Article by Belinda Anderton, Last update at November 10, 2020
The food truck industry is one of the fastest-growing in the food sector, with all kinds of cuisines available on four wheels.
Consumers love the fresh, authentic and convenient nature of food trucks and they’ve become a social media hit amongst millennials, but there’s plenty of evidence that they’re much more than a passing hipster fad
According to a recent report by IBISWorld, there are around 24,000 food truck businesses in America, with an annual growth rate of 6.8% in the last five years
Today the industry is worth about a billion dollars and employs about 29,000 people, and while you’re still definitely more likely to see food trucks in cities with a booming culinary scene, those numbers are surely set to grow over the coming years.
It helps that food trucks are generally pretty affordable for a budding entrepreneur to set up, certainly when compared to a traditional restaurant and by their very nature, owners can just take them wherever the demand might be, pitching up at local events.
If you’re one of those thinking of jumping on the food truck trend and capitalizing on this flourishing market, one of the things that you’re going to need to consider is what kind of POS system is going to be best suited to your new business.
We’re going to take a look at some of the best options available to you and some of the key features to consider when you’re looking to purchase a food truck POS system.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re setting up a food truck business, whether it’s buying the truck itself, ordering in stock or getting the right permits to ensure that you can trade, but it’s easy to overlook the POS system.
Lots of people seem to treat food trucks a little differently to a normal restaurant business and are happy to trade in cash and simply write down the orders on a piece of paper as they come in, but this is not the way to go!
It’s important to take things seriously and ensure that your food truck is right up to date in every aspect and that includes your POS.
These days, customers expect nothing but the best when it comes to any kind of business and that includes a humble food truck, which means that they expect to be able to make payments by card, receive receipts and get their hands on that tasty street food as quickly as possible!
A POS system helps to make things so much easier for you as a business owner too. Firstly, it helps to keep a record of all of your transactions, making tax filing super easy, but it can also help out in a whole host of other ways too, such as managing employee time and keeping track of inventory levels, cutting down on hours of menial tasks.
Before rushing into anything, it’s important to think about exactly what it is that your business needs from a POS because after all, a food truck is pretty different to your average restaurant or fast food joint.
Modern POS systems come packed with an incredible range of features that can manage all manner of aspects of your business, which is great for a sit-down restaurant, but stop to think whether your food truck actually needs all of those fancy functions.
For example, lots of POS systems are great for keeping track of tables and sending orders from the waiting staff through to the kitchen, but these are things you simply don’t need if you’re running a food truck.
One of the things people love so much about food trucks is that they’re such a fast and convenient way to grab a bite to eat, so it’s important to keep things as simple as possible and keep those orders coming through as quickly as possible.
For this reason, it’s important that the POS is super simple and easy for you and your staff to use.
Make sure that the POS that you choose can easily be used with minimal training and that staff can easily get an order through in as little time as possible to ensure that your customers aren’t kept waiting too long.
Of course, the bottom line is the most important thing for any business, so the cost of a POS system will be a big consideration.
Thankfully, the cost of a good POS system has dropped a lot in the last few years, but it can still be a fairly substantial cost to get one installed and running.
Remember that on top of the software itself, you’re probably going to need all of the hardware to go with it, although this probably won’t be as expensive as it would be with a traditional restaurant.
For example, you can probably use an iPad or another mobile device to process payments rather than a bulky terminal and you might not need some of the extras such as a barcode scanner.
Most of the POS providers have a wide range of pricing plans available and will often also offer free trials which will help you to make your mind up before making a big financial commitment.
Hopefully, your new POS runs smoothly once it’s installed, but it’s good to know that if any problems do come up or you have any questions about the system, that there’s a good level of customer support on hand
Thankfully, most of the big POS providers are really good in this department, with dedicated customer support on hand to answer any queries that you might have, whether this is over the phone, live chat or email
Some even offer 24/7 support, which can very helpful is disaster strikes and the system goes down while you’re in the middle of service.
The best POS systems should be able to do more or less everything that you need them to, but it’s also important to consider whether you’re going to need them to integrate with other third-party systems
For example, sometimes you can use your new POS to work with your existing marketing or accounting software to help keep everything in one place
This could help to save you a lot of time, but remember that not all systems will offer such integration, so it might be something that you want to think about.
Here are some of the key features that you’ll want to look for when you’re deciding on a POS system to use for your food truck.
While food trucks do deal with a lot of cash transactions, these days, it’s vital that you offer your customers the opportunity to pay by credit or debit card if they wish.
Food trucks generally target a younger demographic, who are increasingly used to a cashless way of doing things, so it’s important that you can accept card and mobile payments, or maybe even payments through services such as PayPal.
As you don’t know where your truck is going to be pitching up from one day to the next, it’s also important that your card reader can work without an internet connection.
Quality reporting is vital to the success of any business and the same goes for your food truck, so it’s definitely helpful if your POS system can provide this.
Most systems will allow you to keep close tabs on your sales to let you know what’s making money, what isn’t, and what you can do to try and improve.
But it’s not just sales that your POS can help report with. They can also help you to keep track of your inventory and stock levels, so you can easily tell when you’re running low on ingredients for certain menu items and order new stock in.
Your POS can also play a vital part in your marketing if you want it to. For example, some allow you to issue coupons or gift cards which can be a great way to drive repeat custom, or you can even set up a customer loyalty or rewards system to keep people coming back.
These kind of schemes are definitely increasing in popularity so it’s something to consider, although think about where your business is at, and whether it’s something that you necessarily need at this stage.
The food truck business is a fast-paced one, so it can be difficult to keep a close eye on things such as employees clocking in and out, rotas and overtime.
However, your POS can help with this too, with most have a full suite of employee management functions that can help to automate the mundane HR side of things and help you keep on top of them.
If your food truck is in a fixed location, hopefully, you have a few regulars who drop by fairly often, perhaps on their lunch break from work.
One feature which can really help make things easier for those who frequent the truck could be the ability to order online before they set off, meaning that their lunch will be ready and waiting for them.
It helps to save time for everyone and you can often accept payments online too, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
While the functionality of the POS is obviously important, the physical hardware side of things is just as important.
Here are some of the pieces of equipment that you might want to look at investing in for your POS system.
More and more businesses are investing in mobile POS systems, as opposed to bulky terminals, especially in food trucks, where space is probably fairly limited.
The obvious advantage of using an iPad or similar tablet device is that it’s portable and much easier to process payments and it’s also usually a lot more affordable. The touch screen interface is also much easier to use for you and your staff.
Mobile POS systems are becoming increasingly advanced and can easily be integrated with other hardware such as your card reader or receipt printer.
A card reader is one the absolute basics that you’ll need to invest in and as we’ve mentioned, you need to make sure that it’s able to work no matter where you are, regardless of whether there’s an internet connection or not
Make sure that your reader is able to take payments from all kinds of credit and debit cards, as well as mobile payments too.
While a lot of people will be paying by card, it’s also vital that you have a cash drawer. Make sure that yours is securely mounted somewhere out of sight so that it’s safe from any potential thieves (unfortunately, it’s something that you have to be guarded against!).
For a food truck, a receipt printer isn’t an absolute must, as not many customers will likely be asking for them, but it’s still nice to be able to offer them the option.
If you don’t want to invest in a receipt printer, you could alternatively offer the option to send your customers an email receipt if they’re willing to give you their email address.
This is one that’s pretty unique to the food truck industry, but if you’ve worked in one, you’ll know how hot and greasy things can get in there, so you might want to think about investing in some kind of screen cover or protective hardware to ensure that your new POS doesn’t get all grimy in the hectic kitchen environment.
As we’ve mentioned, one of the most important things when it comes to your food truck is keeping things simple, which goes for your POS system too.
There’s no need for loads of fancy features that you’re never going to use, so you need a nice, simple, streamlined POS that just does the job (but does it well!).
This is what makes ShopKeep one of our favorite POS systems on the market for food truck businesses.
It’s super easy to use, so you don’t need to spend loads of time training up your staff and they have a great customer service department who are always on hand if you do have any questions.
Their system is based on iPad, which is great for a food truck business where you’re not going to blessed with lots of space.
Overall, it’s one of the easiest and simplest POS systems for a food truck business, which is what makes it our favorite!
TouchBistro is a POS system that’s been built specifically for the food and drink industry, with a good selection of features to help make the running of your food truck as effective as possible, such as customer relationship management, menu and inventory management, reporting and analytics and more.
The fact that it was designed by former restaurant staff and is tailored to the restaurant industry means that it’s perfectly suited to a food truck system.
It’s also fairly moderately priced in terms of a POS system, with four tiers of pricing from $69 up to $399 per month, depending on the needs of your business.
Lavu is a cloud-based POS system with all the standard features such as menu customization, easy payment processing and employee management that you would expect from your POS, but it also has some features to help it stand out from the competition.
For example, they offer an excellent online ordering system, Lavu To Go, which allows customers to easily order online and simply pick up their food from the truck when it’s ready. They also offer delivery options too if that’s something that you’d like to look into too.
If online ordering is something that you know you’ll be wanting to look into for your food truck business, then Lavu could be the one for you.
Revel is one of the higher-end POS systems on the market, with a variety of hardware configurations to suit your business.
Their ‘Always On’ mode means that you never have to worry about losing signal during the middle of a busy service and also offer social media integration so that you can quickly and easily let people known exactly where you’re pitching up for the day.
Another really handy feature of Revel is that it allows you to easily adjust your tax settings based on your location, which is helpful if your truck is going to be crossing county or state borders.
Upserve was previously known as Breadcrumb and is another POS system that has been developed by those in the food industry with those kinds of businesses in mind.
Like many of the other systems on this list, it can operate completely offline, which can be a lifesaver if you’ve got no internet connection. They also have great integrated 24/7 customer support, either by phone or email.
A particular highlight for Upserve is their mobile app, Upserve Live, which provides you with detailed mobile reports on everything from sales to labor, as well as their Upserve Loyalty program.
Future have been a well-known POS brand for over 20 years, continuing to innovate with new features to manage your business.
They’re particularly known for their excellent reporting and analytics features, which are all fully customizable, although the big downside is that you’ll have to purchase the hardware such as terminals and printers for yourself.
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