How to Deploy Your New Restaurant Pos Like a Pro14 min read
The restaurant environment can be stressful and downright chaotic, and upgrading your POS system may seem like just one more thing you have to deal with.
But without a doubt, a POS upgrade can help you turn more tables, which means you might generate more revenue than ever before.
A POS upgrade shouldn’t be something to fear. In this guide, we’ll cover what to look for in a new POS system, we’ll go over what to do when it comes time to implement it, and we’ll give you valuable tips on how to train your staff.
Follow the tips in this guide and you will avoid costly blunders, saving you both time and money.
What to Look for in a New Point of Sale System
As a restaurateur, or perspective restaurateur, you likely know that your POS system is one of the most important technologies you’ll implement. Your POS helps to:
- Manage reports
- Track labor
- Increase customer engagement
- Much more…
You also know that before you decide on a POS, there are many factors you have to take into account. After all, this is not a decision to make on a whim—the fate of your restaurant could hinge on this one decision.
Breath. Relax. We’ve got you.
A few things to think about when evaluating a POS include:
- The hardware. Which brands of touch screen monitors, kiosks, mobile devices, printers, etc. will stand up to the demands of the restaurant environment?
- The software. How intelligent is the system? Can the software handle everything your current system can? Does it offer new features that will help your business grow?
There are a lot of moving parts here, and you don’t want to leave it all up to the vendor or implementation specialist.
You should have some idea going in what you need—and what you don’t need—so that you get the best POS for your particular situation. Otherwise, you might end up with buyer’s remorse, confused, frustrated employees or features that you paid for but never use.
Here are four tips to help you along:
#1. Work with a vendor that understands your business.
It’s usually a good bet to go with a vendor who specializes in the restaurant business. There are massive differences between a POS system for a restaurant and a POS system for, say, a retail store.
Do your homework when shopping for a vendor. Do they understand your business? Can they answer pointed questions about the day-to-day operations of a typical restaurant?
The danger here is that if you go with a vendor who is hoping to sell a generic POS to any business owner with a credit card, you will end up with a generic solution. Or you may find that your hardware isn’t completely compatible with your software.
Going with a specialist will be more expensive in the short-term, but it will save you money, and headaches, mid to long term.
#2. Track data and gather intel.
Before shopping for a POS upgrade you should spend some time gathering crucial data. No one knows your business like you do. No one understands the day-to-day operations like your managers and employees.
Ask your managers and employees what their pain points are. Pain points are any annoyances or frustrations they deal with on a day-to-day basis concerning your current POS.
- Do employees struggle to split a check because the POS is confusing or cumbersome?
- Do your managers not bother running reports with your current POS system because it’s just too slow and clunky?
- Has your general manager been putting off drafting a more profitable menu because updating the menu in the current POS is just too much of a pain?
- Do your managers think that your current POS system is the main thing preventing you from turning more tables?
- Do your managers think your current POS is contributing to high staff turnover because the current POS is clunky and hard to learn?
Once you’ve gathered your pain points you will have a better idea of which features everyone wants. Now divide them into two lists:
- Nice to have
- Must have
From here, you can create a document specifying which features your POS system should have.
#3. Carefully review any POS system plan you receive.
If a vendor provides you with a POS system plan, take your time reviewing it. Don’t feel rushed or pressured. Now is the time to compare the proposed features of the new POS with your old system. Ensure that all proposed features will be used on a day-to-day basis as well.
You may want to spend more time on the floor observing staff and operations during this phase. This will help you tune in to your staff’s pain points.
#4. Take it for a spin.
Any good vendor will be happy to provide a demonstration of the POS before you commit. Many will provide a free trail of the software and will let you interact with the hardware.
Try all of the basic features of the system to your heart’s content. Specifically, make sure to:
- Try a basic cash sale
- Try the inventory management features
- Try the customer database features
- Try the labor reports if applicable
- Try the purchase orders features
- Try the refund capability
Next, invite your staff to interact with the system and pay attention to their body language. Are they engaged? Curious? Pressing buttons? Do you hear any ‘o-o-h’s and ‘a-h-h’s?
#5. Deploy the new POS strategically.
Obviously, you don’t want to roll out your new system during lunch rush on a Friday. Most roll-outs occur after hours to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid unnecessary and costly disruptions.
Don’t expect your staff to go from an old POS to a new one in the same working day. They are dealing with the ordinary stresses of the restaurant enlivenment, such as rude customers, messes, inventory issues, etc.
Doing an after-hours roll-out will also help your implementation specialist find and squash the inevitable bugs that will crop up. Consider this after-hours event the shakedown cruise.
How to Transition Smoothly
Believe it or not, over half of single-store retailers don’t have a single POS system in place. Some may be using hardware and software solutions that aren’t meant to work together, causing all sorts of problems.
Using an integrated and streamlined POS is an incredibly wise decision that will save you time, money and frustration. But ensuring that the transition goes smoothly is no small task.
Having an implementation plan in place before the transition is key, and these five tips will help you get there. We’ve touched on a few these already. Now let’s take a closer look.
#1. Make sure your system covers the basics.
This may seem, well, basic, but it’s natural for us to focus more on the high-level shiny features and less on the more mundane, but essential, features.
So make sure the new POS offers the following:
- Sales reporting and analytics. Today’s POS systems are capable of more than ever before. A modern POS system should make it easy to access and dissect your business data.
- Inventory management. A modern POS system should help you lower inventory loss and food waste. It should automate inventory counting.
- Employee management. Your new POS should track employee hours, overtime, payroll and scheduling.
- Customer management. Your modern POS should make it easy to track customer information. Example: customer loyalty programs.
- Checkout. A modern POS should have stellar tools for improving accuracy at checkout. The system should include scanning functionality and auto-pricing.
- Notifications. Your POS should be able to notify you to excessive voids or “no sales.”
#2. Include staff in the process from the start.
Think about it. Your staff interacts with your current POS system every day. It’s an integral and essential part of their job. Your decision to transition to a new POS may be the best thing for the business, but it’s going to stress your staff.
Be sensitive to this by trying to get your staff on board as early in the process as possible.
Put another way, a successful POS implementation begins well before you’ve even selected the software.
Hopefully, by now, you have spent some time gathering pain points from your staff. This is a good first step. But you should also make abundantly clear to them well ahead of time that a change is coming.
This will allow them to prepare for it mentally. The last thing you want is for your staff to come in one day and find that their familiar POS is gone.
Trying to input orders into an unfamiliar system can be extremely frustrating. Your staff will have to learn new locations for frequently used keys, keys that they could, previously, find in their sleep, so to speak. Keep this in mind.
To sell the new system to staff, go back to your list of pain points and tell them how the new system solves them.
For instance, if kitchen staff was complaining that servers don’t communicate with them, point out how the new system puts an emphasis on cross-team communication. You get the idea.
#3. Let them practice.
Once you’ve chosen a new system, it’s time to train your staff. The good news is that many new POS systems have training modes. These allow your staff to practice without actually sending orders to the kitchen.
Be sure to point out how the new system addresses their pain points. You can use those pain points to help increase overall efficiency, too. It’s a good bet that the pain points your staff pointed out where costing you money.
For instance, let’s say that your managers were complaining that sever reports were either non-existent or were lacking detail. You could then focus on training your servers to use the new reporting functions. This should help your managers do their own jobs more efficiently.
In this way, you’re tailoring the training phase to address those old, nagging issues that were costing you money.
Additionally, you will want to decide on a few staff people to become point people. A point person is someone who receives deeper training on the POS so they can help other staff on the spot.
You may need to pay your point people overtime so they can do a deep dive on the system, but this is well worth it if it helps you turn more tables down the line.
There’s nothing worse post transition than losing customers because a staff member is struggling with the new system. Your point person can run over and help them on the spot.
#4. When Training, put an emphasis on mobile POS features.
If you’re using one of our agile digital menu systems, or some other mobile-enabled system, you’ll want to spend some extra time making sure everyone is familiar with the new functionality.
Mobile systems are a huge improvement on older systems because they increase flexibility and agility, but staff may not be used to the new features. Compared to your legacy system, a mobile-enabled POS is a completely different animal.
Consider that servers may be able to, for the first time, take and send orders and payments right from the customer’s table. From your perspective, you see this as a stellar new feature. From the server’s perspective—well, it will take some getting used to.
If you sense resistance to this new technology from servers, you might want to point this out: when the server is nearby the customer while the customer is paying, the customer is more likely to tip.
#5. Before you roll out the new system, establish guidelines on how to use mobile.
Once you have staff on board with the new iPad systems, you should establish protocols for how those devices are to be used. For instance, do servers offer the device to the customer so they can input the tip themselves, or do the servers maintain possession of the devices at all times?
#6. The time to think about security and accountability is now, not later.
There are two areas you want to think about from the ground up with regards to security:
- Credit card processing
- Customer history data
The bottom line: Make sure your system is EMV—Europay, MasterCard and Visa—compliant.
Naturally, your POS system should also help you curb employee theft. Any modern POS with integrated mobile technology should be able to alert you via alerts or notifications to excessive “no sale” events. The same goes for voids.
These notifications alert you to possible suspicious activity. Example: a new staff member is giving away free food or drinks.
In addition, the POS may contain auditability features that allow you to evaluate staff over time. For instance, you may be able to sort by employees who have had more than, say, five voids in one day over a period of time.
More Essential Training Tips
Before we wrap up, let’s take a quick look at five additional tips for helping your staff adjust to the new POS system. Yes, it’s that important.
#1. Let your staff learn by doing.
As we hinted at before, people learn best by doing. Give your staff as much real-world practice time as possible on the new system before going live.
Remember this: Allowing hands-on practice is going to be much more effective than lecturing your staff on how the new system works.
See the paper, Active learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics by Scott Freeman et al. if you don’t believe us.
Letting them get their hands on the new system demonstrates your trust in them and shows respect. This can go a long way. Remember, you want to keep morale up during this transition.
#2. Run them through an entire meal.
During training, don’t just focus on the digital menu or on how to close out a sale. Have your serving staff walk through each part of a meal. This usually means starting a new tab and putting in a round of drink orders and appetizers.
Get your kitchen staff involved by posing as customers so the simulation seems more real.
Once drink orders are taken, send your staff members off to do some busy work—cleaning, tidying up, what have you. Then have them come back so they can add main courses to the check.
As a final test, make sure they know how to split the bill.
#3. Don’t gloss over troubleshooting steps.
Make sure everyone knows how to correct mistakes as they go.
This will minimize the impact of costly errors that will inevitably crop up when the system is live.
For instance, what does a server do if they accidentally add an order to the wrong table? How do they correct the mistake in the new system?
These simple mistakes will happen, and they will cost you a lot of money over time if your staff doesn’t know how to fix them.
This is, incidentally, another reason to pick some staff members to give additional training to—your point people. They can hop in and save the day when these errors crop up.
#4. Review, review review
Before you take your system live, hold one more meeting to go over everything. Quiz staff members on various aspects of the system so you’re sure everyone is on the same page. At the end of this meeting, leave the floor open to questions so you can clear up any last minute confusion.
You can incentivize staff to do the best they can by holding a contest. For instance, you can give a gift card to the staff member who has the fewest voids after one month.
#5. Training is on-going.
Training is never done. POS systems can be updated with new features or existing features can be streamlined.
What’s more, there will likely be some features of your POS that staff won’t use every day. Reviewing periodically how to use more obscure features—comping birthday meals, using special coupons or customer loyalty program features, etc.—can’t hurt.
We hope this concise guide has helped you in preparing for your POS transition. Stay tuned to this blog for more in-depth posts!