Not all restaurant POS software are created equal, and not all of them are a one-size-fits-all solution.

Restaurants come in so many varieties, and each one has its set of needs. This can make researching for a system mind-numbing, and the actual purchase decision even harder. There are, however, several things that every restaurateur—from quick service all the way to fine dining—should look for when choosing restaurant POS software. Here are 5 must-have restaurant POS features every restaurateur owner needs.

Speed/Ease of Use

The restaurant business is one that requires speed. This includes fire times, feet, hands and decision making. A slow system can be maddening to waiters, managers, or cooks. The notion of speed in a restaurant POS extends to ease-of-use, an intuitive layout, and fast hardware as well. A few seconds here or there can make a huge impact—good or bad—on the service, the food, the drinks, and ultimately the profitability of an establishment.

Inventory

Merely mention inventory to a restaurant manager or owner and they will have an immediate reaction – for most, it is one of dread. For those, however, that effectively use proper inventory control and reporting, they will tell you that it is how they make money. Sure, inventory is not the most glamorous side of the business, but it is an absolute necessity if restaurateurs are to go head-to-head in this extremely competitive space. Inventory that is easy to input and control through a system is invaluable for keeping an eye on what are usually very thin margins. Look for a restaurant POS system with an inventory management feature that allows you to keep track of every ingredient and item sold. This goes a long way to ensuring profitability and long-term success.

server using ShopKeep restaurant POS system.

Reporting

Numbers do not lie. All businesses should get actionable intelligence from their reporting and restaurants are certainly no exception. Having a system where an owner or manager has numeric insight into their business is crucial. Sales by department, item, hour, etc., food costs, labor costs, and how many new customers have come through the door are just a few of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that a good restaurant POS should be able to render. Another thing to consider is that web-based systems have the advantage in reporting KPIs, as they can offer real-time reporting and analytics features from anywhere in the world with internet access.

Marketing

Marketing for restaurants is now squarely based on your internet presence – particularly social media. It all starts with a well-done website that offers pertinent information to your visitors – including hours, menus, contact info, and links to associated social media sites. These social sites are the heart and soul of an effective marketing campaign. A well done Facebook, Instagram or Twitter page allows the owner to stay engaged with new and returning customers 24 hours a day. Having other people go out and share your story with fellow customers in the market is priceless and virtually effortless. Another super-effective approach is to gather customer information, especially email addresses, to reach out via a direct marketing campaign. Today’s restaurant POS should offer features that give restaurateurs the ability to market to your entire database of customers in real time is huge for making an immediate impact on your business.

Technical Support

The importance of good support from your restaurant POS provider can’t be overstated. Anybody who has worked in a restaurant environment knows the panic that ensues when the system has gone down. Getting someone on the phone that can troubleshoot the system (hopefully) 24 hours a day goes a long way in alleviating the problem and the accompanying headache. Again, web-based systems have a huge advantage here as a support team member can dial into the system immediately and begin the triage. Excellent support staff should also be there for the non-panic times as well. Initial setup, credit card help, software upgrades and ongoing training are just a few of the things that support should be helping restaurateurs with. While often overlooked, reliable and responsive support from your POS provider is key to a restaurant’s success as well as its sanity.

william-wallace

About the Author

William grew up working in his family's restaurant and worked his way through college in the service industry. He currently consults small business owners on their POS technology and has been in the Point of Sale space for over 7 years.