This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute financial, legal, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
A restaurant point-of-sale can help you grow your business in many different ways. Yes, you use it to process customer orders and take payments from them, but it goes much further than that. The right POS system can make your business more efficient by lowering your business costs and helping you take orders faster – especially when your restaurant is busy. This will ultimately make your customers’ journey a far more pleasant one.
The valuable real-time information a POS collects helps you make smarter business decisions, and it no longer costs the earth either. Restaurateurs have shied away from POS systems in the past because of the price – traditional set ups with expensive hardware can make a serious monthly dent in your turnover. But newer cloud-based options have revolutionised the market, lowering the cost, improving scalability and making a user-friendly, functional POS available to businesses of all sizes.
You can get started with a restaurant POS system for a cost of as little as £0 (yes, really! As long as you use Square hardware the POS comes free).
POS hardware and solutions for every business type
What is a restaurant POS system?
A basic restaurant POS system lets you take orders and process payments. But a fully functional system offers so many more features - kitchen display systems, table management, mobile payment options, multiple location management, staff management, inventory management and automatic tipping to name but a few.
Why do you need a restaurant POS system?
Where before servers had to rely on notepads to take an order, these days it’s far more likely to be a tablet or a Smartphone. While there’s a certain nostalgia associated with pen and paper, it’s also an inefficient way to keep your restaurant running smoothly.
A restaurant POS takes the guesswork out of it, allowing rapid input of orders (with mitigated risk of mistakes), syncing front of house with the kitchen and making life much easier for your staff.
What factors into the cost of a restaurant POS system?
Modern cloud-based POS systems are very reasonably priced, meaning you can level up your restaurant management system without parting with too much of your hard-earned cash.
The main cost of a POS system is in the hardware, software and payment processing. With a little research you can work out which parts make the most sense for your business. This will depend on your restaurant’s needs and size. For example, if you operate in a large premises with many servers, multiple mobile devices which allow you to take payment at the table are almost essential. Similarly, if space is at a premium, an iPad system takes up less counter space and can move around with you as you meet and greet customers giving them a smooth experience.
So, how much does the average POS system cost you might ask? Well, it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer, but an entry level setup from Square with a cash drawer, printer and tablet starts from £979 + VAT. If you have your own tablet and just need the stand it’s £339 + VAT. But if all you need are payment terminals to begin with you can buy them for as little as £149 + VAT.
POS hardware factors
Square Terminal is an all-in-one credit and debit card payment terminal which lets customers pay their bills from the comfort of their table. The beauty of this is it integrates with your restaurant POS to create one seamless dining experience.
Other POS hardware
Square Register comes with a USB printer, making it easy to give your customer an itemised receipt. You can even take orders and payments from your mobile phone if that’s what works for your business.
POS software factors
Kitchen display system
A kitchen display system will transform your restaurant service and should be high up on your equipment wish list. Kiss goodbye to fiddly bits of paper getting lost in between prep tables and instead keep all orders in one place and on track. You can sync orders between the front of house and the kitchen and speed up operations with reports that give you data on prep time and more.
Additional POS features
Table mapping is a feature of Square Restaurant which lets you map a virtual version of your restaurant layout. The floor plan feature is fully customisable so you can ensure it reflects the size and layout of your eatery.
Square offers full multi-location management if you have more than one restaurant. You can make your devices location-specific, create per-location libraries and add linked locations. As your business scales you can add in more locations and create multi-location reports to compare performance.
Square menu management gives you full control over what you sell. Either upload your existing menus or create brand new ones. You can use individual SKUs for each item, create variations and set low stock alerts.
Gift cards are a great way to boost sales and encourage new customers through the door. Through your Square dashboard you can sell physical cards to your diners or let them buy online.
Online ordering has grown substantially since the pandemic but having a comprehensive system to make it a smooth experience is essential. Through Square Online diners can order at home and on the go. The system integrates with top delivery partners such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo as well as OpenTable software.
POS training and installation
Having a superb POS is one thing but if you and your staff don’t know how to use it it’s very ineffective. Online training is cheaper and faster, while in person training gives you greater depth but is more expensive. If you’re opening a new restaurant, it’s something you’ll need to factor into your start-up costs.
Square Restaurant is designed so you can get up and running in minutes but if you’ve got a question our support team is on hand to offer practical help and advice.
Why choose Square for your restaurant POS system
The POS system is the beating heart of your restaurant and while there are lots of POS operators on the market, not all of them are equal. When you’re right in the middle of a busy service the last thing you want is interruption because the system just isn’t up to the job.
Some offer fully integrated systems, others may only have the hardware or software and you might need to shop around for a separate payment provider. All of these can carry costly monthly fees or tie you in for long contracts (Square has neither). You also need to be aware of the per transaction fee as this can vary.
Square’s system is budget-friendly but doesn’t compromise on functionality and usability – it just sits in the background quietly doing its job, enabling you to get on with serving diners and taking payments.