Choosing the best POS system for your Food Truck or Mobile Cuisine ConceptDownload PDF
Mobile dining has exploded in recent years at the same time technology has become smaller and more affordable. For the first time, it's now practical and desirable to invest in an iPad POS system for your food truck, food cart, mobile concession stand or kiosk restaurant. Bring the kind of quality of service, sales and inventory tracking that's familiar in full-service restaurants to catering, vending, snack bars and any other small mobile or outdoor food service concepts. Today, the technology is affordable enough for you to get the best mobile credit card processing app for iPad that is also the most affordable, fully featured tablet based POS system for all types of mobile cuisine. Follow this guide to get the most out of your search, and you'll be sure to choose the best food truck point of sale system.
History of food carts and stands
Whether it's a food cart in the city, a roadside stand or a concession booth, food stands have been a part of food culture for hundreds of years. Simple, unique snacks that taste great are prepared quickly and feed the hungry masses. Traditional street food is some of the most sought-after cuisines by adventurous tourists when visiting a new local. You just can't go to New York without getting a Hot dog or to Philly without a cheese steak! These local foods gained their iconic status from the food carts and snack bars that became family traditions.
History of food trucks and mobile catering
The beginning of the food truck could be seen on the long cattle drives across the American West, never without their trusted cook managing the "chuckwagon," or mobile food wagon. This evolved into downtown lunch wagons that gained popularity in the big cities in the 1880s.
The lunch wagon would park outside offices or factories and serve hot coffee, pies, and sandwiches to the hungry workers too busy to prep their own meals. These "catering trucks" became a staple service for construction and other blue collar workers and the western states just wouldn't be the same without an iconic taco truck at every worksite, feeding the hungry laborers.
Modern food stands and kiosk restaurants
While snack bars and burger stands remain an indelible part of the American landscape, a new kind of food experience is emerging. Kiosks inside malls and other large venues have emerged as a modernized version of the traditional food cart. And in cities, small spaces are being converted to chic yet cozy outdoor eateries specializing in experimental or fusion fare that caters to the upscale tastes of downtown office-workers
Modern food trucks and pop-up dining
It's no secret the the food truck has enjoyed a renaissance. Hip and edgy food trucks with wild wraps and unique comfort foods have taken fine dining flavors to the streets in what ar called "gourmet food trucks." Some have seen fit to take it another level and provide seating and temporary ambiance to diners seeking an ephemeral food adventure, creating pop-up restaurants.
With roots in the catering and restaurant business, these pop-ups and food trucks seek the opportunity to bring better quality food and richer flavors to more people, especially those who may not see themselves as the fine dining type.
Concerns shared by proprietors of food trucks, kiosks, stands and mobile cuisine
When you’re choosing a point of sale system for your food truck, mobile food stand or pop-up restaurant, you need a tool that’s going to help you accomplish more, despite the limitations and challenges you face as a mobile food vendor
The amazing thing about new technology is that every year it keeps getting smaller and cheaper. The fact that you can take advantage of the exact same top-tier iPad point of sale technology used by full-service restaurants - while working inside your little food truck or snack bar is a true modern marvel.
Because so many other things in the food truck business are unreliable, you need to choose a reliable POS system. Flat tires and breakdowns, getting hassled by parking enforcement, running out of supplies during a rush, getting less foot traffic than you anticipated. A mobile food cart POS should help you with the problem of reliability, not make it worse.
You need the most reliable mobile POS for food trucks because you’ve got so much out on the line. You never know when business will boom and you could be serving 200 people in an hour, so you need to have a fast, reliable POS that’s easy to use and take payment with.
It starts by choosing iPad vs. Android for your POS tablet. iPads reduce the need for user s to be tech savvy because it just works. Every manufacturer of Android puts it’s own “flavor” on their tablets, so who knows what you’re getting and if it will even be compatible with your POS hardware. Android is a mix and match, and that’s the last thing you want to get into when your business is depending on it. Sure, you can use a rock as a hammer, but wouldn’t you rather just go buy a hammer? The most reliable food truck POS will leverage iPad hardware and software reliability to keep you going!
On top of iPad’s platform, you need a reliable POS app to run. The most reliable iPad POS app will be built from the ground up to be stable and not buggy. The last thing you need is to have crashes and glitches holding you back when you’re in the middle of a rush. Losing an order? Glitchy btns? Freezing and crashing? You can’t afford to deal with those kinds of problems even if the app is “free” because the truth is that using a poorly designed app is going to cost you money!
Another reliability feature you need to consider is a POS with cloud backups. Not just nightly, not just hourly, but constant backups that ensure the safety and security of your data. If your iPad battery dies from working too hard, just grab a backup and pick up where you left off! All your orders, sales, and inventory counts are still there.
The most important feature for the food truck POS with the best reliability is the ability to contact support when you need them and get a live person. US based support with highly trained specialists who are eager to help answer your questions. When you have a question, how long does it take you to get ahold of someone? Does the person you get a hold of even know what the heck they are talking about? Before you choose a mobile point of sale for your kiosk restaurant or food cart, make sure to call their technical support line and see how helpful they really are.
Concerns for Mobile Cuisine
As a proprietor of a food stand, pop-up restaurant, food truck or cart, being mobile is at the forefront of your concerns. When you’re on the go, you can’t be held back by technology. Your iPad based food truck POS system should help you make more money - as well as save you money. You need important features like mobile credit card processing, the ability to see sales or change the menu from your phone, you need offline processing so you can take cards without an internet connection and you need a POS system backed up to the cloud.
Not just that, it needs to be easy to use and easy to configure. You don’t have time to be messing around with anything complex. Your customers demand fast service, so ringing in an order can’t take more than a few quick taps. You need fast mobile credit card payments, and the ability to swipe or take chip cards (EMV) and contactless (NFC), Apple Pay and Android Pay. The best mobile payment processing for food trucks is also affordable, with low processing fees to keep more of your money in your pocket.
Using a cellular data connection, the best mobile POS system keeps your payments processing, and your data backed up. And even when you are off the grid and have "zero bars" it just keeps on going! You never have to refuse customer payments because you're offline. You can keep taking offline payments on your POS system, and the system will automatically run the payments when you return to civilization. How's that for mobility?
Inside small spaces like food trucks and food stands, space is a priority. An app that runs on a single iPad - or even an iPad Mini is the best mobile POS for food trucks.
But that's not all, imagine working the food trailer and seeing orders appear on an iPad mounted inside. Meanwhile, another person stands outside greeting customers and taking orders! Wow, that's a new kind of food truck experience. If you'd like to serve customers better and faster, you can send someone out front to take the orders and send orders wirelessly into the food truck for preparation. Because it's a mobile POS, orders entered on one iPad appear on other devices - including kitchen displays. The best mobile iPad point of sale for food trucks uses new technology, wifi, cellular data and the cloud to enhance engagement with your customers, driving up sales! Stepping out of the truck and meeting your customers face-to-face creates a memorable experience that increases customer loyalty.
Further reducing space, needed for a POS is the ability to set the iPad into onscreen authorization. The fasted mobile POS system allows your customers to sign on screen for their payment, and emails the receipt. No need for a bulky printer taking up valuable space inside the food truck!
Concerns related to Space
One of the biggest concerns for mobile food vendors pop-up restaurants and food stands is limited space. It’s perhaps the primary limitation that defines your restaurant. It’s also what makes running a food stand, or kiosk restaurant different than other food service businesses.
Limited Prep Space
Limited prep space introduces challenges related to what types of food are suitable for your food truck to serve. Your choice is to either prep extensively before heading out or serve foods that require very little prep. Additionally, you have costs associated with the need to pay for an additional site to prep food.
Limited Storage Space
With limited storage space, you're not able to "stock up" like you would in a brick-and-mortar restaurant or larger location. You can't buy at a bulk rate discount, and unless you plan well you'll have to keep going out to resupply when you're busy.
To help with these concerns related to space and inventory, choose a food truck POS system that provides you with the same kind of inventory tracking and sales data that the big-boys have. Imagine being able to track your inventory down to the ingredient level. And having sales reports to help you know what the popular items are at each stop, or at which time of day. That means you don't have to dash out to the supermarket to pick up ingredients you thought you had more of or didn't think would sell as well!
Manage costs Carefully
As a small business owner working in the highly competitive food service industry, it's a given that you need to carefully manage costs to be successful. The operation of a pop-up restaurant, food cart or kiosk introduces additional pressures that affect your bottom line.
Higher Site Costs
As part of the agreement to allow you to set up your mobile food truck restaurant, the venue will often charge fees, and take a percent of sales. As a pop-up food vendor, you're at the mercy of the mall, food-truck event organizers or owners of the temporary space used. These higher site costs mean you need a food truck POS that helps you make the most of your time on-site, to see a return on your investment.
Higher Inventory Costs
Since you can't buy in bulk for a discount and you can't stock up on a deal unless you have large off-site storage facilities, there are higher raw materials costs with a catering truck, lunch cart or food stand. Imaging using an advanced iPad based food truck POS system that helped you understand you food costs better by seeing what sells, and what doesn't sell.
And what if it gave you profitability tracking for your recipes so you could engage in deep menu engineering? You can do all of those things using analytic data, sales reports and inventory management tools provided in the best POS for food trucks and pop-ups.
Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
Owners of food trucks also have the additional costs associated with vehicle maintenance and repair to account for. It's important to reduce wear and tear on your vehicle to stay in operation. Do you just use your gut to decide if a location is worth driving to? Wouldn't it be a lot better if you had hourly sales reports to look at instead? The food truck point of sale with the best sales reports will show you sales by hour, so you can make an informed decision about where to park.
Permits and regulations
Everybody wants to get a cut of the action, even the city. With vending permits, parking permits and the like. And every city and county have their own rules and taxes. Your food truck POS needs to have a flexible taxes interface that is easy to adjust and configure depending on where you are and what taxes apply to what you're selling.
Limited hours of service
Another challenge of the catering truck, food stand and kiosk restaurant business is limited hours. Whether it's limited to the hours the mall is open, a few hours event or even just until the parking meter runs out, your time is limited, so you need to make the most of those sales when you get those hungry people standing in front of you. Choose a mobile POS for food trucks that is fast, reliable and easy to use. Use sales reports to know if you're breaking even or need to make your money somewhere else!
Beware Of High Credit Card processing and Terminal fees
Because you’re managing your costs so closely, shouldn’t your success is that much more sensitive to the additional expenses charged by the POS company. Choose a mobile POS with the lowest per-terminal fees and make sure to pick a food truck point of sale with low credit card processing fees. Pay attention to the true cost of a mobile POS system. Some systems tell you that it’s “free” but charge you outlandish gateway and processing fees. The best free iPad POS system for food trucks has the lowest fees.
This guide to choosing the best POS system for your food truck, pop-up restaurant, kiosk, food stand or cart details the key concerns of mobile food vendors and the primary obstacles faced by mobile cuisine restaurants. By choosing the best iPad based POS app to take credit cards, orders and manage inventory, your catering truck business will be able to compete with brick and mortar and chain restaurants by using the same world-class tools they have at their advantage!