POS Buyers GuideNothing lasts forever, including your point of sale (POS) hardware. But with proper POS maintenance, you can extend the life of your systems and avoid costly and frustrating downtime.

In a restaurant environment, the terminals, touchscreens, and printers you rely on for customer transactions run for hours on end while exposed to heat, moisture, dirt, and grease. That can greatly reduce their lifecycle. Below are some important steps to take to extend the life of your POS system:

  • Invest in a POS maintenance and service package. Your vendor, integrator, or reseller likely offers various levels of remote and on-site service, including help desk, depot repair, on-site repair, or advanced exchange programs, as well as remote login to give the vendor online access to the system to troubleshoot and fix problems. For example, RSS offers an advanced exchange service so that if a restaurant’s POS system is down, they can request and receive replacement hardware the next day. RSS even offers a similar program for headset repair. While many restaurants view headsets as disposable, over time the cost of discarding damaged headsets can quickly add up. RSS provides free inbound shipping, with options for repair, replacement, or reconditioning the headsets. There’s also a Headset Care Plan that provides unlimited repairs for a monthly fee.
  • Spot check the hardware. Have staff in each area of the restaurant check the printers for paper, and make sure the POS terminals or kitchen printers are working and inspect them for any damage. You should also test the printers and credit card systems prior to each shift so that you aren’t caught by surprise later if something has gone wrong. Repeat these POS maintenance inspections at the end of each shift as well.
  • Clean the equipment. Restaurants are messy places for computer hardware. Touchscreens can be cleaned with a cloth that has been sprayed with ammonia-free glass cleaner (don’t’ spray it directly on the screen), while the exterior of the printers and terminals can be cleaned with a soft cloth.
  • Arrange professional inspections. At least once a year, have a trained technician inspect the hardware. Your vendor or reseller can provide these services, some times as part of a larger POS maintenance package.
  • Restart the system periodically. You don’t have to shut everything down every night, but periodically restarting the POS system can help clear bugs and glitches.
  • Know the lifecycle of the hardware. Find out what the expected lifecycle of the terminals, card readers, and printers should be and perform an evaluation to see what needs replaced once you reach the end of those time periods. Equipment in the kitchen, in particular, will experience a lot more wear and tear than other POS hardware.
  • Keep the system updated with the latest software and firmware. This is especially critical for payment systems, since you have to ensure PCI compliance and keep security patches up to date to avoid breaches. Again, this can be rolled into a POS maintenance agreement with your vendor or reseller.

For restaurants, having a POS system go down can be a disaster, which means you need immediate service. Getting an on-site technician at the last minute is expensive and inconvenient. Regular POS maintenance is critical for ensuring system uptime.

Make POS maintenance a priority, and you will reap the benefits of lower repair costs and fewer system outages.

POS Buyers Guide

Published in RSS Blog

POS Buyers GuideUnless you haven’t been paying much attention to restaurant technology trends, you’ve almost definitely heard about the foodservice industry’s subscription-based software delivery model: POS as a service (POSaaS). Although a subscription-based model isn’t for every business, restaurant POS as a service does offer a variety of benefits. Let’s explore five of them:

  1. POS as a service offers financial advantages

Between the purchase of computer hardware and software, hardware and server setup, and software installation (not to mention training), traditional restaurant POS systems can cost a pretty penny. Add to this the necessary financial outlay for system maintenance and upgrades, and you’re looking at quite the investment.

With POS as a service, the upfront cost is generally much more affordable. Although recurring payments can add up, the cost of POSaaS is roughly equivalent to the cost of one value meal each day. With the number of operation benefits brought to the table by a point of sale system, POS as a service pays for itself in no time.

  1. POS as a service is simple to set up

When you choose POS as a service, there’s no need to engage an IT professional to handle installation on-site. You’re able to download the software from the Internet to your POS hardware once the wiring and general networking necessary to connect your terminals, printers, and any other additional equipment is complete. Most providers will come to your location to ensure that everything is operating properly and that all employees are comfortable using it, but, again, there are no actual installation and configuration headaches.

  1. POS as a service is easy to maintain and troubleshoot

Restaurant SaaS POS solutions are updated remotely and with regularity, so your establishment will always have the most up-to-date software and features. There’s no need to worry about waiting for an IT professional to come to your restaurant to handle upgrades (or remembering to do it yourself, if you’re that daring) and the cost is usually included in your monthly subscription. Improvements can even occur without interfering with your ability to serve customers.

Similarly, a significant portion of POS troubleshooting can be done by the vendor through the Internet, often in a short period of time. And if anything breaks, the POS software can be downloaded onto a replacement in no time.

  1. POS as a service allows remote access to important restaurant data

The more information about your restaurant you have at your fingertips, the easier it will be to maintain control over your business. However, it’s impossible to be in two or more places at once. If you own multiple locations or need to review information or make decisions while out of the office, remote access to your data is invaluable. POSaaS solutions often include mobile applications that allow managers and owners to access everything from a phone or tablet, so information can be seen in real time.

  1. POSaaS offers a high degree of data security

In this day and age, protecting your business data as well as sensitive credit card data is paramount.  Data breaches can be catastrophic for a restaurant, interrupting the flow of your business and costing you the trust of your customers. That’s why choosing a POS as a service option that is PCI compliant is important. PCI compliance helps ensure that your entire business is protected against security breaches through centralized logging and reporting, around the clock monitoring and support, scans for vulnerability, and more.

POS as a service may not be the right option for every operator, but the variety of benefits it offers can make the difference for a number of restaurants.

POS Buyers Guide

Published in RSS Blog

POS Buyers GuideIn the American lexicon, “redundancy” usually means repetitiveness—and not in an especially good way. In other lexicons, for example, the British lexicon, redundancy is a state of unemployment—yet another negative connotation. But when it comes to restaurant POS systems, redundancy—at least, data redundancy—is hardly a negative phenomenon. In fact, it’s a very positive one, and it’s very important.

Defining Data Redundancy

To understand why this is so, you need to understand what data redundancy is. In a POS environment, restaurant or otherwise, achieving data redundancy entails duplicating data onto a second server. The data on the second server can then be used for backup and recovery purposes in the event of a server, network, or Internet failure. For example, suppose a fast-casual restaurant has several POS workstations, with a master server functioning as a database for customer transactions at all workstations. Then, say there is a sudden failure of the workstations’ network connection to the server. Data redundancy would, in this case, allow the terminals to continue to temporarily function in backup or standalone mode.

Now, let’s explore why data redundancy is a “must” for restaurant POS systems.

Data redundancy prevents loss of business. Customers will quickly become frustrated—and business will be lost—if your restaurant is unable to process transactions because a network or other failure has suddenly made your main POS database inaccessible and your POS terminals inoperable. While the financial outlay entailed in acquiring the storage needed for data redundancy was once somewhat steep, the cost of such storage has become quite reasonable. In fact, the price you’ll pay for data redundancy will be a pittance compared to the loss of sales you might expect without it.

Data redundancy keeps tables turning. Even if your customers aren’t overly upset about transaction delays caused by connectivity and similar glitches, you can’t afford to have customers sitting at the table or in line, unable to pay their checks because the Internet cannot be used to obtain issuers’ approval for credit card transactions and employees are instead attempting to manually verify credit card information. When data redundancy has been built into the POS configuration, tables continue to turn, and lines keep moving at a normal rate because it’s a quick, painless switch from the master server to the temporary backup server, and/or because temporary 3G/4G connectivity is achievable with no effort whatsoever.

Data redundancy keeps mission-critical data safe. Using a redundant array of independent disks (RAID; formerly a “redundant display of inexpensive disks”) constitutes one key means of achieving data redundancy. Under a RAID umbrella, data is distributed across multiple drives in one of several ways, depending on end-users’ individual data redundancy and performance needs. Multiple copies of all data across all connected drives, rather than just one copy, are created.

The RAID “flavor” of data redundancy affords restaurants a more secure data storage solution for mission-critical data, including—but not limited to—POS data. What’s more, it guards against the loss of this data in the event of serious occurrences, like hard drive crashes, while simultaneously keeping servers operational. There is no need to manually adjust to backup mode in the midst of hard drive failure.

With competition for consumers’ dining dollar growing ever more fierce, restaurant operators must do all they can to safeguard their ability to provide top-tier customer service, as well as to run their establishments with maximum efficiency and minimal technical glitches. Data redundancy plays a critical role in toeing the mark and, as a result, merits support at every turn.

POS Buyers Guide

Published in RSS Blog

POS Buyers GuideThe start of the year is the best time to implement new strategies for improving your restaurant’s revenue ante. There are many thinks owners can do to increase restaurant sales this year, but here are four that stand out to us:

1. Embrace new payment methods

Concern about the security of card-present transactions and a desire to avoid liability for fraudulent card-present transactions is spurring more restaurant operators to migrate to POS equipment that accommodates chip-enabled credit and debit cards. Making such a move also relieves merchants from liability for fraudulent card-present transactions in keeping with the EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) liability shift, which took effect on October 1 of last year. Consumers may hesitate to patronize restaurants that cannot accept chip-enabled cards, but establishments that can handle chip card transactions will likely be able to increase restaurant sales.

Restaurants also cannot afford to ignore heightened consumer interest in utilizing mobile wallet offerings like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. The more varied your establishment’s menu of payment options, the more customers and customer loyalty you will be able to cultivate.

2. Harness social media

Another trendy way to increase restaurant sales is to utilize social media networks. This means starting and maintaining a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter (i.e., posting regular updates, publicizing special offers, and responding to others’ posts or comments) as well as tying this presence into your restaurant’s website, with invitations to “like” and “follow” and links to post reviews on Yelp. Social media can give your restaurant a personality, which allows you to interact with customers and draw in a wider audience.

3. Get tech-savvy

A number of technology trends will remain popular over the course of the year, and they must be taken into account in order for you to increase restaurant sales. Continuing a trend of recent years, customers are demanding the option to leverage mobile apps to do everything, including finding restaurants, placing orders, and paying for their meals. If you don’t have a mobile app, ensure that your restaurant’s website is mobile-responsive and can be accessed and utilized on smartphones.

As important as it is to utilize innovative customer-facing technologies, it is also important to stay up-to-date on the tech your staff uses, like the point of sale system. Utilizing a POS system that enables your staff to efficiently enter and process orders greatly improves the flow of information throughout the restaurant. The kitchen instantly receives accurate orders, and the wait staff can serve customers faster. Other robust features, like inventory and labor management, are also necessary to help you increase restaurant sales.

4. Go with the food trend flow

Obviously, tweaking your menu to reflect every new food trend isn’t feasible. Some trends simply won’t suit your establishment’s focus, operational mold, and/or customer base. However, simply ignoring what’s “in” on the food front—and the beverage front, too—will do nothing to boost revenue this year. Instead, consider which of the latest trends might resonate with your audience while simultaneously fitting your operation’s mold.

The drive to boost revenue to new heights is the mark of successful restaurants, in 2016 and going forward. The above-mentioned suggestions for accomplishing this task are only the beginning.

POS Buyers Guide

Published in RSS Blog

POS Buyers GuideA restaurant POS system has several hardware components that work together to deliver a quick and efficient transactional experience for your customers. Each component has a specific function that can offer many benefits to your restaurant.

The POS Terminal

The POS terminal is the computer which runs the POS system and is often equipped with a touchscreen for employees to enter transactions. Having a restaurant POS terminal offers many benefits to restaurant owners such as ensuring that customers’ orders are taken and fulfilled accurately and in a timely fashion. A touchscreen terminal leverages intuitive menus with a variety of options to greatly improve the order-taking process. Using paper tickets with handwritten orders could lead to inaccurate orders or other forms of miscommunication, and paper tickets can be damaged or lost in the process of fulfilling the customer’s order.

Back Office Computer

Although back office computers can often perform the same functions as the POS terminals in the front of the restaurant, working in the back office provides the privacy needed to pull and analyze business data. Back office computers have the ability to pull sales reports, track inventory, keep tabs on labor and scheduling, and manage restaurant overhead costs all in one system. All of this can be automatically calculated by the restaurant POS terminal based on sales histories, automatically subtracting from inventory with each sale, and calculating labor reports and costs based on employee sign-in and sign-out times (employees can punch in and out on front-of-house POS terminals).

A restaurant POS system with a back office computer will also prevent order-taking POS terminals from being tied up while you are performing management-related tasks.

POS Card Reader

Customers can swipe or insert their cards on your POS card reader. With new EMV chip cards in circulation in the US, choosing a card reader that is able to read EMV cards is another essential function to keep in mind. Having a POS card reader that is integrated into your restaurant POS software and hardware rather than having a separate card reader system will lead to faster transaction processing times and increased software and hardware compatibility, which can enhance customer service and shorten lines at the counter and drive-thru. The best way to ensure speed and compatibility is to take advantage of bundle packages where card readers and POS terminals are provided by the same solution provider.

Cash Drawer

Though many people are using cards, a majority of people still carry cash. Having a cash drawer is still an essential part of the restaurant POS system, and choosing one with the right features can be beneficial to your restaurant’s security. Many cash drawers have electronic and physical locks on them. The electronic lock can only be unlocked when a transaction is entered into the register, which helps with counting drawers because the transactions should match up with the amount in the drawer at all times. The physical lock on the drawer is more useful in the event of a robbery and prevents employee theft.

Receipt Printer

Receipts are the only physical proof that a transaction took place, and they are essential for refunds and accommodations due to an error. The POS terminal decides what information is on the receipt, and being sure it has time, date, location (if applicable), and details of the items ordered is important. Receipt printers will work faster and will be more compatible if purchased in a bundle with the rest of your POS system through your solution provider. Also, if your restaurant POS system card reader doesn’t offer electronic signatures, you will need a receipt printer for customers to sign a copy of the receipt for your restaurant’s records.

Kitchen Display

Once an order is placed on the POS terminal, it is instantly transmitted to a kitchen display system for your staff to see. The displays are customizable with easy-to-read lettering that can speed up order fulfillment and eliminate paper tickets. The kitchen display on your restaurant POS system can show which items employees should prepare first so menu items aren’t getting cold while others are still being prepared. The display can also notify employees when an order is taking too long to be fulfilled, which can be useful for optimizing improvements in your kitchen to increase speed and efficiency.

The hardware components of your restaurant POS system make up the virtual machine that keeps transactions in your business flowing. Making sure they are as compatible and as integrated as possible is key to increasing your business’s productivity and efficiency. Now that you understand each component’s advantages, you can be sure to implement a restaurant POS system that is right for your business.

POS Buyers Guide

Published in RSS Blog

Investing in a restaurant POS system is one of the best things you can do for your business. With such technology in place, you can increase operating efficiencies, improve customer service, control costs, and much more. However, purchasing a restaurant POS system requires a significant financial outlay, making it extremely important to select one that suits your establishment’s specific needs. While these needs will vary from restaurant to restaurant, there are critical elements every restaurant POS system should have. Let’s discuss five of these.

1. Ease of use

Even if your menu is complex, your restaurant POS system shouldn’t be; in order to maximize your investment, servers, managers, and kitchen staff must be able to leverage it to the greatest extent possible. For this to work, you need the most user-friendly restaurant POS system possible.

On the server side, this means a simple interface. For example, if you own a counter service establishment or table service restaurant that uses mobile devices to capture customers’ orders and transmit them to the kitchen, you’ll want a restaurant POS system that presents servers with icons that may be easily distinguished from each other (e.g., Combo #1 vs. Combo #2 or Chicken Parmagiana vs. Chicken Paillard), thereby increasing order-taking speed and accuracy while bolstering customer satisfaction.

In the kitchen, the restaurant POS system should display orders in a logical fashion so staff can easily locate them (e.g., transmitting orders for hot items to the hot station and orders for salad to the salad station). The ability to receive translated orders through the restaurant POS system is imperative if kitchen staff members’ primary language is not English. Again, these attributes contribute to faster food preparation with minimal errors.

2. Support for different facets of the restaurant operation

The support provided by a restaurant point of sale system shouldn’t be limited to the ability to ring up transactions. Such support should extend to different applicable types of front-end functionality, including, but not limited to, updating and/or changing prices/item descriptions on digital menu boards and tablet-based self-ordering devices; managing reservations and table assignments; accepting online and takeout orders; and handling tasks linked to special events.

3. Real-time inventory management and control module

Few things are as disappointing to customers as the inability to enjoy what they intended to order because the restaurant is out of an ingredient needed to prepare it. And few things are as upsetting to restaurant operators as lacking the appropriate inventory—or losing money on ingredients that have spoiled due to over-ordering. A restaurant POS system that affords insight into real-time inventory availability—and automatically generates re-orders based on user-defined minimum on-hand, SKU-level inventory levels—eliminates all of these problems.

4. Support for customer engagement initiatives

Competition in the restaurant industry makes customer engagement through targeted and personalized marketing, loyalty programs, and other undertakings imperative for establishments of all kinds. A restaurant POS system can be the lynchpin for these initiatives by allowing you to gather and maintain an extensive customer database that contains not only information like individual patrons’ names and addresses, but also details of their food/beverage preferences, previous purchases, and spending habits. The more personalized your offers and programs, the more engaged customers will be.

5. Insight into all areas of the business

As discussed in the introduction to this blog post, a restaurant POS system can be a very effective tool for fostering a foodservice establishment’s growth. However, its power to fulfill that promise will be limited unless it yields management insight into everything that’s happening in their business. We’ve already mentioned that a good restaurant POS system offers access to information about ingredient usage, but it should do the same as far as sales (down to the menu item level), time and attendance, labor scheduling, and restaurant traffic-related data are concerned. Even better is a restaurant POS system that permits this data to be accessed remotely from any computer or mobile device wherever you are and/or automatically pushes critical data to your device rather than forcing you to comb through disparate systems to find it.

Today’s restaurant operators face more and more challenges in attracting and maintaining customers, as well as in operating their businesses with maximum efficiency. Implementing a restaurant point of sale system with the five above-mentioned attributes will increase the chances of cultivating a loyal clientele, controlling costs, and succeeding both now and in the future.

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