The fast pace of technological innovation has a tendency to render established product names obsolete. For example, we call those do-everything devices in our pockets and purses “smartphones,” yet they are used for so many more purposes than making phone calls.
Similarly, today’s cloud-based POS systems for eateries of all types do much more than simply process sales transactions. The systems have evolved into integrated restaurant management solutions, tying together all aspects of a dining establishment’s operation. This makes knowing how to use a POS system for restaurants a key factor in the business’s success.
The process begins by understanding the unique requirements of your restaurant as you partner with your POS vendor to craft the ideal solution for your needs today and in the future. These are the restaurant-specific requirements that you need to consider when planning your next POS system upgrade.
The POS Requirements that Top a Restaurant’s Must-Have List
Processing restaurant orders involves many more steps than the typical retail sales transaction. Consider the many unique operations the dining experience may entail:
- Accepting reservations
- Welcoming and seating diners (or taking carryout and delivery orders online or by phone)
- Presenting diners with menus and telling them about your daily specials
- Taking their food and beverage orders
- Delivering the orders to the kitchen and bar
- Retrieving the orders once they’re prepared and serving them to diners
- Accepting the customers’ payments
A restaurant’s cloud-based POS system supports all these functions and more by providing powerful, innovative software that runs on simple, affordable hardware. Restaurant managers can access sales, inventory, employee, and customer data from any network-connected device at any time. The POS system is secure, reliable, convenient, and easily customizable.
However, one of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based POS system for restaurants is its mobility—servers and kitchen staff can access customer orders on a tablet, smartphone, or kitchen display system (KDS). For servers, all the information they need to answer diners’ questions about menu items is available literally at their fingertips. They’re able to determine at a glance whether items qualify for happy hour discounts or other special offers, and they can easily split bills or individual items, and accept multiple payment types for a single bill.
The features available in a modern restaurant POS system encompass all aspects of running the establishment:
- Dining room management is facilitated by the system’s ability to show in real-time each server’s table assignments, table reservations, tables currently in use, and the current status of all food and drink orders.
- Staffing management is made more efficient by anticipating required coverage for peak and slow times; managers can track employees as they clock in and out, set permissions for individual employees, and monitor their sales and tips through the course of their shift.
- Stock management can be closely monitored by setting the POS system to send alerts when supplies of specific inventory items drop to a certain level. The systems can reorder products automatically and adjust prices based on each menu item’s popularity, oversupply, or changes in the cost of ingredients.
Keeping Restaurant Patrons Informed About Dietary Restrictions
Two trends that are affecting the way restaurants serve their customers are the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan meals, and the increasing prevalence of diners who are allergic to specific foods. A modern POS system helps restaurants ensure that customers are able to enjoy the meals of their choice without worrying about potential allergic reactions.
Today’s restaurant POS systems allow eateries to devise menus that are flexible enough to meet the needs of diners with any type of dietary restriction. These include dishes that can be prepared gluten-free, dairy-free, or with no peanuts, soy, or other foods that diners may be allergic to. Servers are able to access information about potential food allergies tableside via the restaurant’s custom application running on a tablet or smartphone and suggest substitutions or alternate dishes.
Another growing concern of diners is the environmental impact of agricultural activities and the humane treatment of farm animals. This information can be made available via the POS system’s mobile app so that servers can quickly answer customers’ questions about the sustainability and food sourcing of the restaurant’s fare. Having ready access to details about the ingredients in menu items also ensures that patrons’ religious restrictions on food and beverage intake can be addressed simply and easily.
The Missing Ingredient for Restaurant POS: Data Analysis
One of the most useful features for knowing how to use a POS system for a restaurant is being able to harness the valuable data the systems collect about the establishment’s operation. This includes information about employee productivity, marketing effectiveness, and customer relationships in addition to which menu items are generating the most (and least) revenue.
A restaurant’s data-analysis needs begin with what are typically its two biggest expenses: labor and food costs.
- A POS system helps restaurants reduce labor-related expenses by closely tracking the number of voided items, the clock-in and clock-out times of employees, and when each cash drawer is opened and closed. The analysis can show the source of costly errors, the training necessary to prevent a recurrence, and tools or procedures that can ameliorate the situation.
- The analyses also contribute to controlling food costs by reducing waste through more effective inventory management, more accurate and consistent portion control, and more precise calculation of the cost of ingredients used in specific dishes. This allows restaurants to determine the profit margin on each menu item and the gross profit per check, among other useful metrics.
Cloud-based POS systems like talech’s provide even the smallest restaurants with many of the data analytics tools that large enterprises rely on to ensure they run at peak efficiency. Being able to do more with less is more important than ever as restaurants struggle to keep their doors open despite the many COVID-related restrictions imposed on them.
The silver lining of the clouds that have pushed so many restaurants to their limits is the opportunity to reimagine the way they operate and the tools they rely on for success. The functions available in a cloud-based POS system serve double duty by helping restaurants survive the pandemic, and by laying the foundation for their success well into the future.
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