The Key Elements of a Campus POS
Ensuring success when choosing a Campus POS solution has a number of important factors. Large educational institutions are in many ways similar to large hospitality organizations such as resorts or destination hotels. A University may have many different locations dispersed across a large geographic area and encompassing a wide range and styles of food & beverage services, as well as both permanent and transient populations.
One of the most important capabilities for any modern POS is the ability to integrate and interface with the other mission-critical systems that are instrumental in running the campus. From facilities management systems to learning & student services suites, student meal card solutions, and labor management, Universities and Colleges have an intricate set of needs that have to be supported.
To support these crucial systems that run student cards, meal plans, and payment services, the POS has to be able to be flexible in integrations and have the expertise to do custom solutions when necessary.
Also look for POS systems that have proven capabilities integrating with other core hospitality solutions such as:
• Labor & Scheduling
• Inventory Control
• Reporting & Analytics
Keep in mind as well; the food & beverage services on campus are hospitality businesses and need the tools that allow them to run as efficiently as possible. Ensure that any potential solution supports:
• Centralized Menu Management
• Kitchen Automation
• Loyalty Programs
Finally, the recent health crisis has highlighted the importance of developing the capability to support many different service models. With restrictions to dine-in capacity and consumer preferences shifting, any potential solution must include:
• Online Ordering
• Contactless Payment
• Self-Service options (Virtual Kiosks)
• Take-out & Delivery
Data & System Management
Another key aspect of any solution is the impact it has on IT and the ability to meet any data storage requirements that are mandated by the larger educational institution. As an example, some Universities require that student and faculty data be hosted in the same country as the institution itself. Other organizations are moving towards managed or cloud solutions to limit the number of systems they are responsible for maintaining.
The requirements don’t stop with technology. Working with a vendor who will answer the phone when there’s a problem, regardless of whether it’s during a lunch service or late into the evening, is just as important. Nothing is worse than a technical issue occurring that impacts service and not having timely access to the experts required to resolve it. Check critical metrics such as average hold times, support and service hours of operations, and customer satisfaction scores of any potential provider.
Ease of Use & Longevity
Even more than a standard hospitality business, Campus locations are likely to rely on temporary or short-term employees to serve guests. Additionally, they have to accommodate a wide variety of simultaneous service models – Fast Casual, Table Service, Counter Service, and perhaps Bar or Café environments. This means that solutions that require intensive training or have multiple complex interfaces can consume a significant amount of resources, increase costs, and introduce errors.
Lastly, the operating environment for hospitality POS solutions is a harsh one. Liquids, heat, frequent use, and constant operation mean that consumer-grade hardware is likely to experience high failure rates. Look for solutions that have proven hardware able to operate in these environments at scale, and ask about the process for replacements or repairs.
In some ways, choosing a Campus POS has a wider set of requirements than almost any other hospitality business. By making sure the elements identified here are accounted for, you can plan for a long and successful tenure. Contact us if you’d like to see what Squirrel has done for organizations such as yours. For further reading on how Squirrel can help transform your Campus Food & Beverage service, download this Case Study on the Alma Mater Society of UBC.