No one knows how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the restaurant industry in the long term, but the early signs have been troubling:
- Politico forecasts a decline in the number of sit-down restaurants that could last for years.
- QSR Magazine predicts that 15 percent to 25 percent of all restaurants will be closed or thinned as a result of the pandemic.
- FSR Magazine highlights the cost of new no-touch food-safety practices, which are expected to lead to simplified menus and new approaches to connecting with customers.
Despite the upheaval to the restaurant business caused by COVID-19, some food entrepreneurs are actually expanding their operations to meet the growing demand. Business Insider points to two trends that are propelling the restaurant industry forward despite lockdowns and social distancing: going mobile, and ordering ahead.
A primary consideration for restaurants looking to start a food truck operation is determining the best POS for food trucks. The primary benefit of mobile POS systems for food truck operators is more efficient processes for managing receipts, working out the logistics of supplies and locations, and helping customers find your business.
The Features to Look for in a Food Truck POS System
A big challenge for food truck operators is processing non-cash payments from mobile locations. Customers increasingly prefer contactless and other automated forms of payment that are best supported by using a cloud-based POS system combined with mobile terminals. This requires that:
- Sales data saved to the cloud is secure and accessible from any location at any time.
- Advanced reporting features provide insight into which of the food truck’s operations are working well, and which can be improved.
- POS apps can be installed on tablets and smartphones to make accessing sales and inventory information even easier.
Mobile POS apps offer the added benefit of serving as brand representatives for your customers. The apps let people know where the food truck will be days in advance, which allows customers to place orders and pay for them ahead of time. All they need to do is show up at the designated time and place to pick up and enjoy their meal.
Customer loyalty is further enhanced by offering discounts and other special offers for returning clients. The sales analytics component of cloud-based POS systems for food trucks allows proprietors to anticipate which menu items will be most popular at various times, dates, and locations. It also helps food trucks tweak their menus to offer new items that are most likely to find favor with customers.
Logistical Considerations for a Food Truck POS
While many aspects of operating a food truck will be familiar to restaurant owners, others will be new. For example, it’s more difficult to maintain sales records and permits from an office-less vehicle. Permits for the vehicle and maintenance records have to be tracked carefully. A cloud-based POS system simplifies mobile accounting and record-keeping for businesses on wheels.
Because food trucks change venues so frequently, it’s imperative to understand the needs of the business’s customers at different locations. When situated near a business park at lunchtime, the most important consideration will be providing fast service for people on a short lunch break.
By contrast, when locating the truck outside a concert venue or popular event, the goal is to minimize the time spent printing receipts, dispensing change, and processing credit card payments. The truck’s POS system has to be flexible enough to accommodate many different mobile-dining scenarios, some of which the truck’s owner may not be able to anticipate.
The Importance of a Mobile POS App for Food Trucks
The best POS system in the world is useless without an easy way to access its powerful features. The ability to take orders and accept payment via mobile POS applications is a must-have feature for food trucks, which lack the space for a full-size POS terminal. Be sure to consider that:
- The application must be easy to install on Android and Apple iOS smartphones and tablets.
- It must make it simple to access inventory and other records, including sales tax information for various locations.
- The app’s cash-flow management has to be flexible enough to accommodate the seasonal nature of food truck operations.
- The software must continue to function offline to avoid the business coming to a standstill if the network connection fails. All sales transactions, tax receipts, and other data must be preserved when switching to offline mode.
- For restaurants that operate more than one food truck, the application has to coordinate information between multiple operations, sometimes simultaneously.
Restaurant owners have a passion for serving their unique recipes and culinary creations to an appreciative and loyal following. They will find a way to attract and maintain a solid customer base, even if it means taking the kitchen to the people rather than the people coming to the kitchen. Cloud-based POS technology makes it safe, affordable, and efficient for restaurateurs to take their food show on the road, even in the midst of evolving global health concerns.
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