Leverage point-of-sale solutions to reduce restaurant operating costs

January 30, 2024 | 4 minute read

The challenges of running a restaurant are well documented. From securing startup capital to hiring staff, there is no shortage of hurdles that test even the most experienced restaurant owner. But perhaps one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of owning a restaurant is ensuring that your operations are running as smoothly as possible. And one of the most valuable solutions for restaurant owners who want to fine-tune their business is a point of sale (POS) solution.


“I always encourage the restaurant owners we work with to monitor and streamline their back-of-house operations,” says Lisa Richardson Waller, vice president and small business product manager at Bank of America. “The last few years have demonstrated just how vulnerable restaurants are to unforeseen economic shocks, which is why it’s so critical that managers and owners have the information they need to make timely decisions, respond to trends and keep a lid on expenses.”


Not only are POS systems vital for controlling costs, but the latest versions on the market are increasing in popularity because they can also do so much more than process credit card payments. In fact, in a 2022 survey of independent restaurant owners, 61% of respondents reported using handheld POS terminals compared with 27% five years earlier.1


If you’re not currently using a POS solution for your restaurant, below are three ways in which it may help streamline critical day-to-day activities — and free you up to focus on other aspects of your business.


1. Use POS reports to track important metrics and make informed business decisions

Like so many technology solutions on the market today, POS systems designed for restaurants have evolved and are more multifunctional than ever before. However, with 55% of restaurants that offer table service yet to adopt handheld devices, there’s considerable progress to be made.2


The best POS systems on the market today integrate both payment and business management data in a single system, which provides owners with a better view into their business. For example, a smart POS system produces reports that can help restaurant managers and owners monitor key metrics and quickly pinpoint any areas of concern, such as labor or food costs.


“Having this level of detail at your fingertips makes it easier to address problems before they spiral out of control and affect the bottom line,” suggests Waller.


2. Efficiently manage staff and schedules

Restaurant owners know that it’s impossible to manage employees every second they’re on the job. Fortunately, the latest POS systems usually build in employee management resource planning, which doesn’t require another third party.


Let’s say, for example, having these integrated systems helps you realize that your labor costs are high. This is the perfect time to shift your attention to making more efficient use of your staff. Similarly, your POS system can pinpoint when your restaurant has the most customers, which enables you to reduce staff during slow times and increase staffing when warranted.


POS solutions for restaurants also have features to help manage staff such as shift reminders via text message, settings that prevent employees from clocking in early or even cameras that photograph employees clocking in to prevent co-workers clocking in for someone else.


3. Evaluate detailed inventory tracking to reduce food costs

One of the biggest challenges facing restaurant owners is keeping tabs on inventory. The good news is that daily inventory tracking via your POS system can help you better manage food costs and see exactly how they may be changing over time.


“The digital supply chain available in an intelligent POS system helps you quickly track inventory and control costs in the event rising food costs are jeopardizing your profitability,” Waller suggests.


The inventory tracking functionality can help you think about innovative approaches to managing your supplies in several ways:


  • Incorporating seasonal ingredients to trim produce costs
  • Identifying ingredients that are nearing expiration
  • Using surplus or overstocked ingredients for daily specials so you can generate revenue instead of throwing food away
  • Determining which are your top-selling items and ensuring you have enough stock to meet demand


Keeping your restaurant on track

The technology supporting today’s restaurant POS systems has become more advanced, and solutions providers are continually updating their offerings with added functionality. If your system is out of date, consider an upgrade. And if you have a newer system, make sure you’re taking full advantage of its features. The easier it is to track your restaurant’s vital statistics, the easier it will be to stay tuned in to your business — and ultimately keep it on track.

1RestaurantOwner.com, “POS System Survey,” 2022.


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