iHelp: System Reboot

Things to consider when looking for a new POS System

THE METEORIC RISE IN MOBILE ORDERS AND PAYMENT OPTIONS has made time more precious than ever. If your point of sale system can’t keep up, you’ll feel it in your bottom line. A POS that keeps things moving, by contrast, will pay for itself.

The POS system at Odd Duck in Austin, Texas, for example, has helped reduce drink wait times and overall turn times on tables, says general manager Jason James. The efficiency of the Toast POS allowed Odd Duck to add a new section, including five tables, that generate $250,000 to $500,000 in annual sales. Before making any changes, however, be sure to ask plenty of questions, including the following ones:

Can it Handle Next-Gen payments?

“(Diners) want ease of ordering,” says Scott Langdoc, who heads the restaurant and hospitality practice at Boston-based BRP Consulting, “including ordering via self-service kiosks, the restaurant’s mobile app or via a third-party delivery services.”

TouchBistro offers a mobile dongle that servers can bring to diners’ tables so they process any type of payment—chip, pin or tap—says founder and CEO Alex Barrotti.

Also consider looking for POS systems, such as Squirrel and POSitouch, that integrate with self-service apps, such as PayMyTab, which allows guests to split bills, tip and pay from their smartphones.

“With POS systems allowing multiple new payment systems, restaurants can see a significant increase in revenue thanks to lower processing fees,” says David Mitroff, founder of Oakland-based Piedmont Avenue Consulting.

Does It Save Everyone Time?

BRP’s Langdoc suggests adding or building extensions to existing core POS platforms so diners can order food via voice assistant technologies, including Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

In-restaurant efficiencies should be considered, too. The handheld Clover Flex helps quick-service restaurants, including Olive’s in Manhattan, ease wait times by allowing employees to take orders and payments as diners wait in line. And at Eventide Fenway, near Boston’s baseball park, expeditors using a Toast system text guests when their order is on the counter.

“It keeps us from having to holler,” says John Myers, a manager at Eventide.

How Smooth Was the Test Drive?

Always request a product demo, whether it’s an online demo or an in-person run-through with a sales rep. Look for the following: Does the software layout seem intuitive? How efficiently does it handle placing orders, reordering drinks and checking out? How easy is it to add, subtract or change a menu item?

How Much Data Can It Crunch?

Some insights are necessities, including food and labor costs. But TouchBistro suggests ensuring your POS can log in staff, track inventory, monitor table turns, assemble sales reports and keep tabs on voids and discounts.

Loyalty program data can be invaluable as well, especially info related to gift cards or promotions pegged to a diner’s birthday.

Today’s POS systems should catalogue email addresses so you can contact customers via direct marketing or tailor deals according to their dining habits.

To do so, ensure your POS has built-in marketing tools or can integrate with third-party providers such as Toast. “Customers want real recognition for their loyalty,” says Langdoc, “but handled in a subtle and influencing approach, not with intrusive, generic messaging.”

How Reliable is Technical Support?

Call the POS support line. How quickly do they respond? Is the support staff friendly and informed? Other questions to keep in mind: What will technical support cost? How often is the POS system upgraded? Can you expand later?

“Quality service and support can make or break your business or at least determine your frustration level,” notes Restaurant Den.