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How Restaurants Can Upgrade Their POS System

Operations & Management

Mason Carter wrote this article

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POS (point-of-sale) systems truly are the central hub for many business owners.

It’s where customers execute payments for goods or services rendered.

It’s so important for these machines to function quickly and efficiently to ensure customers are also served quickly and efficiently.

Restaurants especially can be chaotic operations, necessitating a system that can handle multiple transactions happening at once, flawlessly.

They face a wide array of process challenges, including hiring staff and managing their schedules, inventory ordering and management, food prep, marketing, point-of-sale systems, and other operational needs. With high overhead and operating costs to keep the doors open, it’s pivotal for restaurants to operate smoothly and efficiently.

While modern POS systems have helped restaurants become more efficient, the tech traditionally seen and used is starting to change.

Today’s POS system can do so much more

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Many restaurant POS systems offer analysis tools that restaurant owners simply don’t use because they’re so used to doing it the old-fashioned way.

But not only can POS systems sort your inventory, many can also analyze traffic and the buying behavior of your customers, among other incredible capabilities:

Encouraging better scheduling practices

As more cities and states consider enforcing scheduling mandates for hourly employees, the ability to create and communicate work schedules in advance is becoming essential for restaurateurs. This critical task is time-consuming, complex, and can be downright painful without the help of technology that can forecast labor demand, handle on-call shifts, and allow employees to swap shifts with little intervention from management. Because the POS system acts as a time clock, it can also help prepare payroll.

 

Integrating inventory with behavior

Some POS systems combine inventory and purchasing capabilities to reduce losses. When these functions are integrated into the POS, they can track and order based on real-time food sales and what’s on the menu. By comparing this up-to-the-minute information with your actual supply levels, you can also determine whether your kitchen staff is adhering to recipes and portion sizes and potentially uncover sources of waste and theft.  It’s also possible to use all the incredible data collected to identify winning and losing items on your menu and adjust accordingly for maximum profitability.

 

Build a loyal customer base

By crafting a rewards program to be integrated into your POS system, you can use actual customer’s information to offer them individualized discounts. This will keep your customers coming back. Often, you can encourage more customer interaction as well with a mobile app that regularly sends updates and coupons on specials in conjunction with a loyalty program.

 

Accurate reporting, right down to the minute

POS systems help small businesses save time and money by increasing efficiency and automating many essential tasks. Accurate reporting helps managers analyze sales data, calculate revenue, profit and loss and forecast future inventory and sales. When combined with a CRM system, the skies the limit for what restaurants can do with their POS systems.

The POS system goes mobile

Right now, many of the POS systems seen in restaurants are hardware-dependent.

These legacy POS systems can be bulky, interfere with the aesthetics of the restaurant, and are just user-unfriendly. 

But these days are numbered, and POS systems are becoming much more portable.

In fact,  many POS systems are now completely mobile, with the ability to be accessed on smartphones and tablets and accessed table-side. This benefits both the servers and customers in a big way.

– Using these devices, servers can quickly move between tables to serve their guests and extra steps are eliminated when it comes to submitting orders. This can increase table turnover, and positively impact your restaurant’s bottom line.

 

– Servers will have a much quicker 1:1 communication with the kitchen. Orders can be instantly communicated and so the kitchen can prepare an order immediately. If the kitchen is out of an item, the server can be notified instantly instead of going to the kitchen and finding out later.

 

– Servers will have more opportunities to up-sell while customers will be able to receive informed recommendations on the fly.

In fact, some restaurants are mapping out their customers’ preferences in real-time and can make recommendations, typically in the form of self-serve kiosks combined with an AI-powered chat bot.

But we’ll get to those later.

Are mobile apps the new POS system?

For now, let’s talk about how fast casual restaurants are using mobile apps to curate an entirely new customer and POS experience.

My personal favorite is the in-app and real-world experience found at Panera Bread.

You walk in and are immediately greeted by two obvious ordering options: the old-fashioned way by waiting in line and ordering at the counter, or using one of several monitors you see to create your order and cash out using Panera’s custom POS system.

But there’s a third option that’s even better.

Simply grab a table, download the Panera Bread app, and create an account tied with the MyPanera Rewards program or select ‘Guest Checkout’ to order whatever your heart desires to be delivered table-side.

I can’t tell you how convenient this is when you’re a remote employee like me and looking for a casual spot to hunker down for a bit and relax.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing a lot more fast casual, quick serve restaurants investing in this type of technology.

And the reality is, it’s actually much more affordable to develop your own app than many standalone POS options out there for restaurants today.

The best part? It’s all sans hardware, which means less maintenance costs for you in the long run other than maintaining your app.

Why more restaurants are adopting cloud-based POS systems

The reality is, a lot of legacy POS systems have a high upfront cost.

There is a lot of configuration needed and expensive components involved with this type of POS software.

The emergence of cloud-based POS systems is a great way to bring more restaurants into the 21st century.

With cloud-based POS systems, there is not a huge cost of entry. These systems revolve around a monthly cost and since the initial cost isn’t as high, restaurants have the financial flexibility to make the investment in the first place.

– With cloud-based POS systems, restaurants will be able to perform updates from any location and will not have to be physically present to make changes as needed.

 

– Security will become more of an issue as restaurants keep adopting POS systems. The cloud provides a more reliable infrastructure that’s also low cost and low maintenance. This will be especially beneficial for smaller establishments that may not be able to have a secure system if their data was stored on local servers.

 

– Best of all, cloud POS systems can be updated on the fly. Restaurants would not have to worry about keeping up with technology, the system would keep up for them.

Today, AI powers this kind of functionality.

When connected with a cloud-based POS, scheduling software can also factor in granular information that could boost a restaurant’s bottom line.

For example, it could determine which of your staff tends to do the most up-selling, or turns tables the fastest, and give those team members priority for high-volume shifts.

The rise of self-service kiosks in restaurants

While mobile POS systems will allow servers more flexibility, there is another option that restaurants are pursuing.

Self-service kiosks in restaurants allow customers to order on their own.

By integrating these individual kiosks with a POS system and Artificial Intelligence technology:

– Self-service kiosks will be able to learn customers’ preferences very quickly and can create a dining experience that is individualized.

 

– Restaurants will have the opportunity to cross-sell and introduce new dishes to customers based on eating preferences.

 

– Customers will be served more quickly, and restaurants will be able to turn over more tables.

Self-serve kiosks make the most sense in high-volume quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, where guests are happy to browse the menu at their leisure, tap in orders and handle their own payments in exchange for skipping lines and actually having to interact with somebody.

Studies have shown that self-ordering, whether at kiosks or at tables, encourages higher check averages and results in healthier sales.

When these self-serve kiosks are table-side, however, guests seem to appreciate the ability to spend time studying photos, ingredients, and nutritional information, as well as easily request more food or drinks throughout the meal.

What’s more, self-order technologies tend to reduce the repetitive, transactional demands on servers, giving them more opportunity to be friendly ambassadors for your brand instead.

What restaurants should consider when it comes to POS systems

One of the features of table-side ordering systems that I think will win big with customers is the ability to easily split the check at the table.

The same goes with making it easier for customers to calculate and leave tips.

Since fewer people are carrying around cash, you can have tip values already calculated and add it right to the experience. You may have seen this feature in establishments that use turnkey POS systems like Square.

There are so many turnkey options that exist for POS software, some of the most popular being Toast, Aloha, and Breadcrumb.

But you don’t have to just go with what’s already out there.

Restaurants should seriously consider investing in a custom mobile app and POS system to completely revamp your restaurant’s experience and coordinate all things from delivery, to-go orders and loyalty programs.

When it comes to integration with other software that helps you to run your restaurant and power your brand, the skies the limit here.

To discuss your options, reach out to the incredible team at Chop Dawg for your free consultation.

The reality is, with the right POS system, restaurants can focus on other areas of the business.

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