“Do we need a POS system for our cafeteria?”
This is a question many school administrators have asked recently as they review their technology budgets. The answer to the question is probably “yes,” because school cafeteria POS systems offer a variety of advantages not afforded by traditional electronic cash registers. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
1. Cafeteria POS systems speed up service
Students at K-12 schools typically have a very short window of time in which to purchase and eat their lunch, while those enrolled at colleges and universities are often on tight schedules between classes. With such features as custom screen layouts, quick card processing (“smart cards” for K-12 students and meal cards and/or credit and debit cards at the secondary level), and packaged commands, school cafeteria POS systems keep lines moving, ensuring that students consistently enjoy as much time as possible to consume their food.
2. Cafeteria POS systems improve inventory management
Cafeterias cater to hundreds or even thousands of students daily, meaning that they must manage a very sizeable inventory of perishable and non-perishable food and beverage items. They must ensure that they have sufficient quantities of ingredients and food on hand at all times, and that these items haven’t expired. Some schools must also follow federal guidelines that dictate which items they can and cannot serve, and to whom.
A cafeteria POS system with an inventory management module makes it easier for schools to rise to these challenges. Cafeteria administrators and other appropriate personnel can calculate food costs by recipe and, through usage reports, get a firm handle on inventory in stock. This permits shortages and overages to be addressed proactively, eliminating waste and ensuring that food is used by its expiration date.
The inventory management component of the cafeteria POS system can also be programmed to generate orders only when item levels have been depleted to a certain threshold, and to prevent the processing of orders that don’t meet certain parameters. Consequently, cafeterias are assured of having the right quantities of the right ingredients at the appropriate time. Waste is minimized, and adherence to all purchasing guidelines becomes the norm.
3. Cafeteria POS systems make for happier parents and students
Busy parents can forget to give their children lunch money. Occasionally, they can even find themselves ready to send their children to school, only to discover that they have no cash for lunch. By contrast, in schools with cafeteria POS systems, parents can simply load money onto students’ prepaid cards once a month (or in some districts, once a week). Parents are happy because there is no need to scramble for coins and bills every day, and children are happy because they no longer need to skip lunch or borrow money from a friend.
Additionally, some cafeteria POS systems give parents an extra measure of control over which food items their children can and cannot buy in the school cafeteria. In these cases, student profiles are maintained in a database and, because of an interface with the POS, cashiers cannot process the purchase of any item a parent has deemed “forbidden.”
The benefits of cafeteria POS systems far outweigh the initial cost, making them a worthwhile investment for any school, K-12 or secondary.