How to Select a Restaurant POS System
There are many different systems to choose from and they’re all different. Take the time to analyze your business needs. Here are items to consider when begin your search for the right restaurant POS system.
1. All software is not created equal
Your hospitality and restaurant POS software evaluations should support two basic factors: ease of use and reliability. Ask how easy it will be for employees to learn the software. Can you quickly access information and make changes to menus?
Get a thorough demonstration of the software before you buy and to note how easy or difficult it is to do everyday tasks. Ask to be shown how to make changes to the menu, change a price and add an employee. Is it complicated or simple? How easy is it to “undo” a mistake? Picture your server and see from their perspective if this will be easy to use. Count the number of touches required to complete tasks. How long will it take a manager to train the staff?
Speak to other restaurateurs that use the product. What does their staff say about its ease of use? By asking questions, trying the systems and making notes about each, you’ll be better able to choose the best system for your restaurant.
All software is not the same so be sure ask questions, see demonstrations and make notes!
2. Don’t buy hardware first
All software, even POS, comes with specific hardware requirements. Each POS program functions with certain cash drawers, scanners, printers and card readers. It may be tempting to purchase used hardware, but bargain hunters beware – buying less expensive often is buying sub-standard hardware that increases the risk of a system crash when you can least afford lost data and equipment downtime. Save time, frustration and money – choose the POS software first, then ask the software company about their recommended hardware and operating systems.
3. Mistaking bells and whistles for features
Unless you’re a restaurant POS expert, it is difficult to sort out flash from substance. Some “legacy” or older POS companies often cobble layers of features over older features, some of which are no longer relevant. Often this approach is presented in the guise of offering robust features, however this creates a strong revenue model for the vendor selling this type of system.
How? It’s simple. Over time, old code patched in with new code increases the risk of deeper system bugs and glitches that will inevitably crash the system and risk data loss when you least need it — anytime. This drives the need for a certified technician to schedule a costly on-site visit. So begins a vicious cycle.
4. Beware of proprietary systems
There are two main approaches to developing restaurant POS software in the industry today. Understanding these categories will help you to select the one that works best for your business.
“Proprietary” This software does not conform to open-systems standards, so customers are at the mercy of a vendor able to charge freely on service and upgrades after the initial sale has locked the customer in. Because the software is under a restrictive license, other developers aren’t able to add features.
“Open architecture” This software design approach allows other developers to create specialty features that can be added to the main application. It’s a straightforward concept: create technology that allows other technology companies to create features that “plug into” the basic restaurant POS software. As your establishment grows, so will your needs. Open architecture enables you to cherry-pick features that fit your exact needs and compare similar plug-ins from competing vendors.
5. Investigate personally
Owners may be tempted to hand off POS selection to someone unfamiliar with the service industry. This decision directly impacts your bottom line and the health of your business. Top management and other key personnel must be involved in the selection process. Whoever evaluates the POS software must have in-depth knowledge of your business. POS software is too important to pass the evaluation process to someone else.