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Top 3 Things to Consider When Looking at a POS System for Restaurants

There comes a time in a restaurant's tenure when the owner must decide how the business will grow and become more profitable. While some may consider a new location, others are looking for more simple, yet worthwhile, options. Investing in a point of sale (POS) system for a restaurant is a smart first step toward expansion. But how does a restaurateur decide if a certain POS is the best option? Here are 3 leading considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a POS terminal for restaurants.

1. Cost

Of course, one of the biggest elements owners must consider is the price tag associated with the system. Although the POS terminal can be seen as an investment in the restaurant's future, the machine should be an item that doesn't break the bank. Restaurant owners must complete their research, weigh the options and look at the cost differences between POS system vendors. It’s important to remember that the price doesn't just include the physical terminal. The cost encompasses hardware, software, credit card processing charges and the option of an integrated accounting system, which could help streamline the financial aspect of the business.

Additionally, restaurants must consider the cost associated with implementation, training, system upgrades and vendor support (1). The period of downtime needed to fully introduce the POS terminal could result in lost profits, as could the time it takes to train employees on the new system. Furthermore, while some POS system providers offer upgrades and support within a package, others may not, leaving restaurant owners to determine what level of support they and their staff might need.

2. Experience

The number of POS terminal vendors seems endless. Each company promotes its own offerings, sometimes with a brief mention of the number of years they've been in service or an estimate of the number of happy customers they've served. When restaurateurs are considering a POS system provider, it is crucial to perform in-depth exploration into the vendor's experience in the industry and positive outcomes with others in the food service industry.

System providers should include references with every quote a restaurant owner receives on a potential POS system (2). If a company doesn't immediately provide testimonials, complete with contact information, make sure to ask for them. POS terminal vendors that don't provide references are often worried the feedback will ruin the sale; if the provider is adamant about not giving out details on references, restaurants should look elsewhere for their new POS system.

Restaurant owners are well advised to do their own research (3). While some may want to pass the task of selection a POS system to another employee, owners better understand the needs of the business and should conduct the research and search process themselves.

3. Features

A basic POS terminal can help restaurants improve their business exponentially. But, to be truly successful, restaurateurs need to understand the necessary elements their system must include (4). Some of these features may be included in the initial purchase price, or they may be considered add-ons and cost extra.

Merchants should make a list of possible features that are important to the growth of the overall business. Examples could include: accepting online orders or reservations, the ability to accept mobile payments and more robust inventory management, among others. Merchants should also decide which existing features are important to keep, such as the ability to split checks, send and print orders in the kitchen and ability to accept tips.

When searching for a POS system, merchants should also ensure the terminal is chip-enabled, or EMV compliant. Beginning Oct. 1, 2015, merchants who do not process chip cards with EMV-enabled card readers or POS systems may be liable for certain fraud-related chargebacks. While upgrading to EMV acceptance is voluntary for business owners, changing to an EMV-enabled POS system is important in reducing potential risk of fraudulent transactions, as well as potential costs of fraud chargebacks merchants would incur in the event of card-present fraud. 

Every restaurant is unique and has its own set of needs to make the business flourish. Selecting a POS system for a restaurant is not an easy task, as there are many factors to consider in addition to the countless moving parts associated with running a restaurant. To begin the process, merchants should conduct research into different restaurant POS system vendors, the cost of their services, references the provider offers and the additional features the business will need to not only maintain but improve its current level of service.

  1. http://rmagazine.com/10-things-to-consider-when-investing-in-a-restaurant-pos-system-part-1/
  2. http://blog.lionwise.com/restaurant-point-of-sale-considerations/
  3. http://www.merchantmaverick.com/how-to-choose-a-restaurant-pos-system/