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Marketing Funnel Success Stories
Tom Mirick: From Landscaping to Funnel Cakes
Imagine making the transition from long days of hard labor in the landscaping business and into a world of frying up the sweet-tasting, golden-brown goodness of funnel cakes. This sweet tale of Cincinnati’s Tom Mirick and Funnel of Luv food truck is one that almost didn’t happen. Yet, Tom’s resilience and determination allowed him to create a funnel cake food truck that has captured the hearts and taste buds of his community.
When Tom faced a layoff from the landscaping business, it was unfortunate, but it gave him the motivation to want to go into business for himself. Yet finding the right avenue wasn’t easy. He had worked in the restaurant business in his younger years and building on that experience, Tom wanted to start a food truck. His original plan was for a taco truck. He had a passion for authentic Mexican cuisine and felt he could differentiate himself from the competition with unique ingredients and his signature recipes. Unfortunately, as he investigated building the food truck, he discovered just how much competition was out there. And many naysayers discouraged him.
Tom’s heart was still in the food truck business, but he rethought his approach. He wanted to find something unique that drove traffic. He thought about his wife and asked himself, “What type of food truck would make her stop?” He shared that funnel cakes hit the sweet spot. A dessert food truck became his new dream.
Tom did his research and went with Gold Medal equipment to outfit his food truck. With Gold Medal’s funnelfriend.com, he knew he could cook three to four times as many funnel cakes at one time, giving him an edge in moving lines faster than the competition. (He timed it out and says he can produce a funnel cake every minute to minute and a half!)
Yet, as his truck was in the process of being built, a new crisis hit, the Covid pandemic. He had already invested his savings into his funnel cake business, Funnel of Luv. But Covid and supply chain issues put everything on hold from his anticipated launch date. It was a nerve-wrenching time to have his business in limbo and not know how everything was going to pan out. Plus, because of so many unknowns, Tom could not book out events in advance.
Thankfully, the food truck was complete in May 2022, but he had missed his window of opportunity to book events for the peak summer season. So, Tom relied on connections he had with some of the local gas stations. He began his business on Friday nights in the parking lot, just waiting for cars to drive by and stop. Turns out, he captured the attention of the community and word began to spread. Funnel of Luv would soon become an in-demand attraction.
Finding Success Through Niche Marketing
Tom says his biggest challenge starting out was realizing he couldn’t be everything to everyone. Many wanted a food truck who could do multiple types of foods. But he knew his niche as a dessert truck and that ended up being one of the greatest strengths. Tom wanted a menu that not only tasted good but looked good. He’s a stickler for quality. He has developed gourmet flavors that are popular, and he refines the ingredients to make them the best. Each one looks amazing!
Funnel of Luv currently has eight flavors:
- Classic Funnel Cake
- Salted Caramel Funnel Cake
- Cookies and Cream Funnel Cake
- Strawberry Shortcake Funnel Cake
- S’mores Funnel Cake
- Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake
- Red Velvet Funnel Cake
- Peppermint Funnel Cake
His favorite menu item is the Trio Sampler, three 4-inch funnel cakes in your choice of flavors. He takes suggestions from friends and family to help build his menu. He’ll even add a scoop of ice cream for just one dollar. Tom also offers other fried favorites like deep-fried cheesecake, OREOs, Twinkies, and more!
Demand for Funnel of Luv has grown quickly. For this year, the food truck is already booked near capacity and turning down as many as 15 requests a month. He works a lot of events and does both large and small venues. He did share that small towns are a hit. Word spreads fast and there’s less competition. Tom also says he likes to work with events that promote their food trucks in their marketing. He gets many calls for parties or corporate employee appreciation. He’s also a big advocate for social media, as he devotes his time to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. One thing he loves is that his customers do a lot of advertising for him by taking photos of the funnel cakes and sharing them, while tagging Funnel of Luv.
Embracing Technology for Business Growth
Tom’s latest investment in the business is to go all digital with menus, business cards, iPads for orders, lights and speakers, and a TV that displays rotating images of his products. He says, “It’s both more work than I ever thought, but also more rewarding than I could have imagined.” There are long hours, late nights, and lots of clean up. Yet, Tom is not discouraged. He says, “Working for yourself is the best thing you can do.”
His advice for anyone looking to get into a fun food business is to realize it is more work than you think. So, it is important to align with a supplier you can trust. Tom says, “Without Gold Medal, I wouldn’t even be able to open. There’s no other place you can get all your supplies.”
If you have a love for all things delicious, consider reaching out to a Gold Medal dealer today and share your vision. Like Tom’s, it can prove to be life-changing! And if you’re craving more about funnel cakes, check out the following links:
- How to Make Funnel Cakes
- Tips for a Successful Funnel Cake Business
- Unique Flavors that Will Make Your Funnel Cake Stand Out
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