By David Scott Peters, TheRestaurantExpert.com
I give presentations, seminars and workshops all over the United States and Canada and if you asked me what’s the most commonly-asked question I get, that would be easy to answer. It’s, “What point of sale system should I get?” I understand more than anyone that this is probably the most important equipment purchase you will make in your business! The challenge is which one to buy. There are an overwhelming number of choices and they almost all do the same thing.
So, what point of sale (POS) system should you get?
Before I answer that question here, let’s talk about what a good POS system should do for you. Above and beyond the obvious of sales transactions, recording and taking payment, there is a short list you must consider when looking to invest in a point of sale system:
- Will it take cash, credit card and gift card transactions? This seems to be a no brainer, because the whole intention of a POS is sales transactions. But you would be surprised at how many low-end POS systems don’t have a gift card system.
- Does it have a time keeping module? This is extremely important because it’s not only for reporting hours for payroll, but when it connects to your sales you can easily see when you should start cutting labor hours as you see what your running labor cost is and how sales per half hour have been dropping.
- Does it have the following reports:
- DSR (daily sales report): The daily sales report, also known as an end-of-day report, is important to make sure you know what your expected cash collected is for the day to ensure you get every penny expected to the bank.
- Comp and discount report: This report is for tracking any promotions and discounts you give on a daily basis. By doing so you can quickly see if you have service or food preparation issues that need to be addressed or a manager who is simply giving away the shop.
- Transfer report: A transfer report allows you to see any items that have been transferred from one ticket to another or completely to another employee. This report is critical to catching employees who are stealing by moving one items off one ticket to another when the customer pays cash for the bill, ultimately allowing that employee to pocket the cash.
- Void report: This report lets you see if you have training issues because items are being voided often. It is also a good tool to identify and prevent managers who are stealing by voiding cash transactions.
- No-sale report: This report shows when any employee who manages a cash drawer rings up a transaction, hits the no-sale button on the POS system, which immediately voids the whole transaction and opens the cash drawer. This report is critical for catching employees who are stealing when a customer pays with cash.
- Item-by-Item sales mix report (also known as a product mix report): When it comes to making real change in your business, this report is king! When you combine the counts of each item purchased by your customers with up-to-date recipe costing cards, you will immediately know your ideal (or theoretical) food cost. This number allows you to measure how your kitchen is performing and to easily engineer menu changes that will change your bottom line.
- Labor summary report: This report is a tally of regular hours/pay and overtime hours/pay for each position worked in your restaurant. By using these numbers you will be able to schedule on budget the next week.
- Time keeping report: This report is imperative to keep proper records required by state and federal government regulations and, more importantly, to submit correct payroll numbers.
- 8027 tip report: This report is a great tool to easily keep track of cash/credit card sales vs tips collected and reported and to fill out the Federal 8027 Tip Report Form each year.
- What kind of support does the company offer? Because it’s not if, but a matter of when your POS system will go down in the middle of the rush on a busy Friday night.
Next thing to consider is the cost. What do you have budgeted for this purchase? The top tier POS companies charge a premium for their software, hardware and ongoing support. Many POS systems in the next tier down are equally as good as the top tier companies, they’re just less expensive. Then there is the entry-level tier of POS systems that for the most part are not worth even looking at to run a restaurant because they don’t have the reporting capabilities outlined above.
In a nutshell, when buying a POS system, you must know your budget, if it has the features and reporting you need and will they be there for you when the system goes down? So, once you’ve done your research, which POS system should you buy?
For the most part, the top and mid-level POS systems do almost the same things. One may have features another doesn’t, but there really isn’t a bad choice. Unless of course you are talking to someone who HATES one of them. I can tell you this, I can find you people who love each one of these and people who hate them equally. It all comes down to two very important things: does the POS system have the bells and whistles you want, such as a real-time app to see everything going on in your restaurant in an instant and do they have great support and service? And this is how you determine which point of sale system is right for you.
David Scott Peters is a restaurant expert, speaker, coach and trainer for independent restaurant owners. He is the developer of SMART Systems Pro, an online restaurant management software program helping the independent restaurant owner remain competitive and profitable in an industry boxed in by the big chain restaurants. To learn some essentials, request a free recipe costing cards report from TheRestaurantExpert.com.