When it comes to technology in your restaurant, nothing directly impacts the experience of your customers themselves like your point of sales system. The system tech itself is a major investment, which often means restaurants hold on to their current restaurant POS system even when it far out-of-date — and often even causing issues for staff and customers alike.
The good news is that technology innovations over the past 10 years have really revolutionized the restaurant POS system, and now is a very good time to update or completely upgrade yours.
Here are some things to ask yourself about your current system:
- Are your POS procedures, even routine ones, talking longer than they have in the past?
- Is it difficult to train new employees on your restaurant POS system because it’s so complicated?
- Have customers had to wait longer after the meal because of your restaurant POS system?
- Do payment authorizations fail? Do legitimate payments get rejected completely?
- Are you spending extra time on troubleshooting the system in the middle of shifts?
- Is your system glitchy to changes in prices, menu items, and other data?
- Is it difficult to customize orders on the fly?
- Do you and your managers need to be physically at your restaurant in order to access the system?
Here are some features to look for in a potential new restaurant POS system:
First and foremost, your restaurant POS system needs to be functional, both in the long run and on a day-to-day basis. Think about the people who will be using it — you, your managers, your staff, and depending on the style of your restaurant service, even your customers directly. The whole experience should be cohesive and uniform for both staff and customers.
A modern POS system should bring a better flow not only to the payment process, but to the entire meal experience from start to finish. Modern restaurant POS systems give you solutions for managing operations (inventory, labor, and sales) from the same system.
Data is an important element to your work as an operator, and performance reporting through your restaurant POS system is going to be invaluable to you down the line. This is just one of many areas of competency a modern POS system will have that can break down manual tracking or redundant paperwork.
For many guests, being able to customize their orders (especially in the case of allergies and other dietary restrictions) is a big part of getting great service in restaurants. Customization is a benefit to your bottom line through add-ons that boost checks, but it also can involve changes critically important to a customer’s health. You want to make it as easy as possible for your servers to accommodate their tables’ requests and to have it properly documented through the POS system.
There are so many payment options on the market now, and it benefits your restaurant to offer your customers as many popular choices as possible. Mobile payments (like Android Pay and ApplePay), and are getting especially common among Millennial diners. You should be looking for both hardware and software that will accommodate this option.
The last few years have seen major changes to how data security is handled through credit card transactions. Credit cards are finally transitioning to EMV in the United States because EMV (that little silver chip on the new cards) offers a different level of protection against credit card fraud. Any POS system upgrades you invest in should include an EMV chip reader.
Easy Training Options
Looking at the functionality included in a potential POS system, can you envision your employees picking up the system quickly? How will you train new employees on this down the line? How new user friendly is it? Is there online support provided by the manufacturer or formal training included in the price?
Mobility of Your Restaurant POS System
While not a good fit for every restaurant, the rise of tablet technology means your POS system can go mobile. Many customers appreciate the peace of mind not having their server walk off with their credit card. By completing the payment at the table, the card never leaves the customer.
As you’re planning your POS upgrade, researching online will be key. Look for testimonials from independent parties who have tried the systems you’re looking at. Checking out a good range of points of view will help you make good decisions on the investment. While one single business owner saying a restaurant POS system was hard to learn might not be a deal breaker, if a lot of testimonials consistently have the same complaint, that could be a sign you should look somewhere else.
And it’s always better to see the systems for yourself. If you have the opportunity to go to trade shows like the NRA show, you have the chance to see lots of different restaurant POS system options up close. Write down questions before you go — that way, you’ll be able to make the most out of your time talking to the company reps there to sell you on their system.
If you can’t make it to trade shows, you can still use your experiences as a consumer! Next time you go out to eat, keep an eye out for that restaurant’s POS system. Is it a newer style? Was it easy to use as a customer? Did the restaurant staff seem comfortable using it? Also ask the manager how it works for them. You can use that dining experience to hone in on the POS system style you want for your own restaurant.
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