What is it:
POS stands for Point Of Sale. This is a system that is used throughout the restaurant and retail industry. This computerized system allows business owners to track sales, cash flow, food inventory and can help simplify your bookkeeping enormously.
Why it’s good for a restaurant:
The high volume of cash and credit cards that pass through a restaurant each day make a POS system a necessary. Not only does a POS system track every penny of your sales, many POS programs also act as credit card processors. This makes swiping credit cards more secure for both the customer and the business. Servers are accountable for all their sales, and it is impossible to alter checks in the computer unless you have the password. This helps cut down on employee theft.
One benefit of a POS system is that it simplifies communications between the kitchen and the wait staff. Orders go through the computer, directly to the kitchen printer. Another benefit of a restaurant POS programs is that it can track everything from food usage, to the most popular menu items. Because the POS system acts as a time clock, it can also help prepare payroll. This can save you a lot of money in your bookkeeping department. Along with the daily operations of running a restaurant, a POS system can organize profit and loss statement and sales tax.
The most obvious drawback to any POS system is that it is a computer, and subject to all the same technological whims. If it happens to crash and you don’t have a back up, then you risk losing all your data, not just sales, but profit and loss statements and payroll statements. Important stuff that the IRS may want to examine some day. So, always have a backup.
Remember all that money you saved on bookkeeping? You may end up spending it on your tech guy, to help set up the POS and perform any trouble shooting. A POS system doesn’t have the same life span as good old fashioned cash register. You will need to replace parts, update software and eventually need to replace it entirely with a new model. New POS systems come with limited warranties and tech support, but just like every other piece of equipment, the problems always seem to start after the warranty has run out. For this problem, you can always buy extra tech support.
Where to find it:
There are many POS distributors. Here is just a partial list of those that carry restaurant-specific POS systems:
If you are planning a very small operation, such as bagel or sandwich shop, you may not need a POS system at opening time, especially if you aren’t going to take credit cards (and there are plenty of places that still don’t accept plastic). However, if you have dreams of expanding or franchising, then you may want to figure in the purchase of a POS into your opening costs.