Selling Without a Store

Dana Osborne-Biggs (Photo by Quantrel D. Colbert)

Sky’s Gourmet Tacos lets customers know where the truck will be each day via Twitter. Burrell also cashes in on events, with customers guaranteeing $1,000 in sales to reserve the food truck for weddings and corporate affairs.

 

But the ability to travel comes at a cost. A truck will cost roughly $40,000 refurbished or $100,000 or more to retrofit a new one. In addition, specific licenses and permits are required for each municipality the food truck travels to, and can cost around $1,000 to $1,500 for each locality. It’s worth it, says Burrell, if the truck schedules multiple trips to each venue per month. “You have to be consistent when going into that particular space or it doesn’t pay off.”

The food truck generated about $100,000 last year. Not only has it contributed 30% more to the company’s bottom line since 2010, but Burrell received an extra jolt of publicity when she appeared on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race in the fall of 2011. “Now, we’re not just a destination,” she says. “We make the destination.”

The growing demand for food trucks is one of the biggest success stories in the restaurant industry. According to a 2011 survey from the National Restaurant Association, nearly 60% of Americans said they would visit a food truck offered by their favorite restaurant, up from 47% in 2010.

4. Flash Sales Sites: Maximizing Daily Deals

Shane and Shawn Ward (Photo by Shayne Alexander)

Twin brothers Shane and Shawn Ward, owners of footwear design company Shane&Shawn, were flying high until the recession hit in late 2008. “Literally month over month from September to October, our sales dropped about 35%,” says 39-year-old Shawn. When sales continued to fall at their New York boutique and wholesalers started ordering fewer products, “we knew we needed to cut our overhead,” he adds. In February 2009, the duo closed their store—saving the company more than $100,000 per year in rent—and focused their efforts online.

 

They explored e-commerce and a marketing strategy of featuring their merchandise on flash sale sites, which host temporary sales of designer merchandise at discounted prices. Sites such as BeyondtheRack.com and Shoe buy.com might feature Shane&Shawn products for two or three days. As with pop-up shops, the temporary nature creates a sense of urgency with the buyer, and the discounted prices often provide further motivation.

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