Broadband Communities

JUL 2016

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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8 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JULY 2016 PROVIDER PERSPECTIVE T he food truck industry has taken the restaurant market by storm over the past several years. With their highly efficient, mobile strategy, food trucks can deliver everything today's customer wants: quality, affordability and local flavor. According to analyst firm IBISWorld, the food truck industry has outpaced the U.S. restaurant business since 2010 with a 9.3 percent annual growth rate. e leading restaurant trade association claims that food trucks have already secured more than a 1 percent market share of the U.S. restaurant business and will have 3 to 4 percent of it in a few years. One industry expert pointed out that "customers want fresh, local food – preferably a variety you don't see every day. Food trucks can offer that." Customers typically spend more at food trucks than at quick-serve restaurants: almost $10 for lunch and $15 for dinner. Key ingredients to a food truck's success are location and reputation. Most find great success at the right street corner, at a venue (such as a festival or concert) or at a construction site. Returning patrons are important drivers of success. Recently, I listened to a graduation speech by an entrepreneur who owns several restaurants but started out with a simple food truck. As I heard him explain his business model, it hit me. Food trucks use the same business plan as independent broadband providers. ey rely on quality and local tastes, they live and die by the locations they select and they win based on their repeat customers' loyalty. Plus, they have lower capital cost structures than their big competitors (around $75,000 versus a quick-serve restaurant, which can exceed $300,000). Food trucks are everything U.S. restaurants are not. ey are nimble, entrepreneurial, focused, low-overhead, high-quality and localized. Today's independent broadband operators are the same: nimble, entrepreneurial, focused, with customized products. Both groups are growing market share! WINNING STRATEGIES Food trucks aggregate customer demand by moving to high-demand locations; independent broadband providers aggregate demand by completing bulk internet deals in targeted MDU buildings. e success of a food truck often depends on the personality of the truck. Trucks have to bring a little theater to the market to gain traction. I've seen some great food trucks that blend two different cultures – Korean-infused Mexican food, for instance – and look like they just rolled out of Woodstock. e owner of such a truck is telling prospective customers, "Take notice of us. We are different. Try our unique blend of local food." e owner is not saying, "We sell Applebee's food but from a truck." Independent broadband providers send the same message to their clients. ey don't say, "We offer Comcast-like service without all the fuss." Rather, they say, "We offer unique, localized, customized broadband products – faster internet with wireless capabilities, and you don't have to bundle it." Successful food trucks find the best locations and gain loyal followings. ey go to the same events, construction sites, office parks. Independent broadband providers use the same strategy. ey look for the right markets in which to build a solid, loyal, property owner clientele and then stay in those neighborhoods to expand. e National Restaurant Association sees food trucks as a legitimate threat to traditional restaurants. "Food trucks are not a fad but a viable alternative," one industry leader stated. In the broadband business, the independents are winning market share from the traditional cable companies. ey are delivering Woodstock-type enthusiasm to a business in which national companies offer bland restaurant boringness. In some markets, property owners are pursuing broadband providers for the first time. "Have you heard about the new internet service at Garden View Towers? We need to call and get that, too." is "broadband food truck" approach is igniting a new round of independent broadband players that are gaining on the Applebee's cable guys. Food trucks have been building momentum in the restaurant marketplace for some time. e same is true for independent broadband operators. What both sectors have in common bodes well for startups in food trucks and broadband services to MDUs. In fact, why not start a food truck that offers wireless internet? Maybe the two businesses can merge. en we can really keep on "food truckin'"! v Bryan Rader is CEO of Bandwidth Consulting LLC, which assists providers in the multifamily market. You can reach Bryan at bryanjrader@yahoo.com or at 636-536-0011. Learn more at www.bandwidthconsultingllc.com. Keep On Food Truckin' Broadband service can be fresh, local – and fun. By Bryan Rader / Bandwidth Consulting LLC

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