The Ultimate Guide To Mobile POS Systems For Your Food Business
Connect POS, a Shopify Compatible APP
Aside from seeing happy customers, being fulfilled within your life’s purpose, and selling out your inventory, the next best thing about having a food business is getting paid. For cottage food businesses, home-based commercial kitchens, farmers market regulars, and food trucks having a reliable mobile point of sale system (mPOS) is a must.
Mastercard revealed that 82% of customers surveyed believe that contactless payment is a safer way to pay. The transition away from cash payments is picking up pace. Mobile and contactless payments are expected to grow by 221% between 2022 and 2027.
Where once cash was king, cards have taken the crown. We are quickly moving towards a cashless society, and adapting to consumer spending habits is part of keeping up with contactless payment methods should be a top priority.
The Benefits Of A Mobile POS System
Whether you are tethered to a brick-and-mortar kitchen at a fixed address, or you are ruling the city in your moving food mobile on wheels, a portable mPOS system should be a top priority investment.
They can help streamline payments on the go at farmers’ markets, festivals, and private events.
You can eliminate a bulky register and use your phone or smart tablet instead.
You can accept contactless payments.
Your payment information is safely stored in the cloud and accessible anywhere.
Commerce is paper free. Receipts are stored and can be emailed quickly.
It makes your business accessible to customers who don’t carry cash but have their phone on hand for contactless payment.
Perhaps most importantly, mPOS systems can help expand your revenue streams and allow you to be in multiple places simultaneously. In addition, because the mPOS systems are cloud-based, you can access business information anywhere, anytime, allowing you to untether from your computer, creating higher productivity and efficiency.
How Do Mobile Payment Systems Work
The learning curve for mobile payment systems is a relatively easy one. They are typically uncomplicated, allowing both employees and customers a smooth experience.
Getting your mPOS system up and running will require choosing a software provider, downloading the app, and connecting your card reader to the mobile device. After that, the only limiting factor is a strong WIFI or data connection.
Even without a signal, some mPOS offer an offline mode that lets you continue to accept payment even if you’re without a connection. In contrast, others won’t allow payment but will still provide some functionality while offline.
Using a mobile POS system can allow your business to be in more than one place at a time.
What To Look For In A Mobile POS System
Mobile POS systems can have a wide variety of features and operating modes catering to an equally wide variety of needs.
mPOS systems can process a variety of payment types, including:
Knowing what kinds of payments you want to accept will help you make an informed decision on your mPOS system.
In addition, you’ll want to keep in mind which features work best with your business model. Here are six features that might help you decide which mPOS system is right for you.
Many mobile POS systems will allow you to create and process coupons, gift certificates, and loyalty programs, in essence operating as both a payment portal and your marketing department.
Secure payments are crucial for both you and your customer. Therefore, your mPOS should be PCI-Compliant which will help you keep transactions secure and protect you from disputed charges.
Reports are essential to analyzing sales figures, inventory, and buying trends. Knowing when your customers are most active, what they are buying and how they are paying will help you optimize your business.
4. E-Commerce Compatibility
As your business grows, you may consider integrating other platforms like websites, to sell products. An all-in-one concept like Square that will provide you with mobile POS hardware and website-building software that works in sync and can become a centralized place to manage your food business.
5. Third-Party Integrations
New food start-ups are often lean operations with one or two people at the helm. For example, using third-party programs for advanced accounting, inventory, and staff management that integrate with your mPOS system will help keep the juggling act smooth.
6. Employee Management
Some mobile POS systems will allow for multiple employee profiles to help you resolve human error issues or track time. You will also be able to set different roles and permissions using unique profiles.
How Much Does an mPOS Cost
There are typically three areas of the cost associated with an investment into a mobile POS system: hardware, software, and payment processing fees.
The physical hardware can cost between $0- $800 whether you choose an mPOS that will work with your existing smartphone or tablet (Poster) or you invest in one that has its own unit (Square).
Software for mPOS systems can also vary greatly, with some being free with the purchase of a portable terminal and others upwards of $270 per month.
Payment Processing Fees
Payment processing fees average 2.6% and are usually accompanied by a flat rate per transaction fee. All around, mobile payment systems tend to be cheaper than their traditional counterparts.
The Best Mobile POS Systems
There is really no ‘best’ mobile POS system; there is only the best mobile POS system for your specific needs. Here are a few of the most popular entry-level mPOS systems on the market.
Clover is a mobile POS system with several different options for mobile units. (Source: Clover)
Per Merchant Maverick: Clover has several mobile Android-based and purpose-built POS hardware solutions to choose from, but the most mobile-ready Clover device is the Clover Flex.
The mobility of the $499 Clover Flex makes it easy to line-bust, sell on the floor, or even outside the bounds of your brick-and-mortar store with a data plan. In addition, the Clover Flex has a built-in card swipe/chip/tap payment reader, receipt printer, and barcode scanner.
Suitable for any business type
Monthly Fee: $0-$290/month
Processing Fee: 2.3%-3.5% + $0.10
Square Mobile POS coordinates with an APP and a backend capable of managing analytics.
Square Point of Sale is a mobile POS system available for iOS and Android devices. Key capabilities of the Square POS system include online payment processing, sales reports, inventory tracking, digital receipts, email and SMS marketing campaigns, eCommerce, insights/analytics, and more.
Suitable for any business type
Monthly Fee: Free
Processing Fee: 2.6% + $0.10
Shopify Mobile POS system works especially well if you also want to develop E Commerce
Reviewers report that one big draw with Shopify POS is how easily you can upgrade and scale as your business grows. Shopify is also versatile in that you can use it on any mobile device or laptop and has various pricing plans.
The entry-level service plan, Shopify’s Starter Plan, comes at a reasonable monthly fee of $5/month and provides access to the POS system as well as invoicing and limited online selling tools — embeddable buy buttons to sell on your existing blog or website (supports WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Tumblr, and more).
Suitable for retail
Monthly Fee: $9
Processing Fee: 2.7%
Using a mobile POS system will soon be the future of frictionless payments. Even if you feel you don’t need a mobile payment system yet, it’s worth looking at for the future scalability potential one offers.
The Ultimate Checklist For Starting A Catering Business
For many entrepreneurs who want to dip their feet into “foodpreneurism,” going all out with a full dine-in restaurant may seem daunting. However, a private catering business is the perfect intermediary step to test the waters, work out your menu, and build your reputation in the local food world.
Catering has become an umbrella term for many food hustles, including private events, regular pop-ups, or even a weekly stand at the Farmer’s Market. Catering is the perfect entry point into a food business for those with entrepreneurial dreams but without the hefty initial investment or desire to swing full-time kitchen life.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” From that wisdom, we have created the Ultimate Checklist For Starting a Catering Business.
Why Start A Self Catering Business
After COVID shook the food world to its foundation, many people gravitated towards a food business model less susceptible to unforeseen changes. As a result, catering businesses saw a 5.5% surge in 2022, which amounted to over 30 000 individual catering operations in the United States.
Running your private kitchen or catering service can have a lot of benefits over other types of food business models.
They have versatility. Menus, hours, and offerings can change as the business evolves.
You can make your own hours. Anyone in the restaurant industry will tell you there are no weekends and few holidays in a brick-and-mortar business.
Lower liability. While catering liability insurance is a good idea, you won’t have to worry about the regular maintenance of a standing restaurant.
Low overhead costs. Depending on where you operate, you might have little to no rent. Ditto for utilities and
Low initial investment. The money needed to start a catering business is relatively minimal at the beginning, and if you reinvest your profits wisely can be built as you grow.
Can be extremely lucrative. Due to the minimal overhead, low staffing needs, and fewer middlemen, catering can have big profit margins.
Opportunity for creativity. Catering offers a great way to stay creative with custom or seasonal menus that can change as you learn and grow. By comparison, a restaurant menu needs to stay more or less the same to reduce logistical hassle and to maintain tight margins.
Finally, catering or running a private kitchen can be a much more intimate experience than running other types of food businesses. You have the opportunity to work closely with people to create bespoke menus and be part of setting the ambiance for special events. It allows you more personal access to the community and a genuine opportunity to create connections.
So what do you need to know before you jump into self-employment and start your catering business dream? We’ve created the ultimate checklist to consult before your first gig.
The SAPi Self Catering Business Eight-Step Checklist
The Eight-Step Checklist To Start Your Catering Business
1. Do Your Market Research
The first and most important step to founding your self-catering business is complete due diligence on the market’s potential. This means studying the competition, examining gaps in the market, and comparing pricing. Of course, you don’t want to enter the market blindly, against obvious competition, or by outpricing yourself. You don’t want to walk into an oversaturated plan unless you are looking to disrupt the market.
Before you move on to the next step of opening your catering business be sure to know:
Targeted customer base
What food niches or services are underserved
2. Draft A Business Plan
Unfortunately, just being known for your food quality and reputation are not enough to create a sustainable business. Drafting a plan from the start is imperative to understand what is ahead and to create a long-term strategy. Failing to plan can land you in difficult situations without the tools to recover.
Part of your business plan will be the market research you have already done. In addition to having proof of concept, an idea of your audience, and an understanding of your competition, you’ll need to develop a roadmap. This should include the following:
A mission and vision statement.
Your unique value proposition.
A twelve-month budget of expenses and projected income.
A plan to reinvest profits into growth.
Menu with cost-out projections.
A marketing strategy.
A note on setting your business budget and projected costs. Entrepreneur Magazine estimates that self-catering business start-up costs can run anywhere from $10,000 – $50,000, depending on the scale of your project.
Don’t let this discourage you if you are cash-strapped. There is a great ability to make a good profit margin with a catering business and you can invest in your equipment inventory as you go. In addition, you won’t necessarily need a commercial space to rent. However, you may also be able to finance a self-catering business for much less than $10,000. If you are bootstrapping and light on start-up cash, consider applying for a small business loan or looking for investors – in which case a complete business plan will be a necessity.
3. Draft a Menu and Set Pricing
Start with a rough draft menu of signature items that you have a proof of concept for – and had good feedback from. Then, build on those items with dishes that meet an unfulfilled niche or can compete with what is already in the market.
Ensure that the menu has ingredients that can be regularly sourced and can meet your price point. For example, avocados as a year-round ingredient can be difficult to source and have a fluctuating price point.
For catering, consider a customizable menu with multiple options and price points for different packages. Set pricing that is within the range of market competition that also meets the needs of your profit margin. Pricing is a science and something that can be difficult to change after creating a loyal customer base.
Lastly, you’ll need to address a minimum order quantity and lead time. This should reflect the speed at which you can procure your ingredients from suppliers and the minimum order quantities they require. You’ll also need to make sure that the total order value is enough to cover your costs. This can include staff, set up, breakdown, and other variables.
4. Get Legal; Licensing, Insurance, and Permits
You will need to check your local requirements. However, most states require any food business to obtain a business license, insurance, and potentially permits.
Licensing will come with the formal incorporation of your business. In addition, you may need liquor licenses, health and safety, and food handlers permits. Venues you service may cover part of these requirements.
Business insurance is imperative in protecting your catering company in the case of the unexpected. It is not only wise to protect your assets and shield you from being sued, but it may be mandatory.
Furthermore, there are several kinds of small business insurance, the most common being general liability coverage. Other types of coverage you might consider are commercial property insurance, business interruption insurance, employee insurance, and personal liability.
Before you launch your self-catering business, investigate the licenses, insurance, and permits you’ll need with the United States Small Business Admistatrative services.
5. Make An Equipment List & Budget
You won’t have to start with much to launch a self-catering business. The great thing about having flexibility is that you can start small with the equipment and materials you have and scale as you grow. It is helpful to create a complete list of what you have (your assets), what you will need to start, and what you have on your wishlist as you grow.
No need to worry about buying everything new. Checking resellers like Craigslist for second-hand commercial equipment can be very cost-effective. One of the secrets to any food business start-up is to look for restaurants that are scaling their equipment and want to unload their older kitchen goods or even a business that is closing and clearing out. This can lead to great deals on normally expensive commercial equipment.
6. Plan & Execute A Marketing Strategy
Word of mouth is an invaluable touchpoint of marketing, but it won’t be enough to gain elite status. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can employ as a self-catering business to get the word out.
Decide where and how you want to spend your marketing budget. Set a monthly plan and adjust as you see what is working and what is not. Social media presence is imperative in modern times and if you aren’t savvy, hire someone who understands your goals and brand aesthetics to make regular posts to show that the lights are on and you an active business.
In addition, to considering where and how you want to market, you can do several other things to gain momentum and build traffic to your business.
Invite reviews and engage with your commenters.
Give a real-time look at your business with regular photos and videos of events.
Get personal, invite people into your business to see how things are made, and meet your team.
Engage, engage, engage! Create conversations on your and other local social media sites.
Encourage your friends and happy customers to spread the word and photos of your events and signature dishes. The opinion of others is possibly the most important free marketing you can get.
7. Create A Staff List
Creating your team is imperative. Even if it is just family to start, you should know who is available and when. Catering is usually geared towards weekends and evenings. Strategically speaking, you will need people who are available during these peak times and are alright with part-time hours.
Keep a primary list and backup list of available people. The worst scenario for any catering service is that you have the opportunity but not the staff to execute the event. In addition, consider potentially training staff on evenings when you don’t need their manpower so that they are ready to be called up for future events.
8. Plan Your First Gig, Contact Potential Venues
Your first professional gig when you are launching a catering business is crucial. Many people find it more relaxing to promote your business with an event that will have a friendly audience of people they know. Think about hosting an event with friends to get the word out, get great marketing photos, and spread word of mouth about your services.
Self-catering means that you will often be at venues for the first time. Be sure to check out the facilities well in advance. When doing a site check, take notes on entrances for loading, kitchen amenities if any, on-site equipment and electricity, and available staging items (like tables).
Lastly, if you want to spread your services to launch regular pop-ups, make connections with weekend markets and event promoters. Send them a menu or sample dish to engage them with possible partnership opportunities.