Could Serving Breakfast Boost Your Food Truck Sales?

Breakfast is big business, and for food trucks, it's a largely untapped market.
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Serving breakfast at your food truck will involve different routes, menu changes and extra ingredients. Are you ready? (Photo: Rachel Moon/Shutterstock)

The early bird may get the worm, but if your food truck is parked nearby, he may opt for a breakfast burrito instead.

The breakfast segment in the U.S. is growing steadily. According to market trends firm The NPD Group, morning meal visits to quick service restaurants (QSRs) increased by 5 percent in the year ending February 2016.

For food trucks, breakfast is a largely untapped market, said Richard Myrick, editor in chief of Mobile Cuisine Magazine. But is it worth entering?

Related: 4 Ways to Succeed in the Food Truck Business

If you’re thinking about tapping into the breakfast biz, here are some things to consider.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

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Before serving breakfast at your food truck, decide if the cost of extra ingredients is worth it. (Photo: chuckstock/Shutterstock)

Breakfast service isn’t right for every truck. Look at the cost of adding a breakfast route to see if it makes sense for your business. Above all, think about whether you’ll have to hire extra staff, and analyze whether the increased operating costs are worth the projected boost in sales.

Many trucks rely on lunch as their main profit center, noted Myrick. “This limits how many trucks will want to add another shift and take away from their lunch prep without having to hire another group of kitchen staff.”

Related: 5 Mistakes That Are Costing Your Food Truck Business

Research the local marketplace to see if other food trucks are serving breakfast. If so, is the market saturated? And look up your local regulations. Some cities have restrictions on when food trucks can operate, said Myrick. Before you start cracking eggs, make sure you’re allowed to operate in the early morning hours.

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“Local shoppers love to eat and shop. Using local items from the retailers at farmers markets like eggs or greens can be very well received.” -Eric Weiner (Photo: Eric Weiner)

Where would you park?

Office complexes are often a good bet for parking your food truck. If lunchtime is crowded, the same workers might also want to grab breakfast and coffee as they show up for work. Talk to your regulars and ask.

Another place to find breakfast foot traffic is at the farmers market, said Eric Weiner, president of FoodTrucksIn.com, a food truck search tool. “Local shoppers love to eat and shop,” he said. And since they’re at the market to buy local, “using local items from the retailers at farmers markets like eggs or greens can be very well received.”

If you decide to add a morning route, keep a consistent schedule, said Weiner. That way, new converts know where and when to find you and customers can plan their mornings around a stop at your truck.

Can you up your speed game?

Breakfast on the go is all about speed.

“The breakfast crowd is one that is usually in a big hurry,” said Myrick. “They don’t have 30 minutes to wait for an order, so breakfast vendors have to be faster than the trucks covering lunch or dinner times.”

To compete with drive-thrus and other QSRs for the breakfast segment, trucks must be comparably fast. “This means they need to have their food par cooked or prepped to the point that the items can be served shortly after the order is taken,” said Myrick.

Selling fresh fruit and other “grab-and-go” options like granola and danishes can also be good for catching consumers who might otherwise stop at a deli or go without breakfast.

Consider serving “anytime” breakfast

If you don’t add a breakfast route (or even if you do), think about adding a breakfast food or two to your lunch or dinner menu. Why? Because breakfast foods are popular. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast, nearly three-quarters of adults wish restaurants would offer breakfast items throughout the day.

Adding a few all-day breakfast items to your menu is an easy way to tap into the market without adding an additional route, said Weiner. “Eggs and cheese can often replace other proteins in an existing menu and offer a nice breakfast option at all times of day,” he said. Plus, it gives your vegetarian customers more options.

Before you decide to enter the breakfast market in any capacity, “just make sure to do your due diligence,” said Myrick. “The breakfast market can be profitable if the situation and menu are right.”

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