You probably rely on your point-of-sale system for your most crucial work at your restaurant. It’s your cash register, it keeps track of the stages of courses that have landed on your tables, and it crunches schedules to help you manage labor. But your restaurant point-of-sale software, or POS system, can do so much more.
If you tap into your restaurant point-of-sale system’s full potential, it can reveal crucial data. Which you can then use to manage your business efficiently and nudge your customers toward a richer experience, altogether increasing your profits. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your restaurant-point-of-sale software to grow your business.
Getting the Most Out of Your POS System
At its most basic, your restaurant point-of-sale system was designed to improve your transactions with customers. But the system offers many other features that can help you to manage your business. Because there are so many POS systems to choose from today, the systems have become more affordable and accessible to more restaurants and caterers.
The tools of the restaurant point-of-sale system allow you to track your food costs, inventory, staffing, and productivity. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Using a POS system’s predictive analytics tools, you can also study trends and anticipate the needs of your customers. If one day your kitchen and waitstaff tell you that a certain dish is popular, you can get a complete picture of that dish’s sales by directing your restaurant point-of-sale software to track the dish across days, weeks, months, even seasons. You may discover that the double-cut, bone-in ribeye is most popular on Saturday nights because there is a type of customer who trickles in at that time. For caterers, if you use your restaurant point-of-sale system in tandem with ezCater’s ezManage tool you’ll get a robust look at your orders and this will give you a chance to analyze business trends.
The New York Times notes that more and more restaurants are turning to data mining to understand their customers better. Restaurant point-of-sale systems are collecting a myriad of data, and you can use that data to predict future sales and customer behavior to improve restaurant operation.
Here are just a few of the insights you can grab from your point-of-sale system:
- Customer demographics culled from online reservations and credit-card transactions (names, phone numbers, email addresses)
- Wait times for tables
- Most popular (and least popular) dishes and drinks
- Busiest days and times of business
- Your servers’ productivity and sales activities
Just remember that it’s not enough to simply collect the data from your restaurant point-of-sales software. You also have to spend the time to understand what the data means and use it to make small changes that can go a long way for your business.
Tips: How to Harness the Power of Your Data
Once you’ve gathered your data, what do you do with it? Here are five tips for using the data pulled from your restaurant point-of-sale software.
- Optimize Your Menu: Take a look at the most popular and least popular dishes on your menu. If you know that every weekend the filet mignon sells out, make sure you always have the ingredients in stock. If your beet salad isn’t getting traction, maybe it’s time to take it off the menu and try something new.
- Create Promotions for Slow Seasons: Track the days and times that bring in the most revenue. But also look at your slowest periods of business. If Tuesdays are slow at lunchtime, offer a new deal for a half-priced soup-and-salad deal. Or offer two-for-one drinks on a night when you don’t normally get traffic at the bar.
- Turn Your Regulars into VIPs: Anecdotally, you know who your regular customers are. But looking at your data, you can now see that Bob and Martha Smith come in every Friday night for dinner and usually order the lobster with a bottle of wine. If you know an event is coming up or a popular holiday, send the couple an offer to reserve their table. Or if a late guest pushes Bob and Martha’s table back, offer the couple complementary glasses of their favorite wine so they can enjoy the night as they wait. Make Bob and Martha feel special and they will continue to come in every Friday night, and they’ll probably tell their friends, too.
- Customize Offers: You know your customers’ ordering history. So when you’re doling out special deals or offers, you can make sure that your customers get an offer suited to them. You can tell if a customer might be a vegetarian based on his or her ordering habits, so you can avoid sending deals to the wrong people for hamburger night. Personalizing email offers increases open rates, and if people think you’re adding value, that increases brand loyalty for your restaurant.
- Train Your Staff: Maybe a certain server isn’t selling as many of the specials at his tables. Or maybe another has lower alcohol tabs. You can see clearly who your star players are through the data. Use this as an opportunity to train the people who need extra help to hone their pitches and make those extra sales.
Are you looking for more ways to take your business to the next level?