Aug. 30, 2017 | by Elliot Maras

Dan Schrader, district manager and graphics designer, left, and Cody Sutherland, general manager of mobile operations, are proud of the truck. Photo courtesy of KC Pie, LLC.

KC Pie LLC, the Kansas City franchisee for the Pie Five Pizza Co., was looking to build brand visibility when it launched a food truck several months ago. 

One set of challenges the company faced once the truck was built was developing operating guidelines, as noted in part 1 of this two-part series. At the same time, the company also faced the need to create visibility for the truck.

Truck graphics

At the very start of the truck planning process, Kevin Goebel, operating partner, recognized the importance of visual appeal. He solicited feedback from his district managers on graphics for the truck.

The company opted for a more risque approach to graphics with the truck compared to the restaurants.

Dan Schrader, a district manager who specializes in graphics, took on the role of designing the truck's exterior graphics. Schrader found a graphic design template online. He based the design on that of the restaurants.

The team opted for a slightly more risqué approach for the truck. The back of the truck reads, "We'll get you baked in 5."

"It was all done from scratch by our very own support team," said Lyssa (Goebel) Krumholtz, chief of marketing for the company.

Selecting events

Knowing what types of events and locations to take the truck to was a process of trial and error.

Food trucks are not as well established in Kansas City as in some other markets, said Krumholtz. Nevertheless, the team found success taking it to office buildings and special events, such as golf tournaments, festivals and concerts.

Golf tournaments have proven successful for the truck.

Property managers of large office parks especially like having food trucks as a convenient dining option for their tenants, Goebel said.

A successful stop serves 100 to 200 people. The team targets five events per week serving 100 people per event.

"As long as the people are there, the volume has been more than enough to keep us happy," he said. "No event is a waste as long as we're getting our company name out there, and getting our product into some peoples' hands who have not had it before."

Leveraging marketing

The team was able to leverage most of its restaurant marketing initiatives to support the truck, such as its Instagram page. Every morning, they post a picture on Instagram showing where the truck will be.

Pictures of the truck are also posted inside the restaurants.

The restaurant loyalty rewards program, which has 60,000 members, has posed a challenge for the truck since the customer has to add the points after receiving their receipt. 

"You have to take your receipt and add it on after the fact, and the consumer needs to do that," Goebel said. "We're trying to figure out the best way to integrate that into our point-of-sale system on the truck so that it is seamless."

Overall, the Goebels think the truck has improved awareness for the KC Pie brand.

"If we convert that (truck customer) to a restaurant in-store consumer, there's certainly a whole new benefit to the truck that we're hoping to capitalize on," Goebel said. "People come up to the window and say, 'That was so good. Do you guys think you'll ever do a brick-and-mortar restaurant?'"

Restaurant sales improve

Restaurant sales have improved since the truck launched, but it's hard to say to what extent the truck has been responsible for this since there are other factors involved, such as a marketing campaign.

"I'm confident that a portion of that is related to the food truck," Goebel said.

The fast casual pizza concept is still new to a lot of people, he said, and the truck has improved customer awareness of this concept. He sees this as the truck's greatest contribution to KC Pie.

Improved morale

Another benefit has been the truck's impact on employee morale. 

Employees like the chance to work on the food truck, Krumholtz said. When the notice goes out to find employees interested in working on the truck, there are always more than enough people stepping forward.

Pie Five Pizza Co., the franchisor, was fully supportive of the concept when the Goebels advised them about their plans to have a food truck.

The Goebels have since offered to help other franchisees establish trucks.

"I think they (the franchisor) are pretty pleased with how it turned out," Goebel said.

The Goebels expect to recover the investment before the end of the first year.

"The response has been great," Krumholtz said.


Topics: Food & Beverage, Independent Operators, Marketing / Branding / Promotion



Elliot Maras
Elliot Maras is the editor of KioskMarketplace.com and FoodTruckOperator.com.

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