Selecting a POS system for your restaurant can be one of the most important operational decisions you will make. There are literally hundreds of different POS systems to choose from. While all systems try to serve the same basic purpose when it comes down to functionality, reliability, performance, and capability, no two systems are alike. There are many routine factors to consider when buying a POS system. Price, warranty, technical support, future enhancements, and after purchase care are just a few to mention. However, the focus of this article will be on the more important but less commonly used software features that make all the difference in creating and operating a thriving restaurant.
Ease of Use
One of the most important aspects of any POS software is its ease of use. Listed below are some features & functionalities one should consider.
Most restaurants cannot survive without a loyal, repeat customer base. Many systems have a customer database that allows you to take advantage of that data. Two features that can be very beneficial are built-in loyalty and order tracking. The loyalty feature normally allows you to give out points, credits, or free food. By storing their previous orders, known as order tracking, servers can order a customer’s "usual" with just the touch of a button. You can also run reports that enable you to know who your most profitable clients are and to market to them directly.
It is a relatively new concept but some POS systems are now able to offer tableside ordering via handheld devices like an iPad. The technology may come at an extra cost, but for many restaurants it would pay off through improved server efficiencies, less errors, faster food delivery, and better overall customer experience.
For restaurants that take reservations, many POS systems are able to handle this within the software instead of using a third party provider. These systems usually allow your customers to create a reservation online or place a call into the restaurant where the staff would enter it directly into the POS.
One of the newest POS features is the ability for a restaurant to take an order online. Some systems already offer this for an extra fee. For now, the consumer market is in the early stages of embracing the concept, but it is growing in popularity and should be much more popular in the coming years. You should simply ask the POS provider you are considering if they will have this feature available in the future if not already.
How much flexibility does the system have in terms of upgrades and expansions? Can you easily add additional stations as your business grows? What if you decide to add tableside ordering or online reservations? Are those features currently available? These are all questions one should ask when considering a POS system.
There are two basic ways POS software handles the printing of the menu items. If the software prints based on the ticket itself, the entire ticket will be sent to one particular printer regardless of what it is. If the software prints based on the menu items, the alcohol would go to the bar and food would go to the kitchen, regardless of what is ordered on the ticket. Obviously, the latter setup is most ideal.
Bars - Liquor
For businesses with a bar, there are several important features you should expect from your chosen POS system.
Data Recovery - No one likes to plan for the worst, but there are many unexpected disasters that can happen to any restaurateur, such as power outages or hardware failure. When this does happen, how will it affect the data in your POS system? There are many different types of databases being used by POS companies. SQL for example, can easily recover from most disasters without much intervention needed from technical support or any loss or corruption of data.
About the author:
Curtis Stevens is a sales rep for the POS provider Harbortouch. He has sold systems for all types of restaurants and wrote this article after finding himself talking about all of these important features to all of his prospects.