Trucks Are Trendy (and Not Just for Food Anymore)
Mobile may be the new thing for businesses, but there's an old way to put a twist on the concept. Pack your business onto a truck. Although food trucks now have a reality show, forgoing a permanent home for a business and taking it onto the road isn't a new concept. But it might be one your company should explore.
Food trucks in their original incarnation--commissary trucks that brought coffee and bad food to locations like construction sites--have been around for many decades. So have trucks to replace automobile glass or wash and detail vehicles as well as vans that bring mechanics tools out to auto repair shops. In a way, plumbers and carpenters have done the same thing, bringing equipment and supplies to the customer's location.
But the concept of putting a business on a truck is beginning to expand. Over the last three or four years, fashion trucks have become... fashionable. The people behind The Fashion Mobile of Minnesota used to own a store but found that buying a used truck off Craigslist cost about the same as one month of rent.
There are trucks for all kinds of businesses: hard-to-find shoe brands, a record shop, kitchen and home goods, and vintage clothing. The Original Mobile Barbershop Co. is not the only one with chairs on wheels. Heck, there's even a site where people buy and sell used pet grooming vans.
The principles are sound. You bring a business out to the customers and provide convenience. At the same time, you intercept people outside of their normal shopping routine and get more attention. Overhead is much lower, though you do have to work through the logistics of permitting and legal parking to do business on the road and avoid tickets.
So what are some other businesses that you could do out of a truck, or with a vehicle as a supplement, going to the customer? Here are some ideas:
- photography studio
- nail or hair care
- massage or physical therapy
- business consulting
- financial services advisor
- wedding planning
You could bring samples and services to a B2B client and ship afterwards. Insurance firm? Send the truck out to an office building where you've already made arrangements and workers can consult. Combine a truck with an existing business and the ability to schedule appointments and look at product on a website and the possibilities grow. Is it time that your business hit the road?
ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist
Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.