factor of the information and the app source reputation.
Why a food truck online calendar can’t be trusted 100% of the time is what frustrates many consumers. They’ve been burned. They took a chance to go food truck hunting for lunch. They use some local food truck app or follow the information they find online about various local food trucks and where they are serving lunch. The consumer seeks to find the food truck service location only to find the truck is not there serving. The truck may have cancelled the event due to poor sales at a prior visit, or the coordinator decided to just cancel the entire program of food truck lunch. Any of a vast variety of reasons can exists why food trucks are not showing up to serve. Reasons can be anything from the event coordinator to the food truck owners. As more of these false events occur, so does the deterioration of the consumer confidence in finding food trucks for lunch or dinner. They can venture to brick-and-mortar locations which are more likely to be open and serving, because of their physical location.
Consumers enjoy food truck food but are frustrated with data they can’t trust. If only food truck owners had a way to share their true location when they arrive at their event! Sure, this can be done thru social media. Many trucks do it occasionally. So many more do not do it at all. It’s because there are so many preparation tasks to make an event happen. Unless you’re a social media marketing expert, you’re busy ensuring the truck operation is prepared and stocked to execute the service on the day of that event. Spending extra time updating one social media platform when there are so many, is time you may consider not beneficial if updating is so time consuming.
Why a food truck online calendar can’t be trusted 100% of the time. The calendar can be an accurate tool to share where the truck will be serving next. But the accuracy is only as good as the owner who is able and willing to enter and keep the information updated at all times. This may be more of a time drain than originally perceived. As a result, the calendars don’t always get updated and consumers will have to take chances in locating your food truck. Food truck owners need a simple and quick tool to update their location upon arrival and when ready to serve. This tool needs updates to be done within seconds instead of minutes. With a good routine update at each event, consumer confidence can be rebuilt and more hungry and trusting guests can successfully find your food truck and patronize it at a higher percentage of events. Social media engagement with the guest is a key factor to rebuilding their confidence and support of your food truck business.
Check out and download the new foosye® app on App Store and Play Store

Ray Chow
Chief Food Truck Officer

Food Truck to Startup: Hibachi Xpress Owner Launches App to Serve His Industry

Good Morning Sac Food Trucks!  Excited to share what foosye® has slowly launched as our shout-out app for all food trucks.  Download the app from the app store or play store.  Very simple to use app that automatically sends out a twitter and facebook message of your exact food truck serving location when you more re-populating calendar and address events when you may/may not arrive.  Rebuild your consumer confidence in your social media postings by checking in with the foosye app!  This is just barely the tip of the iceberg on what foosye has coming in the future.

Check out a recent article on the link below.
Food Truck to Startup: Hibachi Xpress Owner Launches App to Serve His Industry

Food Truck biz is fun but challenging also!  Make Today Great!

Ray Chow

Food Truck Owners Need to be Paid

As a food truck owner, you’re excited about entrepreneurship … for many, it’s your  first venture into running a business.  You’re excited about what you’ll be serving, building your truck, purchasing supplies, hiring staff, developing your website, and social media presence.  The list goes on and can get even longer with each passing day. You’ve done several events and paid your bills and your staff.  Seems simple ... and yet it is not.

As food truck owners, how do we pay ourselves?  Many gauge our  success by what is remaining in the bank.  Because the food truck business requires constant addition of more supplies, repair expenses, event fees, purchasing food, advertising and accounting expenses, staff payroll, and taxes, what remains in the bank may not be the best gauge of your profitability.   Some owners actually forget to pay themselves.  How could this happen?  A food truck owner may not see themselves as an employee because they are the business owner.  While true in one way, the more important 'truth' is that we're contributing to the daily operations of the business as a working team member and as such, should be paid.

Food truck owners need to be paid.  Figuring out the profitability of an upcoming event, including food, supplies, overhead and total labor expenses, including you, is vital to running any business.  What might happen if your labor contributions were not factored in to the total labor cost to handle the event?  Excluding that expenditure could give a false sense of profitability and become the difference between a marginally profitable event and an event that is losing money.  Knowing your true profitability is critical to determine if you would participate in this event again. And while you may consider paying yourself a high salary to operate your food truck business, yet wouldn't that reduce the number of profitable events?   A good rule of thumb is to pay yourself what you would pay someone to do your job, running your food truck operation.  Moving forward, should you want to work less on the truck or invest in a second truck, you’ll need to hire a food truck manager to replace your position.  Not only will this help give you a  realistic understanding of which events are profitable, but also give you a clearer understanding of how your food truck could operate without you down the road.

Food truck owners need to be paid.  Would you expect any of your employees to work for free? Of course not! So why should you, the owner?  Having even one team member not collecting a paycheck raises questions on the validity and operation of the food truck business.  Should you decide to sell the business or need to apply for commercial loans, as example, the profitability of the company would not be an accurate representation of the business, thus excluding your business from future lending opportunities.  Just like your employees, you as an owner have personal bills and expenses to manage.  You should be able to count on a steady paycheck for your contributions to the team operation.  Many food truck owners elect to take distributions from the profits after all expenses have been paid, including all labor expenses, as their 'paycheck.'  You are actually receiving compensation from two different roles you play in your business.  The food truck business is a seasonal operation.  Certain times of the year the demand and activity is greater than, as example,  cooler times of the year.  Financially, cash flow may be more challenging during those times.  As an operating owner, you may elect to hold on to or set aside incoming revenue for when cash flow is tight, electing to cash them in until activity is greater.  Either way, operating your business so you it can grow and expand, without the unplanned expense of paying for a team member who’s labor had been free, is the way to go.    Make Today Great!

Ray Chow
CFTO (Chief Food Truck Officer)
"How Food Trucks Roll"