What to Look for When Purchasing a POS System

 In Bar & Restaurant Operations

If you are in the market for a new Point of Sale/POS system, the major task becomes pairing the needs of your bar or restaurant with the performance and cost of a new software and/or hardware. As Restaurant-Hospitality points out “having adequate POS support that is well-matched to your business gives you the time to do what you do best – cater to your customers.”

Here are some factors to consider as you begin the process of shopping for a new POS system:

Cost. This is a huge consideration, obviously. Start by outlining what you will need in a system and come up with a budget that works. A reputable POS provider should be willing to work within your financial limitations — and prove to you the return on investment they expect you to recieve from their system.

Security. You will need to evaluate who has access to your system and how much of it they should be given.  What will be your method of user login and what level of access will different types of employees – servers, bartenders, managers, etc. – have?

The National Restaurant Association says half of employees who steal from restaurants do so because there isn’t sufficient tracking. Many steal “because they are certain they will not be caught.”

A more modern consideration is keeping your customer’s information safe from outside criminal elements. Subway found out the hard way what happens when a POS system doesn’t thoroughly guard credit card information…

Closed circuit cameras or web-based camara systems are another option. They add an additional level of security by allowing you to monitor staff and transactions closely. When paired with a computer-based POS system, they allow you to watch your cash registers in real-time.

Control. What types of control are you interested in when it comes to stock and sales? In this area you have the option of selecting a POS system that can control stock or outsourcing it to an independent company. An independent company will save time as well as provide a third-party report to compare with your internal record keeping.

Wireless. The benefit of electing to install a Wi-Fi POS system is that you will be able to move cash registers to different parts of your location more easily. This could be helpful if you regularly have need for temporary POS (on a patio or at a carvery station).

Operational. A good POS system can provide improvements to the way you analyze your business. Even a small restaurant should have the ability to quickly and accurately observe transactions and trends. Information is power (and money) when it comes to determining where changes can be made to the way you operate.

Training. Keep in mind you’ll be training new staff members on this system for years down the road. What does your provider offer in terms of training, whether it be in-person or online? How easy will it be to have questions answered? How is troubleshooting handled?

As you look at training, make sure to consider ease of use with each POS system being considered. A good system should take less than a half hour to learn.

Support. This is a big one. In the event you have an issue with your software or hardware, it is important to feel comfortable in the assistance you’ll get from your POS provider. Talk your provider through worst-case scenarios (cash registers going down during a weekend dinner rush, for example) and establish what type of system they have in place. Work out a support agreement that makes you comfortable and get it in writing.

A new POS system is a purchase that can often run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and impacts your restaurant in almost every area. It should therefore be given considerable time and consideration.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that a restaurant’s POS system is the electronic brains behind the operation. Between menu, reservations, inventory and internal staff communication, there are few aspects of a business the POS system won’t touch.

Have you been researching a point of sale system for your bar or restaurant? Share your tips and advice on searching for the perfect system below!

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