Q1: How does a restaurant POS work?
People often picture someone with a tablet, taking orders at tables or a bar. But the leading restaurant POS systems do much more than that. The very best ones handle virtually all your processes in a simplified way, yet are able to support your business as it grows and becomes more complex.
A top POS can handle everything, end-to-end, including:
Front-of-house: Reservations and bookings, ordering supplies, kitchen management and customer loyalty programmes
Store operations: Forecasting, prep plans, menu management, inventory management and staff scheduling
Executive visibility and control: With reports into sales, costs and all manner of key performance indicators across single locations or multi-site operations.
In essence, a good POS will enable you to streamline many time-consuming tasks. Highly-automated electronic systems will eliminate manual processes, paper shuffling and lost records.
But you'll get sophisticated new powers too. The latest tech can be predictive — using data and artificial intelligence for sales forecasting, and suggestive purchasing.
And yet, the best POS systems will be as easy to use as the most intuitive of online experiences. Q2: Why should you use a POS system in a restaurant?
All restaurants need a POS system. Smart restaurant managers, however, will want a POS to reduce costs, earn extra revenue, and make their day-to-day lives easier — and save them time. The best tech will do just that! It should be easy to use, and provide you with a swift return on your investment.
A good POS system will be like having an extra player in your team — someone who's always on top of the figures, watching your business like a hawk, and saving you from hours of gruelling admin. A top POS will also have the built-in intelligence to self-perform functions and provide you with accurate predictions and insights to control your business better.
As well as saving you time and money, a good POS will get accurate data flowing into your business that connects up processes. Everything can be tracked, from sales and supplies, through to purchasing and inventory. You'll be in control of your business like never before.
Want to find out more? See how a leading POS is helping popular restaurant The World's End Market to thrive in London's competitive restaurant scene
. Q3: How much do small restaurants use the POS software?
It's possible for smaller cafes, bars and restaurants to 'wing it' without a POS — or persevere with a half-baked solution that only gives them a handful of tools.
But this raises a question: How much of your time do you actually want to spend re-keying information, pouring over spreadsheets, and trying to figure out whether you're making a profit or loss?
Most small restaurants and business owners would rather be out there with customers, than getting stuck for hours in the back office. Fortunately, the right POS tools make this possible. They are easy to use and give you incredible control at your fingertips. A good POS will help you to manage cash-flow more effectively and grow more easily too, especially if you open more venues. Q4: What are the best features of restaurant POS software?
Restaurant POS systems will vary enormously. The best can be described as 'all in one' systems because they cover all the essentials — ordering, reservations, menu management etc. and won't leave any gaping holes in your business processes. In fact, a top POS will go further by offering sophisticated features that accelerate business growth while keeping you in control, thanks to central management and real-time reporting for multi-site operations.
When comparing solutions, it's good to look for an easy-to-use interface, built-in controls that standardise how you operate, accurate forecasting capabilities, and alerts that are sent to you if something's amiss.
However, features that will make the difference to your business's bottom line will be in areas such as inventory control, staff scheduling and ways to generate extra revenue.
You'll also want easy access to detailed financial reports that will tell you exactly how the business is doing, moment by moment. Q5: What is a POS inventory system?
Inventory management should be a big feature of any top POS system — because food and drink represent such a significant cost. However, with the right POS, savings of up to 15% on the total cost of supplies are achievable by controlling inventory properly and by using accurate forecasts.
It's understandable when restaurants and bars struggle with inventory management. It's not really anyone's job. Staff usually hate keeping records of what's in stock, and if the restaurant is busy then there's a strong temptation to put off the job for another day. But this can mean you over-stock and waste money, or under-stock and miss out on sales and disappoint customers.
A smart POS will give you the tools to avoid food spoilage, address food preparation waste, regulate portion size accurately, assess most profitable menu items, and so much more. Staff can complete stock checks in moments on their phones or a tablet too. Q6: How can I manage all my inventory in my restaurant?
So often, restaurants, cafes, bars and pizza outlets rely on a 'gut feeling' of what's in stock and what's needed. Perhaps kitchen staff wander around every few days, taking notes while checking fridges and storerooms — and then making a few orders to keep things ticking over? But this can lead to blind ordering, careless bulk buying and wastage. You can miss out on sales too — by running out at critical moments.
However, a good POS will enable staff to check everything in moments. With right tools, you can track inventory and food use at all your locations — and pass spare stock between them easily. You can even predetermine preferred suppliers, place orders in a controlled way, and then accept items in a few clicks using a tablet or mobile phone.
In the worst case scenario — if you do run out of stock — the POS can be set to display this, so your waiting staff can manage this tactfully with customers. This avoids letting guests order something, only to give them the bad news five minutes' later.
Put simply, with a top POS you get an accurate, end-to-end, real-time picture of what's where — and when it needs using. You can combat errors, fraud and confusion, as well lifting a huge burden of frustration off your staff.
Want to find out more? Download your copy of our ebook on Inventory Control & Accurate Forecasting
. Q7: How to increase restaurant sales?
Do you know which dishes earn you the highest margin? Do you know which staff perform the best? And can you predict your busiest times when most of your income is generated?
With the right POS, you can get these answers — and more besides. You can then start to optimise your business in a host of different ways to become more profitable, including:
Being able to predict busy days, based on previous sales, guest numbers and seasons
Using your POS to create customer rewards programmes and incentives
Making upselling ultra-easy for your staff
Identifying older stock in your inventory and using it to create specials
Incorporating third-party ordering apps and social media platforms within your POS
Want to know more? Watch this quick demo
about how to grow your business with discount offers and reward customers for their loyalty. Q8: What are the benefits of cloud-based restaurant POS software?
Having chosen a POS, you don't want to spend months waiting for it to be ordered, weeks getting it installed, and then endless days getting the system to work properly. The restaurant business just doesn't stand still for that long.
That's why the cloud is perfect, because it's easy to deploy, use and scale. You can avoid having to pay for a vast IT infrastructure, storage, operating systems and virus checking. With a 100% cloud-based platform and a pay-as-you-go subscription model, you can get certainty. There are no hefty up-front fees or unpredictable costs. The POS can start paying for itself from the moment you log in.
But there's just one note of caution to add very loudly at this point. Some cloud-based POS systems rely chiefly on iPads — which can cause major headaches for restaurants
. While the cloud is ideal, make sure you're choosing a POS system that's robust and designed for the job. Q9: Which is the best POS system for restaurants and bars - and why?
It's important to choose a restaurant POS that lets you run your entire operation using a single unified business management suite — rather than a bunch of free tools, paid-for apps and subscription services that fail to glue together properly.
You'll want a technology partner that really understands your business inside out, whether you're a small family-run cafe or a large chain of quick-service restaurants. In other words, a company that specialises in all the issues you face every day — and continually finds smarter, newer ways to address challenges and opportunities that come across your path.
Find out more by reading our blog How to choose a restaurant POS
Over 27,000 restaurant operators world-wide have selected iiko. Our feature-rich POS has been perfected over years — and we invest heavily in new features to improve your business. Q10: Can I see a demo?
Yes. iiko's experts will be happy to demonstrate how your business can benefit from using world-leading restaurant technology. You can book a demo today
Got any more questions?
We've covered the basics. But what else would you like to know? Contact our expert UK team and we'll be happy to provide all the answers you need.