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Harbortouch’s Advice on How to Choose a Restaurant POS System

Point of sale (POS) systems are key to operating a successful business. Amid a changing economy, evolving consumer habits and dining trends, and growing competition, it’s increasingly important to take advantage of every opportunity to improve your operation. From enhancing efficiency and reducing waste to cutting costs and boosting customer satisfaction, a Harbortouch POS system can provide the foundation for a more successful future.

What is a Restaurant POS System?

Point of sale systems streamline the checkout process, providing efficient payment processing solutions. They allow merchants to accept credit and debit cards, and provide data and analytics for the purpose of making smarter business decisions. However, POS systems aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are many types to choose from, each with particular features to suit different kinds of businesses.

If you operate a restaurant and/or bar, you’re going to need a point of sale solution designed specifically for your industry-a restaurant POS.

POS Systems for Different Types of Restaurants

To narrow your choices, an excellent place to start is by identifying solutions for the specific type of restaurant you operate.

Full-Service Restaurants

Your restaurant provides great food and dining experiences, and your point of sale system should reflect that. To begin with, the POS system should enable you to take reservations and orders over the phone or online. Table management is another essential feature for full-service dining, enabling you to seat guests quickly and turn tables faster.

Consider a restaurant POS that gives you the option to add Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), so wait staff can leverage tableside ordering. This increases efficiency and gives customers a convenient, fast, and secure way to pay at the table.

Restaurant POS systems designed for fine-dining also include a coursing feature for perfectly-timed meals. In fact, the right POS system supports every stage of your guests’ dining experiences with exceptional service.

Fast-Casual Restaurants

Fast-casual POS systems require many of the same features as a full-service restaurant solution, with a few particular nuances. For instance, you can add table kiosks for self-ordering menu items or pay-at-the-table functionality.

You may also want to capitalize on the growing online ordering trend. You can do so by integrating online orders with your Kitchen Display System (KDS) for a streamlined workflow and improved accuracy. Your POS system can also print receipts and labels.

Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR)

Customers choose your quick-service eateries for convenience and speed, as well as the food. Your restaurant POS system needs the power to quickly process orders and payments so you can keep the lines moving. Self-service kiosks are a great way to do this and maximize revenue during peak hours.

POS system designed for QSR will also include integration with digital signage. Digital menu boards are an excellent way to present your menu offerings in an easy-to-read format, and they’re easy to customize for special promotions. Using your POS system, you can accurately and consistently update menus and menu displays-an especially important feature if you have multiple locations.

Bars and Nightclubs

Point of sale software for bars and nightclubs is especially demanding. During the day, a POS system in a nightclub sits dormant. However, at night it sees more action than Sylvester Stallone in Rocky. You need a POS system that can take the heat.

Your bar and nightclub POS system should also automatically facilitate happy hour pricing. And speaking of drinks, a nice-to-have bar feature is a liquor control system that measures inventory by bottle weight or a pour monitoring system that measures stock used per pour. Your POS system will also provide secure cash management.

Bar POS systems will enable you to preauthorize a tab, so you don’t have to hold on to the customer’s credit card, and you can verify the card and confirm there are funds to cover the tab in advance. These systems also include age verification processes to ensure your business is complying with the law.

Pizzeria and Delivery

If you own a pizzeria – especially one that offers a delivery service – your business has a few unique requirements that don’t necessarily fall into the QSR or fast-casual category.

For restaurants offering delivery, your point of sale system should integrate with caller ID, so the customers’ contact information and order history are automatically populated as the call comes in.

A pizza POS system should also have directions and mapping features so all your drivers can reach a customer’s home in a timely manner.

Lastly, your POS system needs to accommodate the unique menu items and numerous combinations your customers can order, for example, toppings on a half or whole pie. It also has to help you manage inventory and raw goods, so you don’t run out of those favorite toppings.

Restaurant POS Software

Restaurant POS software is the operational hub of your business. Features include accurate order entry-even with modifiers-easy menu and price changes, upsell suggestions, split checks, tabs, and easy tipping. POS software designed for restaurants will also equip your business with tools that help you manage a profitable business:

  • Inventory Management

Your POS system can track inventory based on orders and notify your wait staff when it’s time to 86 a menu item. Restaurant POS systems can monitor expiration dates to reduce waste, and generate purchase orders when stock runs low. The right inventory management system can also streamline stock counts and monitor activity to help you pinpoint sources of shrinkage and food waste.

  • Employee Management

Restaurant POS solutions make it easy to manage both front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) employees by tracking hours, sales, and shift performance. Your staff can use their IDs to clock-in and clock out on POS terminals, and you can receive alerts if an employee’s schedule includes overtime. Your point of sale system reporting feature will give you insights into shift reports for easy cashout and overall employee performance and the impact on revenue.

  • Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)

Add efficiency and accuracy by transmitting orders directly to the KDS. This capability eliminates the problem of lost tickets or orders prepared incorrectly due to illegible handwriting. Your system can assign parts of the order to the appropriate food prep station, so all items are ready at the same time.

  • Loyalty Rewards and Gift Cards

Manage your loyalty rewards program with your restaurant POS and make it easy for your customers to earn and redeem rewards at any of your locations or online. Your point of sale should also have the ability to issue and accept gift cards – an excellent way to increase brand awareness and revenue. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards continue to top the list of the most popular gifts, with restaurant gift cards ranking as the most popular.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Use your POS system to manage your customer database to create target email campaigns with relevant offers and messaging. You can also use this tool to entice customers who haven’t visited your restaurant in a while with a special offer. Analyzing data from your CRM will also reveal which marketing campaigns are most effective, showing you the path to the highest ROI.

Restaurant POS Hardware

Once you select your restaurant POS software, you need to choose hardware that’s purpose-built for reliable use in a busy (and sometimes harsh) restaurant environment. Touchscreen POS terminals enable quick order entry, ruggedized tablets for tableside service won’t need replacement after a drop or a spill, and an impact printer produces tickets that won’t fade in a hot, humid kitchen.

POS hardware also includes payment card terminals, cash drawers, and receipt printers for efficient checkout. Additional POS hardware and peripherals can provide added-value, such as tablet stands, barcode scanners, scales, kitchen monitors, customer displays, and kiosks.

The Restaurant POS User Experience

In an industry with a higher-than-average employee turnover rate (more than 70 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) it’s vital that restaurant POS software is simple to learn so new employees can work independently sooner rather than later. Excessive training time will eat into your profits so make sure your POS system is user-friendly and intuitive.

Questions to Ask Before Choosing A Restaurant POS

In addition to evaluating restaurant point of sale features, also consider how it will integrate with your business operation. Ask these questions:

  • If it is a cloud POS system, does it have offline capabilities? Can I use it as part of a hybrid local server-cloud system for business continuity?
  • Is the price within my budget? Are there additional costs I will need to budget for as I use the system?
  • Does it integrate with accounting software or other restaurant back-office software?
  • Can I access the system and reports so I can manage my business from any location?
  • Can I add new functionality and will it scale with my business as it grows? Is a point of sale app the right choice for my business?
  • Can I accept all types of payment including EMV, contactless and mobile wallet payments?
  • Is it PCI compliant?

It’s also wise to evaluate the POS system provider. Work with an established company like Harbortouch that has experience in the restaurant industry and an exceptional track record of customer service and technical support. Harbortouch’s reviews, for example, are a testament to the many satisfied clients nationwide.

The restaurant POS you choose can impact your business’ efficiency and profitability for years to come. Take the time to carefully evaluate your options and make a choice that will provide your business with the greatest value and ROI.

More About Harbortouch

In over 20 years of business, Harbortouch has served more than 300,000 small to mid-size businesses, providing first-class POS software and state-of-the-art POS hardware and earning numerous stellar Harbortouch reviews from satisfied customers. From secure payment processing to cloud-based reporting and management tools, Harbortouch’s model makes its products affordable for any budget. Harbortouch’s ground-breaking free equipment program was featured on the hit TV show, Bar Rescue. The program offers merchants custom programming, quality expert installation, and unparalleled customer support.

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