Restaurant Point of Sale Software
What is restaurant point of sale (POS) software? It’s a system that takes the place of a traditional cash register and provides much more than basic transaction functionality. Restaurant point of sale software empowers businesses to control labor costs, manage inventory, and have deeper visibility into business operations. It improves customer service by providing faster, more efficient transactions (and additional transaction types, such as self-service or online ordering) and engages customers on a deeper level through gift card implementation and loyalty programs. If you want to improve these areas and add functionality, or if your current system isn’t performing as well as it should, it’s time to make the switch to a new POS system.
Benefits of Restaurant Point of Sale Software
What can restaurant point of sale software do for you? Key features include:
- Tracking of sales so you can spot trends and adjust menu items or prices accordingly;
- Credit and debit card processing without additional systems or peripherals;
- Integration with accounting programs for easy preparation of tax forms, profit/loss statements, and other documents;
- Enhanced security control that reduces employee theft and fraud by preventing servers from altering checks or giving unauthorized discounts;
- Labor management features such as time clock functionality and optimal scheduling;
- Inventory tracking that monitors food usage, prevents shortages, and reduces shrinkage and waste;
- Off-site control with cloud-based access to all critical business data, enabling you to spot problems and make informed decisions at any time.
How to Choose a Restaurant Point of Sale System
Purchasing a new POS system is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve and grow your business; but it’s also a significant investment. Doing your homework and approaching the decision with care and thought is the best way to ensure that you see a swift and healthy return on that investment. What should you look for in restaurant point of sale software?
» Friendly UI and UX
User interface (UI) involves how things look, including factors such as layout, graphics, colors, and font size. User experience (UX) covers the processes involved in how things work: for example, the steps necessary to place an order. Both aspects should be simple, intuitive and easy to learn. A tablet-based system will likely have the advantage of being similar to the interface on the personal devices your employees already use.
Good restaurant point of sale software will have the flexibility to accommodate different types of ordering (in-house, online, self-service). It will also offer payment flexibility: don’t lose sales by only accepting cash or checks. Look for the latest credit and debit card processing as well as the ability to handle mobile wallet payment methods such as Apple Pay.
» Streamlined Workflow
Improved communication between front-of-house and back-of-house will speed up service and improve customer satisfaction. A good POS system will ideally be integrated with a kitchen display system and can transmit orders directly from the diners’ tables to the kitchen, and then route the order components to the appropriate prep stations. It can then alert wait staff when orders are ready.
There are also some key questions you should ask when shopping for your new system:
» What do I want to accomplish?
Are you looking to add functionality? What do you need to do that you can’t currently? Or do you want to ease pain points? What are your biggest administrative headaches, the tasks that take the most of your time? Defining and prioritizing your goals will help sort your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” and guide your search for the system that will best suit you.
» What is my budget?
Keep in mind that there are other variables to take into account besides just the price of the system itself: additional expenses, such as ongoing support and training costs, and ways the new system will save you money, such as reductions in waste, labor costs, or shrinkage. Also give some thought to your ideal time frame for implementing a new solution.
» Is it generic or does it have an industry focus?
Generic POS systems may not have all of the features and capabilities that a restaurant needs. Priorities will vary based on restaurant type (quick service, fast-casual, fine dining, or even more specialized), and one size does not fit all.
» Does the vendor offer support and service?
Your selection of a POS system ideally begins a partnership with the vendor who sells it. Their commitment to you shouldn’t end when you’ve made your purchase and the box of hardware and software hits your doorstep. Look for availability of tech support as well as a vendor who understands your particular business and the challenges you face.
POS for Restaurant Franchise Management
If you operate a franchise, managing multiple locations is much easier when you have restaurant point of sale software with the following features:
» Web-Based Reporting
Centralized, cloud-based access to all of your business data is essential for efficient franchise management. Monitor sales, inventory, and labor at any or all locations, and even do A/B testing of new menu items or promotions. And your data is available at any time, from any place with an Internet connection.
» User-Friendly Interface
Since employee turnover can be high, choose a POS system with an intuitive, easy-to-learn interface to reduce training time and costs. Consistency across locations is also helpful if you need to transfer employees within the chain.
» EMV-Compliant Credit Card Processing
To protect yourself from liability for fraudulent credit card transactions, use a system with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) “chip” card processing. It’s the most secure and up-to-date payment technology.
Franchises are all about expansion. Whether you want to add new locations or integrate additional processes such as self-service kiosks or online ordering, you’ll need a POS system that can grow easily along with your business.
Restaurant POS Security
There have been plenty of news stories about security breaches and compromised customer data at major chains and franchises, and smaller businesses should never assume that they aren’t potential targets too. Not only do you need to keep your customers’ sensitive financial information secure, but you also need to protect yourself from fraud and theft. So, what POS security measures can you take?
- Make sure your network has a strong firewall to shield your system from viruses and other malware. Also, regularly scan for threats, and use strong passwords that you change frequently.
- Stay up-to-date on software patches, which can fix potential vulnerabilities. Your vendor should work with you on getting these updates when they become available.
- Use end-to-end encryption to better protect customer data.
- Use an EMV-compliant system to protect yourself from credit-card fraud (since liability now falls on merchants).
- Limit employee access to your POS system, giving them only the data and functions they need to do their jobs. Also, look for a system that tracks who is responsible for each transaction, so you can address other types of employee theft such as giving unauthorized discounts or voiding transactions.
Select a Point of Sale System and Vendor that is Familiar with Your Industry
While some POS “must-haves” are universal, different types of restaurants — from Mexican food to frozen yogurt — will have their own unique needs. Choose a restaurant point of sale software and vendor that is familiar with your particular business and the requirements that matter most to you.
Age verification is vital when serving alcohol, so integration with a 2D imager for scanning drivers’ licenses is useful. The ability to start a tab at the bar and add it to the restaurant bill improves efficiency. A drink recipe database is handy for bartenders, ensuring consistency and portion accuracy.
Conversational ordering, rather than a process that requires a specific sequence to place an order, is more efficient and accurate. Providing faster, better service is what quick service is all about.
» Café POS
Speed up transactions, especially during the morning and lunch rush hours, and give your employees a user interface that makes it easy to enter even the most complex drink orders.
Integration with a kitchen display system is faster and more accurate than printed tickets. Digital signage and customer-facing displays encourage upselling, resulting in greater ticket sizes.
Mobile POS solutions can travel easily with food trucks, enabling operators to take credit and debit card payments and not be limited to cash only. They can also automatically track data and generate sales reports for analysis.
» Self-Service POS
Faster service, labor savings and fewer customers waiting in line are what you can expect from self-service, kiosk POS solutions.
Since frozen yogurt is usually sold by weight, POS integration with NTEP certified scales will enable faster, more accurate transactions and tighter inventory control.
A focus on Mexican cuisine means there will be a lot of Spanish on the menu, and both Spanish- and English-speaking customers and staff. Look for POS software with bilingual capability, allowing servers to switch between Spanish and English as necessary to communicate with customers and the kitchen.
Choosing the right vendor is as important as choosing the restaurant point of sale software. Look for extensive knowledge and expertise, reliable customer support, and a proven track record. For more than twenty years, Focus POS has been working with a wide range of restaurants, helping them select the best tools to grow their businesses. Contact Focus to learn more or request a demo.