Technology is the heart of any food service business. Be it food trucks, bars, full-service restaurants, or delis, each needs a sound restaurant POS system to be efficient. But, with so many options, it can be difficult when choosing a restaurant POS system.
Finding the perfect platform that provides your business with exactly what it needs can take time and consideration.
We created this guide to make the process of choosing a restaurant POS system a little easier.
Use this guide to learn more about choosing the best restaurant POS system and the eight factors you need to consider when conducting your search.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Restaurant POS System
Restaurants and food joints are highly competitive businesses. For competitive businesses, it is a must to be efficient to sustain in the market. A well-designed restaurant POS will help the business to be productive by increasing its efficiency.
For the POS system to function optimally, it requires appropriate POS hardware. The type of restaurant POS hardware required would depend on the demands of the chosen POS system. A combination of a restaurant POS system and complementing restaurant POS hardware enable the business to function efficiently. A POS system will do the job of recording all transactions, tracking the inventory, printing checks, text and email the receipts, record and analyze customer data and help managers with staff schedules.
Back in the day, the only job of the POS system was to process sales. From here, POS systems have come a long way. Today a POS system will help the manager by making sales and inventory reports, prepare and analyze customer databases, manage employee schedules, and perform the marketing function.
The market is flooded with versatile restaurant POS systems. Of these, some systems are super-specialized in providing excellent but very focused services. Choosing a restaurant POS system that will make the restaurant efficient and will help the business grow is a challenging task. But, here are some tips to help inform your search.
Want to see how Lavu’s Restaurant POS compares to competitors? Check out this competitive comparison guide to see why Lavu is a #1 Rated Restaurant POS System.
What to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant POS System
An intelligent POS system will give wings to the restaurant and will reduce the chaos. Restaurant management should consider the following factors when choosing a restaurant POS system.
#1) Your Goals
A food joint when it decides to invest in a POS system has different goals. A coffee shop’s reasons behind getting a POS system would be different from that of an upscale full-service restaurant. As the owner or the manager of the restaurant, it is your responsibility to decide the goals for the POS system.
Save money upfront. If you are working on a tight budget, a basic POS system may be a perfect fit for you. Many entry-level POS systems offer features reporting and transaction security. These are what you will need in the day-to-day running of your business. You can save by not paying for advanced features like multiple kiosks if your restaurant doesn’t need them.
Simplify complex transactions. If you are searching for a POS system that will perform complex functions like splitting and merging checks, make sure you research it properly. Many systems advertise sophisticated features but in reality, offer watered-down elementary versions of the same. Here the complexity needs will not be met.
Meet the demands of a growing business. A restaurant POS system should never be a burden on the business. If you are a budding food joint with expansion plans for the near future, you would want a system that will scale up with your business. Most POS systems charge by the terminal. You shouldn’t have to pay for terminals that you aren’t currently using. At the same time, the contract should be flexible enough that it will allow you to add terminals as and when required. Do your research and clearly explain your expectations to the POS provider before finalizing a system.
Manage a large volume of orders. Today the restaurant business is both online and offline. If you are an established restaurant that has both dine-in and delivery, you would want a POS system with multiple terminals. Additionally, for seamless functioning, the POS system here should be able to integrate orders received from different channels, generate the correct tickets, and communicate it to the kitchen. By choosing a POS system that will reduce the ticket time, the restaurant owner will be able to serve more customers.
#2) Free Trials
Even after detailed discussions and research, if you are feeling uncertain about the POS system, be sure to give it a try. Almost all systems available on the market offer a free trial. The trail run will help you test the system and will build or break your trust in that particular system based on its performance.
#3) Customer Service
A well designed and tasted POS system will not need a lot of customer service. In spite of this, it is always good to know about their after-sales services in case something goes wrong. When looking at their after-sales services, you would want to inquire about the response time. You don’t want to be left high and dry in case of a malfunction during a busy night. Look for systems that provide 24*7 customer support.
Once you have finalized your POS system, the next step of the process starts. Your POS system would be rendered worthless without the correct hardware. Your restaurant POS hardware should be compatible with the POS system.
#4) Hardware Options
A POS system requires hardware components like screens, keyboards, receipt printers, cash drawers, card swipe machines, tablets, etc. Some POS system providers give you the freedom to choose the hardware, allowing you to create a tailored POS environment. On the other hand, certain POS systems are tailored to work with particular operating systems. Here you will have to choose the hardware accordingly.
We suggest that you ask for the list of compatible hardware operating systems and required specifications before deciding on the restaurant POS hardware. Here are a few things to consider before choosing your main restaurant POS hardware system:
POS Keyboards: POS keyboards vary from standard keyboards in several ways. POS keyboards are made of spill-proof material, making them durable in the restaurant environment. Restaurant POS keyboard goes beyond the traditional keyboard with added functions like embedded credit card swipe readers, smart card readers, biometric scanners, programmable keys to enable single-click functions like bill total, discount implementation, etc. While choosing a keyboard, you have to ensure that it is compatible with your POS system.
Credit Card Swipe Machine: In addition to the swipe machine embedded with the keyboard, Credit card swipe machines are available in three varieties.
- USB: These swipe machines usually plug with the receipt printer. While opting for these, make sure that the printer is compatible with this.
- Bluetooth: These machines are cordless and thus, provide mobility required for billing restaurant customers on their tables. The downside of the Bluetooth machine is that they lose battery very quickly. Nonetheless, they prove to be the most efficient when it comes to restaurant billing.
- Headphone jack/ Charging Port: These swipers plugin into the headphone jack or the charging port. They are most suitable with a tablet-based POS system as most tablets do not have a USB port.
Receipt Printers: The printer must meet the goal of your restaurant POS hardware and software system. There are three main types of printers to choose from:
- Inkjet Printer: Inkjet printer is ideal for a full-service restaurant that is looking at printing colorful receipts with fancy stationery. These are generally the costliest and require some maintenance.
- Thermal Printers: These are the right balance between affordability and ease. The best thing about the thermal printer is that they never run out of ink. A thermal printer uses heat to print receipts. This makes them useless in hot environments like a restaurant kitchen.
- Impact Printer: If you are focusing on saving money, impact printers are your best bet. They are the cheapest of the printers available on the market. Additionally, impact printers work in any environment.
Cash Drawer: The first thing to consider before deciding on the cash drawer is, do you want it above or below the counter. If you prefer it below the counter, you would want a cash drawer that is large enough to hold the monitor, keyboard, and the printer. In addition to the size, you would also want to consider the connection with the receipt printer. There are two types of connections available, direct connection and receipt printer driven. A thermal printer driven connection is the most affordable. However, if you opt for an impact printer or laser printer, you will have to go with a direct connection, which is more expensive.
The restaurant POS hardware-related decisions are all interlinked. We recommend that you make a checklist of all the required specifications per device. Also note, you will need multiple devices for particular hardware. Make a list of the quantity required to bring down the ordering costs. Once you have a detailed list, share it with your POS system provider for a final check before ordering it.
#5) Operating System Options
POS systems are designed to work either on the Windows operating system or iOS. Both these systems have a different set of requirements for the hardware. A windows based POS system might be compatible with Android, and the iOS operating system might only be compatible with Apple products.
For restaurant POS hardware, this would translate into getting all the components like desktops, keyboards, ordering tablets or cell phones, receipt printers, cash registers, and card swipe machines that are compatible with the chosen system. If you are opting for iPad POS software, getting devices that are compatible with Android or Windows would be a considerable loss.
Once the POS system and the hardware to go with it is finalized, you will now have to decide on the placement of the POS system. It is now that you will make decisions around the customization of the system. If you are changing from one POS system to another, you would also want to consider how your employees would use the system, and tweak accordingly.
#6) Your Restaurant Type
The positioning of your POS kiosk will largely depend on the type of restaurant you have. For a quick-service restaurant, you would want your POS to be near the exit to facilitate a quick turnaround. On the other hand, for a full-service restaurant, you would want the POS kiosk in a discreet alcove to not disturb the ambiance of the restaurant. If you want customers to be able to place their own orders, you’ll need a POS with self-ordering kiosks.
A touch screen display is standard for POS kiosks. With the mobile phone and tablet ordering facility for the staff, the POS system is divided. With the increasing use of mobile and tablet payment systems, NFC (near-field communication) technology, which facilitates payment processing and payments through wallets like Apple Pay, the job of POS is ever-changing. Profile your users and consider the most user-friendly option for the POS system placement.
#7) Employee Usage
All POS systems are different from one another. This means a change in the system will also bring in a change in how your employees interact with it. A complex system that requires extensive training should be avoided as it creates chaos. The complexity or simplicity of the system will define the inaction.
Another factor that will define the employee’s interaction with the POS system is the type of restaurant. An employee at a full-service restaurant that facilitates taking orders on a tablet will interact a lot more with the POS system. Here the interaction will start with taking the order and noting down the special requests and end when the customer has paid. On the other hand, the interaction time per customer will be short at a fast food joint or a pub. Here the employee will display the total charge and collect the bill.
Knowing how your employees will use your system will help you determine which restaurant POS system features you must have.
The POS system is all about improved management and ease. Customizing your POS would help you in the business as it will be tailored to your needs. As a restaurant owner, you would want to maintain your service quality. You can do so by recording calls, managing inventory through the system, and automating the process of communicating orders to your kitchen. A reasonably elaborate POS system will enable you to do all these.
If you want to take your hospitality to the next level, you can add restaurant POS integrations and customize your POS to build a customer database. Once you have a database, you can run an analysis on it and calculate the average bill per table, average customer wait time, average time spent by the customer on the table, etc. This will help you improve your service and hospitality.
Choosing The Best Restaurant POS System for Your Needs
Choosing a restaurant POS system takes time and consideration.
The type of POS system that works best for your establishment depends entirely on whatever your business needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Fine dining and traditional restaurants may opt for a system that increases functionality to overall improve the time that staff engages with the customer or use a POS with marketing and database information to improve and track patrons.
Casual restaurants, bars, and breweries may look to systems that split-checks and handle parties of various sizes, sell merchandise, and aid with employee management and scheduling. Food trucks, take-out spots, and catering outfits may choose customer-facing displays that offer quick payment options and email receipts to keep on-the-go transactions timely and conserve paper.
Choosing a restaurant POS system is a big decision. Lavu is here to help you make the right decision.
See how our restaurant POS system can work for your business. Download our Beginner’s Guide to POS Systems to get the full details on how our POS can meet your needs and outshine your expectations. Download the free guide today.