On the Go

Mobile Businesses and Mobile Devices go Hand in Hand

By Dan Sorensen

March 12, 2014

Food trucks are all the rage in U.S. cities, as a demand for unique, local flavors has converged with another trend: mobility. In fact, food trucks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to businesses on wheels. Pet groomers, car detailers and massage therapists are just a few examples of businesses that will bring their services to you.

Mobile businesses promise to simplify the lives of customers by catering to their needs onsite. But for companies, going mobile brings a bunch of headaches: how to accept payments, how to build client relationships and how to schedule trips most efficiently, among many others.

Many mobile companies are using emerging technologies to their benefit, capitalizing on the connecting powers of social media, the simplicity of tablets and the flexibility of “anywhere” internet connections.

A Cashless Society

A MasterCard survey titled “World Beyond Cash” found that 73 percent of Americans use less cash today than they did 10 years ago. While this comes as no surprise for most of us, it is a challenge for many mobile businesses, as accepting credit cards requires additional hardware and an internet connection.

Thanks to the availability of mobile devices, powerful software and specialized accessories, it is now possible for anyone to take credit card payments as long as they have a wireless connection.

Square, which was founded by the creator of Twitter, allows businesses to easily take credit card payments using an attachment that connects through the audio jack of a smart phone or tablet. Using the attachment, the Square app processes credit card transactions and deposits funds into the business’s bank account.

“Square is the most user-friendly application available to immediately start taking payments—all you need is a device and that’s it,” says Mike Law, co-owner of Saturday’s Waffle, a mobile waffle truck serving Salt Lake County and surrounding areas. “It was a lifesaver for us, because if we did not have the ability to take cards from the start, our story would be a lot different.”

While Square is still a rapidly growing company with the challenges common to startups, the company is valued at $5 billion dollars, has added Starbucks coffee shops to its list of customers, and already allows millions of small businesses to easily take credit card payments.

Here to Serve

Whether the mobile business is coming to your house, setting up on a corner or visiting you at your place of employment, building relationships is just as important for these companies as it is for traditional organizations.

“It’s not that much different than a brick-and-mortar business,” says Law. “You have to be present, have a product and dispense the product with professionalism.”

Social media plays a very important role for many mobile businesses, as it allows organizations to connect with customers, share product offerings and provide a view into the personality of the organization. Mobile companies often use social media to announce specials or provide an upcoming schedule or route.

No matter how mobile businesses keep in contact with customers, ensuring they are happy is of the upmost importance. In fact, the flexibility offered by some mobile businesses provides a powerful opportunity to create happy customers by saving them time, money and sanity.

Transwest Mobile Truck Repair services fleet vehicles on location, allowing customers to reduce vehicle downtime and spend their time working, rather than waiting at the mechanic's shop. By contracting with companies with fleet vehicles, Transwest creates a unique experience for customers that reduces lost-opportunity costs.

“If we can repair your car on your day off, during your meeting time, on a holiday or a weekend, it makes it so you literally have zero downtime,” says Niel Townsend, Transwest Mobile Truck Repair co-owner. “Also, there is no line, so if you have a repair done, we dedicate that time to you—so a two-hour job takes two hours. It doesn’t sit at the shop for a day and a half and then take two hours.”

Finding ways to provide an invaluable service for a customer—whether it is a delicious waffle or a water pump repair—helps mobile businesses build lifetime relationships with customers through stellar service.

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