Man in food truck accepts payments via POS system

Food trucks offer an appealing option over a brick-and-mortar space for many entrepreneurs who are looking for cost-effective ways to launch their concept and reach customers. With lower overhead costs than a traditional restaurant and an insatiable consumer market, the food truck industry is on the rise and climbing quickly. Entrepreneurs launching their food truck or established business owners looking to optimize their operations should consider the unique needs of their business when choosing back office applications to help it run smoothly.

A point of sale (POS) system is typically considered the center or hub of any restaurant’s operations. Traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants may have an on-premise POS system in which a computer and/or server is set-up on the business premises. For a food truck POS, a cloud-based system is often a better choice, if not the only choice. These types of POS systems can be connected to a multitude of different devices – from an iPad to a touch screen monitor to a handheld device. 

There’s more to a food truck POS than the device, though. Choosing the right system for your mobile restaurant is a critical step to ensuring your operations run smoothly and you can spend your time focused on growing revenue, not tedious back-office functions. Here are 3 tips on what to consider when choosing the best POS system for your food truck.

Tip #1: Consider the Size, Scale & Offerings of Your Business

Not all food trucks are created equal. If you are just starting out and expect to operate one food truck with limited offerings, your needs will be far different than a food truck operator with a fleet of trucks, changing locations, and / or high-volume sales. The following elements should influence your evaluation of systems and decision-making:

  • Number of trucks – if you have more than one truck, you will need a POS system with multi-location capabilities and likely a robust suite of built-in tools and app add-ons to manage the operations of your business efficiently.
  • Mobility – if you expect to park your truck at a different location each day, you should consider how you will access the internet at each location. If you need to be able to accept payments and process orders without Wi-Fi, you should look for a POS system that works on cellular service.
  • Volume and order flow – if you expect to offer quick service with a high volume of orders, you may need a POS system that offers hardware and devices that are rugged and can take a beating. Your system may also need more robust tools and functionality around online ordering.

Your unique business requirement and your own preferences for ease of use and the length of time for set-up should also come into play when evaluating the best food truck POS systems.

Tip #2: Determine Invoicing Needs & Payment Processing Requirements

To efficiently track and report on revenue, your POS system should be the source of truth for all revenue streams. If you plan to offer catering via your food truck, you may need capabilities around invoicing. Large orders or catered events are typically billed via invoice with a deposit followed up by a final payment. Make sure your POS system can accommodate these needs if you plan to offer catering.

For credit card payments – the vast majority of most food truck operations – your credit card payment processor will play a role in your profit margins. Some POS systems allow you to integrate with a payment processor of your choice while others require you to use their own processor. Determine what your preferences are before you start looking for the best food truck POS system.

Tip #3: Look for Built-In Tools & App Add-Ons

Cloud-based POS systems offer a host of built-in tools to help create efficiency and profitability for your mobile restaurant. Successful restaurateurs will create a “tech stack” that leverages these tools and apps together to create a full back office system to manage their operations. Ideally, these back office systems take pressure off the owner and manager by automating functions that are time consuming and tedious. With more time available, you can focus on growing your business versus just keeping the operations flowing.

Prioritize which features and functions are most important to you. Some tools may be built-in and included in the cost of the POS system, while others may have a monthly fee. Having an understanding of what’s most important can help you narrow down what you’ll need to get started. Common features and tools available to consider include:

  • Marketing tools such as the ability to send customer email or text promotions, create a loyalty program, manage reviews and offer gift cards
  • Inventory management tools that can track ingredient level inventory, track food costs and usage as well as manage suppliers
  • Staff management functions that allow you to create schedules and analyze labor costs
  • Automated back office tools such as state sales tax management

In the last example, state sales tax management is a necessary function for any business owner in a state or jurisdiction that collects sales tax. But managing that process from reporting to tax deadlines to payments can be time-consuming and stressful. Look for POS systems that have a robust app network that allows you to add on functionality to the system that will optimize your back office operations.

DAVO Sales Tax seamlessly integrates with the most popular POS systems with a simple, quick setup. Once your sales tax rate is properly set up in your POS, the app uses sales data from your POS to set aside the sales tax collected every day in a secure holding account. The app also files and pays the sales tax owed.

The Bottom Line

Food truck operators have unique needs and requirements because of the inherent nature of a mobile restaurant with limited space and tight margins. Choosing a POS system that meets your unique needs is an important component in launching your business or optimizing your growing enterprise.

Once you’ve selected a food truck POS, make sure to build a powerhouse tech stack that includes sales tax management. DAVO Sales Tax can help you gain back valuable time to focus on the priorities that will help your business grow. With just a few minutes of setup, your sales tax process, filing, and payments are on autopilot. Give it a try and see how much time and hassle you can save.