It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that there is a lot of competition in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry was expected to generate more than $825 billion in sales in 2018. While that seems like plenty of money to go around, there are more than 1 million restaurants in the United States alone, and those locations employ more than 15 million people.
The competition between restaurants becomes even more intense when you take into the account changing consumer preferences, razor-thin margins on most menu items and the delicate balancing act associated with staff scheduling.
Sometimes, it may seem like an impossible task to control everything all at once, restaurant technology has adapted to new conditions as they’ve come up. It’s more important now than ever to have a system that can perform day-to-day tasks efficiently and effectively, but capable of supporting integrations as needs arise.
Living in the Cloud
Customers are increasingly looking for new and exciting ways to enhance their dining experiences, whether it’s through unique menu items, increased convenience or even new locations. How restaurants adapt to those changes can be the difference between increasing revenue or leaving money on the table.
The point of finding an all-in-one solution is to streamline what your restaurant is doing and prevent yourself from having to make several calls to a handful of vendors when an issue arises. A POS that boasts a complete suite of cloud software applications should be able to handle basic restaurant functions seamlessly but is also capable of performing more complex tasks like developing a loyalty program or supporting online ordering. In situations where a more specific integration is needed or when you prefer to use a third-party for one or more aspects of your business, the system needs to be capable of working cooperatively with other software provided by those vendors.
PAR’s Brink POS software, for example, provides many native integrations, including loyalty and online ordering, but these are not the main functions of the software itself. In cases where a restaurant would like a different option or something a bit more robust, Brink can integrate with other partners based on what options you prefer. To date, Brink has more than 110 integration partners, stretching from inventory management and human resources, to staffing, delivery and video surveillance.
As you can see, the POS system is a restaurant’s heart. Each day, it collects data on every customer who walks through the door. While this data is crucial to creating your revenue totals each day, other data, including when those customers come in, how they’re ordering, what they’re ordering and loyalty program information can be paramount in helping you make future decisions.
This is especially visible when looking at the food delivery industry. Restaurant Business Magazine recently published statistics breaking down how customers order their food. Nearly 20% of all food orders are for delivery, and of that number, close to 80 percent are being placed through the restaurant. Having the right POS system in place can help you take advantage of this information and use it to your advantage.
Although software may be the most important part of an all-in-one solution, no matter what POS system you decide to go with, you’re going to need a terminal to run it on. And just like the software you choose to run your business, the hardware you put on the counter and in your kitchen can make all the difference. Some software can’t run on certain terminals, either because the terminals aren’t powerful enough to run the POS system or because the software simply doesn’t operate on that particular operating system.
The key to a good all-in-one solution is finding software that not only has a preferred group of products that it works really well with, but plays well with a variety of terminals operated by other hardware providers. While getting your terminal, peripherals and software from the same vendor might be the best option, sometimes the cost becomes a determining factor. If that’s the case, having software that is device or hardware agnostic makes all the difference.
Help When You Need It
So you’ve bought your software and have it up and running on your hardware… now what? For most people, that’s where the process ends, but it shouldn’t be. Most hardware terminals are given a usable lifespan of 5-7 years, though there are a number of factors that can impact that number. No matter what, if something goes wrong someone is going to have to fix it.
One of the subtle joys of investing in an all-in-one approach is having to only make one call when something goes haywire. Depending on the provider (or providers) you went with for your equipment and software, you could be making several calls before you get to the root of the problem, and then sometimes the vendors will have to contact each other to figure out the solution. With an all-in-one package, the vendor knows every part and piece along with every line of code. That means reduced downtime for you and more money in your pockets.
But an all-in-one package provides more than just one point of contact for when your terminal acts up. Using Brink as an example, our customers typically have access to a number of other services provides, including dedicated customer success representatives and remote care. When you need help, there’s always someone you can turn to who understands the intricacies of your problem and can quickly find an answer.
Grows With Your Business
Finally, the best all-in-one restaurant POS systems are able to grow with you from one store to 1,000. Having a system that you can fully customize for your own unique business and change at a moment’s notice is incredibly powerful. It also means that as fads come and go, and your business follows the next customer service trend, your POS will be right there by your side to adapt and change with you.
Whether that’s diving head first into new delivery and ordering options, utilizing big data to track your ideal customers’ purchasing history or just adding seasonal menu items every once in a while, having a system that makes it easy to perform each of those changes makes good business sense.
Choosing a POS system is not a decision that can be taken lightly. In most cases, it’s a decision that you’ll be stuck with for several years and will likely cost you thousands of dollars to implement. Even though it might seem like a great idea to cut corners and choose the best price in every category, the peace of mind and support you’ll receive from having one vendor at your service will help you focus on putting out great food and constantly striving to delight your customers.