Saturday, May 23 2020
For a lot of people, being self-employed is their ultimate dream. They'd love to throw off the shackles of the office and travel around serving people who share their passion for whatever it is that they're selling. Of course, it helps if what you are selling is part of a booming business, and the food industry is certainly growing. While other markets contracted during recent recessions, both the restaurant and the food truck business have seen a rise in sales, as people have become more and more interested in convenience. This is a great time to be in the business of food trucks!
So, chances are, if you've just started a food truck business, the sales have been rolling in more or less steadily. Hungry customers are flocking around your mobile restaurant, eager to sample your dishes in the middle of whichever random parking lot you're serving today. You hand them the food, and they hand you cold, hard wads of cash in return...except when they don't.
“Oh, I'm sorry,” says one of your customers, her tone apologetic, if a bit nasally. “Do you take cards?”
That is the question, isn't it? Well, do you? Nowadays, cashless is the way, and if you're only relying on the old locked metal cash box with a couple of rolls of coins thrown in, you're probably missing out on a lot of potential sales. Yes, you can just get an old school stand-alone credit card machine and try to keep track of a million sheets of receipt paper (“Merchant's Copy!”) like they did back in the days when people need to swipe their little magnetic strips—but things are a lot different now, and in the complicated society that we live in, you're going to want a point of sale (POS) system to keep track of sales—both cash and electronic—and to give you some idea of what kind of inventory you used up. The more volume you expect to sell, the more urgent it is to have a POS.
Now, maybe all of the dirty specifics are what have you procrastinating and leaving that old school “cash only” sign outside your window. Maybe you're just confused. Maybe you don't know which POS to choose for your business. Luckily for you, we're about to clarify things a little; let's take a look at the best POS systems, what they can do, and whether they might work for your business:
1) Square: This is the most bare-bones, simple solution if you're looking for the function of a POS without having to learn a complicated interface or pay a huge monthly fee. In fact, Square does not charge a monthly fee at all, and instead takes a small percentage of your revenue. It requires minimal hardware as well, and all you need is a small peripheral that you attach to your smart phone, and from there you can use the Square app to take people's credit card payments. This simplicity and low upfront cost is probably why Square is so popular with people who sell food out of trucks or carts. It requires hardly any capital at all to get started.
Though it is an excellent payment processor that is very inexpensive for those who are just starting, keep in mind that it is extremely basic on the POS side of things. It will calculate tax and other factors, keep track of sales, and offer a few nice stats to look at here and there, it is not as extensive as other systems. If you want something more complex and feature-rich, you may want to look elsewhere.
2) Revel: If you're looking for something that offers better analytics and that can be used to track your inventory as well, you might want to look into Revel. Built specifically with the restaurant business in mind, it won't cost you too much to set it up for a single terminal, and it has a lot of features that other POS systems don't have. For example, it integrates with social media and can be set up to notify your followers of where you are so that they can come find you. In addition, it's a very flexible kind of software that doesn't require any sort of proprietary equipment to use; most kinds of cash registers will do just fine. It may not be the cheapest POS system around, but it is a very high quality choice with a lot of extras.
3) ShopKeep: If you're looking for value, ShopKeep has it. It's not as cheap as Square, but for the amount of functionality it offers as a fully-functioning POS, you can't really find anything on the market that will beat it. It has everything: The ability to modify tax rates depending on where you are, the ability to print and edit receipts, the ability to create gift cards, among many other features. You can also use it to track your inventory, as you can with Revel, and much of your information is stored on the company's own servers, so you don't need to be tied to a specific machine to view your stats. They're a bit more picky about hardware than Revel, but luckily it can easily integrate with iOS, so that may not actually end up being a problem for you.
Another nice feature of ShopKeep is that it doesn't require you to be constantly connected to the Internet, which is great during those times when you're either far away from WiFi or when your 4G Internet cuts out. Once you are connected again, it simply syncs as you would expect.
Now that you have a basic understanding of three of the most popular POS systems for food trucks, hopefully you can move forward and make an informed decision about what sort of set up is right for you. Sometimes it's best to start small and work your way into a more complex system, but of course this depends on what your goals are as well. Good luck!