Does not compute

Early the early days of point of sale systems, the choice of which system to choose was easy to make. There simply weren't many options. But today things are much different, and choosing a POS system is a huge and important task.

The task is huge because there are so many more choices today. As recently as 1990, well into the "information age," only 60 percent of tableservice operators used computers, according to National Restaurant Association research. By 1996, 80 percent of tableservice operations were using computers. This increase has created a demand for newer, better, more efficient systems. The industry has responded with a wide range of options in both hardware and software.

The task is important because a POS system is an integral part of your daily operations, accounting and cost control systems, menu development, and even marketing plan. A good choice can make your life easier and more efficient. A bad choice can throw your operation into chaos in a matter of seconds.

Look into some of the larger companies, such as Micros, Squirrel and Aloha, as well as several others in your area, or recommended to you. Often companies exhibit at a distributor or restaurant association show. As you talk with the sales reps from various companies and begin to compare the features and benefits of each system, keep in mind your own operational needs, budget, technological savvy, and plans for growth. Here are some specifics to look for:

  • Can the system be integrated into your accounting and/or inventory systems?
  • Can it import your data from an existing POS system?
  • Will it track comps correctly?
  • Can it act as a time clock?
  • Does it track server sales for tip allocation?
  • Does the company have a good sales rep, and customer service program in your area?
  • Are there upgrades that won't break the bank?
  • Ask for referrals and testimonials from operators in your area who would be willing to talk with you about the system, the service, and the rep.

We've put together a customizable comparison checklist for you to use as you begin the process of comparison shopping.

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