The point- of-sale system is the heart of your restaurant technology strategy. All of your other systems and vendors will need to integrate with your POS system in order to have an efficient ordering process.
That makes selecting the right point of sale for your restaurant a big deal. It’s not an easy piece of technology to replace, and you need it for everyday operations.
Step 1: Determine Your Needs
Every restaurant has its own specific point-of-sale requirements based on its concept. Delivery and take-out only restaurants have different needs than fine-dining establishments. If you only offer muffins and coffee for takeout, your technology needs might be more basic than a restaurant that offers complex dishes like pizza for takeout, delivery, and dine-in.
A one-size-fits-all solution probably won’t meet your requirements in the long term, and the need for constant workarounds will cause frustration. You want something you can customize to your specific needs, for a good fit from the start. Start by considering the ordering process for your customers, and ask yourself these questions:
- Do most of my customers order ahead by calling in, or do they place orders online? Does it make sense to offer the online option?
- Are my menu items customizable? Do customers select their own toppings, crusts, or dressings? Does my restaurant offer create-your-own style items like pizzas or subs?
- How do my customers prefer to pay? How important is it to have the latest in payment technology? Does my restaurant pay high rates for credit card transactions? Do we often experience chargebacks?
- How do my customers receive their orders? Pickup? Curbside? Delivery? Do you have table service?
- Do my customers tip? If so, how is that distributed to staff?
Once you’ve answered these questions, map out your order process and identify the must-have features for your point of sale. Determine how a point-of-sale system could solve any existing issues for you, or make your process more efficient, and add those to your list as well.
The next step is to think about what other systems you have in place in your restaurant that may need to work with the point of sale:
- Do you use kitchen monitors?
- Do you have a loyalty program for your customers?
- Do you use an employee scheduling system?
- Do you offer gift cards?
- Do you have an online ordering site?
- How do you process payment cards?
Of those systems, consider which ones you would be willing to replace if they did not work with your new point of sale system, and which ones are “must-haves.”
Once you have your list together, it’s time to start researching.
Step 2: Research Your Options
Now that you know what you need, start looking into different POS vendors. There are many different ways to learn about them, from a quick Google search, to asking other restaurant owners what they use, and visiting industry forums. Take your time and develop your shortlist. Then, visit their websites and speak to their sales people.
You will want to ensure each of the POS systems you consider can accommodate your must-haves, and offer a few of your nice-to-haves as well.
Questions you should ask the point-of-sale vendors:
- Will I be locked in with one payment processor, or will I be able to shop around?
- What are my options for integrations with third party systems, like ordering platforms (Uber Eats) or loyalty?
- Are you able to provide me with a customer reference?
- What are the installation costs, and the ongoing costs? If I need support, will it cost me extra?
- What training resources do you provide for your customers?
- What information does the system collect, and what reports will I have access to?
- Are there tools for multi-store administration?
Step 3: Make Your Final Selection
Once you have all the information, it’s time to take the leap and make your final selection. Take your time to consider all of the facts, and go back to the various POS vendors you spoke with any questions you have.
Get a clear understanding of the total cost of each system, and consider what each system offers for the price. Ensure you are getting a system that takes into consideration all of your requirements, even if it costs more than other options. At the end of the day, it is more expensive to replace an ineffective POS system than to pay a bit more to get the right one in the first place.
Finally, once you’ve chosen your POS system, and scheduled the installation, take advantage of any of the resources offered to you. Go through the vendor’s training material, such as videos or manuals. They’ve been shaped by the experiences of other restaurant owners, and will help you master basic tasks, and learn how to use advanced tools to increase efficiency and profits.
By Elizabeth Kelly