A lot goes into the success of a restaurant business beyond quality food and great ambience. One of those things is a good POS (point of sale) machine for handling restaurant operations, transactions, and customer service.
Choosing which POS machine to buy is a crucial decision as it affects the quality of your customer service in your café, restaurant, or food service business for the coming years. This guide talks about the importance of POS machines and factors to consider before making a purchase for your business.
What Is POS Machine for Restaurants?
A POS (point of sale) machine is an electronic device with an advanced payment accepting and processing system. It ensures that customers can make payment via debit card, credit card or cash.
A staff member issues receipts to the customer in return as an indication of a successful transaction between the customer and your business for a service or product. Not just sales transactions, the machine also manages end-to-end workflow, including inventory management and reporting.
Restaurants have a unique ordering and checkout process. In a restaurant, a staff member inputs a customer’s order into the machine. The information is then communicated to the kitchen instantly so that meal preparation can begin, or inventory can be updated.
The order closes by the end of the service or meal, with the time-varying according to the type of restaurant.
Hence, a POS machine for restaurant has additional features to suit the industry-specific needs and ensure smooth business operations. On the user interface, the menu items have graphics and/ or descriptors of each drink or dish.
Transactions remain open so that staff members can change or add items to the order throughout the dining experience. For this, restaurant POS systems often come with portable tablets like iPad for tableside ordering.
Additional hardware to restaurant POS includes kitchen display system (KDS), thermal/ receipt printers for customer receipts, customer displays, mobile payment terminals, and so on.
Advantages of POS Machine for Restaurants
The major benefits of using a good restaurant POS machine are as follows:
- Saves Time
Using a POS machine saves time for cooks, servers, and bartenders. A POS machine enables users to place the entire order at once, even for item choices that have separate preparation areas or stations like appetizers and drinks.
Also, the orders can be sent to printers in each station so that you do not have to go there separately. At the terminal, you can print the receipt with a complete order.
- Theft Control
Without a POS machine, the servers can take orders with them for free or charge customers any rate they want for items. A POS machine ensures that all the ordering details, like customer details, items, and payments, are entered into the system accurately.
This approach helps restaurant owners and managers track any discrepancy and take relevant action. The benefit is that chances of loss to the business due to theft decrease.
- Avoid Errors
Taking handwritten orders increases the chances of human errors. Everyone has different handwriting that others can easily misinterpret. This approach can cause confusion between the server and chef/ bartender, resulting in the incorrect preparation of an order.
A POS machine helps avoid the item waste and monetary losses, apart from an unpleasant customer experience. The machine enables the printing of orders, which can be easily read.
A restaurant POS machine records all the information in real-time so that owners know changing customer preferences, daily staff performance, top-selling dishes, change in ingredient-wise costs, and more. The insights are available in the form of reports for stock, profits and loss, sales, popular items, and so on.
This data enables restaurant owners and managers to make informed business decisions about various operations and components like menu offerings. By generating analytic reports, businesses can work on improving their weaker services consistently and grow their business. It also helps avoid the need for inefficient storage via hard copies of records.
- Integrations and Add-ons
A good restaurant POS machine supports third-party integrations and add-ons besides its core features. It enables businesses to respond well to internal and external environment changes.
The POS machine helps a restaurant or food service stand out from its competitors and grow over time despite challenging situations like Covid-19. Examples of add-ons include gift cards, online ordering, reservations, etc.
- Customer Support
If you have a restaurant POS machine from a trustworthy vendor, then you would also receive support from the team with knowledge of specialized issues. The support team can quickly resolve any issues arising due to problems with the POS machine so that the operations can run smoothly. Hence, you can avoid losses and ensure that your business reaches its full potential.
Things to Consider When Buying POS Machine for Restaurants
A POS system consists of various components like touch-screen monitors, bar code scanners, cash drawers, keyboards, and so on. It is more than about choosing a cash register.
The components and workstation terminals can be combined to suit the needs of your business, depending on whether it is a small restaurant like a sandwich shop or a large restaurant with several businesses.
Before buying a POS machine for your restaurant, you should know the answers to the following:
- Which features of the restaurant POS machine do I need for my business?
You know that a full-service restaurant has unique needs compared to a bakery and café chain. So, while a POS may have all the features like mobile POS, employee fingerprint login, and online ordering, you may or may not need it.
A basic restaurant POS machine would enable you to split the bill, add/ remove dish ingredients, send orders to the kitchen, sell combos, among other routine operations. However, too many unnecessary options can confuse the staff and increase costs due to training.
Before picking a restaurant POS, map your requirements and select the machine that has all the functionalities to fulfil your current needs. Know what hardware the POS machine uses, whether it has real-time reporting, and what happens during downtime. The right selection can help you create a well-defined employee workflow, streamline operations, and enhance customer experience.
- What is the initial investment cost?
As POS machines are the one-time purchase, check the return on investment (ROI) you can achieve on buying a POS machine. This includes knowing the cost of hardware and software, time saved through integration or during staff training, and so on.
You must know the pricing models and contract details in depth to ensure that there are no hidden fees. It is also critical to ensure that the vendor agrees to keep the original processing rates after signing the contract too.
- Is the vendor trustworthy?
Just because you have a cheap option to get started does not mean that it will benefit you in the long run. Besides the price, you must know how reliable the POS vendor is. You should research the company’s track record and check their support/ update options.
Check whether free demos/ trials are available. Also, read the terms and conditions of the agreement. Don’t shy away from asking questions about what options will incur additional fees.
- Is the POS machine user-friendly?
While a good POS machine must support complex functionalities required by your business, the usage must not be complex as it can slow down your business. This can create a queue of customers and cause chaos.
The POS machine must be easy to use such that any new employee can easily pick it up. It must also support mobile payments. You should know the average time per transaction and the options available when the system is offline. Still, the vendor must offer relevant training and support during onboarding.
- Which integrations are supported?
Since restaurant POS machines no longer just serve as a solution to process payments and track sales, they support integrations so that businesses can add custom functionalities depending on their requirements.
So, check what integrations are available to support your current and future needs and save time before purchasing the POS machine. Examples of crucial integrations include inventory management solutions, accounting software for business, payment processing options, and so on.
- Is the POS scalable?
A POS machine must be scalable to meet the increasing requirements of your growing restaurant business, as migrating to a new POS is a challenging task. So, ensure that you can open new locations and add new POS terminals without any issues.
It must also support integration with third-party services for solutions like online delivery. For international expansion plans, see whether the machine supports currencies, languages, and regulations of different locations.
- What is the opinion of existing customers?
While the vendors themselves may market their POS machines to be an end-to-end solution, you may come across several flaws once you start using them. You must ask for references and get reviews of existing customers to see if they are facing any challenges.
You can even check how the POS machines work after setup and get answers to any other questions that you may have. If you feel fully satisfied by the offerings during the selection process, only then proceed to purchasing it.
Suggested Read: What is POS Machine? 11 Best Point of Sale Machine in India
An effective restaurant POS system can help you manage admin, reduce waste, improve customer service, and increase profits. Make sure to research well and undertake trials to decide if it is right for your restaurant.