Even operators with a finger on the pulse of their operations can oversee only so much at once. When food production, customer service and marketing consume lots of time, important particulars such as labor tracking, food cost and theft control can be neglected.

The good news is that point-of-sale systems can help with these issues by providing detailed tracking of nearly every function of a pizzeria.

"A POS streamlines payroll by 100 percent," said Debbie Antoun, owner of Taranto's Pizzeria in Columbus, Ohio. "At the click of a button you have total hours and labor percentages." And in real time, too.

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At any time, a good POS system can tell an operator his labor cost as a percentage of the day's sales. Gary Wilson, a single-unit franchisee of Louisville, Ky.-based Tony Boombozz Pizzeria, checks that number several times a day.

"When you see the number's that high," said Wilson, pointing to 36 percent on his POS screen, "it makes you think, 'I've got to send somebody home.' But if you're getting ready for a Friday rush, like we are right now, you know it'll go down. It's just good information to have."

Carolina Brewery co-owner Robert Poitras said his POS guides him in scheduling his 65 employees by projecting labor vs. expected sales.

With a POS, "when costing out a schedule, you can see where you need people and where you don't," said Poitras, whose restaurant is in Greenville, S.C. "When I used to hand-cost my schedule, it was basically a guessing game."

Mistakes, intentional and forced



A POS does more than just sales. It also ...

· Handles payroll.
· Projects labor cost as a percentage.
· Aids employee scheduling by projecting labor vs. expected sales.
· Reduces theft by tracking bulk food orders.
· Handles cash management.
· Reduces human error.

all heard before, that whatever employees can steal, they will, eventually," said Jeff Ward, CEO of Inborne Technologies.

Since every order for food must go through the POS system, Ward said theft becomes more challenging. At the very least, it would require the collaboration of multiple employees. "If your systems are set up correctly, no one in the kitchen should make an order that doesn't come through the POS."

More important is a POS system's ability to manage cash. Where voiding an order and pocketing cash is easily done on a basic register, the POS requires security privileges. Plus, detailed records let the operator know when all voids are made.

"Anything done with respect to voids and deletes is stored in an audit file," Ward said. "The person who decides to do that will have to explain why."

Andrew Albert, owner of Picasso's Pizza and Grill in Dallas, said his POS system removed innocent mistakes, such as sloppy penmanship on handwritten orders.

"Our pricing was done on a calculator, and we saw we were losing enough money in remaking orders for mistakes and handwriting that, at the very least, we could cut into the cost of a POS by making them accurate," Albert said, adding that he'd never operate a pizzeria again without a POS.

"It's one of those things where we were doing half the sales we're doing now, and we were pulling our hair out with those struggles."

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