What exactly does your point-of-sale (POS) system do for your restaurant?
Well, there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer to that question.
The simple answer — as Michael Oshins, a faculty member at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, puts it — is this: your POS system is the “technological heart of a restaurant.”
It is the program that keeps track of how money comes and goes, for what and by whom. It’s most often the system that lets your customers pay their check. It’s a ticketing system for orders. Your communication matrix. A cross-reference for inventory. An invoicing system. A tax helper. It keeps you on your toes and it backs up your judgments as a business owner with data.
And sometimes, it is a loyalty program provider, too.
See how it can start to get complicated?
POS systems for restaurants — in addition to offering all the absolutely essential financial functions for their purchasers — also offer a way into providing rewards to your existing customers, ostensibly by integrating the loyalty program process into the payment process. By adding that extra step, your restaurant can provide rewards to encourage return visits.
While this seems like a no-brainer, there are some key considerations to keep in mind when investing that extra money and time into your POS system for a program outside its core function. Can POS systems for restaurants really measure up to the power of an established loyalty program?
Before you invest in extra loyalty features promised by your POS system, there are four questions you want to ask yourself as a restaurateur.
1. Is it turnkey?
For most POS systems that offer restaurants offering loyalty solutions, the answer seems to be “No.” Your staff still needs to sell the loyalty program.
Maybe it’s a mention from your wait staff as they take a drink order. Maybe it’s an explanation of the insert when the check is delivered. But either way, it’s another thing that takes your team away from quality customer service and gentle upselling to improve your restaurant’s bottom line.
Ultimately, you as a business owner are fully responsible for acquiring those customers to sign up, and the bottom line is: those customers won’t be new. They’ve already set foot in your restaurant in order to sign up. They’re sitting in your booths and at your tables already. Or they’re already perusing your website for an online order.
POS systems for restaurants may promise to turn your customers into regulars, but someone has to market your establishment to attract them first. That’s you, not your POS system.
Instilling loyalty in returning customers is only a part of the package when employing a full-fledged loyalty program like Rewards Network. We offer a completely turnkey program to drive new customers through your doors. We market directly on your behalf to frequent diners and rewards seekers in your local community — 17 million diners nationwide, in fact.
We include your restaurant in targeted emails to hungry consumers looking for new places to earn rewards, and feature your establishment on all of our loyalty program websites. Your restaurant will appear in association with some of America’s most powerful brands, such as American Airlines, Hilton, Overstock, Visa, and Jet Blue. And we reward their loyalty members directly — so that you don’t have to.
2. Is there an upfront cost?
Of course. Every POS system for restaurants has an upfront cost. You’ll need to invest in the equipment and the software you use to manage transactions. But many POS systems also have additional monthly fees, up to an addition $189 per month in order to build the structure of your loyalty program.
Rewards Network has no upfront costs, and integrates seamlessly with most existing credit card processors immediately. We require no special training or software installation. Our program is a card-linked offer, and all the technological issues are already handled for you.
There are no flat membership fees to join Rewards Network, and our marketing services are completely pay-for-performance. That means, you only pay if we bring a customer through your door. We can even calculate the sales that you’ll earn from participation in our program.*
3. How many steps does it require?
Some POS systems for restaurants only enroll the credit card your customer pays with at the time of purchase. Some require extra confirmation from the customer and back and forth over email or text. And as every savvy marketer knows, every extra step a customer needs to go through to sign up for a promotion or to purchase an item is a percentage of users that will just give up.
Every Rewards Network dining loyalty program integrates directly with a parent brand to bring a seamless experience to the customer, whether they are an AAdvantage® member, a Hilton Honors guest, or a Total Rewards® Visa® cardholder. There are no membership cards to show when the check comes. No holes to punch. And every member we drive into your restaurant is encouraged to enroll all of their credit cards, not just one, long before they arrive to pay their bill. It makes for a completely frictionless experience dining with you.
And none of the POS systems for restaurants work directly with the credit card processors to confirm purchase and issue rewards. Rewards Network integrates directly with your credit card processor, one step outside the POS system.
We let your point of sale system do its job. We do ours.
4. What kind of results does it report?
POS systems for restaurants do something amazingly well for your business: they track transactions. It’s why they are so common for restaurants to employ, and absolutely critical when relying on credit card transactions. They make tax reporting easier. They make inventory management more precise. They can help you identify areas of loss or low sales that you’d only know by anecdote otherwise.
But is your POS system really the right program to manage your customer rewards? Can you easily analyze everything you’d need to know about your loyalty program from a system designed for something else entirely?
Rewards Network doesn’t think so. That’s why we produce weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports that draw down data and analytics that can help your business grow. You’ll know how many customers we send through your doors, how much they spend, and how they compare to your other customers. This helps to eliminate uncertainty by tracking our program’s performance, but also tracking your performance against other local and national Rewards Network clients.
We also provide comment notifications and survey analytics that report what our loyalty members say about your restaurant and how they score their experience dining with you. These are verified reviews, 100% restricted to customers who actually paid a check at your establishment.
And because we are able to connect actual dining activity to customers, we can break down average check size; party size; geographic reach; and ratings for food, service, value, and cleanliness for the customers we send to you. You get a fuller picture of your target guest, and how your staff is performing when these guests dine with you.
We do it all so that you don’t have to.
Want to explore what a loyalty program like Rewards Network’s has to offer that POS systems for restaurants don’t?
*The estimated monthly sales figure is provided for illustrative purposes and does not constitute a guarantee. Program participation and estimated monthly debit by Rewards Network are subject to verification of credit card sales, the merchant executing a Rewards Network marketing agreement, and Rewards Network’s acceptance of the mechant’s executed Marketing Agreement.