Restaurant Point-of-sale Software
Restaurant Point-of-sale Software: A Basic Overview
Just as you need certain basic point of sale hardware in setting up an effective point-of-sale system, you need a basic amount of restaurant point of sale software.
And note, “basic” here means restaurant point of sale software you’ll use just to effectively manage and run your point of sale system. There are, of course, many kinds of special application restaurant point of sale software on the market, but they deserve their own special discussion.
We’ll divide our discussion of restaurant point of sale software into the three main areas of the restaurant: the front-of-the-house, the production area and the back office.
The first kind of restaurant point of sale software needed in the front-of-the-house can be called customer management software. Right now you can get programs that can tell you a number of things. The functions include how many customers you get, when they came in, how big their order size is and how much business a certain server handled, all very worthwhile tasks. Other programs can actually arrange table seating and time reservations and determine complete customer timing, from the moment a diner sits down to the moment he or she leaves.
The next category of restaurant point of sale software for front-of-the-house operations is order-taking software. That software can identify the server or the person taking the order and the point where they took the order. It can also provide key information about the order — how many customers there are, their table and seat numbers, what time their order was placed with the kitchen.
You may also consider restaurant point of sale software that makes it easier for your servers to do the job. For instance, some programs immediately tell a server when something is out of stock rather than let him or her find out in the kitchen.
Also, some order-taking software can help differentiate between meal periods. That way such things as price changes between lunch, dinner or happy hour can be automatically switched over at the correct hour.
Restaurant point of sale software can also help servers make sure they have taken a complete order. In quick service that may be as simple a reminder as asking whether or not the customer wants french fries with the order. In a full-service restaurant, servers can be cued to ask such questions as how should the steak be cooked or what type of potato should be served. That will obviously increase accuracy and speed the process along.
The cash-taking function is the final category for the front-of-the-house and, needless to say, a very critical element.
Because in many situations the order taker is not the same person as the cashier, the first thing a cash-taking system typically does is consolidate charges.
Cash-taking software may also distinguish the payment method into the type of payment that’s made, different credit cards or manager meals, for example. Also, it may factor in specific deals, such as two-for-one offers and senior citizen discounts. In quick service some restaurant point of sale software systems are even able to discern whether a customer has ordered the right combination of items to qualify for a discount.
Cash-taking restaurant point of sale software can also provide specific information about the types of payment received so that the cashier has accountability. In most cases that includes a printing capability. It will also allow –under the right security — for the cashier to make voids and other changes to the order.
And, finally, cash-taking restaurant point of sale software may be able to distinguish various types of payments in order to print out the correct type of receipt corresponding to cash or a credit card.
The next topic is the production area and order-processing restaurant point of sale software; that is, software controlling how information is displayed. Such restaurant point of sale software manipulates information provided by the server into a meaningful format for the preparer. For instance, it might allow an order to be split into various functions at various work stations, pull out irrelevant information, put cooking instructions in order and group similar items together.
Another useful function allows cooking instructions to be highlighted, and yet another lets the preparer input the exact time of completion for record-keeping purposes.
Order-timing software, while still somewhat futuristic, does just what its name implies. Based on average cooking times, the restaurant point of sale software allows the computer to let the preparer know exactly when to begin preparing each part of an order.
The main function of what is known as production forecasting software is simply to make sure a kitchen is properly stocked for a meal period, based on previous demand.
And, finally, there is the back-office restaurant point of sale software.
Management-reporting software, in effect, ties the whole restaurant together and provides a system of checks and balances. It gives detailed information, not just on cash taken but on products as well, to ensure the proper high- and low-cost product mix. And it allows the manager to run things more efficiently.
Is each server performing up to par? Should a particular menu item be continued? All of that is part of your management-reporting software.
The restaurant point of sale software that allows a manager to do functions within a system, such as changing prices and menu items, closing the system and resetting the totals is system maintenance software. It can also signal an operator when the system needs paper or upkeep.
Security is also a part of a system maintenance program, providing different levels of access to different levels of employees. In some cases software security, such as a code number, may work in tandem with a hardware security device, such as a card or a key.
Inventory and ordering is another area in which restaurant point of sale software can help the back office. You can establish a par level, a quantity at which you need to restock an item, and the computer will signal you when it’s time to restock. Of course, you must program in actual variances that occur from waste and theft, but at the end of a week you can compare your theoretical with your actual figure and readjust as necessary.
Finally, interface software allows you to communicate with headquarters or with other systems, such as timekeeping, which may not be an integrated part of the restaurant point of sale software system.
In closing, note that different vendors offer different software packages. However, with these guidelines, you should be able to know which and how many functions you may need.