The restaurant business is one of the few that haven’t fundamentally changed in the last fifty years. Kitchen equipment and table-side service have mostly remained constant. People value many of the same features in a restaurant today that they did in the mid-20th century – clean surfaces, attentive service, and great food.
Slowly, technology is changing the nature of this business, and one of the most basic changes is the way that revenue is transacted. The Internet and fast-paced merchant systems have made credit card sales a snap. A mobile POS terminal has a chance to increase the speed with which payments are made, in part by increasing the pace at which orders are placed.
A good mobile POS terminal constantly places the power of placing orders, printing out checks, and running credit cards where it should always be – in the palms of servers’ hands. Mobile POS systems are handy and convenient. More importantly, they immediately place point-of-sales service where the sale is taking place – at the table. They are a fundamental answer to the question of how to expedite sales even further.
As technology continues to transform business, it tends to become cheaper. This is the case with mobile POS systems, which are far more affordable than when they were five years ago. Back then, they were something of a gimmick, and very few restaurants used them. By now, many chains around the country have adopted them, restaurants with iPads are on the increase, and there’s a decent chance than anyone who dines out regularly has seen them. But are they right for your restaurant?
Most restaurants that use mobile POS systems keep the handheld devices in a bin or basket near the kitchen. Servers do not need to carry them constantly. Instead, they pick one up, log in, and carry it around as long as necessary. They’re durable, lightweight, and small enough to fit in many apron pockets. They offer several other advantages, including:
- Ring in orders quickly: Pads and pencils are a thing of the past. Servers simply place orders as they go and send after walking away from the table, or when they’re sure the order is complete.
- Create more work space: Millions of crowded kitchens and bars in millions of restaurants have POS terminals squeezed between other equipment – an iced tea urn and a bread service area, for example. The extra space can make workers more efficient.
- Eliminate standing in line: Servers no longer get caught standing in line, wasting valuable minutes while they should be at the table or in the kitchen.
- Access to information: Servers with POS terminals in their hands have access to recipes, submenus, and payment reports, saving time when questions are asked at the table.
Who Stands to Benefit
The restaurant that is best served by mobile POS units is the fast-paced, casual to semi-casual restaurant with trusted servers. Since chain restaurants may have access to discounts with bulk purchases, they are more frequently taking advantage of the technology to this point. Smaller restaurants may also see a benefit by freeing up space. It’s likely that upscale, slower-paced restaurants would not benefit as much because of slower table turnover.
As with any investment, the operator has to see how the purchase will benefit the bottom line. Server mobility increases table-turning by speeding up ordering and keeping servers at the table, where they can quickly take care of guests’ needs and payment. They provide a solution to restaurants that have trouble keeping servers at tables, or for whom substandard service is an ongoing problem.
The fact is that millions of restaurants around the country fit these descriptions. Anyone that is looking for a new or innovative way to generate revenue for a restaurant – especially one that leverages technology – should consider a mobile POS terminal as an opportunity to make a difference.