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Catering, Vending and Cooking For The Masses. this forum is OnTopic. A resource to help with catering, vending and just cooking for large parties. Topics to include Getting Started, Ethics, Marketing, Catering resources, Formulas and recipes for cooking for large groups.


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Unread 07-10-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
jmoney7269
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Default Canned vs soda machine

So speaking to the guy that is bout to be doing the food truck for me in the near future, he says that most people use canned or bottled soda vs the soda machine. He said the soda machine would be $4500 installed and it does not have a ice dispenser and I would have to give a customer a cup of ice. My whole plan is to have 32 oz cups with our logo and phone number on them which also acts as advertising if the experience was great which I plan on.
He said that a plumber would have to install the filtration system which is fine, but that still leaves me with ice problems and no cold plate for the drinks. I just feel it in my gut that I need the beverage station, but if I didn't have it, I could put in 2 tea earns which if I'm doing the math correctly won't be but $.28 per batch made. Bout $.40 sweetened. Lemme know if I'm shooting myself in the foot any which way.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
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I only have a tiny bit of experience with this, but it seems like bottles or cans would be the way to go, purely from a cost standpoint. Bottles or cans only require somewhere to be cold, so you don't have to worry about extra ice, drinks spilling everywhere, extra cups,lids, straws, etc. Plus, our local coke distributor buys back any unsold soda, so there's no risk in having a few extra cases around.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 12:43 PM   #3
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Soda fountain offers the lower cost, but, has a lot of side issues associated with it. Either you will need to but a lot of ice, and hold it on the truck, or you will need an ice machine, which is both an electricity hog and they often break down. The idea of using the cups to advertise is nice, certainly what 7-11 and fast food places do, but, you might want to measure whether you want your product associated with those places, which marketing as they do, will most certainly be the result. Further, you are adding to garbage logistics, where as cans can be recycled.

Bottles and cans, especially bottles are viewed as an upgrade, plus, you will have more options available to change or expand your menu. They are discreet packaging, that is to say, you do not have much in terms of labor or serving to get them off the truck. It will be just two steps you don't have to do. You can reload beverages at any location, without the hassle of keeping syrup or CO2 bottles.

Either way, you have an ice issue, if you plan to use cups. If you go straight bottles and cans, you can use refrigerator space or a dedicated ice cooler. Load up once or twice a day and you are done with ice.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 01:51 PM   #4
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Don't underestimate the ice issue. I was just talking to my beverage guy today as we were planning the fountain station setup and design. And we got talking ice machine options and he's talking about 250 pound maker for a 40 seat restaurant.

Since you wouldn't be doing refills, you can get by on a slightly lower amount of ice per person, but even on the very low end you're talking 8 oz per serving, and around 12 oz on the high end, depending on cup size. So, how many people do you expect to serve in a day? 200? 500? Either way, how are you going to produce, store, and keep cold a few hundred pounds of ice each day? That will take up a lot of space, energy, and cost money. So, keep that in mind as you're planning.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 02:01 PM   #5
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So far it's looking like cans lol. I was also told that those bags of syrup go bar after 2 months wether you use them or not. That would free up the space for a tea brewing station. I figure on a decent service service I could get $200 in sales extra. Beverages from what I gather are higher profit than anything. Serving 200 people in a day would be nice. That's just $600 in drinks which ain't hard to do
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Unread 07-10-2013, 03:29 PM   #6
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90% of your logo'd cups will most likely hit the trash can with the plates. If I were thinking about doing something like this, and wanted some cheap advertising, you could probably give out the foldable type coozies with your logo for next to nothing.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 03:54 PM   #7
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Good food and a distinctive name will do far more for marketing than a cup or cozies. A noticeable truck, that has strong simple graphics is far more effective.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 06:02 PM   #8
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It is a pound of ice per customer.

Err on the the side of easy, bottles or cans.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 09:22 PM   #9
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Other than margin cans and bottles have soda fountains beat. Ever wonder why many high end places or places seriously concerned with consistency only use cans and bottles? Yep, soda machines have too many variables that can affect taste. The make every dollar I can part of me screams soda machine while the long term business part of me says that providing the best product at a fair margin wins out for me. Someone mentioned koozies. I had 500 made and it cost me around $.31 each for when I vend or cater. If someone shows me they like us on FB when we are vending they get a free koozie. I get advertising and a person who's I can market to.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 09:33 PM   #10
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I am looking at beer, sodas, and bottled water. Believe it or not beer costs less wholesale for 12 oz cans than bottled water does. Cans appear to be the way to go. Bottles here are returnable and you would need to charge deposit. For cans all you need to do is set up a separate trash can for them. If you really want to do the printed cups simply have say 12 oz cups printed and give a cup of ¡ce with each can of soda or bottle of water if the customer would like one.

I was thinking of fountain sodas also but it is just easier to have your local distributor work a deal with you on cans...Our distributor has offered that if we do events like the major soccer games and national fairs that they would be willing to send a beverage truck and park it behind our facility for the days of the event and all we pay for is full cases used. Plus we could sell to other vendors... at a mark up of course.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 10:38 PM   #11
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Soda fountains are nothing but problems. I think it is a valid choice to not bother with them and stick to cans. The soda fountain is a total pain in the ass, and the ice machine is a close second. Another thing to consider with the ice maker and soda combo is they use a TON of water. Not only for the ice, but it uses water to release the ice, and then the cold plate consumes even more. In hot temps, it does not produce that great, and needs to be supplemented with bagged ice.

Odds are, you are not going to do the consistent volume to get support from coke or pepsi, and when issues arise, repairs are expensive. You have to store the bibs and be able to store and possibly filter enough water.

I will say this, though. As miserable as the soda fountain can make a person, it is also a cash cow. I charge $2 for a can at events and $3 for a 20 ounce self serve fountain soda, and most choose the fountain soda. Also, many seem to seek us out because of a clearly displayed fountain that carries both coke and pepsi products. There are a lot of folks who like fountain drinks.

Personally, I would only consider printed cups if the drink was something you were featuring. For instance, if you offer a great sweet tea, a cup with a logo might get you some business at an event. I sell very colorful drinks, and decided the money I would spend on printed cups was actually better spent on garnish and generic clear cups.

I think when you are talking about branding with a cup, you have to ask yourself how far you are going to go with creating your brand and if that is really going to accomplish this at an event. You might find that a red coca-cola cup nets you far more if you sell their products than your own cup, because they have billions invested into creating that brand. Don't let ego get in the way of a profit.
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Unread 07-10-2013, 10:58 PM   #12
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For what it's worth, there's over 200 Gourmet foodtrucks in LA and OC, and I am not aware of any that sell fountain drinks. Too many equipment/space/logistic issues.

Drinks account for 17% of gross sales for us. A lot of stops, folks just buy food, because their employer has free drinks in the break room. Bottled water is about 40% of that. The balance of what we sell is somewhat different - Glass bottle Coke, Sprite, and Fanta Orange. We sell bottled Virgil's or IBC Root Beer, and Hubert's Lemonades. Glass bottles sell better than cans out here. We get a buck for waters an $2.50 to $3 for bottled drinks. We tap into Hubert's and Virgil's social media to publicize our stops too.

Iced Tea (Counter space for urn, Cup, scooping ice, putting top on) all take time at the window, and over 4 hours, can cost you sales. We upsell to combos, or add fries, and have never worried about the margin of an Iced Tea item.

Instead of a cup with advertising, look at postcards (instead of business cards) for the truck. We have them sized to fit our napkin dispenser by the order window, We can get all our info on them, plus pictures of truck and our product. They have legs vs. a throwaway cup.
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Unread 07-11-2013, 07:44 AM   #13
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^good advice... Thanks
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Unread 07-11-2013, 05:11 PM   #14
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So true, when I had my pizza truck we sold bottled water and Mexican Coke in bottles with real sugar not high fructose corn syrup. San Pellagrino cans of flavored water and the biggest issue was trash! Carry lots of heavy duty bags! Most trucks don't have enough disposable/recyclable capacity. People buy food from you, walk a block down the street, discard their waste on the ground because there are no trash cans or they are full, and now you have negative advertising because your branding is all over the street!
No one I know in the mobile food truck world has a soda fountain. Sometimes, like you, I think, "That's my edge" then I have to listen to the voice of reason, AKA my Wife...."Why do you think nobody else does it?" Duh cause it doesn't work for a mobile vendor!

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Unread 07-11-2013, 07:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C Rocke View Post
For what it's worth, there's over 200 Gourmet foodtrucks in LA and OC, and I am not aware of any that sell fountain drinks. Too many equipment/space/logistic issues.

Drinks account for 17% of gross sales for us. A lot of stops, folks just buy food, because their employer has free drinks in the break room. Bottled water is about 40% of that. The balance of what we sell is somewhat different - Glass bottle Coke, Sprite, and Fanta Orange. We sell bottled Virgil's or IBC Root Beer, and Hubert's Lemonades. Glass bottles sell better than cans out here. We get a buck for waters an $2.50 to $3 for bottled drinks. We tap into Hubert's and Virgil's social media to publicize our stops too.

Iced Tea (Counter space for urn, Cup, scooping ice, putting top on) all take time at the window, and over 4 hours, can cost you sales. We upsell to combos, or add fries, and have never worried about the margin of an Iced Tea item.

Instead of a cup with advertising, look at postcards (instead of business cards) for the truck. We have them sized to fit our napkin dispenser by the order window, We can get all our info on them, plus pictures of truck and our product. They have legs vs. a throwaway cup.
Yeah, space would seem to be a huge issue in a standard food truck. I put mine on slides so it creates space on the interior, as the fountain is 30x30 and backs to the fry prep area. I would probably stick to cans/bottles if doing a route business.

I also think the postcards are a great idea.
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