Determining the right point-of-sale system for your business isn't difficult due to the plethora of choices in the market. It's also hard to decide which features will actually help you set your business apart from the competition's.
To help you all with your research, we asked actual providers the following question: "If your friend was going to open a bar, what question would you have them ask a POS company to help them decide which system to pick?"
Seven companies responded, and their focus varied from speed to integration to accessibility. All are key features: If you've ever been behind the bar when it's several people deep and your POS isn't keeping up or just plain won't work, you know how quickly a shift can become an absolute nightmare. Technology is meant to decrease the friction points with your guests and be leveraged to your full advantage.
Take the expertise and insights of those who work with these POS systems on a daily basis, and make sure you consider questions and answers when looking for your next system, whether you're looking for a new one or updating your current one.
Question: "How do you plan on handling upcharges such as Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Doubles and Talls?"
The answer should include a smart way to charge for different products being modified. Well vodka should have one price and Grey Goose should have its price. Additionally, the POS system should have a report to track what was modified to the "Upcharge".
— Submitted by Scott Douthitt of Liquid Accounting
Question: "I need my system to be fast yet powerful. How many button presses does it take to ring up an order?"
The answer you're looking for should be two or less, all while maintaining detailed item tracking and customer management.
— Submitted by Kim Montana, RPOWER POS
Question: "Does the POS you're considering integrate with the other technology used in your restaurant operations?"
As the technology stack that restaurateurs rely on for day-to-day operations becomes more complex, it's more important than ever to choose a POS which seamlessly integrates with your other technology—be it BOH or FOH—to ensure your operations are streamlined and efficient. For example, does your POS talk to your labor management platform to ensure you are scheduling accurately? Does your POS reference your inventory management system to alert you when stock is low? Ensuring that your POS, the heart of your operations, easily works with your other technology is key to ensuring profitability and operational efficiency.
— Submitted by Chris de Jong, 7Shifts
Question: "Can the system export an item sales file with an item or PLU number so it can be imported into another program?"
Many people use back office or inventory packages that are a different brand than their POS. They need to import the sales figures into these packages in order to generate meaningful reports.
— Submitted by Bob Anton, Accardis Systems, Inc.
Question: "Can I use any credit card processor with your POS system?"
Many POS companies require you use their credit card processing when you purchase their POS system. And if you want to switch processors you need to purchase a new POS system. You want a POS that has the flexibility where you can choose from different ISO’s, banks and independent acquirers.
— Submitted by Paul Katsch, Rezku
Question: "Do you have reliable Internet access?"
If you have reliable Internet access, your options for point of sale open up drastically. There are many web applications, native iOS/Android applications and other cloud-based solutions available. Online applications are generally less expensive options that are priced as a monthly service. Also, web applications are usually more secure and you will not need to invest in an expensive local server computer that can crash, get stolen or go down.
— Submitted by Daniel Kurland, Anyware POS
Question: "How easy is it to split a check or divide a bottle of wine between customers, and can I export those reports to my accounting software?"
Make sure this is quite easy with a simple click of a button that you can assign, move or share any item with the POS system. Additionally, it's important for a POS system to let you transfer any necessary data for export into your accounting software.
— Submitted by Phil Blouin, Ventes
Question: “How long does it take to enter an average order, and can I see a demo of this on a sample bar menu?”
Most robust Point-of-Sale systems give you the financial and sales data you need to make managerial decisions, and help protect your business from employee theft or “shrinkage” which so often bleeds a bar's profit margin. When it comes to selecting a new POS, one of the most important factors to consider, and something that is surprisingly variable from one system to another, is the speed in which a bartender can place an order in the system and move on to their next customer. In a busy bar, time is money, and any extra time it takes to enter an order into the POS is time not spent taking orders and making drinks.
It should take no longer than 5-10 seconds to enter a typical order, and the system should be programmed ahead of time to anticipate what the bartender needs on their main screen. Don’t just take your sales rep's promise about order entry speed, make sure to demo the system and enter mock orders to judge this speed for yourself.
If a bartender enters 200 orders on an average night, and all those orders are taking even 5 seconds longer than they should, that’s a total of over 15 MINUTES, per night, wasted due to an inefficient system.
— Submitted by Adam Parish, VersiPOS
There you have it! Speed kills and it's critically important you test the ability of your staff to enter food and drinks into the system. Additionally, make sure you POS has the proper reporting, exporting, and integrations into your other systems to make sure you're utilizing it to its full potential. Skipping out on one or two features up front to save money can end up costing you even more in the long run if you don't have the proper analytics and insight to understand your staff, your customers, and your financials.