Interview with Martin Ferreira of Heat Custom
In our age of mobility, food trucks have set the stage for some time in the hospitality industry. With COVID-19, small scale mobility has proven key. Be it deliveries, online orders or come to you experiences! Our client @HeatCustom has been out there making the rounds. They are a custom truck & trailer manufacturer specializing in building and branding fully customized mobile kitchens, salons, plant nurseries and more.
We connected with Martin Ferreira, the mind behind Heat Custom to chat about current circumstances and how to look at opportunities and evolve to pivot the business. To know your numbers and cash flow was an important first step for them. They pride themselves on fast turnaround time, competitive pricing & top quality. Much of what we need to be nimble during these times to thrive.
“If you’re going to do it, take the steps to do it right. It is much more efficient.”- Martin Ferreira, Founder & President, Heat Custom
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect and change your business?
Our business dynamic has a heavy emphasis on cash flow, not just monthly but daily. Especially since we work with relatively larger scale items, developed and customized from scratch. And at higher investments with prorated payment schedules. This means a lot of money upfront for us.
We identified a more immediate and frequent opportunity in updating and refurbishing trucks. There was a need with low competition. It was a swift decision that we were able to do by knowing our numbers, including material and labor costs. Equally important was adjusting our accounting systems, even as simple as our invoice generation. This allowed us to improve our cash flow, while providing a needed service.
How did you first get started?
I initially worked in my family transportation business in Venezuela and felt the need for change. I invested in a mobile-use truck and was considering something in the restaurant business, like the food trucks we see today. Ultimately I realized that did not connect with me, nor was it my specialty. But it all came together. After selling the truck, I went back to the company that I bought it from, along with an idea but with some improvements.
Knowing that my strength is in sales, I thought I could buy these trucks and customize them for mobile services. Immediately I sold my first truck, even before it was ready! I knew I was fulfilling my mission, brining together my talents, my passion and the business opportunity. It wasn’t easy and there were many moments of feeling lost with much hard work and knowing our numbers. Now we have our operations in South Florida and Central Florida.
There are so many graduates now with business degrees, any advice?
First it’s important to understand your skill set. This means your traits beyond your schooling. For example, I understood that my strength is in sales. But had to translate that to a business that was passionate for me, and profitable.
Once you know that, understand that you will likely have to start from bottom and work your way up. You need to give the effort towards the goal and identify the step by step process to get there. Sometimes there are parts of the process you won’t like. But you need to go through those parts to get to the other end…to the parts you like and have your passion. Hard work brings the dream!
How do you maintain your customer loyalty?
Our entire process appeals to our customers. This includes how we outline our services, the quality of our product and general professionalism of our work. We truly have a systemized process that allows us to scale, while leveraging demand with proof of our concept. Bottom line, we offer a customer-centric way that delivers on our own business; with 100% mobile customization and now refurbishing.
We also leverage social media engagement to talk about our services. Like it happened for me, someone’s next business idea can be with Heat Custom mobile solutions.
What is your personal or professional motto?
If you’re going to do it, take the steps to do it right. It’s much more efficient.
It’s like anything in life. Think it through and align your process and finances, as you would your annual vacation, buying a home or other large decision, while knowing your numbers.
Can you share any initial tips for starting a mobile business?
Specific to food trucks and food trailers, know your menu specific to this mobile method. Then determine the equipment you need to make these items. Usually this type of business has 6-10 item offerings. Based on the menu items, you can streamline the necessary equipment and size for items like fryers, refrigerators, warmers, etc. This is especially important with the limited space, while saving time and money.
At Heat Custom, we have layouts and floorplans, and more importantly the experience to help guide our customers.