In working with 1000's of hospitality owners and managers, we have a huge amount of experience in integrating with point of sale (POS) and understanding how great it can be when you get the right solution for your business.You might be putting together a brand new business, looking at upgrading from the 19th century equipment you're currently using or experiencing frustration with your existing restaurant POS system and looking for a change. Whatever your reason for needing a POS system the decision is an important one for your bar restaurant or cafe.
A well suited Point-of-sale system is one of the most important pieces of the hospitality business jigsaw. Aside from helping you accept money from your customers, a POS system is the central piece of kit in your business which all of your other processes flow from.
The right solution can simplify how you run your business, minimize mistakes and help maximise profitability. It should enable your team to better serve customers and enhance their experience, giving your business the chance to build stronger ongoing relationships with them.
But let's be honest, it's hard to know where to start, which questions to ask and it often doesn't seem like you are comparing apples with apples. Let's see if we can help with a checklist for helping you find the right POS for your restaurant or bar.
1 Where is your business heading?
The first step is to write (or type into your spreadsheet if you're the organised type), where you see your business being in 3-4 years time. Your requirements will be significantly different if you think you will have one fabulous cafe in three years that you will work in every day, versus a plan of growing into a large franchise business or having four or five different outlets all with their own unique offering.
2 List the key frustrations in your business that you are hoping your point of sale system can solve?
By starting with frustrations you can zero in on the pain points your business is currently suffering. Once you understand your frustrations you'll be able to challenge the POS providers on how they can help you solve these frustrations. Write them in the first person so you make sure you are tapping into your largest frustrations.
"It drives me insane when the point of sale freezes during our busiest periods and it takes 15 minutes to restart it. It costs us money, makes us look stupid in front of our customers and puts way too much stress on the staff."
"I hate how complicated it is to teach a new staff member how to use our current POS. It takes too long to get them up to speed, and this leads to lots of mistakes when a new staff member is working, which means we end up with a lot more admin work than we need to."
"It's really annoying how the POS is completely separate to everything else we do. It seems like it takes way more work because the POS is separate to our rostering, timesheets, payroll and accounting packages. It would save us so much time if it all worked together."
Now you need to rank your frustrations from most frustrating to least frustrating. You can get your business partners and managers to get involved in ranking these frustrations and adding in any of their own.
3 Now turn your frustrations into a list of features you think you will need.
Your features list should have the features you really, really need to solve your key frustrations. Let's call these "must have features". You should then also list features you think would be "nice to have", but won't carry as much weight when you make your final decision.
4 Decide what sort of training and support you will require.
Your technical ability and experience with POS and other technology, as well as the size of your business both now and in the future will determine the level of training and support you will require from the POS company you decide to run with.
In our experience not having a clear understanding of the training and ongoing support that a company will provide is the biggest mistake customers make in the POS buying process and leads to the most frustration down the track.
Things to think about;
- Is there staff on the ground in your area?
- What hours are the support team available, and how can you contact them?
- Do they provide specific targets that they guarantee they will meet if you have issues with your POS?
- Do they have online training resources and what is the quality of these?
- Do they provide a warranty?
5 Understand how your existing and future systems will integrate with your POS.
The last five years has seen a huge upswing in software providers integrating their products to work seamlessly together. However all integrations are not created equal and you want to be sure that the systems you are using now or plan to in the future are going to work seamlessly together.
Create a list of your;
- timeclock or timesheets
- inventory or stock systems
Ensure you include what you plan on having in the future so you can provide this to the POS vendors you approach.
6 Set a budget
Unfortunately we all live in the real world, and you should not spend money you don't have to buy a system you can't afford.
Have a chat to other people in your industry about the approximate costs of their POS solutions and then set a maximum amount you are prepared to spend, both for the initial purchase and then the ongoing support.
Things to consider when you are setting your budget.
- Will you require new hardware?
- How many terminals are you likely to need so you can operate smoothly?
- How many receipt printers are you likely to need?
- How many cash drawers are you likely to need?
- Will you need any other computer equipment such as servers?
- Your training and support requirements above, should determine how much you are prepared to spend on this on an ongoing basis. Don't expect to get training and support "thrown in". It's expensive for the POS company to deliver so you should expect to pay a realistic amount for a quality training and support service.
7 Complete initial research on which POS vendors you would like to quote on your solution.
Spend some time chatting with friends in the industry and googling online to get a feel of the POS solutions you would like more information on.
Use all of the information you have created above to cross check which of the providers you would like to shortlist.
8 Create your shortlist and contact each point of sale provider.
Turn the information you have created into a scope document for the point of sale company and ensure you provide each company with the same information. If you go out to more than 3 - 4 providers you will find it very hard to digest all of the information they provide, so be sure to be thorough in point seven above.
After they have provided you the initial information you should rank the companies in order of the most likely you are to use, to least likely.
9 Reference check each company.
The final and most crucial step is referencing other customers in your location on their experience with the product and the people within the company on the service they provide after the initial installation. You should talk to a minimum of two customers per POS provider before you make your final decision.
If you would like more help you can always get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We've also put together a POS buyers template to help you put all of this information together in one handy spreadsheet.