Arby's has revamped its mobile kitchen into a larger, more interactive truck that can bring customers some of their favorite Arby's food. Since its debut in 1998, the truck has gone through some major changes.
The first truck was more like a moving billboard for the company with a sound system. The second truck had a kitchen, but it wasn't large enough to deliver a large quantity of food. The current truck has a full kitchen that cranks out 500 to 600 sandwiches an hour.
But there are more changes to attract and engage more guests. A bright red trailer has interactive activities, such as a Wii gaming system and a new photo booth.
"People want to be entertained and engaged," said John Gray, spokeman for Arby's Restaurant Group. "We've made (that) a part of the Arby's experience."
The photo booth allows customers to stand in front of a green screen and have their photo taken, which will produce a red background in the final photo. Customers enter their e-mail address and their photo will be sent to their inbox. Also, by entering their e-mail, customers can sign up for the Arby's Extra, the company's e-club that features special promotions and coupons.
The truck also has a putting game for customers, and the roof of the truck acts as a "stage" to emcee from during an event. This way, customers can participate in a dance contest or hear announcements.
Another new addition to the truck is a telescoping sign that can elevate the Arby's sign 30 feet in the air to attract people.
The new truck is already serving customers, but it isn't completely fool-proof. Gray said there are still some kinks to work out and the truck will have to be given a proper name.
Support for Big Brothers Big Sisters
The main purpose of the Arby's Mobile Kitchen is to support the Arby's Foundation's Charity Golf Tournaments, which benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a national youth mentoring program.
"(It) made sense to benefit something that helps young people," Gray said.
BBBS recruits and trains mentors, or "bigs," for children between the ages of 6 and 18. It costs BBBS $1,000 to maintain a match between a big and "little" for one year.
Arby's and BBBS partnered in the late 1980s, and Arby's is the organization's largest national corporate sponsor. In addition to the golf tournaments, 2,500 Arby's restaurants ask customers to donate $1 to their local BBBS.
Gray said BBBS and Arby's were a great match. One of Arby's core values is to make a difference by giving back to the community. Since Arby's employs many young people, helping BBBS fits.
Arby's Mobile Kitchen goes on 17 golf tournaments a year all over the United States. While in a particular city during a tournament, the mobile kitchen will visit different locations in that community, whether it is a school or state fair. This way, Arby's is supporting that local BBBS and the community.
Last year, the Arby's Mobile Kitchen attended about 200,000 different community events.
Mobile menu, social media
Arby's Mobile Kitchen provides customers with a hot, fresh and free classic Arby's lunch. Customers can choose from three classic Arby's items: the Roast Beef Sandwich, the Beef N' Cheddar Sandwich and the Jamocha Swirl Shake.
Gray said the company considered serving its famous Curly Fries, but the fryer uses too much heat for a mobile kitchen. When serving a full lunch, the truck offers customers a bag of chips and a bottled Pepsi product along with a sandwich.
Social media has become a great way for restaurants and companies to connect with customers and to advertise its brand. Arby's uses Facebook to advertise where the mobile kitchen will be next. Many Arby's Facebook fans post requests for the mobile kitchen to come to their town and for Arby's to keep or add certain products.
Arby's also uses Facebook to post photos of the new mobile kitchen and of customers enjoying the benefits the truck offers.
Facebook and the new mobile kitchen have created a unique personality for Arby's. This personality surfaced when the company decided to use the spare time in between the golf tournaments to the company's advantage by building product awareness.
"We've found the right balance of this community marketing and product marketing," Gray said.