How to Successfully Use a POS Machine at a Restaurant

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POS Machines are to cash registers as cordless phones are too smart phones. The basic function of a POS Machine is to ring up a customer order and process their payment for that order. However, there are many capabilities in a POS Machine than an old cash register could ever possibly perform. In the book Building Restaurant Profits: How to Ensure Maximum Results, Jennifer Hudson Taylor and Douglas Robert Brown write, “The POS system will give the operator more control over inventory, bar revenues, labor scheduling, overtime, customer traffic and service.”

Things You'll Need

  • POS Machine
  • Purchasing Software
  • Display monitors
  • Printers
  • Choose a POS Machine that offers customized software that prompts employees to ask for an upsell item, such as making a future reservation or ordering dessert to go.

  • Train employees thoroughly before requiring them to use the machine. Schedule periodic training to ensure they are familiar with new updates.

  • Link a printer to the POS machine. Every time a customer order is placed, a copy of the order should be transferred to the cooks as well as the waitstaff. Read the order back to the customer for verification before it’s prepared.

  • Use display monitors to prepare and deliver orders faster if your business is considered quick serve or fast food.

  • Use the POS Machine to keep track of restaurant reservations during busy dining seasons such as Valentine’s Day.

  • Place a POS system is every area of your business if you own a larger restaurant, such as one with a bar, a hostess area, and at least two stations for servers. Don’t make your customers stand in long lines waiting for their check or to pay the bill.

  • Activate the time clock feature on your POS terminal to keep track of employee time sheets. Make sure employees clock in at the beginning of their shifts and clock out once they’ve completed the work day. Print out the time sheets weekly and review them with employees to ensure payroll is accurate.

  • Require that employees make any changes to orders on the POS system, rather than making manual changes to the bill by hand. In the book, “Food and Beverage Cost Control,” Lea R. Dopson, David K. Hayes and Jack E. Miller write, “Simple errors in addition and subtraction can cost an operation dearly in lost revenue. For this reason, it is critical that service personnel do not total guest checks without the use of a POS system.”

  • Link the POS system to other accounting systems to provide the customer with a unified bill. For example, restaurants located in the lobbies of hotels can link their POS system so the customer doesn’t have to worry about cash until the end of his stay.

  • Print out daily, weekly and monthly sales reports. Review them to look for areas of improvement and find trends to capitalize on or weaknesses to eliminate. For example, sales can be calculated by hour allowing you to properly staff the busiest nights of the week and the slowest nights of the week. Stock up on the food items most often ordered from customers.

  • Track inventory. Periodically verify the virtual inventory numbers produced by the POS terminal with the physical inventory. Order your new supplies based on your POS terminal inventory usage.

  • Photo Credit Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images
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