Never before have retail businesses been so portable. That’s why knowing how to run a mobile business is important.
In an age where food cart vendors earn Michelin stars and the latest fashions are as likely to be found on a flea market table as on Fifth Avenue, it’s clear that mobility is taking retailers by storm. People who run a mobile business have access to the same cutting-edge technologies for efficiently managing their operations and serving customers as their brick-and-mortar counterparts possess. And they’re taking advantage of these tech tools in incredibly innovative ways.
The primary benefit of taking your business on the road is not having to pay the ever-increasing cost of renting a storefront, as the insurance-comparison site The Zebra explains. Other advantages for mobile business startups include flexibility in scheduling and other operations, reduced startup costs, and the ability to bring their wares directly to customers rather than having to wait for customers to find them. In particular, smartphone apps and social media allow mobile businesses to connect with their target audience directly to keep their loyal customers up-to-date on special deals, promotions, and where the mobile business will be operating from day today.
The Mobile Bartender and the Rise of ‘Cocktail Catering’
For as long as there have been wheels, there have been people using those wheels to deliver meals to hungry people. A recent trend in the catering business is the rise of “cocktail catering,” which entails serving drinks at weddings, conferences, and other events. Tales of the Cocktail profiles the founders of two new cocktail catering services who have found unique ways to elevate the value of bar service for their clients.
Michael Esposito of Snake Oil Cocktail in San Diego highlights the high level of interaction between bartenders and patrons at these events. He points out that bartenders serve as direct proxies for the hosts and brands who sponsor the events. The growing interest in farm-to-table and craft cocktails have simultaneously raised the quality of the drinks his company serves and improve the event experience for attendees, according to Esposito.
People planning a mobile bartender business will find it much different than running a brick-and-mortar bar. All equipment and supplies must be brought with you, for example, and you may not have ready access to running water, let alone a fully equipped kitchen. Everything must be set up and broken down on-site, so employees must be able to “think on their feet,” according to Esposito. Most importantly, mobile bar businesses have to take direction from event planners, sponsors, and venue managers.
How to Get Started with a Mobile Business
As with any business, getting a mobile business off the ground begins by creating a comprehensive business plan that describes the market you’re targeting, the revenue potential of that market, the competition you’ll face, and other potential obstacles. The plan must also consider the permits and other regulatory requirements the business must meet, as well as how you will promote your business to ensure the customers you’re targeting will know about you.
Next, determine your budget for the business by considering these three areas:
- Startup costs: These include vehicle expenses (including the cost of outfitting the vehicle for its intended purpose), registration costs for the business, developing a web site and app, implementing a point-of-sale system, and paying for licenses and permits.
- Ongoing costs: Among these are insurance for the vehicle and for the business itself, inventory, staff salaries, fuel and vehicle maintenance, parking, and marketing efforts. If your business will operate at festivals or other events, calculate the entrance fees you’ll need to pay.
- Unexpected costs: All drivers know that vehicles occasionally break down, so be prepared to spend for repairs and perhaps for the contingency of finding a temporary replacement. Mobile businesses are also susceptible to bad weather, traffic jams, and other unforeseeable natural events.
Other startup considerations include selecting and registering your business name, buying or leasing the vehicle (whether a truck, bus, trailer, or cart), acquiring all necessary licenses (state, local, seller’s permit, fire certificate, health certificate, etc.), hiring employees, and choosing the locations your business will operate from (festivals, shopping centers, colleges, office parks, or tourist locales). Last but not least, determine how you’ll attract and retain loyal customers who will promote your business by word of mouth.
The Technologies that Keep Mobile Businesses on the Road
Whether you’re a mobile dog groomer, landscaping service, delivery service, or a flea market business, you’ll rely on 4G mobile, tablets with card readers, and mobile apps to support your operations. The business technology site Cox Blue highlights the importance of mobile technology to all small businesses:
- Mobile payment methods will continue to supplant credit cards and cash as more consumers take advantage of smartphone apps that let them pay by holding their phone up to a tablet or scanner.
- Integration services will allow mobile businesses to automate their accounting, data management, marketing, and customer service operations without having to hire their own IT staff.
- Enhanced data analytics will be more readily available to small businesses with the arrival of what the accounting firm Deloitte calls “cloud-based cognitive services” that allow the businesses to apply advanced analytics to marketing, sales, and other strategic plans.
- Collaboration tools will bring remote workforces closer together by adapting to the characteristics and work styles of your staff wherever they’re located. This allows important information to be communicated to employees more quickly and clearly.
As mobile technologies become faster, less expensive, and more reliable, new opportunities open up for businesses of all types and sizes. Mobile businesses are able to capitalize on the latest technologies to offer their customers the convenience of mobile payments and personalized service. And they can do so while bringing their products and services directly to their customers rather than having to wait for their clientele to come to them. That’s about as convenient as customer service can get.
Learn more about how the talech POS system provides mobile retailers with the payment, inventory, sales management, and other features they need to optimize their operations, from vehicle maintenance to customer relations. We work with you to determine the best ways to meet the needs of your customers and employees so your business can thrive. We take the time to learn your business so we can balance your specific needs with your budget and comfort level in a custom POS system implementation. The result is a valued investment that will pay for itself in short order. Reach out to us today to sign up for a free demo and learn more about how talech can be your valued partner in the POS world.