Thermal printing takes place when a heated printhead contacts thermal paper. As the paper passes over the heated printhead the paper turns black at each place it is heated, creating words or images. Other colors are sometimes possible by applying heat at different temperatures to specially designed paper.
In 1993 only 5% of POS printers were thermal printers. By 2007 that percentage increased to over 34%. Today, almost all receipt printers are thermal and the number of thermal printers in the kitchen is growing fast.
Why use a thermal receipt printer in your restaurant?
Reliability - Thermal receipt printers use printheads that are about three inches wide and have no moving parts, on the other hand impact printers have about twenty or more moving parts and electrical devices. The printhead covers the whole width of the paper therefore printing one full line at a time. With no moving parts thermal printers are less likely to wear out. Less down time and fewer repairs directly affect your bottom line profitability.
Thermal printers are durable and easy to use. Because there is no ribbon, thermal printers cost less to operate than impact printers. Most mobile printers are thermal
High Quality Printing
In today's economy printer choice contributes to your restaurant's profitability. By choosing a thermal printer for the customer areas of your restaurant you will most likely see a decrease in total cost of ownership and an increase in customer service.
When designers think of placing a remote printer in the kitchen or bar they are probably thinking of increasing speed of service or accuracy in food and drink preparation. They are probably not thinking of these printers as a deterrent to theft.
You are the business owner cannot be everywhere at once. As much as you would like to keep a close eye on your operation the fact remains that you are not able to watch the kitchen, the bar and take care of the floor. Having a reliable Point of Sale system is a vital part of your overall operation, especially with regard to security.
When people think of places to steal in your business they automatically think of the cash register. That is the obvious choice since that is where the majority of the cash is kept. However, the next most obvious place people will steal is your kitchen or bar. That is where a good Point of Sale system with remote printers can really help deter theft and point out obvious problems.
No Receipt, No Food
It really is as simple as that. No food or drinks are prepared unless there is a receipt from the remote printer. In order to get this receipt the order must be placed by the server or cashier.
This simple concept can mean thousands in lost revenues due to dishonest employees not collecting for food that was prepared by the kitchen. Even in kitchens where the owner is the chef theft is a daily occurrence.
Dishonest employees will pass a hand written ticket to the kitchen. The food is prepared and served to the guest. No where is anything that closes this loop by requiring that the server or cashier actually record the sale.
In a Point of Sale system the food is rung up first, then the ticket is printed in the kitchen on any of several remote printers. No ticket is printed until the order is entered by the server or cashier. The loop is closed, and the margin for theft is dramatically reduced.
Multiple Remote Printers Close the Loop Tighter
Most Point of Sale systems have the option for multiple remote printers. 6 is not an uncommon amount to have. As the business owner you should be thinking of how many preparation stations that you have in your kitchen. You should strategically place remote printers at each of these stations to help secure that portion of the kitchen.
The Point of Sale system can be programmed to split the order by preparation station. This will allow the person working that station to prepare that portion of the overall order.
For you as the business owner, you should be paying attention to what is being prepared at each station and if there is a receipt that matches that item. If no receipt has been printed by the remote printer then no food should be being prepared at that station.
An expeditor printer should also be a consideration to print the entire order on a single receipt. This will allow the kitchen manager to know what each piece of the order is and what station is preparing it. The expeditor receipt will be essential in bringing the entire order together for delivery to the table. This too is a great theft deterrent in that the kitchen manager will know what stations should be preparing food and if a station is preparing something that was not ordered.
The History of Frequent Diner and Customer Loyalty
Since the creation of restaurants, owners have always wanted and needed to know who their customers are and what they like to eat and drink. This information is vital to the ongoing success of a restaurant.
In addition to knowing their customers they sometimes gave away food or drinks in an attempt to buy favor with those customers. While this worked in most cases there were no controls in place to prevent abuse by employees nor were there any requirements other than the good mood of the owner.
Abuse of this method of rewarding customers was rampant. Employees would take advantage of this and give the same favors to their friends. This drove food and bar costs skyward, while making the employees rich through additional tips from their happy friends.
In an attempt to control this madness someone came up with punch cards and stamps. The abuse of the system slowed but was not stopped. How many of us have gotten an extra punch in our cards or extra stamps from a waiter in an attempt to get a better tip? This happens daily in restaurants with this system.
Then came the counterfeiters of these cards and stamps. Recently the Subway chain had to end their 20-year old Sub Club stamp program for this very reason.
The Need to Manage Frequent Diner and Customer Loyalty
The need is great.
As the business owner you need your point of sale system to provide accurate customer information on buying habits, number of visits, frequency of visits, entice repeat visits and purchases through reward programs. Do all this while managing the programs and preventing "sweet hearting" by employees.
No small task. Especially with the creative employees that so many restaurants employ.
The Solution for Managing Frequent Diner and Customer Loyalty
Some point of sale software comes standard with a frequent diner or customer loyalty package that does all these things and more.
Some Frequent Diner Module utilizes secure methods of tracking your guests and their buying habits. You establish a database of guest's information with an account number. This number can be their phone number or any number system you desire. However, the most popular and most secure method is through magnetic cards with your logo on them. These cards act as a constant reminder of your restaurant by having your logo in their wallet or purse.
These Frequent Diner Module will secure the reward programs you put in place and preventing the employees from giving away food. Rewards are giving only when earned through purchases, frequent visits or for items on your menu that you wish to highlight. The establishment of reward programs takes your employees out of the game and puts you in charge.
You may establish multiple reward programs and assign them to customers on an individual basis. Not every frequent diner has to belong to every program. You have the choice of which customers are involved in which programs.
Reward programs can be established to highlight a new item, feature a portion of your menu or encourage your customers to come back during a specific meal period. Programs can be created to reward customers after a specified number of visits or for how much they spend.
Rewards can be a % off, $ off, a specified item free, or other creative rewards. You have the option to have instant rewards or make the reward good on their next visit.
The Benefit of Managing Frequent Diner and Customer Loyalty to You
Imagine being able to market directly to your customer base. Imagine having detail knowledge of their buying habits how often they came, when was their last visit, their anniversary and birthdays. With this information you could create marketing materials targeted at your customers and bring them back more often.
Imagine having the ability to establish reward programs to build meal periods that have been traditionally slow. If you need to build your lunch business, establish reward programs based around this meal period and then distribute your frequent diner magnetic cards to businesses and their employees in your area. Don't just sit back and wait on someone to walk in your door. Go out and get them!
Imagine having the ability to highlight low cost menu items and use them to reward customers.
In real dollars and profits the frequent diner module can generate huge results. Let's say you have a $10 ticket average per person with a 35% food cost. If you created a program that rewards a customer with a free appetizer every 5 visits. Appetizers have an average price of $4 and have the same 35% food cost.
If the person ate alone for those 5 visits you would have enjoyed $50 in sales and $32.50 in profits. Your customer has now earned a reward of a free appetizer on their next visit at a cost to you of only $2.60. This means that you have a net profit of $29.90 on sales that were increased through rewarding the customer for repeat visits. If this guest brought a date then your profits would have been $62.40 with a cost of the program of only $2.60! Imagine the rewards YOU will get for increased sales of your repeat customers.
Point of sale systems are never complete without printers. Not only do you need printers for receipts, journals and credit card payments, if you are a restaurant you need printers in the kitchen to help stop theft.
Printers in the kitchen are often overlooked for their importance in getting the orders to the kitchen, producing easy to read receipts and as a theft deterrent. Printers in the kitchen reduce noise and confusion and truly speed up service to your customers by eliminating trips to the kitchen to deliver food orders.
If you are a restaurant and do not have printers in your kitchen you might as well not have a point of sale system. That is how important kitchen printers are to your business.
Not too many years ago we installed a simple point of sale system in a small restaurant. The restaurant was a converted house where the owner of the restaurant was the chef. He felt that since he was running the kitchen and the restaurant was small that he had great control of the restaurant. His purpose for investing in a point of sale system was so that he did not have to read the hand written tickets being presented by his wait staff.
At the end of the first night of business with the new point of sale system we looked at the sales totals and found that they had done $300 more than identical nights in the recent past. For his size operation this was substantial. The owner was astonished as he swore that they had not prepared any more food than they normally would. He could not account for the additional business.
Upon further examination of the point of sale reports we found that he had a big increase in the amount of appetizers that were sold that night. He had not prepared that many more than he would only any other night, but the sales increase was definitely attributed to appetizer sales that night.
What this meant was the kitchen did not produce any additional food that night. The owner did have the kitchen completely under control. What he did not control without a point of sale system was the servers not charging for the food he was preparing.
The new system for preparing food required that a receipt be printed on the kitchen printer before the chef/owner would prepare the food. In order for this receipt to be printed the server had to enter the order into the point of sale system. This tandem of a point of sale system and a kitchen printer closed the loop for the restaurant owner.
This is a good example of a simple solution that too many restaurant owners overlook. Too often the kitchen printer is seen as an after thought and an unimportant aspect of a point of sale system. What the restaurant owner should look at is how many preparation stations do they have in the kitchen and how could we utilize printers to speed production and deter theft.
Instead of looking at the cost of kitchen printers the restaurant owners should be considering how these low-cost additions to their point of sale systems will have the fastest return on investment of any aspect of their new system.
You would never want your point of sale system to be down because you ran out of paper. The same is true with regard to not have a supply of ribbons to use when your existing ribbon gets too light to read.
We are not suggesting that you have a warehouse full of backup printers, but we are suggesting that you can almost eliminate your downtime by having a single backup printer for your business.
Receipt and remote printers are the parts of your point of sale system most prone to failure. They get the most use and have the most wear and tear of any part of your system. If a part of your point of sale system is going to break it will most likely be one of your printers.
The Reality of Service and Repairs
Point of sale dealers today are passing the manufacturer warranty directly to the business owner. In more and more situations, this means that the dealer that you bought the equipment from is not the person who is repairing the broken hardware. In most cases, they send the printer off for repair and never get beyond the simple repairs that can be done locally.
What this means for you is less cost of repairs but a longer down time. In many cases the local dealer will offer you a loaner program. Sometimes, this loaner program is in the form of a maintenance plan. Most maintenance plans call for you, the business owner to prepay for a quarterly or annual contract that covers repairs and a loaner. Look closely at the cost of this contract to fully understand what you are paying for. You might be shocked at the cost when compared to owning your own backup equipment.
Even in the best of situations you should expect to have hours of downtime if a replacement printer is needed. Even with your prepaid service agreement the technician has drive time to your place of business or there is shipping time if you are more than a day of travel from the service provider's office.
In most businesses this is totally unacceptable and can cause significant loss of customer service. If you are a customer oriented company, this is totally unacceptable. If you want to have your customers return for future visits then must avoid this situation at all costs.
You Have Backup Ribbons Don't You?
The price of printers are coming down along with the cost of other computer peripherals. There really is not need for your customers to suffer through the down time caused by a faulty printer. You keep backup supplies such as ribbons and paper for your printers. You keep other supplies in your operation and you should consider keeping a backup printer as well.
Even if you have a mixture of thermal printers and dot matrix printers in your point of sale system, you should consider having a simple dot matrix printer as a backup.
Printers today are almost all "plug and play" with identical printer drivers. This makes many of them interchangeable with other makes and models. In most cases you can exchange a dot matrix printer for a thermal printer without any difficulties.
The only real difference you might encounter is a speed difference between a thermal and dot matrix printer. Other than that you should not have any major problems exchanging a dot matrix for thermal at the point of sale.
For restaurants, you would not want to put a thermal printer in a kitchen environment simply because the receipt would turn black from the heat in the kitchen. For this reason, if you only bought a single backup printer for a point of sale system that had both thermal and dot matrix printers it would probably be a dot matrix printer.
What Printer to Buy?
Look at your point of sale printer to determine what type of interface it is. Many point of sale systems will use serial printers at all locations. This makes buying a replacement printer extremely simple. You need only buy a serial printer to backup all printers in your system.
In systems where a parallel printer is used as the point of sale receipt printer and a serial or Ethernet printer is used for the remote printer you will need to buy 2 different printers as most printers do not have multiple interfaces.
Note that I said most, as there are some printers that do have multiple interfaces. Please be sure before you buy that the printer truly will work with multiple interfaces.
The Benefits to You
This is easy. Downtime is reduced from hours or days to a matter of minutes. In the time it takes to call your service provider you could have already exchanged the broken printer and be back up servicing your customers. Now the situation is not as critical and your service provider can either dispatch a technician to gather your broken printer and send it off for service.
You are not as stressed by having your point of sale system be crippled by a down printer.
Your customers are not inconvenienced by not receiving a receipt, guest check or by having their food come out of the kitchen slow because the kitchen printer is down.
In a matter of minutes you are back up and running where before you could have been down for days by a low-cost part of your point of sale system that you could have exchanged yourself.
Don't be caught without a backup printer for your operation.
Balance Sales to Deposits
If the sale is recorded then there should be a corresponding deposit at the bank. It is just that simple. However, this is overlooked by the vast majority of business owners. Too many don't take the time to balance the 2 totals.
If a sale is recorded then the tender should be in the drawer. If not, someone should be held accountable for the difference.
Most restaurants that have servers have found a good method of accomplishing this through "Server Banking". In this method of doing business the server brings their own starting bank and makes change out of this bank. At the end of the shift the POS system will produce a report that shows credit card sales and a Cash Due amount. It is this Cash Due amount that the restaurant owner is interested in. The server produces this report, produces the credit card slips and then the exact amount owed the restaurant based upon the Cash Due amount. The rest of the cash they keep as their tips. The restaurant owner is never short when using this method.
Use the blind balance routine in most systems to identify employees who commonly steal from your cash drawer. This module will calculate exactly how much cash should be in the drawer and ask the cashier to count and blindly enter the amount of cash that is in the drawer. The report shows instantly the over/short of the drawer and will not allow the cashier to re-enter a new cash amount.
Using server banking and blind balance routines are great ways to match sales to deposits. By controlling your cash and charges you will see more of them actually reaching the bank.
Identify you Best Sellers
Use item and product movement reports to spotlight your top selling items. You should know almost daily what your best movers are and then make sure that you are never out of them.
To miss a sale is a terrible thing. Being out of your top selling items will cost you sales and profits. Stay on top of your best sellers to make sure that you don't ever miss a sale.
Just the opposite of this is knowing what is not selling in your business. All businesses work on turns of inventory. You should know what turns are expected in your vertical market. If you have product that is historically not meeting your turn expectations you should re-evaluate if you should continue stocking the item.
What is worse is an item that is not selling at all. In restaurants it does not pay to continue to stock an item that is not selling or restock an item because you threw the last case out.
In a retail store if you have to continue to knock the dust off of an item or if it has been on the shelf so long the packaging is starting to dry rot then you have a problem item.
Know what items are not selling, reduce them for quick sell and then do not restock them. You are much better off pouring this money into items that do sell or draw new customers into your business.
Understanding Your Labor Costs
The fastest way to impact your bottom-line profits is via your labor costs. Having a good idea of what you are spending on labor, forecasted to spend and your over/short regarding hours spent is critical to your profitability.
Using a POS system’s time clock feature will allow you to easily track the hours and dollars spent on labor. Taking reports daily gives you an idea of trends and will help you recognize when times are slow and when you should send people home. The right time to take a labor report might be when you see that sales are slow. See if your labor costs is running high and make cuts if necessary.
If your POS systems includes a labor forecast and labor scheduling module you should absolutely take advantage of this program. The time you spend learning and making the labor schedule will quickly pay dividends in the form of increased profits. Without doubt, this module will bring additional profits faster than any other back office module.
Think of the savings like this. If employees clock in 10 minutes early, it only takes 6 employees doing so to equal an hour of labor. At $15/hour that then equals to $105 per week or $5,460 per year is lost profits. Using the labor scheduling module and requiring employees to clock in on the POS system will stop them from clocking in earlier than their scheduled time and require manager approval to clock out late.
Use all of these reports and modules to understand your business, make mid-day adjustments and control your operation to increase your profits.
10. You have employees.
If you have employees you are open to theft, sweet-hearting and careless mistakes. You need a point of sale system to manage your employees, enforce your policies and ensure that your money gets to you.
9. Pricing and Math Errors.
It is still amazing how many restaurants still use a calculator and hand written tickets. According to studies done by various institutions you are open to math and pricing mistakes totaling in excess of 1% of your annual volume. In a restaurant doing as little as $1,300 per day that would add up to $4,700 per year. To eliminate pricing and math errors you need a point of sale system.
8. Time in Attendance.
Employee payroll is one of the most overlooked and most easily managed portions of your profit and loss statement. If you have 12 employees and each of them clocks in 5 minutes early a day, that equates to 1 hour per day of extra payroll. Even with minimum wage plus benefits this could add up to $15 per day or over $5,460 per year. This figure doesn't take into account the total man-hours it takes to compute time cards and then report on the hours worked for each employee. This is time that you could be spending elsewhere. If you have a few as 5 employees you need a point of sale system.
7. Reducing Theft.
This is the original reason for the invention of the cash register back in the late 1800's. Even when most of the businesses were family owned and run there was a need for a cash register to reduce theft. In today's world of hiring employees to help staff and manage your store there is even greater need for this type of control. For years we have known about the tendencies of people with regard to theft. 10% of the people wouldn't steal if giving the opportunity. 10 % of the people are going to steal no matter what safeguards are in place. 80% of the people will steal if given the opportunity. Point of sale systems are put in place to guard against the 80% and make it more difficult for them to steal from you.
6. Speed of Service.
There is only 1 thing we can think of that will drive customers away faster than bad food and that is slow service. When a customer places their order their own internal clock is running in overdrive. No matter how long they took to look over the menu and to place their order, once they have given your server or cashier their order their hunger clock is speeding along faster than a fan on high! You need a fast, reliable way to get orders into your system. This should mean a terminal that is fast, easy to understand and quick to respond to the touch of the server, cashier or bar tender. The system should also distribute the order properly to the kitchen prep station or bar. Your point of sale system should also measure your speed of service and report on how you are doing. Reducing the time it takes to get your customer's their food is critical and can even make up for less quality. For proof I give you some of the major fast food chains. Is their popularity based upon the best tasting, best dressed and best served burger or speed of service? If you want to speed up your customer service you need a point of sale system.
5. Enhanced Reporting.
What is the use of having a computer and not taking advantage of the power? If all you need is to have a total amount of cash in the drawer that sometimes matches to the amount of sales shown you probably don't need a point of sale system. However, if you want more detail and information to help manage your operation and make it more profitable then you need a point of sale system. It used to be that having a good product was enough to get you by. Now it takes a lot more information in order to compete with all the other restaurants in your market that are all looking for the same customer you have seated in your restaurant. You need to understand the buying habits of your customers. What are they ordering? When are they ordering it? What is your most profitable item? How many of it did you sell? What items on your menu are not selling? If you cannot answer all of these questions with total confidence in your answers then you need a point of sale system. If you hesitate to correctly answer (without guessing) any of these questions you need a point of sale system.
4. Exporting of Data to Other Systems.
Even most small businesses today have some form of electronic accounting in place either in their operation or through an accounting service. In addition, most businesses have an electronic payroll service or software that creates payroll. Point of sale systems capture critical data for you and then export this data in formats that automatically put this information into accounting and payroll packages, eliminating hours of tedious manual input that often leads to mistakes and human error. If you have an electronic accounting or payroll service/software or even if you want to track your sales in Excel, you need a point of sale system.
3. Integrated Credit Cards.
If you are not currently taking credit cards as a form of payment you need to start today. Never mind the fees. The loss of business that you are suffering in today's plastic minded economy will more than compensate for the fees charged. If you are currently taking credit cards through a stand-alone terminal you could be being charged exorbitant fees for the terminal when you could be processing through your point of sale system. In some cases, the elimination of the terminal rental will pay for the credit card interface in less than a year. With integrated credit card processing you are assured that the amount of the sale will match the amount charged on the credit card, eliminating the need to go back and match individual sales when the credit card batch does not match credit card sales. When high-speed Internet connections are used to process credit cards we receive approvals in less than 2 seconds. No longer is slower speed of service an excuse not to take credit cards. If you want to quickly, accurately and smoothly process credit cards you need a point of sale system.
2. Competitive Marketing.
a. Frequent Diner Modules. Who are your customers? What do they buy? How often do they visit? Of your frequent visitors, who hasn't been in to see you during the past month? Of your frequent visitors, who has a special day coming up this month? These are questions that you should have the answer to. All the major chains and all of your competitors are after the people who come to your restaurant. They want to take them for themselves. How are you going to compete with the billions of dollars being spent to draw your customer away? By marketing your operation and your menu. Your point of sale system should be able to manage your customer base, keep up with their buying habits, how often they visit, when was their last visit and what special occasions they have coming up. Your point of sale system then should be able to sort these into groups that should be sent mailers, coupons, invitations to special events or simply told that they are appreciated and asked to visit you again. If you have competition you need a point of sale system.
b. Gift cards have become the norm for so many businesses today. An entire industry has been formed around the old concept of giving a paper gift certificate. Today, you will find gift cards at most major checkout lines. A point of sale system should be able to sell, redeem and control balances for your own gift card program. No longer do you need a book of certificates that are kept in the safe. Today, all you need is a stack of blank plastic cards with your colorful logo on them. These cards carry no balance and have no cash value until sold and a balance placed on account. As an owner you should keep a few of these cards with you. Each of these cards might have a small balance on them for you to hand out to pull customers to your restaurant or to give in case of a poor experience to help bring someone back. Think of these cards as your personal marketing tool. When the customer looks in their purse or wallet and sees your logo they will be reminded to come visit you. If you use gift certificates or gift cards you need a point of sale system.
1. You Don't Need Any More 'Partners'.
Sure, you need gift cards. Yes, you need to better understand your customer's buying habits. You absolutely need to have credit cards integrated with your point of sale system. You need enhanced reporting and export of these reports to electronic accounting and payroll services. You need to eliminate errors, reduce mistakes and keep track of your payroll. But more than any of these you don't need any more partners. Especially the ones that take their portion of the profits before you get yours. We are talking about the servers, waitresses, bartenders and cashiers who:
a. Undercharge customers in order to enhance their own tips. Show a $5 tab and a $50 tip. (Yes, I have seen this!)
b. Deliberately void or delete an item after it has been paid for.
c. Stuff coupons into the cash drawer in exchange for cash.
d. Don't charge customers for soft beverages to enhance their tips.
e. Ring up a lower priced item (well brand) and serve a higher priced item (premium brand)
f. Give discounts to their friends.
g. In a buffet line, ring up a buffet and a tea. Reprint this ticket 10 times and sell and collect for themselves these reprinted receipts instead of ringing up new customers.
If you want to stay in business, you need a point of sale system.
The History of Hand Held Terminals in Restaurants
The desire for restaurant hand held terminals and wireless restaurant software has been around since the invention of the electronic cash registers in the 1980's. When restaurateurs saw the power of the electronic cash register how it stored and recalled orders, how it dispersed orders to various kitchen and preparation printers and how it helped control the flow of the restaurant the desire to have this power in the palm of your hand has been there. It is only recently that technology caught up to the demand.
In the 1990's a couple of companies introduced hand held terminals to restaurants with limited success. Displays were small and therefore limited menu items. Battery life was short and limited use. But the demand was still there because the tremendous benefits to the restaurant owner.
I distinctly remember a trip to an NFL game where the stadium food provider used Seiko hand held terminals to take orders from customers sitting in their seats. I was about 6 seats from the aisle and placed an order for a drink and a hot dog fixed the way I wanted. The server took the order, told me the total and I passed the money down to her. As I was receiving my change my food arrived from the kitchen! Now THAT is service.
More recently, restaurant software companies took advantage of the PDA craze and their technology and adapted their software to these devices. Screens became larger and could display entire menus. Battery life was extended and we had "hot swap" batteries that allowed you to swap a battery without losing the program.
Table service restaurants began entering orders at the table and having food runners deliver the food. The server/waiter only had to leave the floor when it is time to print the check.
Quick service restaurants began taking orders in the drive through ahead of the speaker box. Others began creating entire sections for curbside ordering where the customer parks and a server with a hand held takes their order and payment then the food is brought out to them.
With hand held terminals restaurants began providing a speed of service only dreamed of before.
The Need for Tablets in Restaurants
Today, tablets from Apple and others have taken POS technology to a new level of efficiency while lowering the cost of ownership. Touch screen tablets have dramatically reduced entry level costs while software takes advantage of the high speed processors and network capabilities offered by these tablets.
To be able to take orders at the table or car, receive payment and have the food delivered with amazing speed of service. Thereby increasing table turns and customer throughput.
The tablet needs to be reliable, durable (they do get dropped) and easy to operate. The battery needs to be able to last for hours. The database must be automatically backed up to the cloud via a wireless connection.
The network needs to be able to handle several terminals without slowing down the entire system. In some cases, the network needs to extend beyond the walls of the restaurant so additional customer may be served in patios, parks and parking lots.
The Solution Tablets Provide Restaurants
Through the use of wireless routers and wireless access points an entire restaurant can be set up for tablets for every server/waiter/manager. Additional wireless access points may be installed outside the restaurant to give broader coverage and allow for taking orders outside the restaurant.
We have one customer who walks across the street to a park and takes orders. The server collects for the food, even swipes a credit card and the system processes the approval without the server having to go to a terminal. A food runner brings the food to the person who is still sitting/laying in the park.
Servers/waiters are able to enter orders and take payments at the table. Managers are able to authorize voids, check sales and other manager functions from their tablet. Imagine the ability to view reports on a tablet or to approve a void without having to go to a terminal. All these things are possible with restaurant tablets.
The Benefits of Tablets to You
In Quick Service, if you were able to increase throughput to handle only 4 more customers per lunch rush at $5 per order, you would enjoy a similar $600 per month increase in revenue.
The History of the 86 Feature
The term, "86" started so many years ago that its origin has long since faded into the memories of all but a few restaurateurs. Suffice it to say, if you "86" an item you are out and you need to stop taking orders immediately.
A lot of table service restaurants use a board located near the kitchen to write items that have been 86st for the day. Servers are expected to actually read this board and remember the items that are not available. Some restaurateurs yell out the items as they run out. Problem is, the restaurant sounds more like an old style fast food restaurant with employees yelling at each other.
Yelling is not the only problem with trying to track items in this way. Like, who has time to write the items down? Also, do you really expect the wait staff to remember how many of each item is left? And then when the count gets down to 1 item left you know that 2 servers are going to sell that last item.
The Need for the 86 Countdown Feature
You need a fast and accurate method of letting the wait staff know the exact number of items left and then stop servers from ordering the item after the last one is sold. This needs to be displayed at each station every time the server goes to the terminal. It needs to be visual, eye catching and instantly updated each time an item is sold.
The Solution for the 86 Countdown Feature
Some restaurant point of sale systems come standard with an "86 Item Countdown" feature that displays actual counts, deducts from the count when an item is sold and then prevents sales of the item once it is sold out. All management has to do is set the count for the items to be tracked and the system will do the rest.
Every item being tracked will have the number of items left displayed on their menu button. Each time an item is sold from any terminal in the system the number available will decrement and update on every terminal. Once an item is sold out the item will no longer allow the item to be sold.
Some systems will even allow for an substitution menu to pop up for items that have been sold out.
The Benefit To You
Better communication to your wait staff means better service to your customers. Your wait staff will now be able to approach your customer with confidence about the quantity of items remaining and be able to quickly shift customers to other items when your daily specials are all sold out.
Customers will benefit from knowing before they order if an item is available. No one wants to order an item and have the server return to the table and be told that they can't have what they want. By using an 86 Item Countdown feature this problem will be reduced.
Something Extra For You
How about getting more than just a countdown of daily specials? How about using this feature in a bar to inventory bottled beer? Yes, you could use this same feature to inventory and count down bottle beers.
Other uses for this feature would be baked breads in a bakery/sandwich shop, pre-made salads in a fast food restaurant and tickets to a special event.
Use your imagination and you will be well pleased with the many other uses that are possible with this easy to use feature.
However, not all restaurant point of sale systems have this feature. Please make sure to ask to verify that this feature is available on the software you are considering.
The History of Server Prepared Drinks
Since the creation of food service waiters and servers have been pouring coffees, teas and sodas for their customers. A tradition of service that dates back as far as history records serving food.
Nothing new for today's restaurant diner except maybe a bit more variety in the choices of drink. And with servers and waiters vying for more and more tip income it only stands to reason that they are pouring more and more free refills.
So where is the problem? Your customers are getting better service and your wait staff is getting better compensated. All looks good on the surface.
But the question arises, are you getting paid for all those drinks, sodas and coffees? You certainly are paying for all the ingredients. Do your sales reflect the prices that should be charged?
The Need to Control Server Prepared Drinks
But what happens when the server forgets to ring up the soft beverage? Your servers and waiters are already pouring the same amounts of soft beverages so your food cost takes a hit. If they don't ring the drink to begin with (even if by mistake) then you are out the income that is supposed to offset the heavy pouring that is already taking place.
What you need is a way to enforce the ringing of at least 1 beverage/drink per person ordering food. Sounds simple, but not all point of sale systems can do this.
The Solution to Control Server Prepared Drinks
Some restaurant point of sale system have a feature that will allow you to establish items on your menu that will require a beverage, beer or drink be rung to match. For instance, you can set entree' items to require a beverage, beer or drink be rung to match. Of course, your software company should make a provision that a "No Drink" button be on the screen for those rare instances when a person doesn't even have a water to drink.
Prior to sending the order to the kitchen the software will scan the ticket to verify that items requiring a beverage do have a corresponding item. If not the software should display a warning message prompting the server to ring the appropriate item before allowing them to proceed.
If the guest does not want a soft beverage or simply wants a water then the appropriate key should be depressed, this will then allow the order to proceed. Management should inspect the nightly sales reports to observe how many "No Drinks" or waters are being served by each server. If one server seems to be out of line with the others then a problem may have been discovered.
The Benefit To You
The benefit to you is simple. You get paid for what is served.
The cost to you is nothing extra. You are already paying for the beverages being served. You are just not getting paid for them.
Take a look at what you could be losing right now.