In the age of patisseries, boutique coffee shops, and other eateries, having the perfect POS system is crucial. While many entrepreneurs tick off the conventional items while setting up their cafes or restaurants, most forget the importance of an efficient POS system. If you happen to be one of them, the following read is for you.
Why you need a good POS System?
A POS or Point of Sale system is like the final, and most important ingredient, in a showstopper dessert. If you can name as your assets a fantastic crew working the food line, enthusiastic staff, state of the art décor, a prime location, as well as the correct contacts in place, you’ve got most of the recipe for a successful operation. But all that means nothing if your POS fails or runs inefficiently; it’s like a beautiful chocolate souffle collapsing at the table. While a slow POS system may beget disgruntled customers, or earns you a bad reputation or negative YELP review, a good POS system, coupled with all of your other assets, all but guarantees assured clientele and long-term investments.
Considerations before you invest in a POS
Investing in a good POS system is a wise decision, but often not an easy one. You might need to plan and consider a lot of things before you actually purchase and install a POS system. Here are a few things that you might first want to consider:
What are your requirements?
Before you purchase anything, it is imperative that you gain clarity on why you want it. In this case, you must be clear about the needs that you expect the POS system will fulfill. For example, a small roadside café will very likely have different needs from a larger multi-cuisine restaurant. As an owner, you must carefully run through all aspects depending on your restaurant type.
If you run a fine dining establishment, you must ensure that you have table billing facilities as well as table reservations to avoid chaos during the lunch or dinner rush. On the other hand, if you plan on a bakery or an ice-cream shop, you must consider shelf-life management, as well as advance orders. A pub or a brewery might require you to have a strong management staff to keep a track of the liquor being spent, as well as be vigilant during “happy hour” and other weekly offers.
Do you have a fluid menu?
If you are someone who likes experimenting with both food and services and detests sticking to the same menu all year round, you will need to set up a POS system accordingly. A POS system with the option of menu flexibility not only helps your staff to feed in information quicker but also allows your customers to choose from a varied range of options.
Do you have regulars?
If you are good at what you do, your customers will invariably continue to frequent your eatery, perhaps even quite often. If such is the case, it is your responsibility not to disappoint them. If customer loyalty features high on your list, you might want to consider a POS system which can store data relating to customer history thereby giving them a more personalized experience every time they visit. Of course, this need would largely depend on where your restaurant is situated. If it is near an airport, railway station or highway, it is less likely that you will get the same customers again and again. Conversely, if you are situated well within the city, or even on Main Street in some quaint little suburb, the chances are much higher that those familiar faces will turn into your regulars.
Are you planning on developing a chain of restaurants?
While some entrepreneurs are perfectly happy with a single restaurant, others believe in expanding their venture. Thus, depending upon your future plans, you need to select your POS system carefully. For the latter, a high scale POS system is recommended that can connect all the various outlets and monitor all the functioning parts. For the former, a simple yet effective system will suffice.
Key considerations before choosing your POS system
Quick, effective and user-friendly
It is simply human nature that no one likes to wait, especially not for food, and most especially when you are hungry. Losing a customer as a result of delayed service is probably the biggest nightmare for any restaurant owner.
One of the key features of a good POS system is its speed and effectiveness. A faster system ensures faster service and happy customers. With more efficient software, customers are accommodated more easily and attended to at a faster rate. Provided all the employees, including kitchen and wait staff, are well acquainted with the software (which should be as user-friendly as possible), orders, messages and special instructions can be passed on more quickly.
Inventory track management
If you are already running a restaurant, you are quite aware of the hassles of tracking inventory. Which ingredients do you use and need to replenish most frequently? When do you have to buy the next ingredient? Are your perishable goods still safe to consume? The worries seem endless. But what if you found a technology that takes care of these hassles for you? Currently, there are quite a few POS systems that offer real-time inventory management. Besides keeping a tab on which ingredients are used the most and how much is used per day, they will also provide reminders about placing orders at the market; all you have to do is set an alarm! Furthermore, many systems today are also set up to re-order ingredients automatically and keep track of those items and their costs.
Credit card processing
In the age of plastic money and cashless transactions, your effort should be to help customers by providing a POS system that integrates with all credit card processors. Please remember, not all credit card processors integrate with all POS systems. While the majority of credit card processors will accept Visa and MasterCard, they may not accept American Express, Discover or Diners Club, which may result in your loss of a customer. Credit card transactions outside the POS system not only delay the entire service process but also becomes too cumbersome for the staff member having to deal with it. If you already have an existing POS system, make sure it is well integrated with your credit card processor.
A few modern POS systems also have mobile payment facility integrated. If you run a small café or restaurant that targets the young college-going crowd, this is one feature you might want to consider. The younger generation today travels cashless; they use several online money apps like Paytm, Google Pay, Phone Pay and so on. If you wish to cater to their needs and interests, you should look for EMV and NFC compatibility in your POS system.
All modes of payment
A good POS systems should be able to accommodate all forms of payment, i.e. cash, debit cards, credit cards, and even payment by check. They should also accept EBT and EMV chip cards. By installing a POS system like this, you automatically increase the chances of a larger number of customers visiting and revisiting your restaurant.
An ideal POS system would be one that can give you a brief or summary about all aspects of a restaurant. The POS would be able to maintain a customer database, which would include favorite dishes, dislikes and food allergies, as well as calculating maintenance cost, etc. Essentially, it should give you a snapshot view of your venture. Getting a POS system that can provide this feature is advisable to maintain the smooth functioning of your restaurant business.
Room for customization and alterations
We live in an ever-changing world; trends change, people change, desires and wishes change, tastes change and so on. If you are planning on venturing into a long-term enterprise, make sure the POS system that you install is one which is open to customizations and changes according to customer needs and/or trends.
Back up and support
Even if you purchased the best POS system available, you will need to be prepared with a backup plan. After all, machines and technology will falter at some point in time; it could be a mechanical malfunction, a power outage, or some other unexpected emergency. Most of the time, there is little you can do to stop it. However, if it relates to your POS, what you can do is ensure that the after-purchase customer service provides you with a live support option. A reliable software company should guarantee you immediate and regular service.
Mobile reporting and live data tracking
The number of orders dished out in a day, as well as tables occupied, and the total number of customers at the restaurant at any given time are details that should be readily available to you. For this to happen, your POS system must be enabled with live data tracking. With this facility in place, you can get instant live information about your restaurant on your mobile phone without the need to visit the restaurant.
Internet loss or power snafus are not unheard of in the present world. To combat this, choose a POS system that has offline reporting as one of its features. Thus, even with a power failure and, consequently, an internet shutdown, your POS system can work just fine. Also, when the power comes back, it should have the ability to automatically update all of the offline data.
Your restaurant’s future largely depends on how many people know about its existence. Along with providing good service, you need to learn the art of marketing. An above average POS system will integrate customer relationship management into its software, and using this, you can be in touch with all your customers and keep them abreast of the latest offers and discounts.
With a good POS system, you can track all your customers’ feedback using their integrated system. With feedback management software, you can hand your tablet or smartphone to the customer for more constructive feedback, which is far more valuable than the generic questions on paper surveys.
Your POS system is essentially software that works using the internet. Given all of the risks with using the internet, e.g. viruses, cyberattacks, hacking, etc., it is advisable to buy and install a POS that has PCI compliance as well as a good antivirus program. Researches shows that most cyberattacks occur against less-protected venues, such as small eateries and businesses. Since your POS system has all of your customers’ history fed into it, it would be a breach of their trust if you allowed that data to be exposed to cyberbullies and attacks. Further, to ensure that all of the data that is stored into your POS system remains safe and protected, you should consider getting encryption software, especially if it is a cloud-based POS system.
A good POS system is one that not only allows you to closely monitor all aspects of your restaurant but ensures a smooth, hassle-free yet effective management. The restaurant business is becoming more and more competitive with every passing day and, simply stated, it is no longer enough for you to provide just good food and a nice atmosphere.
Long gone are the days when a POS system was used merely for printing checks and receipts. Customers look for an overall positive experience right from the moment they book a table to the time they leave the restaurant. It is your responsibility to provide that experience.
There are multiple POS systems in the market today, each promising more features than the other. Some of the popular POS systems available are Toast, Lightspeed Restaurant, Clover, Square for Restaurants, Shopkeep and so on. Also remember, the IOS POS systems are the latest to have hit the market and promises to stay around for some time.
With a larger population going out to eat regularly and technology advancing with every passing day, it is important that your POS system is adept with every modern feature available in the market today. Having said that, it is equally important for you to understand that it is not the number of features available but the right features that meet your needs. Accordingly, you can visit their websites online and decide on the best one for you.