By Malik Kane
As a restaurant operator, you know how hard it is to attract guests. Getting them coming back is doubly hard, especially when your restaurant’s competition is not just the establishment across the street, but all the other options people can find online. That’s not all: restaurants aren’t solely judged based on the quality of the food and drinks anymore. Looking for an experience more than a meal, your guests have reshaped the industry and the definition of impeccable service. Still using pen and paper? It surely has its vintage charm, but it’s probably wasting you a lot of time. And your customers, too.
A cloud-based point of sale system is a modern day management tool for any type of restaurant, bar, café or even hotel restaurants. Why? Because it helps your staff work more efficiently, it gets your guests their orders faster and it gives you a better picture of how well your business is doing. Cloud-based is a standard for a modern POS. It means that all your data is stored online in a secure space, and you can access it anytime and from anywhere.
Now, how do you pick a POS system? Here are five questions you need to ask yourself before saying goodbye to your notebook or legacy system.
#1 Is it easy to use and can I try it for free?
POS systems aren’t complex systems by nature, but keep in mind that they are tools to manage entire businesses. Getting a complete system means that there is a learning curve. Make the most of free trials, even just to see if you like the system’s interface.
Have some of your staff try the system as well; the POS is for your staff as much as it is for you. With staff turnover, it’s just not going to work if new hires need weeks of training.
#2 Does it work offline?
With most technology relying on the Internet, your connection can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Look for a system that won’t let your service be interrupted. A point of sale that works offline will let you take payments, send orders to the kitchen and do everything without an Internet connection. You won’t see a difference, and most importantly, your guests won’t either. When the Internet decides to come back, all your data will be synchronized. This feature is not a nice-to-have; your interruption-free service needs it.
#3 Will it speed up my ordering process?
It has to. The faster you serve guests, the faster they are ready to either order more or pay. Efficiency doesn’t only simplify your operations, it increases guest turnover, which increases your bottom line.
First requirement: a mobile POS. Ensure you can grab a POS tablet and take orders from anywhere, even on the patio. The best POS systems also allow you to replicate your floor plan in the system, so you can monitor tables’ statuses in real time.
#4 Will it provide me with data?
Automating the way you receive data can be a game changer for your work-life balance. If you have several locations, ensure your POS lets you see the big picture as well as granular data related to individual locations. Make sure the system can generate sales reports for any period of time, and show you intel like tips and sales per employee, or even your customers’ preferred payment method.
Avoid manual calculations and let the machine do what it does best, turning complex equations into digestible information.
#5 What if there’s a problem?
In a perfect world, you’d be setting up your new restaurant POS and you’d never talk to your provider again. In the real world, there’s going to be a moment when you’re not sure what to do or a night where new employees need a quick answer about the system. With a technology provider that offers 24/7 support, you can always rely on someone to help out, from people who know the system better than anyone. Some POS companies even take the time to offer free onboarding sessions. Having an expert that can show you how to use the system makes a huge difference. If you pick a company that has this kind of support, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Between long-term goals like growth and short-term objectives like speed, make sure you pick a system that covers ALL your needs. Yes, it may require a bit more work at first, but a POS is a real investment for the future, and the bright future of a restaurant is built with a complete, cloud-based POS system.
About the Author
Born in Paris and now living in Montréal, Malik Kane started his career as a writer in the radio and TV industry. He now focuses on topics like restaurant technology, eCommerce and electronic music.