Running a successful food truck business is challenging, and grappling with an unreliable internet connection just piles on the stressors. How is your food truck supposed to take credit card payments when your signal keeps disappearing? What options do you have?
In this article, you’ll learn the most popular ways that food trucks get internet on-the-go so they can process credit card transactions, accept online orders and stay in touch with customers.
What do food trucks use for internet?
There are three common ways that food truck owners accept orders online: mobile hotspots, MiFi devices and dedicated 4G connections.
Personal mobile hotspot
One of the most popular internet solutions for food trucks is using the hotspot on your personal mobile phone. This option is affordable, convenient and straightforward since all you need is your existing phone, which you probably have with you at all times anyway!
However, using your phone’s hotspot isn’t always stable and reliable. Connection issues can come up if you’re connected to more than 2 devices or are parked in a very busy area.
Another downside is what to do when you’re not on the truck. For food trucks with employees who are trusted to take the wheel, asking them to use their personal hotspot may be an issue.
A MiFi device is a portable wireless router that can connect to cellular networks. MiFi devices are designed explicitly for internet connectivity and can provide a more stable and reliable connection compared to a phone.
MiFi is the ideal option for food trucks who need a stable connection for processing online orders and credit card transactions. Since it doesn’t rely on a personal phone, the connection remains consistent no matter who’s managing the truck on a given day. Plus, since you’re not relying on a specific carrier, you’re less likely to run into interference in busy areas.
Dedicated 4G connection
Another option for food truck owners is to set up a dedicated device with its own cellular data plan. Instead of relying on your personal cell phone that’s also being used for texting, phone calls and social media, a separate phone or tablet hooked up to a 4G plan provides a reliable connection that can be used whether or not you’re on the truck. Often you can connect the same device that you use for your POS to a data plan, making the whole operation that much easier.
While a reliable internet connection is necessary for food trucks to process credit card transactions and online orders, it’s not always a guarantee. There may be times when your internet connection is spotty or completely unavailable due to factors outside your control, such as weather or network outages.
To avoid losing out on potential sales during these times, some food truck owners opt to use a POS system with an offline mode. This feature allows the POS to continue to accept credit card payments, even if the internet connection is lost. The card information is stored locally on the POS device and processed later when the connection is restored.
However, there’s a significant risk of losing out on revenue when using offline mode. Some cards may be declined when processed later, causing you to lose out on that sale. Additionally, you’ll need to be careful to track and reconcile these offline payments once they’re processed to avoid any discrepancies in your financial records.
Having a reliable internet connection is crucial for food trucks to run their businesses, especially if you have multiple employees. Instead of having each employee connect to their personal phone, a MiFi device can provide a central connection that can be used by all employees. While offline mode can be a helpful backup option for food trucks, it’s still important to prioritize reliable internet connectivity to avoid any potential revenue losses.
If you have additional questions about how to connect your food truck to the internet, we’re here to help! Sign up below to talk with one of our food truck experts about how to run a hassle-free and profitable food truck business.
Follow us for tips, news, and tutorials to run a successful small restaurant.