Purchasing a restaurant POS software system is a major investment for a food service business. The system that you choose will have an enormous impact on the day-to-day operations of the restaurant, the staff, and your bottom line.
This is why it is so important to shop around for restaurant point-of-sale systems and make sure that you end up with the best one that’s right for you. After all, not all POS systems are the same: some are meant for large multi-store restaurants, others for small cafes, and some for places that primarily take to-go orders, and much more.
Let’s take a look at the three most important questions to ask before you make this decision.
- Which Features Will You Actually Use?
When you start shopping around for your own restaurant POS software, one of the first things that you might notice is how many features various POS systems have.
Some features however may not be relevant for your business. For example, open table management is great, but if you can see your entire dining room from the host stand, then you probably don’t need it. Likewise, pour control isn’t something that all restaurants want their bartenders to use, and if you don’t serve alcohol, it’s completely irrelevant.
At the same time, sometimes flashy features can distract you from some of the most important elements, such as kitchen displays, which allow your kitchen staff to also access the system without using paper tickets or receipts (as with many older systems).
Restaurant POS systems with kitchen displays can eliminate much of the human error in communicating special orders, which keeps your customers happy and makes your staff less stressed; it’s a win all around.
Perhaps the most important feature of restaurant point-of-sale systems is the ease of use and quality of the human interface. This is also why it is a good idea to try these systems out for yourself, as well as try to speak with colleagues who already use them.
While proper training on whatever system you choose is important, it should also be intuitive even to someone who is relatively new to using it. That reduces the amount of training time that you need to do in the future, prevents mistakes, and helps your staff work more efficiently.
- What Does Ongoing Customer Support Look Like?
When you start to reach out to salespeople, they are going to be incredibly responsive – returning your calls immediately, answering any questions, and being willing to work with you and your needs. You don’t want that level of customer service to disappear once you sign up.
Ask specific questions about customer service, especially when they are available. If your business is busiest on Friday and Saturday nights or Sunday mornings (and many restaurants and bars are), then you need your POS system customer service to also be available during those times. Otherwise, you could be in big trouble on a busy night if your system fails.
Try to think about other scenarios that your business may face or has faced in the past; the more specific your questions, the better idea you’ll have of how competent customer service is. Finally, you may want to ask about the frequency of software updates. Too many might indicate that the system has a lot of “bugs,” while too few may indicate that attention is not being invested into upgrading and improving the system.
- Can This POS System Handle Potential Growth?
Your restaurant POS system is a major investment for your business. That is why it is important that it works well for you not only right now, but also in the future. Consider where and how you want your business to grow and how that will affect your point-of-sale needs.
For example, perhaps you don’t do a lot of takeout ordering now, but this is something that you want to improve. You need a POS system that can work with online ordering and streamline that process.
Or maybe you want to expand your business and know that you will need more staff. If that’s the case, then you probably want a system that handles some staff management tasks (especially timekeeping) for you.
Anticipating what your business will need and ensuring your POS is capable of accommodating for those future functional needs is an important consideration before investing in any POS system for your restaurant.
Make the Right Choice
Purchasing a POS system can be a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you think. Understanding your needs, asking the right questions, and thinking about the present and the future can help you make the right choice.