Food trucks are all the rage, just ask our business services member Patrick Harris, owner of Boka Vending – a Richmond, Va. staple that includes four mobile kitchens and a newly opened restaurant.

If you’re just joining us, we’re midway through our National Small Business Week festivities – highlighting our small business services members who turned their visions and dreams into successes. To get up to speed, check out my previous conversations on the blog with River Bend Bistro and National Tour Co. owners Caroline and Bill, as well as Taft & Teak furniture guru, Janneke Wolken.

Now back to the food.

Patrick fired up his first food truck in 2010 using a personal loan from Navy Federal. Since then, the business has started to grow and prosper into a well-known Richmond eatery.

Jim: Please tell readers a little bit about yourself and why you started your business.

Patrick: I have been the chef at several restaurants and am an entrepreneur, so when I saw a first mover opportunity in the food truck market here in Richmond, Va., I knew it was my chance to capitalize on a rare opportunity.

Jim: What’s one thing you wish you knew when you first started Boka Vending?

Patrick: I wish I knew more about automotive repair, gas and plumbing maintenance and small engine repair.

Jim: Walk us through your day as the owner of four mobile kitchens and a newly opened restaurant.

Patrick: I go in for a management meeting and review menus, labor costs, food costs and discuss strategies to support managers in providing quality control. Then I assist in inventory purchasing and some kitchen production training. I coordinate event bookings and provide support to management to ensure adequate staffing for shifts and special events. I develop marketing materials and take care of all the “emergencies” that arise at either of the two restaurants or any of the trucks. I also coordinate the maintenance and improvements of the operation to handle increased capacity and hopefully get another truck on the road this summer.

Jim: What advice do you have for someone who is looking to get into the food truck business?

Patrick: Be innovative and master your execution. The days of the “roach coach” are gone. Find a niche and excel in it.

Jim: What are the goals for your business in the next five years?

Patrick: To allow the company to grow organically to meet increased demand. We have defined a niche and are working to develop the brand and concept to strengthen its position in the marketplace. We will be exploring opportunities in new markets, but will stay focused on our core operation’s proven model.

For our members who are interested in starting a business or have questions about the process, join us today for a Live Q&A on Facebook from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET.