No sector is more competitive than the restaurant one. And in terms of success rate, the picture is grim for businesses in this industry. Around half of them fail. Among the many reasons for such failure are location, inexperienced management, poor customer service, not enough startup capital, and issues related to the challenges of basic operations.
While it cannot give you a new location or solve your marketing challenges, a solid restaurant POS system (POS) software suite can streamline and organize many of the operational tasks, so that you can focus on the other aspects of making your restaurant a success. And you may not even know how do POS systems work in restaurants along with some of those features and benefits that exist in such software – features that go well beyond basic book-keeping tasks.
First the Basics – Two Types of Restaurant POS Softwares that you can set up at your outlet
Once you make the decision to incorporate POS software, you have two choices.
Some software is stand-alone and must be supported by your own hardware. Basically, you will need to install the software on your own computer system, and upgrade that hardware if necessary.
You can adopt a cloud-based restaurant POS system. You only need an Internet connection to use it, and you don’t have to be overly responsible for its maintenance, updates, etc. That is all done for you by the provider. Plus, you can access the software from any device you choose, whether on site, at home, or on vacation.
The other key factor as you consider your options is the amount of flexibility any POS system has. It must be able to integrate with what you already have in place – your payment processor and your gateway, for example. And, if there are specific apps you are using (e.g., ordering online), the system must be able to integrate with those too.
Key Features to Look For
All POS systems process your daily transactions. But you are looking for more than that. Here’s what state-of-the-art restaurant POS software can offer:
You want the flexibility to look at your sales from many vantage points – based upon individual employees, menu items, your gross margin, times of day, net profit, cost of sale of each item, and more. Good POS software will allow you to access reports in all of these categories. These reports will allow you to make smart decisions going forward.
Management of Inventory
A good POS system will keep track of your inventory, depletion of that inventory, and provide alerts when products are low and it is time to reorder. Think of the time this saves from having to manually check your inventory and decide what must be ordered. And it will house your vendors and allows you to place automatic custom re-ordering as necessary. This saves time and money, as you do not over-order and end up with spoilage that is costly.
Good relationships with customers mean they return again and again and recommend others. Good POS sofare can keep track of your customers, what they purchase, how often they purchase, etc. You should be able to save all information you have on each of your regular customers and automatically add information on new customers as they come along. When you have this information, you have a leg up on marketing to them, especially through email campaigns. Who doesn’t like to get a discount coupon in their inbox from a restaurant they frequent often?
Some POS systems can build in a customer loyalty rewards program too, and keep track of those rewards for you.
Reporting on Employees
Sales can be reported by an individual employee. You should be able to know who are your top performers and who might need additional training/coaching.
A POS system can also schedule employee work hours and track overtime hours.
How to Choose the Right POS Software for Your Restaurant
You might begin your selection process by checking with other restaurant owners that are comparable in size to yours. What POS system are they using, and what do they like or dislike about that system? In this way, you may be able to narrow your choices to a smaller number of vendors. Next, you will want to ask some important questions about the vendors you are considering:
- You already have some systems you like and want to keep (e.g., an app for online ordering or reservations). Will the vendor’s POS operation system be compatible with your current software?
- What payment processors and systems does the software support? You don’t want to lose customers because they can no longer use their preferred methods of payment.
- Check Out Costs. Vendor prices vary a lot, and are often based upon the specific restaurant operating system features you want. On average, restaurants will pay about $1500 a year for a POS system, but there can be additional fees involved too. Check those out.
- Check out any online reviews you can find about specific POS systems. What are others saying that is related to your business?
- If you choose a cloud restaurant POS system, what happens if you lose your Internet? You will need to plan for this and be certain that any provider has planned for this too. You need to have an offline alternative just in case. Hybrid cloud systems usually provide for this.
- What type of technical support will the vendor provide?
- What type of security is in place? You certainly don’t want customer personal or financial information compromised.
- How much training is involved for you and your staff? One thing you want is the ease of use and a short learning curve, as well as the ability to modify things, such as your menu and prices. Good POS vendors will provide this training.
- What restaurant analytics are available? As mentioned above, you want information on your individual customers and their buying behaviors, as well as aggregate information on such things as the most popular menu items. These will help with both your marketing efforts and making decisions on the types of menu items you may want to discontinue or add.
What if the restaurant POS software is not customised for your needs?
Providers are now very focused on providing you the best experience that you and your staff would have no trouble punching in the orders and comprehending the content and the dashboards. Now there are a bunch of “one size fits all” POS solutions but you would be glad to know that custom solutions can be developed as well. For instance, a custom made POS system can be made to support different languages. Providers make use of sites like Trust Paper and Studicus to brew up content to fit the local audience. Lots of other customisations can be now done easily via your providers so be sure to check up with them before you choose to go ahead with them!
Only Buy What You Need
You need a provider who has what is often called a “cafeteria plan.” This means that, as you begin to use a restaurant POS system, you can choose those features you want and need up front. As you become comfortable and as you grow, you will want to add more features, so be certain that you have the flexibility to do this.
In the End…
Restaurant POS systems are providing much greater operational efficiency to users. What’s more, they have lots of expanded features that you will want to consider – features that can retain customer loyalty, provide critical reports as you make growth decisions, and drive your marketing strategies. The bottom line is this: there are a lot of factors involved in restaurant success. If you get a great POS system in place, many of your challenges are handled automatically, and you have the data you need to make the best decisions going forward.