How to Choose the Right POS System for Your Restaurant

For every business it is important to have the right tools for success and as anyone who runs a restaurant will tell you, a professional point of sale system is a must for a restaurant’s success. But how to choose the right one? Well, our guide below is here to help you figure this out.

Step One: Define your business needs.

It’s important before choosing a restaurant management solution to identify all the features, functions, and services you use and need for your business to run smoothly, by this we mean all the important features such as billing and order processing, sales, stock control and inventory, staff management and a way to manage customer relationships through a loyalty scheme.

You may already have a POS Solution in place that isn’t quite meeting your needs. If you do, you need to identify the features that are missing from your current system and take note of any problems you find, talk to your employees, ask them what they think of the current system and what upgrades they would like in a new POS solution.

Step 2: Figure out what hardware you need.

Although the main part of a restaurant management system is software based, it will require hardware to perform most tasks. It may be that you already have the required hardware and you can just buy a new restaurant software solution but it’s more than likely that at least a small amount of new hardware will be needed, whether that’s  portable windows tablets for table ordering or a credit card solution, or a complete update to a faster computer system.

Check with any new potential software solution what the recommend hardware requirements are and check this against your current installed hardware. Check with the new restaurant software provider, compatibility requirements and price for new hardware if required. Weigh up before deciding on the solution you think is right for your business.

Step 3. Set yourself a realistic budget.

It can be difficult to work out the cost of a restaurant management solution as it will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the size of your business, number of restaurants, the number number of facilities and services you offer, etc. The price will also vary depending in whether you buy a single use licence or opt for a subscription model, with licences costing between

£500 and £2,000 and subscriptions costing between £20 and £60 per month per licence
Cloud based services are also an option and range in price from £50 to £200 per month depending on the size and complexity of a restaurant’s needs. There’s no doubt cloud based services are an option and generally offer reasonable range of options without the need to maintain and update software, but they also lack the security of a desktop solution and are reliant on good, reliable internet connectivity to run.

The choice and type of system at the end of the day will be dictated by the needs and finances of the business. A one off fee might entice you with its one time cost, but normally is less flexible and upgrades or changes will require further fees. Subscription based options on the other hand, are scalable and upgrades and maintenance of the software is generally included in the monthly subscription cost.

Step 4: Compare the options.

Before making any decision make sure you do your research on the different types of hospitality software systems available. Reach out to others and ask them about their own system. Call the software vendors yourself and ask as many questions about their solutions as you can. What features do each offer? How much do they cost? How easy are they to implement? Ask anything that you think is important to your own business. Only once you have all the answers to these questions will you be in a position to select the POS system for your business.

Step 5: Trial a POS system.

Don’t jump in with both feet until you get a chance to test a system for yourself. Ask the vendor if there is a trial option and give the software/hardware a good run. It’s all right reading about the system’s potential on paper but how it works in the real world may be quite different.

Most Restaurant software vendors will let customers trial  free for 30 days so you can see how it works first-hand. Use this time to fully assess how it works against your business requirements. Check how fast it runs and if its user-friendly.

If you are upgrading consider how you will transition to the new system or software. Is it easy to transfer your current data about customers, products, suppliers into the new system?

Step 6: Make sure your hardware and software are setup correctly.

So, you’ve picked your vendor and you have the software and equipment you need. Now all you need to do is set it up and get it running.
The time and resources to transition to the new system will vary depending on your current solution as well as the size and needs of your business. You should get full installation instructions from your POS vendor. They may help with the physical set-up. Once it is up and running get them to walk you through how it works, a good vendor will also provide help videos and full setup and configuration information.

Step 7. Enjoy your POS system.

Once your new system is up and running, it’s time to make the most of it. Check to see if there are any add-ons or extra hardware that can make the experience of using it easier.

Keep in touch with the software vendor and nurture a good business relationship. Don’t just go to them with technical problems and instead see them as a long-term partner who can help you expand your business in the future. Check to see it they do any training programs that can help you understand the system further.