Now is a Good Time to Upgrade Your POS
As restaurateurs at heart, GoTab is always open to helping operators upgrade and extend the capabilities of old POS systems. Right now, most operators are looking to recast their operations for this post-pandemic phase where labor is tight and consumer demand is on the rise. At the same time, most of our operators hate the idea of taking on a full POS upgrade. In fact, they cringe at the thought.
But the pandemic exposed some pretty significant limitations of traditional POS systems. Legacy POS systems offered operators little in the way of flexibility. Aside from the traditional full-service or counter-service dine-in models, they aren’t set up to support the non-traditional service models like ghost kitchens, drop-zones or first-party delivery that became a necessity throughout the pandemic.
That’s why many operators are now keen to explore how they can upgrade their old POS systems. They are looking to make changes to position their operations for the future, and are now more open to taking on the required operational changes. The good news is that upgrading a POS is no longer the headache it once was. With cloud-based, mobile-friendly solutions, the change can be relatively simple, with no cumbersome hard-wiring or expensive new hardware needed.
What Operators Need From their POS Systems Today
Based on conversations with thousands of operators across the U.S., we’ve learned a great deal about the features operators now find critical to their successful operations:
- QR-Based, Contactless Ordering and Payment
- Two-Way Text Communication with Guests
- Multi-channel, Responsive Customer Support
- On-the-Fly Menu Management
- Reduced Dependency on Proprietary Hardware
QR-Based, Contactless Ordering and Payment
Early in the pandemic, many operators rushed to introduce contactless ordering via QR codes. Some took the low-tech approach of turning their print menus into a PDF that guests could view by scanning a QR. But while view-only PDFs were safer than traditional print menus, the ordering was pretty much unchanged. Guests still needed to speak directly with a server to place an order, and payment still takes place via cash, card and printed receipts.
Almost every legacy POS provider moved to bolt-on a QR-based ordering process to their existing platforms. But because these systems weren’t purpose-built for contactless ordering, the user experience for the guest and the operator can be clunky.
Moving to a unified, cloud-based QR-based POS platform offers two important advantages:
- It puts your guests in control so that they can order in the way they are most comfortable. If they like the traditional ordering process, you can support it safely by offering pay-at-table support and reducing unnecessary contact surfaces. If they are comfortable ordering via QR, your servers get to focus on the experience and save time swiping cards and taking orders.
- It gives your guests a consistent experience. Whether they are ordering curbside pickup or first-party or third-party delivery, or sitting in your venue, they have the ease and convenience of a consistent ordering process.
Two-Way Text Messaging with Guests
While the pandemic pushed us all further away from one another, and face-to-face contact was discouraged the most, operators were also mindful to take steps to maintain a personal connection with their guests. Many turned to their social media channels and restaurant websites to welcome guests to new pandemic-friendly products and ordering methods. But those channels are hard to personalize and tend to be “one-to-many”. To gain a personal, one-to-one connection with guests, operators should be able to support personalized, two-way messaging with guests. Aside from face-to-face, it is one of the most personal forms of communication available.
Multi-channel, Responsive Customer Support
With so much change to absorb and more of their guests moving their orders online, operators need fast, responsive technical support. Unfortunately, many legacy POS systems operate on “bankers hours”. It’s not unheard of for operators to never hear from their POS provider, or have to wait hours, and sometimes days to have issues addressed. POS technical support needs to be professional, competent and virtually real-time.
Menu Management On-the-Fly
With fluctuating consumption patterns due to changing operating restrictions, operators need to be able to make fast menu changes. Typical POS systems don’t allow managers to 86 menu items directly. Whether it is customizing their menus for delivery and curbside pickup, or quickly 86ing an ingredient or menu item that’s no longer available, operators need to reduce the cost and logistical delays associated with printed menus.
Avoid Vendor Lock-in; Reliance on Special Hardware
In the early days of the pandemic, many operators were perplexed to find themselves locked-in to long-term hardware and software contracts with fixed monthly fees. With modern, cloud-based POS systems, operators get the flexibility to operate on any iOS- or Android-enabled device. Putting the operator in control, cloud-based POS systems give operators the flexibility to hold their vendors accountable for the quality, reliability and support they need.
Four Simple Questions to Answer If You’re Trying to Decide Whether to Upgrade Your POS
If you’ve been on the fence with your legacy POS, take a few minutes to answer the following questions:
- Does my current POS give me the tools to offer contactless ordering, pay-at-table capability, sell my merch, or offer first-party delivery? Providing these tools to your guests can result in as much as a 30 percent increase in average cover.
- Is it easy for my guests to contact me, either to get help while they are in my venue, or when placing an order online? How could my Yelp reviews improve if I could connect with guests in-the-moment before they have a chance to post a bad review?
- How much of my profits could I retain by printing fewer menus, or by reducing or eliminating monthly hardware and software costs, or updating my menu in real-time so that guests never order a sold-out item again?
- Do I have the time to take this on? Aside from training time, operators with five or less venues can generally implement a cloud-based POS in less than a week and 5- to 10-hours of a manager’s time. Enterprise deployments take a bit longer and require project management in addition to manager time.
If you’re thinking about upgrading your POS, we’d love to talk.