Point of Sale systems have become an absolute necessity in today’s marketplace for all retail businesses and this includes the restaurant trade. A POS system helps a business thrive by streamlining every aspect of the operation through one, reliable system that controls and processes inventory, orders and more. Until quite recently, restaurateur’s had to make do with antiquated ‘pen and paper’ systems in order to keep their businesses in check. This often meant mistakes were common in the restaurant trade. But with a pos system that all employees know how to use there will be no more wrong orders, no more forgotten bookings and no more superfluous stock orders.
There are hundreds of pos systems (both all-in-one systems and separate components) that can be used effectively in the restaurant trade, but it’s recommended that all restaurateur’s use pos terminals, accessories and software that has been specifically engineered for them and them alone. More generic pos systems that have been designed primarily with retail in mind might not have what you need or might be loaded with features that are simply superfluous to your requirements.
Here we’ll be examining exactly what (as a restaurateur) you should be looking for in a pos system.
Keep it Simple
Whereas at retail stores there might be hundreds if not thousands of inventory items to keep track of, at a bar or restaurant there will be significantly less, so it’s important to settle on a system that isn’t overly complicated. Especially in the restaurant trade there might only be 30 or 40 items on the menu so the whole menu should be streamlines effectively into one or two screens, which should have touch-screen functionality for added convenience. The whole point of a pos system is to facilitate a seamless connection between the customer and the staff and if the waiting staff have to dither around with hundreds of screens they will have less time to spend making their customers feel welcome and comfortable.
Obviously a fine dining establishment will have different needs than a cocktail bar or cafe so the system you choose will require a certain amount of flexibility. If you run a bar, for example, you might want to instigate a ‘tab’ system for your regulars or if we’re talking about a busy restaurant, a waste management system or ingredient cost tracking algorithm might save the business a small fortune. A restaurant specific pos system that can do all of this and more is what you’ll want to be looking for.
A word you’re no doubt hearing more and more when it comes to technology, user-friendliness is a vital aspect of any modern pos system because the easier it is to use, the quicker and more effectively things can get done. The most important aspect of course is how simple it is for the waiting staff to get the right orders into the kitchen and the more user-friendly and clear the system is, the fewer mistakes will be made.
It will be the systems job to automate workflow, check the ingredient stock levels, communicate with the kitchen staff (for faster meal turnaround) and organise where and when customers will be sitting. A system that is required to spin so many plates and keep everything running smoothly and in sync needs a fair amount of ‘heft’ behind it. Many of the leading pos systems run on Windows and OSX (Apple) based architecture but from experience, we’d say that the most reliable are the ones that run on their own operating systems. These systems are focusing 100% of their power on the actual pos software, and nothing else so are generally far more reliable and stable.
Whilst there are some older systems that are perhaps a little ‘bare bones’, the systems that will really help your restaurant business shine are those that can offer features which will enrich the customer experience. Systems able to create and organise numerous promotions and schedule discounts for example and then send them all out to regular customers via email or SMS text message. There are systems that can do just that and whilst you might be paying a little extra for the bells and whistles, they could significantly expand your return customer base, which is vital for any restaurant. And that’s only the beginning. The wonderful, bespoke software from http://bepoz.com/restaurant-pos for example, can track how long it’s been since a table was last checked on, so a customer never feels ‘forgotten about’, a special ‘VIP’ tagging feature and a check splitting system that allows guests to split the bill with no hassle whatsoever.
Finally (and arguably most importantly) the system needs to be attractive. Not necessarily ‘Apple’ sleek or ‘Microsoft’ shiny, but clear and easily customisable menu screens with items that are quick and easy to identify. An attractive and accurate layout of the room would also be incredibly useful.
There are many pos systems out there that do everything we’ve listed above and more besides but before you commit, make sure you’re given a demonstration as buying blind when you’re spending this much money is never recommended.
Chris Allen, the CEO of Bepoz America spent his late teens working in the restaurant and retail trades and helped to create a POS system for restaurants so has seen every possible variety of point of sale systems under the sun.
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