5 Hidden Costs of Traditional Point of Sale

Let’s dive right into the real (and hidden) costs associated with out-of-the-box iPad POS solutions (no matter how attractive that low cost of entry appears).

1. Point of Sale Training Costs Real Money

Learning to operate that new point of sale system often means mastering the art of pressing too many buttons on an Etch-A-Sketch interface. Unfortunately, since high turnover is a reality in the restaurant industry, POS training is not an infrequent exercise.

When your fastest cashier moves on, training his or her replacement, of course, takes time and money. Orders come in more slowly, and sales slow along with them. Add in complicated headset systems at the drive thru, and your (actual and opportunity) costs are far from negligible.

So what’s there to be done? The easier a point of sale is to use, the better it will benefit your employees and your concept. Self order is a straightforward way to streamline your order and payment process, freeing up your employees for something more valuable than order entry. Would you rather have a team of costly button-pushers, or a team of production mavericks? Self order lets you allocate more money to food provisioning instead of to translating orders from one interface to another.

If your point of sale isn’t scalable, then neither is your concept.

2. The Cost of Upgrading your System As You Scale

You’ve got the execution of the menu down to a science. Your Yelp! reviews are polished brass, as are your daily restaurant sales reports. You’re ready to go big, but is your POS system ready to go with you? Remember when that iPad solution sounded like such a great idea? How great of an idea is it when you’re ready to franchise, but the thought of doing so with your one box point of sale system makes you shudder?

If your point of sale isn’t scalable, then neither is your concept. There are other things to consider as well, such as encrypted payment devices and EMV compliance, but if your solution doesn’t even scale past location one, it probably isn’t keeping you as protected and compliant with industry standards as you need to be.

3. Order Inaccuracy Can Ruin Guest Satisfaction

Point of sale relies on direct, spoken human communication to capture an order. A guest speaks to your cashier, who keys in their order as they talk. No matter how wonderful a cashier is, mistakes are bound to happen. Human nature can’t be escaped. Even a small error can be the difference between a repeat guest and a bad review.

Self-service removes the problems in the scenario, primarily by removing the need for an employee to translate another person’s order into a machine. With the advent of smartphones, DIY has become the modus operandi for the younger generations, and giving them a kiosk lets them know that there is a greater chance that their order is going to truly be theirs. At the end of the day, as long as there is someone to acknowledge them if they have a question, your guests no longer require someone to take their order. They’d rather dictate the experience through the interface with the option to approach someone who is readily available and knowledgeable if they feel the need.

When the McJuggernauts begin to implement self-order, other concepts should take notice and think about how they’re going to compete.

4. Real Labor Dollars

Nobody ever tells you that your point of sale system really costs about an extra $20,000.00 a year for each terminal. Because of course, they don’t operate themselves. Too often, new concepts fail to consider that with each employee needed to enter orders, there exists a need for money to hire, train and to pay at least minimum wage (or a livable one) times the number of hours you need that point of sale terminal live and taking orders.

With a self-service strategy, you shift labor dollars. A great prep cook may cost more money than a cashier, but they also generally require less training if they have experience or schooling. The same cannot be said for a POS operator, whose cost to train hinges on which system they are familiar with, if any at all. Recent culinary grads are becoming a favorite for fast casual concepts, and paying these guys and gals what they’re worth greatly helps turnover improve.

When you streamline ordering, you need more and more efficient labor to keep up, and wouldn’t you rather spend your training budget on further educating your loyal army of Kitchen Ninjas? Not to mention they’re just about the best people in the world to become ambassadors of your food for your customers. Self-order helps enable employers to hire, train and retain labor with better skills.

5. Support, Support, Support

Even if you’re not on the “minute” plan where you get charged every time you dial the point of sale company’s number or your local distributor, higher costs aren’t solely associated with calls to support. Your POS support team’s availability, their ability to act quickly and efficiently, and what kinds of issues they can address are all important things to know. If you can immediately get in touch with someone, that’s great. If they open a ticket that takes days or weeks to get resolved, however, your business is immediately affected.

If your point of sale provider isn’t giving you access to the people who can effectively communicate and understand your needs, run. If those you can access aren’t qualified to actually do anything other than listen to you and tell you to reboot everything six times, then support becomes a nightmare. All of those minutes on the phone add up, as does your frustration and wasted time.

So maybe it’s time to consider self-service.

Self-order will soon be the main option for ordering in fast casuals, as it provides guests with exactly what they want, and adoption rates keep rapidly climbing with more and more guests touting the improvements they’ve experienced in customer service. Implemented correctly, self-order enhances the guest experience, both with the food and with the staff who now have time to do what’s important: take care of the guests.


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