We’ve all heard the story before, and many of us have lived it: a restaurant that has everything going for it still ends up failing because of back-office challenges.
No one opens a restaurant because they love accounting, staffing, or late-night inventory counting. But these areas turn out to be the Achilles heel for too many restaurateurs who could otherwise see great success.
What makes matters worse is that restaurant owners can easily avoid these back-office pitfalls by putting technology to work for them. In more than 20 years in the payments business, I’ve seen countless cases where an upgrade to a modern point-of-sale system can make the difference between success and failure. I’ve also seen far too many cases where business owners simply haven’t taken advantage of the features in their existing POS technology, costing them hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars as a result.
It makes sense that POS technology isn’t top-of-mind for many restaurateurs, but there’s a huge advantage for those who take advantage of modern features. Ultimately, it leads to efficient and effective operations with a lower time investment by owners and management. And that means that restaurateurs can spend more of their time on the parts of their business that they love.
Every restaurant owner should consider the following features and options as they look to invest in a POS system or seek to get the most out of their existing system:
The days of carrying a clipboard through the walk-in refrigerator should be long-gone. Tracking food and supplies going in and out of your restaurant has never been easier. Modern POS software can now track your shipments directly and update inventory in real time as items are ordered off the menu. You will be alerted when inventory is close to depletion, allowing you to order only what you need and only when you need it.
In a similar vein, it’s rare to find a restaurant owner who also loves keeping up with the accounting balance sheets. A properly integrated POS will be able to pull together all of that automatically to keep you updated on the overall performance of your restaurant and ready for tax season.
3. Business Trends
Modern POS systems can produce automated daily, weekly, and monthly reports to track trends around major business factors like peak hours, popular menu items, and revenue per customer. These data insights can help you identify opportunities and competitive advantages with nothing more than a few clicks.
4. Loss Prevention
When inventory, kitchen orders, and payments are all integrated via your POS, you have a clear view to ensure that every item of inventory tracks to a sale.
5. Live Updates
You need a POS that can keep pace with your creativity, and your business conditions. How many steps does it take for you to update the happy hour price for your appetizers? Can you easily create a one-night-only special for a two entrée-one dessert combo? Newer POS software can accommodate all of these on-the-fly changes and more, often from a single terminal.
6. Online Reservations
Especially with younger generations, online and mobile reservations are surging. Whether done through your own website or a third-party application, having the capabilities to accommodate reservations through multiple touchpoints will ensure you draw in people of all ages with a convenient method of organizing table times. Some apps to keep in mind when upgrading your POS include OpenTable, Resy, and Nowait. Integration with all of these apps will give you the flexibility to accommodate a new wave of restaurant goers.
Newer POS solutions offer marketing capabilities as well, given that you can establish a database of your customers. Offering a giveaway that requires restaurant-goers to provide at least their name and email can help you create a list that could be later used for email marketing. From there, your POS can manage the distribution channel for a newsletter, coupon giveaways, and updates about special events happening at your restaurant.
The value of these features, while not fixed for each owner, can easily cut the time spent on backroom administrative work in half. I regularly talk with restaurant owners who say their POS features are saving them 10 or 20 hours of office work a week. These undiscovered pockets of free time allow you to focus on family, friends, or furthering your business.