It’s been a long journey for you to make it to this point: years of culinary school, long hours of apprenticeships in hot kitchens, slicing and dicing your way to your dreams of one day owning your own restaurant. Here you are at the precipice, and once you jump headlong into the future, there is no turning back. You have reached that moment of career realization, the one where you bravely take a step forward and choose the right White Paper to read before choosing the right POS for your restaurant. It is a beautiful moment for you, dear reader. Savor it like five year gouda paired with an earthy Malbec.
OK, now stop it. People are staring.
You, of course have realized that the process of choosing a white paper can be a difficult one, and so we will begin at the beginning. There are several companies out there publishing detailed papers about purchasing Point-of-Sale systems, but the truth is many are basing their arguments on obsolete data and outdated technologies. If the one you’re considering has a chapter on acceptable mercury levels in your server, you could stand to find something newer. In fact, if the one you’re reading even mentions you having a server, get rid of it. This is the persistent problem with modern day white papers. They focus or rely on the entrenched technologies, the ones that have a wealth of performance and business-impact data that can be spun any way to advance the point the white paper was created to address. A critical eye to the facts and figures—and sources of information—an author uses in her research can often expose biases to the information.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This white paper, brought to you by a cloud computing POS company, will address several aspects of “cloud computing” and “POS technology” by way of analyzing what other people have said about it. This distinction is important because, while we are completely biased as to what software you may choose, it doesn’t matter to us which white paper you read before you choose our software. We’re just trying to give you some unbiased assistance in choosing the right white paper, which is well outside of our revenue model (this paper notwithstanding).
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A common approach that legacy white paper companies take is to begin by posing a series of questions. These are the kinds of questions you’d ask as you narrow down your requirements for a new POS. The problem with this approach—as implemented by the old school white paper community—is that it wastes a lot of your time asking needless questions. Stay away from any white paper that suggests questions like the following:
The question refers to hardware like servers, disk storage, tape backup, or any other accessory required to run the POS in a way that last made sense before smartphones took over the planet.
If not, what level of support can you afford? Again, this a relic from another era. The idea of having to worry about hardware and software staying current seems quaint, at best.
When anyone in your life starts quoting Michael Bolton, even POS Buyer’s Guides, you must eliminate that person from your life.
Newer guides will feature a series of questions meant to help you decide between a local or cloud based POS. But it’s our recommendation that you stay away from any white paper that still considers the idea of a local install viable for a small business. Maybe building out a small data closet to host your system makes sense, if you’re 70 and that’s the way you’ve always done it. But you’re not 70. We know: we’ve done the market research. So let’s just dispel with any notions of a local install right now. The costs are too great, the benefits too low. To save you the trouble of having to consult another white paper on the advantages of cloud based systems, we’ve compiled a little table here to show how each stacks up.
As you can see below, any white paper that wastes your time going down the local installation route is simply, um— well, wasting your time. Instead, the white paper of your choosing should ask you to ask the questions around what you actually need out of a POS. What do you want it to do? If the buyer’s guide you’re looking at contains most or all of these questions, that’s a good sign:
Additionally, there should be some questions specific to your industry. For a restaurant, these are things you’ll want to know if your POS can do or not:
These are all the types of valid questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you consider a POS, and any Buyer’s Guide that doesn’t mention at least half of these should be tossed right into the bin.
Interesting fact: Bruce Leaves runs on Kounta
Do a google search on the question “How much should I spend on a POS?” and you’ll find that the conventional wisdom recommends spending somewhere between 1% and 2% of your revenue. Do a google search on how this number was arrived at, and you’ll be hard pressed to unearth anything that looks like empirical evidence to support the claim. It’s simply ludicrous. Consider the same line of thought applied to any other purchase you make.
“Hello, I’d like a beef taco, with lettuce, cheese, onion, tomato, and salsa,” you’d say.
“OK, ma’am,” the employee says, “how much money do you make?”
“Ermh- I hardly see how that’s rele—”
“I just need to see how much you should be spending on a taco.”
“I’m not going to spend any more than 4 or 5 dollars for a taco,” you reply.
“Well, sure,” he says, “not if you’re making less than $25K a year. Above that, and you’re looking at $10 – $15 each. So what’s your income?”
“Am I getting the same beef taco for $15 as I would for $5?”
“Oh, no, ma’am. The shell is made from organic whole grain corn, and the beans are rinsed and soaked overnight to prevent gas.”
“But I don’t want beans.”
“Oh, they come with the $15 taco, ma’am. No extra charge.”
Clearly, this doesn’t work. But wait, the same people pushing the percentage line on you will say, you’re neglecting to calculate the ROI based on long term cost savings and new revenue generated after the purchase.
Uh-huh. I am neglecting to calculate that, on the grounds that you can’t do math on numbers that don’t exist yet. Cost savings and revenue can only be realized when they are in the past, and any numbers someone will throw at you for the future are just averages based on the past. And those numbers can be massaged any way you like. So, here’s the ugly truth about ROI: First, it can’t ever be figured out with any degree of certainty. Second, if you’re talking with your salesperson about the return on your investment, it means you’re not convinced the software is worth the asking price. This isn’t to say that you won’t get any return on your investment in a new system, with any upgrade you most certainly will. But you just can’t know it till it’s happened, and shouldn’t be a factor in a purchase decision. So, steer clear of any Restaurant POS Buyer’s Guides that take you down a rabbit hole of budgetary questions and numbers and percentages and stuff. If there’s no section on budget, so much the better. You know what you can afford.
The title of this white paper clearly states it, this is a Buyer’s Guide to assist you in finding the right Buyer’s Guide for a Restaurant POS. But what do I mean by that phrase, “Restaurant POS?” The fact is, any type of foodservice establishment has some special needs that a generic or retail focused POS Buyer’s Guide will be not be able tackle properly. A size and color matrix might be useful if you’re running one of those molecular gastronomy places, but for the rest of the hospitality industry? Not so much. So make sure that the Guide you’re considering has a keen understanding of your industry. In that way you’ll be sure that you’ll end up with the guidance you need to choose a POS company that understands your industry, too.
A few things that your chosen Buyer’s Guide ought to focus on—topics that you really ought to consider—are really what we talk about when we talk about restaurant POS. And if your Buyer’s Guide isn’t talking about these sorts of things, then it’s time to move to another Buyer’s Guide.
Not everyone needs table layouts integrated with their POS, but it’s a good question to be asking, especially if you’re considering an expansion.
This is a key question, and any Buyer’s Guide that doesn’t have you ask it is probably a prank played on you by a competitor. Human error, from server to kitchen staff, are behind many kitchen foul-ups. Your investment in a new POS is a step towards reducing errors as much as possible. Being able to dictate where each item of an order gets printed—food to the kitchen, drinks to the bar—automates the process, reducing errors and increasing efficiency.
How will you be tracking inventory? This is also important, and any company publishing a white paper on finding a good restaurant POS that doesn’t address this simply doesn’t have a clue about the industry. If you’re a cafe, selling coffee and pre-wrapped sandwiches, you probably don’t need any inventory management too fancy. But a full service restaurant needs to be able to track ingredients. It helps with communicating menu changes to customers in real time, but also lets you stay on top of keeping things stocked.
A Buyer’s Guide that’s taking a proactive look at POS uses is liable to be a very helpful one.
As you can see, the job of the proper Restaurant POS Buyer’s Guide is to get you thinking about the things that affect your specific industry the most, and then help guide you to figuring out what’s most appropriate.
Amazingly, many Buyer’s Guides are still making a big deal about the purchase process, encouraging you to read the fine print and make sure every item/feature is accounted for on a quote or invoice. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s, plan a few weeks worth of work for migration, make sure your network is all cabled up and the new hardware is in place. You’ll want to buy training for your employees, and support contracts for your software and hardware, and professional services to install it all. These Buyer’s Guides then tell you that you should expect to wait 6 weeks for all the equipment to arrive and for the vendor to build your menu, then installation itself will take a week of work to get all the data in place and ready to go. This is pretty complicated stuff. Or is it?
This is where getting your information from the wrong Buyer’s Guide can be catastrophic. That 7 weeks of lead time and installation sounds pretty tense, like it’s a big operation fraught with uncertainty. Cloud computing largely addresses these issues. There’s no server or software to install, because they’re already installed. Backups are already scheduled, security is already in place. There’s usually the small matter of configuring your store on the server (Name, Address, Tax Rates, etc.) and in a matter of minutes you’re ready to start adding inventory. Any modern Buyer’s Guide will certainly steer you towards something with built-in capabilities to mass import your data (inventory, customers, suppliers). And many cloud software companies will offer free onboarding services to make sure that everything gets imported correctly. The length of time between signing up or a service and being ready to use it could be as little as a couple of hours. In many cases you can continue to use your existing POS terminals.
Computing doesn’t have to be difficult, and if you find yourself intimidated by what a Buyer’s Guide is laying down, just back away. Oftentimes, these White Papers or Buyer’s Guides are published by the very companies looking to sell you complicated solutions and lock you into contracts. This document is different. Yes, as we’ve noted, it was written and provided to you by Kounta, the developer of a best-in-class cloud based POS for restaurants and cafes. Kounta does things differently, starting with this White Paper you hold in your hand. It’s merely an analysis of what to look for in a good POS Buyer’s Guide, and not an endorsement for any POS itself. By taking our advice on how to find a good guide to assist your research, we’re confident you’ll end up with something thorough, and that asks the right questions. And we’re pretty confident one of those guides will recommend Kounta, because we totally do everything that was described above.