There’s two questions you should ask yourself when you’re buying EPOS for hospitality and you’re focusing on EPOS front-of-house features.
First: is a system fast? How fast can you get through customers at a crowded bar; pour drinks, cut queue times? And second, is it flexible? Can it thread customer journeys which go bar-to-table? Which request starters as mains? Can you send it through to the correct kitchen prep station printer every time?
What should an EPOS do in front-of house?
1) Basic EPOS Front-of-House
– It should have a quick and simple interface for selling what you sell – at a simple level, an EPOS should provide your staff a screen whereby they can cue the price of the good on a card reader for a customer to buy. You should be able to make this as rapid as possible – such as via easy image selection tools and “quick keys” for your favourite goods. (In some circumstances, you may wish to think about “scanning” some items, too – which is easy to do.)
– It should be very easy to ring through discounts. Some discounts can be set-up to ring through automatically. You might want to be able to set these as a “combo” deal, or as a fixed percent off of a specific item.
– You might want the flexibility to create time-bound discounts such as a happy hour. Finally, you should be able to set staff permissions around manual overrides, in which you can manually discount items or refund the cost of a meal. In these instances, it’s useful to be able to categorise why a discount is happening – so you can spot patterns in the data if there’s a recurring issue.
– You could look for day/night screen changes. If you’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; you might want the options available via the front-end of your EPOS system.
– an EPOS should be fast and easy-to-learn. One of the key metrics we think of around EPOS systems is how fast a cashier can get through a long line of customers with one. Sometimes, you just want an EPOS to do the simple things well; and that’s a good principle to consider when buying an EPOS.
2) Taking Payment
– Tabs – do you want to be able to keep track of tabs?
– Custom tax rates – this is very useful if you sell at more than one rate of VAT; such as eat in / takeaway, or hot / cold. (Advice)
– Portable Payments. If you have integrated payments, this might be either just moving the card machine; or being able to add additional services to the bill on the fly when your staff member is stood by the table.
– Multiple Tenders. Most POS systems should be able to handle split bills or multiple types of tender – card and cash. Watch out for this at the simpler end of EPOS systems.
– Cash Management. This means, simply, keeping track of which tills have cash left in them. This is essential for high-cash businesses which have a lot of change.
– Integrated or not? We’d usually recommend integrated payments; which means when you press a button on a till, the price cues automatically on a card reader – like in a pub. Many restaurants prefer manual (which is still possible to do if you have an integration) which means you’d have to type out the price manually.
3) Food, Drink, and Table Service
– Menus. If you have multiple menus, pay close attention to whether you can load a menu on your system, and how easily you can manage it. If you have breakfast / lunch / dinner / bar menus across four locations – boom! You have sixteen menus, and it’s essential that you can manage them centrally rather than adjusting them one by one.
– Recipes. This can mean one of two things; if you have cocktailers, it can mean that it reminds them of the recipe for each cocktail as they serve. If you have inventory management in your system, recipes also means that your stock will go down at the right rate – because what you sell (e.g. a cake) and what you buy (e.g. eggs, flour, etcetera) Read our inventory management to learn more.
– Coursing. If you order the starters and mains in one go, it might be useful to sort them into courses. This will change the way that your kitchen receive the information about the orders when starters and mains have been loaded into the kitchen at once. There might be manual controls for front-of-house staff to indicate when a table is ready for mains, for example. But you may also want to find a system with the flexibility to override.
– Clear modifiers. If you have a customer who is allergic to X, it’s very important to make that information clear on the order docket rather than relying on busy front-of-house staff to relay that information.
– Printer routing. If you have multiple kitchen workstations designed for different things, you want your order tickets to print from the correct printers in the kitchen.
– Table Mapping. When an EPOS advertises as having table service, they will probably mean that they have a map of the different tables in the restaurant in which meals are ongoing. You can view each table, what they’ve ordered, and how long they’ve been there.
4) Front-of-House Marketing
– Loyalty cards – Your EPOS can be set up so you can offer and accept loyalty and gift cards for your business. Loyalty cards can increase the chance of return business and even referrals as people feel more compelled to shop with you to gain points or take advantage of certain promotions.
– Receipt offers – McDonald’s leaves custom offers on the back of receipts – and perhaps you’re the next McDonald’s!
– Email receipts – Receipts via email has a triple benefit: it’s convenient for the customer, it helps build up your CRM, and best of all, it’s great for the environment.
Got a Question?
Our team of professional question-answerers are happy to book you in for a five minute chat. We partner with all the leading software brands on the marketplace – so we can give you our honest opinion about which is best for your business. Or, we can tell you about payment processing, or hardware – just ask.