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Technology in the Restaurant Starts and Ends with Point of Sale (POS), Right?

For many reasons, including some very self-serving ones, this is absolutely true. If you, God forbid, still use cash registers, or a calculator and an abacus or calculator, please take the time to look over your shoulder and see the money slipping through your fingers, out the door, down the street, in the gutter, and in the toilet. Good luck with your choice, but success should not depend on luck, right? Everything else in your professional life depends on technology.

Everything.

Every reason you have for shying away from a good POS system is flawed, wrong, outdated and is costing you money and potentially your business. There I said it. Want to take me up on it? Touché! Your place or mine? Bring your epee!

For the rest of you, let’s review what POS can do, should do, what you should look for and what you should watch out for… Seems like a lofty effort, buy I am just the guy to make it easy for you! I will continue with more “sophisticated” POS ideas next month.

  1. Timekeeping: This is critical for a number of reasons. Sure it becomes the time clock, and that is convenient, but in more sophisticated POS systems, reports will take time, hours and pay into account in determining proper staffing, payroll percentage and the all-important Sales per Labor Hour. Some systems even let you control when your employees may or may not clock in and out based on their schedules.  With that kind of knowledge comes power. The power to control OT, the power to affect your bottom line and the power to become crazy efficient utilizing your most expensive resources. Without this tool, you are throwing darts at a dartboard or poking me with you sword.
  2. Coursing Options: So who runs the timing of food in your kitchen? You? Your kitchen manager? Your servers? Your expo? Any of these may be true at your restaurant. Depending on whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a weekday or a weekend, whether you are using an expo and/or food runners, there is more than one way to skin this cat. Did you know that your POS can do a lot of the work, and organization for you? Depending on whether you still have printers in your kitchen or if you have screens, your options may well include, Menu Item Timing (think well burger goes in 3 minutes before the medium, rare 3 minutes later with the 3 orders of fries that come with the burgers). Without screens, your servers can put a whole ticket into the system, apps, entrees and desserts, and put a hold on what they do not want to send to the kitchen quite yet, then send these as they deem necessary and efficient. Alternately some systems will allow a “send in X minutes” for the next course and in Y minutes for the dessert, etc. These will all be helpful depending on how you run your kitchen.
  3. Future and Delayed Orders: So Joe the Pharmacy rep calls you on Monday, and wants to order a dozen sandwiches he wants to pick up on Friday at noon. Another one may be Sally calls at 9 a.m. and wants to pick up the eight-piece chicken deal with a pint of slaw and four bottles of Cherry Gatorade at 5:30 p.m. on the way home from work. What do you do? Write it on a piece of paper? Put it into the POS and type in DO NOT MAKE UNTIL …. ? Basic functionality in many systems now allow for both Future and Delayed orders so that VOILA, you can put it in, and the system does the rest. Think of 10 or 20 times when you lost that piece of paper (or lost track of it) or you put that order into the POS, they made it right now, and oops. But hey, it is only money, right? Easy to get back … NOT.
  4. Integrated credit cards and gift cards: Seems basic at this point, but due to PCI compliance issues, some have chosen to take credit cards off of their POS, but here are good reasons to have both of these inside, not outside. Reconciliation is a breeze. No matching up numbers, and more importantly, no worrying about inputting the wrong numbers manually. Most good POS systems will batch your credit cards automatically after you close up shop, and will alert your smart phone if that settlement did not happen. In the case of gift cards, the security is even more important, as employees can manipulate cards that are on that side terminal next to your POS. By manipulate, I mean find another way to put their hands in your wallet.

There is no time like the present and no present better than a good, reliable and durable POS System. More to come next month, but as always, call, email, text or visit me anytime. Happy Summer!

About the Author

Henry Pertman is Director, Hospitality Consulting at CohnReznick, located in the firm’s Baltimore, Md. office. He can be contacted at 410-783-4900 or henry.pertman@cohnreznick.com.

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