START-UP BUSINESS LESSONS
Location, location, location – 100 feet closer to Coup
It’s too early to tell really. Let’s not get too excited just yet but we moved about 100 feet closer to Locust Walk, right behind Rami’s Lunchonette, and traffic seemed to pick up today.
Maybe it’s just the beautiful fall weather or the fact that UPENN is back in full effect but there is no question that our location just a few yards closer to the elegant and foot traffic jammed Locust Walk is helping with truck sales today and hopefully will continue to do so in the days that come.
Every retail professional (and every casual know-it-all) will tell you, “location, location, location” when it comes to retailing. We thought we had thoroughly analyzed this when we sat outside various food trucks in the neighborhood counting customers during the development of our business plan. However, you can’t count customers at a location that doesn’t yet exist. Since we opened we always wished our spot was closer to Walnut Street, or on 38th Street, or at least closer to Locust Walk, and finally our wish has come true. It’s not a far enough move that it would confuse our existing customers but it puts us in view of the many passers by who walk up from campus on their way home or to our local competitors (Greek Lady, Saxby’s, Qdoba, etc.)
The location game is something we underestimated. It’s even more complex for food trucks than normal brick and mortar retailers in my opinion. This has been a hot topic recently as Philly locals debate the Cupcake Lady controversy (I’m not going to take a real stance on this but let’s just say this – we’re not lawyers either and we were able to understand the rules, which is why we paid the $2,750 for a University City spot rather than risk legal problems with L&I.)
The innate ability of food trucks to move is an advantage (e.g. moving 100 feet closer to Locust) but can also confuse and distract customers when they have to check their Twitter feeds for latest location (which might include the city impound lot in Phila.) From the beginning, we’ve viewed our spot more like a brick and mortar location where we can build a regular following rather than a stop on an ongoing tour. The advantage of moving though is that the Twittering trucks are able to garner support in many locations and their fans flock to them during their limited availability.
Who knows, location tours may be partly in our future – for example, Bloktoberfest Philly 2010 is coming up on October 16th, see us there if 40th is too much of a hike! But for our West Philly customers, you can always count on us Monday through Friday.