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How to Find the Perfect POS System for Your Restaurant

6 steps to help choose wisely

A Point-of-Sale (POS) system is more than just a cash register; it is a customized tool to help you operate more efficiently, which can mean more money for your restaurant.  Choosing the correct system can be one of the most important decisions you can make for your company.  In addition to speedy transactions at the point of sale level, a quality system should improve inventory management, labor, loyalty, marketing integrations, and sales performance management.  But with so many options out there, how do you choose?  You have come to the right place.  Here are a few factors you should consider if you are upgrading or buying a whole new POS system:

1.        Find a well-established and reliable company.  Since choosing a system for your restaurant is important for the life of your business, you should take the time and do your research.  No two businesses are exactly alike, and neither are POS systems.  Evaluate your company, create a realistic budget, and talk to your staff to get a clear idea of expectations.  Ask other small business and restaurants owners, along with the staff that actually use the software, what they think of the system they have in place.  Not sure who to ask?  You can contact POS system providers you are interested in, and they should be happy to provide you with a customer list.  If they are unable or unwilling to give you this information, mark that provider as a red flag and move on.  When you sign a system agreement, you are also gaining a partnership with this company - better make sure it is a partner you can trust.

2.       Look for top-notch customer support.  Good service and support after you sign the dotted line are critical to the success of a new point-of-sale system. Everyone that has worked in the industry knows what happens when a system goes down - panic and chaos. Getting someone on the phone or online tech support help right when you need it can go a long way in relieving technical headaches.  A top-notch support staff should also be there to help you during less-stressful business operations as well.  They should walk you through initial set-up, training, upgrades, compliance and anything else your restaurant might come across.  Reliable and responsive customer support is truly the key to success (and sanity) and should not be overlooked.

3.       Decide what features/capabilities are important.  How do you know what features you should look at?  Well, decide first what you are intending the software to do.  Do you need inventory and reporting to control food costs, easily updated daily specials, or staff time-clock functions?  How about kitchen management tools, timed order capability, drive-through or online ordering and delivery services like mapping integration and driver dispatch options?  Do you need integrations with other software you currently use?  What payment types do you need, or what about customer relationship and marketing tools? A full-service restaurant will have very different needs than a quick-service or pizza delivery chain.  Talk to your staff to make sure their wants are heard and decide which features will be best utilized to move your business forward - now and in the future.  This system will be the heart of your business, so make sure it beats just for you and your needs. 

4.       Determine ease of use.  As you probably know, the restaurant business is one that requires speed and efficiency.  A slow system can be frustrating to managers, waiters, cooks and customers alike.  The speed of a POS system is determined by ease-of-use, fast hardware, and an intuitive layout customized to your unique restaurant’s needs.  Direct touch bump bars and options for ambidextrous order taking can help with faster speed goals.  Quick communication with your kitchen staff will keep things running smoothly too.  Your system should automatically keep track of staff hours and inventory to save you time and money while reducing waste and theft.  Make sure you schedule a demonstration so you can see the software and its features before purchasing.  A second here or there - added or subtracted - can make a huge difference on your bottom line.

5.       Check online ordering integration capability.  With online ordering being a popular option among today’s consumers, having a POS system that easily integrates with your online ordering site is extremely important.  Don’t waste time struggling with a company that will make you enter everything online independently from your point-of-sale system.  Find a company that updates online and in-store menu options from one place with no down time.  In the current restaurant climate, it seems most restaurant operators are quickly seeing a return on investment with online ordering and new payment options.  Consumers would rather place a restaurant order online than give it to a human, customizing with add-ons they wouldn’t normally relay to the person taking their order.  They just want an application or online program that is intuitive, eases the process, and offers them coupons or discounts when they are loyal guests.  And when they keep coming back over and over, they ultimately increase the average ticket sale per online order with their add-ons and customizations- making you more money.  Technology is changing every day and with smart decisions and a strong POS system in place to guide you, what do you have to lose?

6.       Price.  Whether you are just starting out or you have been in the restaurant business for decades, you don’t want to pay too much for your POS system.  Do your homework.  Low-cost or even free systems offered are rarely full-featured and never integrate with other software.  The frustration you will find due to their limitations and lack of control will likely take over.  On the other hand, you don’t want to pay too much for features you don’t need.  Look for a system that incorporates the basic features you must have, and then see what else they have to enhance those basics.  Sometimes add-on feature prices can be negotiated or reduced if you go with a “preferred partner”, but integration is key.  You don’t want to have to pay extra for custom development for some key features if you don’t have to, but make sure it is in option in case you need to customize in the future.  And whatever you do, don’t try to do it all yourself by piecing together used or outdated hardware.  Family members that are great with computers cannot provide you the support and knowledge that an established software company can provide.  It might save you money up front, but will ultimately cost you in time and resources later. 

Your point-of-sale system might be one of the largest equipment investments you make.  Choosing wisely can make a big impact on you and your company - growing sales, reducing costs, and increasing efficiency while lowering stress.  Still can't decide?  Breakaway Restaurant Solutions can help!  Click here for more information.

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Author: Samantha
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