We live in an age of instant access. People can hear music, learn news, go shopping and share messages any time. Thanks to cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems, the same wireless technology allows restaurant operators to obtain data and run their business anytime, anywhere.
Technology is no stranger to restaurants. Over the years, it has helped manage menu planning, kitchen orders, reservations, staff schedules and many other tasks. But when it comes to speed, efficiency and accessing critical information anytime, anywhere via mobile device, tablet or laptop, cloud-based POS systems provide capabilities that legacy systems (think hard-wired computer stations or terminals) don’t have.
As your business continues to move forward, so does technology. Cloud-based POS systems tap into the internet, allowing servers to carry an electronic tablet that sends orders directly to the kitchen, process tableside payments and help you collect sales and activity data in real time.
As with any technology, it’s important to assess your needs and ask questions before leaping in. There are four areas—advantages, concerns, near-term value and long-term value—you should factor into choosing a cloud-based POS system.
The many advantages of a cloud-based POS
It plays well with others. A cloud-based POS allows operators to potentially work from a single platform instead of many. Tableside ordering, mobile ordering, delivery, reservations and more can be connected for seamless marketing and execution for customers. For example, when an order comes in, the delivery company is alerted electronically to pick up the order and take it to the customer.
It’s always connected. You don’t need to be in the restaurant to get or share information. If you run out of steaks or want to change the daily special, it’s possible to let your staff know or make menu changes in real time.
It’s easy to manage. Instead of buying new software and loading upgrades at each station, your POS provider can make updates that install when you activate the device. Instead of owning the system, cloud-based POS service is contracted. The payoff, according to a Florida restaurant owner, is the ability to make requests for updates tailored to your operation. “With the traditional system, you don’t get monthly updates,” says Joe Guenther, owner of O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille in St. Petersburg. “With our system, you call and say ‘I wish the system did this or that,’ … and they are able to take care of our request most of the time.”
It saves time. Servers are no longer tied to the side stand or sales terminal. Orders go directly from the table to the kitchen so meals get to the table sooner. This streamlined service has been very profitable at O’Maddy’s. Instead of bombarding the kitchen with orders from several tables placed all at once from the main terminal, the cloud-based tablets improve the pace. The benefit to the business is faster table turns that add up to more sales over time. “Being more efficient has meant about a 20 percent increase in sales, which is a huge number when you consider we’re doing $5 million in revenue,” Guenther says.
It improves customer experience. The ability to run a credit card at the table means the card never leaves the customer’s sight and doesn’t leave people waiting to pay at the end of the meal. Check-splitting also is simple: the push of a button allows the bill for a table of 10 couples to be split five ways if needed.
The few concerns
It requires internet connectivity. Disruption in online service happens. You need to make sure your system has an “offline mode” and how to use it to continue processing credit-card sales. Understanding offline mode also is important if your business conducts off-site events or catering.
It involves training. Technology-wise, not everyone is at the same pace. When O’Maddy’s launched its cloud-based POS system, it gave employees two months to become self-sufficient. Now, menu training includes teaching POS usage.
It takes commitment. Any technology company will set up your system, but you have to take the reins afterward. This means you have to be comfortable with remote technology support. It also takes some technical skill—yes, you can update the menu in real time, but you have to self-manage the updates.
The near- and long-term value
Cost savings are a quick win for cloud-based POS users. It starts with spending less time and labor on software updates and system maintenance downtime. Efficiencies from streamlining service and improving guest satisfaction can translate into improved sales and profits.
Long term, it’s clear that wireless technology is only going to grow. Over time, a cloud-based POS will provide compatibility and connectivity with other systems and services. It’s a platform that puts operators in the best position to stay connected, instantly collecting data and sending information that drives success.