Choosing a point-of-sale system is probably one of the most important decisions an operator will make.
Pizzerias that provide delivery service need to go with a "pizza POS" product that is also designed to handle dine-in service in the manner the restaurant desires. While the top dine-in POS products may work well for other types of restaurants, they’re not designed for pizza and have weak pizza ordering and delivery management software modules.
Here are a few suggestions to weed out POS software products that may not meet your needs.
Choosing the best provider
The first step is to get a list of referrals from the top POS software companies on your list, but change up the rules.
Most companies will provide you with a list of their faithful customers. Ask the POS software company for a list of at least 20 referrals from the same state and 30 additional referrals from your region of the country. If the company cannot come up with a list this large, the provider either does not have many happy customers or is a small player. Take that under consideration.
Don’t call through the list from top to bottom. Select referrals randomly from within the printed list. Second, call until you have spoken to at least three business owners who are unhappy with the company's software and/or service. You will often learn more from negative responses than positive ones.
Ask plenty of questions
In the process of trying to reach the owner, take the opportunity to ask the manager on duty what he or she thinks of the POS system and support. While the responses may not always be as accurate or in-depth, they are important for several reasons:
• First, the GMs and shift managers are often much more candid.
• Second, they know how often calls to support are required.
• Third, many POS problem are ignored or averted by rebooting the system or some other workaround.
Here are a few important questions to ask:
• General: How is the support?
• Specific: Do you reach a support tech immediately or does one call you back later? If they do not take your call immediately, how long does it take them to get back to you? Are they knowledgeable? How long does it take them to resolve your issues?
• General: What do you like and dislike about the POS software?
• Specific: Is it easy to use? Do the screens respond fast? Can it handle a busy environment? Does it have any bugs that you know of?
Here are some more specific questions:
• How is the delivery & driver dispatch software? Is it intuitive for employees? Is it easy to manage? How hard or easy is it to cash out/balance a driver’s money? Does it prevent driver theft and coupon scams?
• How is the dine-in software? How does your business do table service? (This varies between businesses.) Is it easy for your servers to use? Is it easy to recall and add to tickets? Does it allow you to split tickets quickly? How so?
• How is the cash handling and balancing? Is it easy to use? Is it accurate?
• How is the back office area? Is it easy to use? Is it flexible? Are the reports accurate?
The next step
Finally, review your findings. How many positive responses did you get before coming up with negative ones? Try to read between the lines with unhappy customers. Determine if these are real issues. And if you believe they are, are they deal breakers?
After narrowing the list, ask the POS software provider company about your remaining concerns. Also, post your concerns on pizza blogs or chat rooms. The problems could simply be that the system was not setup properly or the current owner/manager did not receive training from the POS provider. On the other hand, if the problem is echoed by multiple users and people from chat rooms, consider that your concerns may well be valid.
Once the deal is done
You’ll also want a very experienced installer to do a full installation. Experienced installers set up one to three restaurants every month. After a year or more, they have the experience to handle a busy location and can customize the settings of the POS system in a manner best suited to your restaurant.
Kevin Clements is the president of POS Shopper, a reseller of point-of-sale hardware and a technical support provider.
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