Picking a POS
Which POS Systems Will Work Best for You? Well, It Depends…
Ask anyone who has been in the food and beverage business for a while and they will have some very serious opinions about what works and what only creates chaos in terms of point-of-sale systems. Finding the right POS system is a critical step in managing your business. A good system allows you to track sales and ensures quick training of servers so they can spend more time with customers. A bad system may mean meltdown in both the front and the back of house.
So what’s the best? Well, every owner’s needs differ. What works for a huge operation may not be the best for a smaller establishment. With that in mind, we hit up a few people who have been in this business a long time to discuss POS system features that work well for them.
T.J. Lynch, The Breslin Bar
After years of work and four different POS systems, bartender T.J. Lynch has made his decision: “My personal favorite is Aloha,” he offers. As a bartender at The Breslin Bar and Dining Room, recently opened inside the Ace Hotel in New York City and former manager of the renowned New York establishments The Spotted Pig and The Rusty Knot for four years, Lynch has worked a number of POS systems, including Sable, Squirrel and Micros; he uses Aloha at The Breslin.
“It’s fast and every terminal can run the whole system. So, while there is a main computer, you can run everything from any one of the computers. If the main one breaks, it transfers everything to the next terminal and if that one breaks, then the next. So, pretty much, it never crashes. It’s efficient, and I can train someone on Aloha in five minutes.”
He also likes Micros, but for a different style of establishment.
“Micros is extremely customizable, and every screen can be different. It, to me, would maybe be better for a high-end dining operation, whereas Aloha is built for speed and good in crowded settings,” he explains.
While these are just one man’s personal opinions, Lynch offers a bit of advice on the overall picture when selecting any system.
“If I were to design a POS system,” he says, “there are three things I want. One, I would say reliability above all. Speed comes second and, third, more customizable back-of-the-house reports. I want a system where you can design exactly what you want to see in a report.”
Dave Moran, Old Ebbitt Grill
Dave Moran is the managing director for Clyde’s Restaurant Group, working specifically at Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C. The venue seats 525, and in 2008, it ranked sixth in America for highest volume in terms of restaurant sales, with $23.7 million tallied, according to Restaurants & Institutions magazine. He has been working there since 1995, and since those days, he’s changed POS systems to adapt with the times and the operation’s growing volume.
“We are part of a larger company,” Moran says. “It’s 13 restaurants around the Washington, D.C., area, and when the owners started in 1990s they went with a local company, Positouch. In 1995, I became a GM and we felt we were growing beyond that option.” Clyde’s now runs the Micros 3700 POS system.
“They were able to handle our size,” he says of Micros. “They have great technology, support staff and are located near our operation.”
In 2005, the company updated that system to include Micros Kitchen Display System (KDS) screens to help the expeditor and chefs.
“We switched to screens, and when an order is ready to go they hit a button and it prints. We now have a kitchen with no paper in it. This worked so well for our chefs that we put these same screens at all the stations. It alleviates all the paper in stations and also makes the kitchen super quiet. There is no more yelling from chef to chef.”
On the horizon for Old Ebbitt Grill may be handheld devices for servers, but Moran is hesitant.
“The challenge is that at any given time we may have 24 servers and 12 bartenders working. So we would have a huge investment. We like the idea, but it’s new. And we don’t want to be the guinea pig for things that are still in a test-run phase. We don’t torture our customers.”
Latif Guler, Masa 14
When opening the brand-new Masa 14 in Washington, D.C., general manager Latif Guler had a decision to make in selecting the right POS system for the new environment.
“I was a Positouch customer for many years,” he says. “I loved that system, but I went with Micros at Masa 14 because our concept is only tapas and small plates. The Micros system has the best kitchen monitors in the industry.”
That doesn’t mean he isn’t still a fan of his previous system. “Positouch screens are extremely user friendly, and the staff loses no time fiddling with terminals. Less time in front of the computer closing checks and sending orders equals more time in front of customers. The Positouch reports are also basic, very easy to read and understand, and the system runs very fast.”
But even his favorite systems have a drawback. “All of them charge for maintenance,” he explains. “If you have any questions, they want you to call customer service. There are occasional problems with even the best systems, but every POS company charges an hourly customer service rate.”
So, how do you get around that? “Dedicate your time in the back office and learn everything possible,” Guler advises. “A good manager should allot time to the POS. Write down the company’s advice and then spend a lot of time on the Internet. When you research and Google, a lot of stuff comes up. I speak with other owners, but 95 percent of my POS research is on Web.” NCB
What’s New in POS
Here’s a look at the latest in point-of-sale systems for bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
Aloha from Radiant Systems
www.radiantsystems.com | 1.877.794.RADS (7237)
New product offerings from Radiant Systems include Orderman handheld ordering devices and the Aloha Restaurant Guard theft deterrent solution. Orderman handhelds increase productivity by sending orders to the kitchen and accepting payments from the table. Orderman can decrease the number of staff needed to successfully serve guests and increases speed of service, helping operators maximize profits. In addition, Aloha Restaurant Guard is an above-store application using artificial intelligence to catch suspicious employee activities and report them in real time.
www.FuturePOS.com | 800.622.7117
With Future POS, operators can monitor business with event-driven video and real-time surveillance, along with a log file of all video activity for records. Future POS can help protect businesses from fraud and theft with a built-in “Surveillance Module” and Web cameras. Wireless tableside ordering, through which credit card transactions and authorization slips can be printed on a wireless “belt” printer for the customers’ convenience, was recently announced. Another money-saver Future POS offers is the “Recipe Maintenance” feature, which is a reference database of the most popular recipes for restaurateurs to customize for their own use. With the touch of a button, bar staff can browse through an alphabetized list of drink recipes and easily modify any recipes files.
www.squirrelsystems.com | 1.800.288.8160
Perks: In addition to the benefits of multiple operational styles, various options for high-speed payment processing and colorful food and beverage icons that make entry easy, Squirrel now offers combo meal functionality. This allows more options to manage promotions and report sales. Optional Inventory Control and Labor Management Modules help track every dollar. Squirrel Professional’s system is certified to the highest level of PCI compliance, which means credit card processing is safe and secure.
www.micros.com | 866.287.4736
Perks: Micros Entrepreneur Series is a bundled package specifically for the nightclub and bar owner or the independent restaurateur. Mymicros.net is a robust and comprehensive reporting engine, while the Micros iCard-gift card/stored value card implements a POS-based cashless payment program and rugged, affordable hardware. Plus, operators can upgrade the system with the Micros Kitchen Display System, Mobile Micros handheld technology and Digital Menu Boards that display menu items and promotions.
Point OS Professional
www.pointos.com | 1.866.992.2767
Point OS Professional offers a 30-day free trial and no charge for tech support, maintenance or upgrades, and is appropriate for small to medium establishments. Operators can scan IDs, provide age-appropriate menu items, print mailing labels, collect e-mail addresses, send html newsletters and use an integrated music player to create jukebox playlists from customers’ song choices.