Jim Shumake spent years in the restaurant industry before deciding it was time to start a food truck and strike out on his own. But a funny thing happened right after he made his move—he discovered there was a big industry need for help in organizing events and generating publicity.
Shumake gave up the truck, and now he runs Atlanta Creative Events to fill that gap and make business better for other food trucks.
“I Started To Think, I Can Do This Better”
As we were struggling the first year, there were event organizers that we'd pay to find us events,” Shumake said. “Throughout the first year I had the food truck, I was going to these events that were … not great. I started to think, well, I can do this better. So, I started to organize small food truck events that got larger and larger over time.”Despite Shumake's years in the restaurant industry, he says his greatest passion in his business isn't food—instead, he enjoys the vision required to put together great events.
“What inspires me the most is creating something out of nothing,” he says. “When you're in a park or a building and you're thinking about holding a festival there, it's a blank canvas. Then you start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and all of a sudden there's 30,000 people in the park with live music playing and people eating and drinking. The creativity that goes into it, that's what I'm addicted to.”
Up to 30k in Attendance—And Growing
Atlanta Creative is now up to 9 events every year—their most popular is the Margarita and Taco Festival in May, which draws upwards of 30,000 visitors. Shumake said he's partial to the Wine and Cheese Festival (though he admitted the free wine samples may influence his preference).
Organizing these events requires a great deal of work with the city of Atlanta – but he's put in the time to understand the permitting office, and he feels a big connection to the city.
“I'm from Atlanta, and I live here, and almost all of my employees are from here, too,” he said. “If a certain park is struggling or needs recognition, we work with the city to go there and show it to people, and demonstrate how the city is growing and revitalizing. I feel very connected to the city.”
How Vital Point of Sale Helps
When you're moving to all these different locations and expecting tens of thousands of people to show up, it's crucial that you have a payment solution that's mobile, fast, and simple. Shumake's old point of sale system was only getting about 50 people through a line every hour, and that wasn't fast enough. After switching to TSYS, a Global Payments Company, and the Vital POS, he's upped the rate to nearly 80 people per hour.
“It's because of tap-and-go pay,” Shumake says. “Most people in attendance now have some kind of tap-and-go option, whether it's recent tap-enabled credit cards or a smartphone with a mobile wallet. And it's getting even faster, because right now we have to educate people– other festivals are still using swipers or card readers. But as consumers become aware that the option is available to them, it makes the lines move much faster.”
The payment system that Shumake previously used required employees to attach readers to their own phones–it brought security risks, and it also drained their batteries too quickly. Vital Plus is its own machine, and its battery lasts up to four days. Not only that, Shumake has found out that Vital tracks how much of every product was sold at each station, rather than lumping all the reporting together.
“Go for a payment system you'll have for a long time”
In all, Shumake's very happy with his decision to make the switch to Vital, and he has some words of advice for any merchant considering making a switch to a new payment solution.
“You don't want to waste your money on quick fixes,” Shumake says. “Go for a payment system you'll have for a long time. With Vital, you can feel secure that you're going to use that machine for years. And the customer service is essential, too, because in this industry something always happens when you least expect it – but any issue we've ever had, we had almost instantaneous connection with a live person and our problem was solved.”