It is highly recommended that you have a POS (Point of Sale) system in your establishment, be it a small Mom and Pop café with six seats to a 300 seat, high cover turnover restaurant. If a POS system is not something you can afford when starting up, the use of a computer and Excel can be utilized.
POS systems can make tracking sales, your profit margins and, in some cases, inventories easier to track. Many POS systems have time card systems integrated into them, so tracking employee’s hours becomes more manageable for yourself and your payroll person. Employees punch in and out of the POS system, making a time clock with time sheets obsolete and time sheets harder to fudge when an employee comes in late.
POS systems also make cutting down on employee theft easier. It is much more difficult to fool a computer system then using the old fashioned method of writing dupes for food and drink orders.
POS systems can reduce the time spent by your wait staff away from the customers. By utilizing a touch screen to enter orders instead of manually bringing them into the kitchen and dropping them off, it becomes a time saver which can be a make or break situation if you have a high cover turnover. It makes life easier for the waitperson to have the computer add up and total a customer’s check and makes the margin for error almost disappear. In the kitchen, computer printed dupes are easier to read and clearer then handwritten ones.
It is very important to have all your front of the house staff trained fully on the POS system. New hires should not be allowed to use it until they are fully trained. A computer is dependent on people to enter the information correctly and mistakes can cause confusion and lost revenue.
It is vital to have at least four people on staff and two on every shift who know how to program and make changes to the system. POS systems are wonderful tools to use but it is a hindrance when an item is in the computer improperly. For example: the soup of the day’s price may vary day to day and the computer may print out sales slips for Lobster Bisque at $2.50 a cup, when the correct price should be $5.50 a cup. If you have staff who can enter but not change the information and no one there to change it for them, this wonderful tool becomes a GIGO (Garbage In and Garbage Out) program.
Make sure your Chef and Sous Chef, if you have one, are some of the people who can program the POS system. They may want to enter specials on their own or they may be the only ones available in a pinch to fix an error in the system.
POS systems are one of the best things to have happened to the restaurant industry since the invention of the meat thermometer. But it is a tool that can be occasionally prone to software glitches and acts outside of your control. It is a good idea to have your staff trained on using a backup system of handwritten dupes. If a tree falls on the power lines down the road and your customers are now eating by candlelight, it is essential to have a system to fall back on in an emergency.
POS systems range from a minimum of $3500.00 and can go as high as $30000.00. Pricing depends on the system capabilities, number of touch screens and terminals, printers and add-ons for the system.
Here are a Few Recommendations When Selecting a POS System for Your Business:
- Does the POS system have 24/7 technical support available with an 800 number?
- Is there a trainer who is available to come in and train your staff on using your system? Is it included in the package?
- Is there a backup system included in the software package? If the system crashes you will need a way to recover all of your data.
- Does the POS system have integration capabilities that will mesh with your accounting software?
Top Rated POS Systems:
There are literally hundreds of small POS systems available for the industry. Many of their websites have free demonstrations or offer a free demonstration CD. Don’t be scared off by the high prices of POS systems. Very good systems can be found on E-bay, refurbished, from restaurants in the process of closing or at restaurant auctions.
Some of the top rated POS systems for the restaurant/hospitality industry ranked in the order of number of users.