What Is a Restaurant POS System?
At its base, a POS system is a combination of cash register and order slip functions, with the average restaurant system consisting of a cash drawer, monitor with keyboard or a touchscreen, and a receipt printer. Typically, restaurants have multiple stations and additional components that correlate to the type of restaurant.
Some restaurants choose to have additional printers in the food preparation or kitchen area, as this helps eliminate order errors. There are also restaurants (usually of the quick-service variety) that send orders taken from front-end terminals to monitors in the kitchen, allowing for quick assembly and service.
For fine dining and table service establishments, however, the setup is a bit more complex. POS systems for these types of restaurant generally include more stations and must be set up with the menu and seating plan. This makes it easier to communicate orders to the kitchen and bar, take custom orders, and track seating and reservations. Fine dining restaurant POS systems also tend to have more functions than those used by quick-service ones.
Sit-down restaurants often have tableside ordering functions and features as a part of their point of sale systems, a growing trend due to the increased ease and efficiency it provides. These functions allow servers to accept payments, customize orders, and split checks without having to leave the tableside. This is usually done on a handheld device, with many POS systems offering mobile and tablet compatibility.
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Benefits of Using a Restaurant POS System
The right POS system improves the accuracy and speed of communicating orders between the servers and bar and kitchen staff. This increases table turnover, which in turn increases overall profits. And since servers are tied to all their sales, it reduces shrink by preventing them from offering food and drinks for free or at reduced prices.
Beyond just cost and time savings, a restaurant POS system provides detailed reports about employee hours, inventory levels, and sales numbers. With access to these reports, you can better assess how employees should be scheduled and when, what to order (as well as what not to order), and what the peak days and times for your restaurant are.
If you opt for a POS system with handheld and tableside features, you get the benefits of happier patrons and even faster service. Everything can be done right there at the tableside, which also offers customers peace of mind, as payment is taken care of right then and there.
How Much do Restaurant POS Systems Cost?
Exact pricing for restaurant POS systems is difficult to pin down, as the amount of hardware needed, the size of the restaurant, and the type of system (locally installed or web-based) all play a role in the total cost. That being said, the following general pricing guide offers an idea of what you can expect to pay for your restaurant POS system.
- Locally installed POS systems have a one-time licensing fee with an average cost between $1,000 and $2,500. Additional hardware has an average cost between $2,000 and $4,000
- Support fees cost between $25 and $100 per month
- Web-based POS systems do not typically have an initial licensing fee, but have monthly fees that cost between $50 and $200 per month
Custom, top-of-the-line POS systems tend to come at a higher price, with costs ranging from as low as $2,000 to upwards of $8,000. For example:
- A two terminal restaurant POS system with the POS software, a cash drawer, credit card software, kitchen printer, two receipt printers, and two touch screens has an average cost of $4,000
- A four terminal restaurant system with the POS software, cash drawer, four workstations, four touch screens, four receipt printers, remote support, and a wireless router has an average cost of around $8,000
What to Look for in a Restaurant POS System
The process of looking for a POS system for your restaurant can be challenging. There are a lot of different companies that offer a lot of different systems, so it comes down to figuring out what you really want in a system.
Consider the features you need. For example, let’s say you are looking at two different options, both of which have all the features you want. But one of them has several additional features you do not think you’ll use. Go with the one without the additional features; there’s no sense in paying for something you have no intention of using. Another factor you must consider is whether to go with a locally installed system or a web-based one. Locally installed has a higher upfront cost, but does not come with the risk of going down if the connection is lost. Web-based offers more mobility and offsite backup, but can be problematic if connectivity issues occur. These systems also have a monthly fee.