When you hear the term "point of sale," usually abbreviated as POS, images of customers swiping their credit and debit cards might come to mind. While it is true that one of the primary purposes of POS systems is to process customer payments, they can provide consumers and businesses with a great deal more functionality. If you are a restaurant owner, it is particularly in your best interest to learn about all the things that a POS system can provide to you and your operation.
You may have heard the acronym CRM, which stands for customer relationship management. Believe it or not, your POS system can furnish you with a jackpot of customer data that can enable you to take your restaurant to the next level. Everything from who your customers are by name, what they ordered, how often they come in, and even how they heard about your establishment can be tracked by integrating your POS with your CRM software. The more you can make this happen in your restaurant, the more your customers will feel like much more than just people who happen to grab a meal at your bistro. Over time, you can customize the promotions they receive and give them incentives for their loyalty, turning what could have been a one-time-only visitor into an ambassador for your eating establishment.
If someone were to ask you to do so, you probably can quickly identify the name of your favorite laundry soap, paper towels and bathroom cleaner. You might even be able to describe in detail exactly what the packaging of these products looks like. In a word, this is brand loyalty, and it can work in your favor as a restaurant owner, just as it does in countless ways in your personal life. Thanks to the recent advances in technology, you can now utilize a cloud-based POS system to start and maintain a customer loyalty program. There are several different POS options for restaurant owners that all perform these functions in slightly different ways. Most, however, enable you to use a mobile phone or tablet to manage customer payments and gather important customer data such as email addresses, which you can later use to send targeted information about upcoming events and promotions. With these systems, you can also reward customers who frequent your establishment or who are big spenders. With many of these systems, you can also manage your inventory and analyze your sales. Some even allow you to print out detailed reports that can be invaluable as you track your restaurant’s progress.
Your inventory is one of the biggest ongoing investments you make as a restaurant owner. Knowing just what to buy and when to purchase it can mean the difference between solvency and financial ruin. Too much inventory or the wrong products in stock mean inefficient use of space and wasted or spoiled foods. On the other hand, a minimal or off-base inventory can mean that you don’t have the items that you need in stock. For a restaurateur, either of these scenarios can be disastrous. Fortunately, today’s POS systems take much of the guesswork out of inventory management by tracking what you have used in the past and using these data to make accurate predictions about your future needs.
Running a restaurant means that you wear a thousand hats, sometimes several at a time. How can you possibly find the time to pore over spreadsheets and look through customer receipts to determine what menu items are hits and which are flops? Yet getting a handle on what your customers like and don’t like is absolutely essential. Thanks to today’s POS systems, much of this task can now be automated for you. With a few clicks of your mouse, your POS system can generate a report specifying your best and poorest-selling menu items. Of course, you can pull up similar data on beverages as well. With very little effort on your part, you can obtain information that will enable you to plan future menu improvements, while not depriving customers of their favorite choices.
A good POS system is much more than an inventory manager and payment processor. In fact, it is also your silent partner as you and your staff interact with customers during their payment experience. This system enables you to obtain the person’s name, which you can then use in natural conversation during the payment. “Have a nice day, Jane,” you or your staff member might interject as Jane smiles and walks toward the door. Her last memory of your restaurant will be that she is a customer who is known by name. Your POS can also pull up demographic data such as the average age of your customers, what part of the city they come from, etc. These tidbits might seem small, but they can help you to get a handle on just who you are attracting – and what customers you might be missing out on as well.
It is no wonder that leading restaurants across the country have come to rely on POS systems. They make the customer’s payment experience smooth, while assisting restaurant owners and staff in numerous ways. Most important, a good POS can pad your bottom line by enabling your eatery to operate smoothly, efficiently, and always with the customer in mind