Restaurant POS Software: 11 Must-Have Features for Chefs
October 23, 2019
With all the hustle and bustle of a dinner rush, your restaurant staff can get overwhelmed, especially your chefs.
Many restaurants purchase their POS software based on the needs of their customers and their employees who interact with customers, like cashiers and servers. However, few recognize the importance of considering system usability for their chefs, as well.
Your cooks are one of your business’s most important assets, if not the most important asset. They drive your customers’ experiences, so they shouldn’t have to waste their time with a clunky or unintuitive POS system that prevents them from doing their job.
Picking the right software can be difficult, so be aware of helpful features that can improve your business. When shopping for the best point-of-sale software for your restaurant, look out for the following necessary features for chefs:
- Speedy Interface
- Easy Management
- Inventory Control
- Detailed Product Reports
- Secure Mobility
- Accessible Online Sales
- Customer Order History
- Reliable, Customizable Hardware
- Stock Transfers Between Stores
- Comprehensive Training
- Quality Customer Service
Without your chefs, your restaurant couldn’t operate. Cooks are your restaurant’s leaders and need all the help they can get to run an efficient kitchen. Focus on making their experience just as good as your customers’ experiences, and your kitchen staff will be thankful!
If you need a quick refresher on the basics of restaurant POS systems and how they differ from retail platforms, check out this guide.
1. Speedy Interface
An intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate and use quickly is arguably the best feature in a point-of-sale system. When you have a Friday night dinner rush, a laggy system is your worst nightmare. Many of these systems rely on your internet bandwidth speed, so if you have slow internet, you’ll have a slow POS system, too.
Oftentimes, if your system isn’t processing properly (e.g. running slowly), there’s likely a network problem. To resolve this, try resetting your router. If the issue persists, it may be a problem with your POS system. Start by regularly updating your system, and if the problem continues, it may be time to upgrade to a new POS system provider.
All systems should be designed with efficiency in mind, but not all systems are. Your system should save time, not interrupt your workflow. When deciding on a new system, find out if it’s a local hardwired type, wifi-based, or both. From there, pick the type that will easily integrate in your restaurant’s daily operations.
2. Easy Management
Your point-of-sale system should work with you, not against you. There are hundreds of features out there, but if you choose software that offers features that you don’t really need, your workspace will be cluttered. A cluttered system makes it more challenging to find the features you do need, which is especially true when you’re on a time crunch.
Your system should allow you to complete basic tasks, like:
- Place orders
- Send tickets to the kitchen
- Limit which tickets/items the kitchen, bar, etc. need to receive
- Reorder drinks
- Update the menu
When your system is easy to use, your chefs can see exactly what they need when they need it. They won’t have to deal with excessive amounts of paper orders and can have all the information condensed onto one device.
Tip: To test a specific system, most software offers a free trial. That way you can test its functionality with your own staff and see if it’s a good fit.
3. Inventory Control
If your software offers inventory management, there’s no excuse not to use it. Chefs can update inventory as they go, so servers won’t have to step away from customers to check on the remaining stock in the kitchen.
When you have low-stock notifications, your cooks can save time by not needing to reiterate the low inventory to multiple servers when they place customers’ orders for unavailable dishes. This increases efficiency and improves the relationship between your cooks and servers.
Your kitchen should keep track of ingredients and raw goods, and doing it via a POS system is much quicker than by hand. Some systems even have the ability to give nutritional analysis and provide current ingredient pricing, allowing for smoother recipe and menu management.
Having the option to update menu items is also beneficial for your cooks, but some software requires all workstations to be restarted to see these changes, slowing down your staff. Look for an intuitive system that immediately shows these updates.
4. Detailed Product Reports
When you’re revamping your menu or creating a seasonal menu, you’ll want quick access to the best- and worst-selling menu items at specific times of the day, week, and year. A sales report does exactly this and helps you determine which ingredients the kitchen should stock up on or cut back on.
Choose a system that allows for custom reporting. That way, you can cut back on additional features you don’t need and zone in on your desired statistics. Some systems even allow you to toggle between numerical data and visual data like charts.
When you have a system that offers customizable, in-depth sales reports, your kitchen can find areas of improvement in their menu. You’ll boost sales and customer satisfaction.
5. Secure Mobility
You want sleek, mobile registers for seamless transactions, but what about mobility for your kitchen? Your kitchen staff will want to be able to pick up and go as they fill orders. You don’t want them wasting time going back and forth between a stationary list of orders and their workstation.
For instance, if you can use mobile devices like tablets, your chefs can quickly reference order tickets and move to different workstations with ease. They’ll also be able to instantly reference and update inventory counts as they go! Your entire restaurant should run seamlessly, which means having a mobile kitchen instead of once that’s slowed down by fixed terminals.
For more mobility throughout your whole restaurant, consider a mobile point-of-purchase system. You’ll want a cloud-based system that’s reliable and safe. Make sure all your customers’ and employees’ data will be secure through authentication and authorization with your new POS system.
6. Accessible Online Sales
Restaurants often run into the issue of synchronizing their online sales with their day-to-day operations. Instead of being greeted by angry customers whose online orders haven’t been fulfilled, you should have a POS that directly notifies your kitchen of incoming online orders.
Your software should integrate your online orders and in-person orders. Orders should correctly pull up based on a customer’s pickup time. On the customer’s end, you want a positive user experience, so make sure your system’s reliable and that no orders fall through the cracks.
All too often, customers get frustrated with making a purchase online and end up canceling their orders because of poor user experience. Swoop’s article on shopping cart abandonment highlights how these issues can be better addressed with the right approach to user experience on your website.
7. Customer Order History
When you have quick access to specific customers’ order histories in a customer database, you know who’s buying what and when. This allows you to better market your products and allows your cooks to prepare the right items at the right time.
By comparing customers’ order history and your detailed product reports, your chefs will know what they’re doing right and which dishes they can improve on or eliminate.
8. Reliable, Customizable Hardware
If your chefs are in the middle of preparing meals for dozens of hungry customers, the last thing you want is for your hardware to shut down on them. Some POS companies offer devices, like tablets, you can use with your system while others allow you to use your own devices.
Whichever route you take, make sure it’s reliable. Choose a system that allows users to customize their view and allows you to restrict employees’ access based on their position. That way, your chefs won’t be stuck staring at payment information while they’re trying to serve up meals.
9. Stock Transfers Between Stores
If you have multiple stores, inventory transfers can be a pain to keep up with. If you have a system that’s integrated between multiple locations, it should allow you to control inventory and view which inventory is located at which location.
With a POS system that offers inventory management, your chef will be able to evaluate current inventory and decide whether transferring a product to another store is feasible. With an online system, your kitchen staff will be able to read these stats in real-time, instead of having to set aside time to assess inventory or having to guess as to how much stock can be transferred without hurting their own restaurant’s operation.
It can be frustrating for chefs to get halfway through preparing a meal, only to realize the ingredients they need aren’t even there. Your waiters will then have to inform customers that their order can’t be fulfilled, leaving servers embarrassed and customers angry. Don’t put your cooks, servers, and customers in this position.
10. Comprehensive Training
When you’re properly trained on your system, you get the most bang for your buck. Not all systems come with training, so ask before purchasing. While some POS companies offer a trainer that works with you remotely or onsite, others have basic training videos posted online.
When you have adequate training that suits your staff, your chefs won’t have to waste time teaching new kitchen staff on how to use your sales system. This will give your chefs more time to serve customers and properly manage their kitchen.
11. Quality Customer Support
If your system malfunctions, you’ll want an effective customer support team for your system on your side. Otherwise, you’ll be facing the backlash of dozens of angry customers and an overwhelmed kitchen staff trying to fulfill unorganized handwritten orders.
Every system has its hiccups, so make sure your POS software provider has helpful, efficient customer support. Verify that they have 24/7 support, so your staff can contact them whenever something goes wrong.
A system with additional features like this can increase the cost of your system. Take a look at Lavu’s guide to restaurant POS system costs to help determine what features are most important to your restaurant.
Tip: When researching POS systems, don’t call the sales number first; call the support number first. That way, you can gauge how they’ll respond in the event your POS shuts down on you.
When choosing a restaurant POS system, there are several features you’ll want to consider to keep things running smoothly and quickly.
Remember you want a speedy, easy-to-manage system that can connect with reliable devices. Make sure your software offers online sales, order history, and stock transfers between stores.
Inventory control and sales reports can help you identify your best- and worst-selling menu items, so chefs can adjust accordingly. To run a seamless kitchen, choose a system that offers comprehensive training and 24/7 support, too!
Keep your chefs in mind when choosing your new system, because they’re one of your strongest assets and drive your business!