5 helpful hints for every do-it-yourself shopper of restaurant POS systems
Like the special ingredient that transforms the simple dish on your menu into a holiday favorite, a point of sale (POS) system can be the “secret sauce” that makes your restaurant stand apart in today's competitive environment. Different types of restaurants have different needs in terms of orders and payments, so it’s important to spend the time to find the system that’s right for you.
For example, a cafe featuring daily specials needs a system that can accommodate a changing menu. A fine-dining establishment may want to be able to create pre fixe menus and special order substitutions. With so many options to choose from and customer needs to address, it can be overwhelming to decide which system is the best choice for your restaurant.
What should you look for when purchasing a restaurant POS system? Here are the top five things to consider:
1. Be Mindful Of The Simplicity Of Customization Options
Look for a restaurant POS system that offers customizable features so you can pick and choose the ones you need for your business. For example, if you have a seasonal menu or frequently accommodate special requests, you’ll want to be able to change the order options easily. If you have a bar adjacent to the dining room, you will want to be able to roll over customers’ drink tabs to their final bill. If you have a gift card and loyalty program (which you definitely should have, by the way), you’ll want to make it easy for servers to enroll customers, or for customers to self-enroll. You’ll also want the ability to set and adjust reward levels and offerings.
2. Look Closely At Transaction Reporting And Labor Management Features
According to Business Insider, one of the reasons many restaurants fail is because of management mistakes. Getting the best out of your employees requires both listening to them and motivating them to do their best work. A restaurant POS system can mitigate management issues with intuitive workflow management software that streamlines employee scheduling and time logs, and makes it easy to make adjustments when needed. This can save a lot of headaches when it comes to ensuring you are staffed during the busiest times, as well as in calculating payroll. Additionally, transaction reporting that allows you to track customer spending can offer valuable information for building loyalty and increasing ticket size.
3. Know How Many Payment Terminals You Need
If you run a small coffee shop, you may need just one checkout station. But if you manage a larger restaurant featuring multiple dining areas, a bar, plus offsite catering, you’ll need more than one station for customers to pay. Determining the number of payment terminals you need for your restaurant is essential in calculating your total allotted costs for the establishment. For example, a large-scale restaurant with over 200 seats may need upwards of 10 POS terminals on a busy afternoon. Smaller restaurants, such as cafes or gastropubs, may only need three POS terminals at a given time. If you’re not sure how many payment terminals you need, your provider should be able to offer some guidance.
4. If It's Hard To Use, How Can You Expect Employees To Understand It
One of the most important aspects of your restaurant’s POS system is its ease of use. Restaurants often work at a break-neck pace to serve their customers, and employee turnover can be higher than in other industries. Because of this, training periods for many restaurant employees are often short while customer demand is high. When a POS system is simple to learn and use, it eases the time constraints and stresses inherent in working in a restaurant environment. According to All Business, speed is an important feature of a restaurant POS because just a few seconds in settling a bill can mean the difference between an angry and satisfied customer. When determining whether the POS system you are considering has adequate speed, be sure to also consider the payment processor you will be working with. Not every processor is the same, and some offer faster and more reliable transaction times than others.
5. Make Sure It Tracks Your Inventory And Maybe Even Recipes
Inventory is a big issue for restaurants, especially because so much of it is perishable. It’s critical to be able to accurately forecast how much you need to keep in stock to deliver the meals your customers order. Be sure you choose a restaurant POS system that makes it easy to track what needs to be purchased, and when. This feature is also important when taking stock of other non-perishable items such as pots and pans, dishware, glasses, tablecloths, and other essential items in your restaurant.
While these are some important things to think about before purchasing a POS system for your restaurant, it’s not an exhaustive list. Some systems make it possible to go even deeper into the runnings of your business, offering robust data and insights into consumer buying habits that you can leverage to attract and retain loyal patrons. The path to purchasing the best restaurant POS system may seem like a long and winding one, but it will be worth it in the end. To find out more about your options, contact Vantiv or your trusted payment provider.