Food trucks with online ordering systems are doing more than simply processing payments—they're offering a richer guest experience.

Connecting hungry people with delicious food is a tried-and-tested business model, but the transaction is pretty much limited to the time and place where it's made. That is a missed opportunity. Savvy food truck operators who are able to harness new technology to enable deeper, richer relationships—which extend far beyond simply satiating immediate hunger—will be the most successful.

Using QR codes to tap into existing behavior.

One tech solution that continues to increase in popularity is the use of QR codes. While they've been used in Asia for quite a while, they've started to become commonplace across the U.S.

Research from Statista has found that the U.S. and U.K. have seen more and more QR codes as businesses and restaurants across the world are starting to use them more regularly. In some cases, they've even taken the place of registers, with transactions now largely taking place on smartphones.

QR codes can be used to link guests to a digital menu. Once they select what they'd like, they pay for their food, and the order flows through to the kitchen. Initially, QR codes were used to stop guests from crowding restaurants. However, these codes soon emerged as yet another method of online ordering, making it much more convenient.

Food trucks are now uniquely positioned to take advantage of this change in consumer behaviors.

Understanding the practical advantages of using a QR code.

It can be hard to manage a line outside of your food truck when people are gathered around a menu board, especially when you're not sure who's waiting to place their order and who's waiting for their food.

With QR codes linked to your food truck ordering system, you can prevent this by having the QR code posted in a few different areas on or around your truck. Some operators are even sticking them on temporary poles in areas around the truck, preventing tight groups of guests altogether. Not only does this lead to greater efficiency, but it also shows your guests that you have a well-organized business.

You can guarantee shorter lines.

Have you ever avoided a cafe or food truck simply because it looks crowded? The answer is likely yes.

You probably were weighing your want of that food against the expected time it will take to get the food. If the line is long, then you're likely to assume that it will take a while, and go to another restaurant to sate your hunger.

It turns out that lines play a vital role in whether you can turn curiosity into action. If you're able to create a shorter line for service, you're more likely to attract people who may have passed by otherwise.

Digital means fewer mistakes, greater efficiency.

Using QR codes linked to online ordering capabilities also makes your food truck much more efficient and cuts out the risk of mistakes. If you've been at the window of a food truck, you know they're noisy places. The sizzle of the grill and the chatter of other people in line can make taking several orders challenging.

If people are using your food truck ordering system digitally, then there's no real scope for mistakes. Mistakes that do happen mean you'll have to re-make an order, which means longer lines and greater pressure on the kitchen. On the other hand, digital processing of orders (whether that's online or through a contactless payment kiosk) means more time saved—which added together makes for some serious time you could use making your fan-favorite Baja fish tacos.

While using QR codes and online ordering can work together to make your food truck hum, the real secret sauce is in the relationship it can forge between you and your guests.

Fostering a deeper guest relationship via QR codes and online ordering.

A regular food truck transaction is pretty simple. However, food trucks with online ordering can bring their operations to the next level and make their relationship with their guests go far beyond that.

For instance, when a person views an online menu, having scanned a QR code, there may be an opportunity to include an optional newsletter sign-up process at the point of transaction.

While ordering, your guests are anticipating a delicious meal, so placing an offer for deeper engagement via a newsletter and perhaps even a loyalty program sign-up can be advantageous in the long run. The anticipation of a delicious treat is at its most pronounced, so the chances that your guests will take an extra step to sign up for a newsletter or loyalty program is better than it was previously.

Once you have them on your list, what you do is up to you. For instance, you can send out an email telling your guests you're going to be at a certain festival on the weekend, complete with a 10% off coupon. You could also nudge them to follow you on social media, working to ensure that your food is front and center.

It's all about taking the point of transaction and using it to build up a more concrete relationship between you and the guest that would not exist otherwise—taking the experience way beyond the plate. By combining the twin technologies of QR codes and online ordering, you can boost your operational efficiency and foster a deeper relationship with your guests at the same time.

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