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Guide to catering van Wi-Fi

From sharing food pictures on social media to taking mobile payments, a reliable Wi-Fi connection is a must for your catering van. Here’s how to get it…

man scrolling on phone and on laptop

In today’s digital world, having access to a fast, reliable internet connection in your catering van is often seen as a business essential. From allowing customers to order remotely and make card payments to planning the next day’s route and uploading yummy food pictures to Instagram, there are so many ways Wi-Fi can help your business – just read our guide to get started.

So, what equipment do you need for a fast, reliable service?

Read on to find out all the answers courtesy of the helpful Mobilers team.

10 reasons why reliable Wi-Fi is so important for your catering van

There are so many potential benefits for adding Wi-Fi capability to your roadside food truck set-up. Let’s take a look:

1. Taking payments

Accepting card or mobile payments as well as traditional cash means you can do even more business. After all, you don’t want to miss out on any potential business in today’s near-cashless society.

2. Faster transactions

When you’ve got a long line of hungry customers waiting, every second counts when it comes to providing fast, efficient service ahead of your competitors.

3. Remote ordering

Allowing customers to simply scan a QR code and order from an online menu will help you manage even more orders.

4. Takeaway service

Wi-Fi could help you offer a takeaway service far and wide. So, even if it’s a quiet day at your food truck stop, you could still be taking plenty of orders online or through a food delivery app.

5. Customer Wi-Fi

Allowing customers to use your Wi-Fi connection can offer a nice little incentive to order from you. If you’re catering at an event where there’s only limited Wi-Fi access, this could really help pull in the punters.

6. Chasing leads from potential customers

Being online 24/7 means you’re always available for any business opportunities that come your way.

7. Social media updates

Uploading photos and videos to Instagram is a great way to promote your business on social media in real time. Don’t use your mobile data if you can do it on Wi-Fi.

8. Saves your phone battery

Using mobile data can soon use up your phone’s battery power. A phone is a safety essential, especially if you’re working alone, so make sure it’s always charged up.

9. Staying connected

If you run a fleet of mobile catering vans then you’ll want to stay connected to your team throughout the day.

10. Learn more about your loyal customers

As well as valuable feedback via online surveys and competitions, you can use your WiFi service to gather additional customer data such as how often they visit and how much they use the WiFi. Just make sure you tell customers how you’re using their data in your marketing materials.

Mobilers has lots of helpful articles for those in the mobile catering business. If you’re in the mood for a bit of social media nous then check out this article on Instagram best practice tips for mobile catering vans.

Or how about 20 easy marketing tips that will make your business go viral?

Wi-Fi options for your catering van

There are various ways to get Wi-Fi in your catering van. These can include:

  • On-site Wi-Fi
  • Phone tethering/personal Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Wi-Fi dongle or MiFi device
  • Portable Wi-Fi router

If you’re already feeling a bit bewildered by all this technological jargon, don’t worry. We’ll take a closer look at each one of these in turn to see which might be right for you and your mobile catering business.

  1.    On-site Wi-Fi

A popular way to connect to the internet if you’re attending a food event is through the Wi-Fi connection provided by the event organisers. If you’re just using Wi-Fi to quickly check the weather or social media updates, then on-site Wi-Fi is probably okay.

Unfortunately, even if the event does offer free Wi-Fi (many don’t) it will probably only provide a very limited Wi-Fi service, and may not be the most secure connection. And if there are lots of other businesses and customers using the same signal, you might find it far from blazing hot!

In addition to these difficulties, you won’t know until you get there how good the Wi-Fi signal is going to be, especially if you’re working in a remote location. Not only will this make it harder to plan ahead but you might find yourself being let down when you need Wi-Fi connection the most.

And if it does go down, does the event organiser have a back-up plan? There are so many potential difficulties that you might only want to rely on on-site Wi-Fi as a last resort.

If you do decide to go with the on-site Wi-Fi then it’s probably also wise to look at ways to get the very best signal you can. Buying a Wi-Fi booster or antenna to beam the signal into your van could be a good investment.

  1.    Phone tethering/personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Perhaps a more reliable way of getting connected is by using your own mobile phone or tablet’s tethering capabilities to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot. That way, as long as you have a good signal on your phone and sufficient mobile data allowance, then you should be perfectly able to share your connection with other devices and join the web when you want.

However, we all know the mobile network across the UK can be patchy and much will depend on your food truck location and network provider. When choosing a mobile network for your food truck business you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Cost of data package
  • Speed and connectivity
  • Coverage areas
  • Battery life and tethering ability of your device
  • Number of devices supported by service
  • Additional features and benefits

Finding the best network provider for your food truck location shouldn’t be too hard to do, as many now encourage you to use their online service checkers before signing up to their service.

A quicker route might be to use the one-stop mobile service and broadband checker provided by Ofcom.

To set up a personal hotspot on your Apple iPhone do the following:

  • Go to Settings > Mobile Data > Personal Hotspot or Settings > Personal Hotspot.
  • Hit the slider next to Allow Others to Join.
  • Verify the Wi-Fi Password and name of the phone you’re using as a Personal Hotspot.
  • On the device you want to connect, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and find your hotspot’s name in the Wi-Fi options. Tap the Wi-Fi network to join and enter the password if prompted.

For further instructions refer to Apple’s support page

To set up a personal hotspot on your Android phone do the following:

  • Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & Tethering.
  • Tap on Wi-Fi hotspot and toggle on Use Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Check the hotspot name and password.
  • On the device you want to connect, open the list of Wi-Fi options.
  • Select the Wi-Fi hotspot and enter the hotspot password and hit Connect.

For more details on setting up a personal hotspot on your Android phone, refer to this article from Android Authority.

Be aware, some network providers limit or charge extra for tethering. Also, acting as a personal hotspot will drain your phone’s battery life pretty quickly, so you might want to look into a more long-term solution.

  1.    Wi-Fi dongle or MiFi device

While smartphones are fantastic for a wide range of business uses, their performance and capabilities can be lacking compared to other popular devices such as Wi-Fi dongles and MiFi devices.

These devices are a far more reliable way to get connected anytime and anywhere (provided you have a good signal). And by investing in a separate device, your smartphone will be freed up for other activities.

In addition to that, such devices deliver a more stable connection and some can support more connected devices. There are so many dongles and devices available on the market, it’s a good idea to get some specialist advice on which one is right for you – just as you would for catering van insurance in the UK.

Traditional Wi-Fi dongles essentially plug into your laptop or desktop computer using a USB port. They’re pocket-sized, don’t need to be charged, and are easy to use, but they only provide access to the device they’re plugged into (unless you turn it into a hotspot) and not all mobile networks still offer them.

The more popular option and one that’s offered by most mobile networks is the MiFi device. A MiFi device acts more like a router and allows multiple devices and users to connect to it. However, data plans can be expensive, connection speeds will slow down as more devices are connected, and you’ll need to keep an eye on battery charge when in use.

  1. Portable Wi-Fi router

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution closer to the type of fast and reliable Wi-Fi you can get at home or in the office, then you’ll probably want to consider a dedicated portable Wi-Fi router. These routers tend to be more powerful, capable of delivering faster speeds, and more able to handle multiple devices. But they can be more expensive and aren’t quite as portable as other options.

Does catering van insurance in the UK cover my gadgets?

Whichever option you go for, when it comes to keeping your business online and operating to its fullest potential the chances are you’ll need some pricey gadgetry in your mobile catering van. It’s therefore always a good idea to consider whether you need to upgrade your catering van insurance in the  UK to take account of this.

For example, you’ll want to check that you’ve enough cover for that expensive laptop that’s so vital for your mobile catering business. Give your insurance provider a call to make sure your cover is set to the right level.

Protect your business with catering van insurance UK from Mobilers

wifi box

Running a mobile catering business is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and safeguarding your business and your livelihood from the unexpected is a full-time job.

Here at Mobilers, our helpful team can provide cover for a wide variety of catering vehicles including ice cream vans, jiffy trucks. Cover can also include those expensive permanently fixed fixtures and fittings.

If you’re searching for catering van insurance in the UK, come directly to the specialists and see how much you could save.

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