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Is it time to switch restaurant POS systems?

As a restaurant business grows, POS systems need to adapt and change with it. But a static POS system might become outdated quickly. Here's how to tell if it's time to buy a new system.

Is it time to switch restaurant POS systems?iStock Photo


| by Peter Dougherty — GM of Hospitality, Lightspeed Commerce

Your hospitality business needs the right tools to grow and thrive, starting with your point of sale (POS) system. A restaurant POS is a vital part of your operations, so having an outdated one in place can be detrimental to your success.

Your current POS system may have been great when you first started your business, but as your business grows a hard-wired legacy POS system is less adaptable and can't evolve alongside your goals. The faster, simpler and more intuitive technology of a modern, cloud-based POS can help decrease wrong orders and food waste, streamline operations to prevent staff burnout and get food out to customers faster.

It may seem like a big undertaking to decommission your current POS system and install a new one, but once the task of installing and onboarding your staff to an intuitive, customizable cloud-based system is complete, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it before. It may be time to switch to a new POS now if your current system is not flexible enough to grow with your business, is too difficult to use or is costing you big in maintenance fees and updates.

Besides the ease of use, a major benefit of a cloud-based system is its ability to change and adapt as your business grows. With built-in add-ons, integrations with popular restaurant apps and software, and free, automatic updates deployed periodically, you can implement new features on demand.

A modern restaurant POS is also going to help grow your bottom line with advanced analytics that provide insights on the health of your business. Information such as sales and shift reports are available to you anywhere and in real time, which means no need to print lengthy reports from your terminal at the restaurant. A modern POS will also provide you with additional insights like menu item stats, customer profiles, staff performance and other reports that will help you make more informed business decisions. Plus, your guests will feel good knowing their credit card information is secure and encrypted with the most up-to-date technology.

If any of this resonates with you, then you are probably ready to make the switch to a cloud-based POS for your restaurant. As you research the options out there, it's important to ask yourself a few questions to determine the best fit for you.

  • Determine what kind of hardware you need. With a traditional restaurant POS, your hardware options are limited (if you have any). What kind of hardware do you want in a new system? From terminals to KDS and kitchen printers to handheld tableside payment devices, a cloud-based system's hardware options are endlessly customizable.
  • Know what integrations you need. The goal of a great restaurant POS system is to be a one-stop restaurant management hub. You'll want to choose a provider that can integrate with all your most-used apps and software systems, including third-party ordering apps, reservation management systems, loyalty programs and more.
  • Check to see if you need a new payment processor. Depending on which cloud-based POS system you choose, you may also have to switch your payment processing provider. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though—some systems come with built-in payment processing that is simpler, cheaper and works more seamlessly with the rest of the system than third-party providers.

When you have your list of must-have features ready, contact the POS providers you are interested in learning more about to see if they offer a free demo of the product. This is your opportunity to see how the product functions, ask questions about it and learn about useful features you may not even know exist yet.

Some questions to ask a sales representative during your demo include:

  • What are the upfront costs and monthly fees?
  • Who processes your payments? What is the processing rate? Can I keep my current processor?
  • What other apps and software does your system integrate with?
  • Which features are standard and which are add-ons?
  • Does your system support online ordering, contactless payments and/or self-ordering?
  • Can your system help me manage my menu and inventory?
  • What kind of analytics and insights are included in your systems reporting?
  • How do I access the backend of the system to view my reports?
  • How does reporting work if I own multiple locations?
  • Do you have mobile tablets or handheld devices for tableside ordering and payments?
  • How does the system communicate between FOH and BOH?
  • How do system upgrades get implemented?
  • What happens to the system's functionality if my wifi connection goes out?
  • What features are unique to your system that competitors lack?
  • Can I use my existing hardware?
  • What kind of support do you offer?

Beyond the product information, this is also a good time to inquire about the onboarding process, find out how installation works and ask if the company provides any type of training materials to help you and your staff get started with your new restaurant POS. By doing due diligence during the research process, you'll be sure to end up with a product that is the perfect fit for your restaurant.



Peter Dougherty

Outside of work, Mr. Dougherty loves a project and spending time with his family in the country. Mr. Dougherty holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Canadian History from Concordia University.

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