POS Buyers Guide
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How to Choose the Right POS System
Choosing a point of sale system isn't just an important decision, it is a CRITICALLY important decision. Probably one of the biggest you make as a restaurant operator. The right POS system can literally transform your operation by improving controls, efficiency, decision-making and even sales volume. If properly chosen, a POS can pay for itself in a matter of months. However, choosing the wrong POS can become your worst nightmare.
The following steps are designed to help increase your odds of choosing the right and most appropriate POS system for YOUR restaurant.
Step One -- Form a "POS Team"
Assemble a few good people to help you evaluate and recommend a POS system. Even if you own a small restaurant, it's usually a good idea to get a few of your people involved in the process for their ideas, insights and buy-in. Remember, they will have to use and rely on the system too, so they don't want you making a bad decision either. It may be smart to have a server, counter person, manager, line cook or accountant (bookkeeper) be part of the team.
Step Two -- Create A "POS Evaluation Worksheet"
The POS Team should create a comprehensive list of capabilities and features they need and want in a new POS. Make a list of these features and functions, then determine which ones qualify as MANDATORY, ones you can't live without and features that are OPTIONAL. Optional features are the ones that would be nice, but not absolutely essential. This list of features and functions will become your POS Evaluation Worksheet.
Use the POS Evaluation Worksheet as a way to organize and compare the features of the different POS systems you evaluate. Without an organized approach, it's very difficult to determine what POS is the best fit for your restaurant.
You can download a POS Evaluation Worksheet template in an Excel file format.
Step Three -- Complete a "POS Requirements Checklist" for Each POS You Evaluate
This can usually be done initially by phone with a representative of the POS company or dealer. Let them know that they're going to have to "show you" everything they claim in a live demo at some point. Also get a sense of the cost of the system at this point. You'll want to know upfront if a system is clearly not within your budget constraints.
Step Four -- Evaluate Vendor Responses
Eliminate the vendors whose systems don't meet your minimum requirements or are priced beyond your budget. Take into account years of experience, number of local installations and financial condition. Narrow the field to 2 or 3 vendors.
Step Five -- Observe Each System in Operation
Select 1 or 2 existing customers furnished by each vendor and observe the system operating during a busy meal period. Ask a few of their people, such as the manager, servers, and cashiers what they like and don't like about it. People are usually very candid and open, especially if they have had an exceptionally good experience or a really terrible one. Ask about how their installation went, how responsive the company has been to service calls and if they would buy this system again.
Step Six -- Vendor Demonstration
A few days before the demo, give the vendor a copy of your menu. Tell them you want to have the demo conducted with a few of YOUR menu items.
Have the demonstration take place in your restaurant, not in their office. Notice how easy or difficult it is for them to get it set up and running. This is also a test to see how badly they want to sell you their system, how easy it is to install and get it operating properly in YOUR RESTAURANT.
Don't let the vendor conduct the demonstration. Before the demo, have a prepared script of the transactions you want to see the system handle. Have 8 to 12 transactions to use. For example:
Transaction #1: Table of six comes in, they order drinks (you specify), appetizers, entrees, etc. Think of all the ways your customers modify those items. Like a steak can be ordered medium-rare with mushrooms on the side. Numerous condiments can be served with a baked potato, on the side or not. How easy will it be for the server to enter the modifications and will the POS accommodate all the kinds of modifications you have to deal with?
What if the server presents one check to the table of six and they want separate checks? Test all of these types of situations and transactions that your people run into every day. If the VENDOR conducts the demo, you will see what they want to show you, what they know works. So don't let the VENDOR conduct the demo.
During the demo, if the system doesn't perform the way you want, listen CLOSELY for the vendor's response. Are they willing to make the necessary changes? Document what they say they will do and follow-up to see that it's done to your satisfaction BEFORE you sign a contract.
Step Seven -- Negotiate Payment Terms
It is common to negotiate a payment schedule for the vendor to be paid at the following times:
- At execution of the purchase contract
- At installation
- When the system becomes operational
- At final acceptance
For example, you may negotiate the following payment schedule:
- 60% when the purchase contract is signed
- 40% on shipping
For obvious reasons, always negotiate hard to pay a large share of the contract amount at final acceptance. What constitutes final acceptance should be defined and understood by both parties and be part of the purchase agreement. Even if you purchase the system under a lease arrangement, you can instruct the leasing company to release portions of the proceeds contingent upon certain criteria being met. This will give the vendor plenty of incentive to get the system up and running quickly, and get your people trained.
Following these steps should help you enhance the odds that you end up with the right POS system and also the right vendor with the skills and resources to keep the system functioning at its best for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost?
Depending what your needs are, the point of sale system can start as low as $40 or be in excess of $10,000. We recommend you familiarize yourself with the POS buyer's guide, then contact our restaurant consultant who can give exact figures.
How long have you been in business?
Incepted and based in Grapevine, TX, FoodTronix has been operating since 2002.
What happens if I need support?
Day or night, weekends or holidays, we are open 24x7 with live tech support agents based in Grapevine, TX to handle your support concerns. Fun fact: 99% of our calls are easily resolved remotely, saving time for everybody.
How long does it take to have a system up and running in my restaurant?
This depends on how customized your system needs are. For a simple system used by most stores, the delivery timeline including the menu programming and shipping averages 2 - 4 weeks.
What are the hardware warranties?
The warranties vary based on manufacturer. Most all touch computers, desktop computers, touchscreen monitors, receipt and kitchen printers carry a 3-year parts and labor warranty. Our cash drawers carry a 2-year parts and labor warranty. Our caller ID interceptors, customer displays, food scales, barcode scanners, fingerprint readers, battery backups, network routers, and network switches carry a 1-year parts and labor warranty. These are manufacturer backed warranties. Our maintenance program covers us being your primary point of contact regarding these issues.
What is the difference between your full service option and quick serve?
Our ordering screens are optimized for the store environment. This is necessary as cashiers need functions that waiters do not, and vice versa. This does make our system leaps and bounds more productive in those two respective environments.