Whether you currently have a restaurant point of sale system or are looking to get your very first POS, understanding what to expect or what requirements are suitable for your business might be daunting.

We’ve compiled a list of the 10 top attributes and 5 core functions your POS should provide to help you navigate this investment with confidence.

The 5 Core Functions Your POS Should Have

1. Payment

All POS systems support payments of course, but not all do it equally. With Squirrel you’re able to choose which payment processor to use, so you can pick the solution that meets your needs best, and switch processors when you want.

As well, Squirrel’s extensive experience and semi-integrated secure architecture means that if you’re moving to EMV payments you’ll do so with the experts. Finally, Squirrel provides capabilities for the broadest range of payment options your guests expect– tethered devices, wireless payment, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and the new virtual kioskchoices such as ReadyPay and Glance Pay.

2. Kitchen Automation

As North America’s premiere Strategic Partner with QSR, Squirrel provides the most comprehensive kitchen display and automation system available.

Paired with the Squirrel POS we provide the ability to manage each order, pacing the items for effortless and streamlined prop and timing. Providing order details and status, Squirrel routes at the item, and order level while helping to manage the cook times to ensure the smoothest operations possible.

3. Omnichannel Support

It’s no secret that the way guests order and consume food is changing. Whether it’s gift card software programs, or loyalty programs , guest expectations are rapidly evolving.

The convenience and choice provided by online order aggregators have had a significant impact on the market, and many restaurants are eager to take part. However, done poorly this leads to more chaos, not less, and can have a negative impact on your other guests and staff.

With Squirrel, omnichannel support can be approached strategically, integrating into existing workflows to capture the benefits of the online revolution without negative consequences.

4. Labor

Managing and understanding your workforce is a vital capability for success.

Included in Squirrel is the ability to manage schedules, monitor time and attendance, create templates based on role, and export information easily to other systems. We also understand that many operations have a preferred solution and we provide integrations to most of the popular choices such as Hot Schedules, Data Central, Compeat, and many more.

5. Menu Management

The menu is the heart of a restaurant, the foundation for the experience you want to provide your guests.

With Squirrel you can both simplify and supercharge managing your menus. The solution allows the management of multiple menus and price lists, pushed automatically across different revenue centers.

The optional Corporate POS Manager add-on allows centralization of the creation, administration, and reporting of menus and table layouts for all your locations and concepts. Eliminate the need to do on-site visits or delegate to location managers by leveraging the Squirrel solution to manage this critical piece of your business.

chefs in a kitchen with a Squirrel POS terminal

These 5 functions are what our customers say is crucial to the success of their operations, but of course, aren’t the only important capabilities of a POS.

Other capabilities such as Inventory Management, Accounting, Loyalty Programs, and more are also key. That’s why we’ve developed solutions in those areas as well. Check out the full breadth of the Squirrel Solution.

Beyond functional capabilities, all Squirrel solutions are developed in alignment with 10 attributes in mind to allow restaurants to align their businesses with a strategic vision. We believe these should be a priority for the solutions in your business.

1. Guest Experience Fulfillment

Ultimately, your end goal is to delight your customers and have them leave feeling appreciated. That’s our goal too. A customer-focused POS system should have numerous customer management tools. Imagine a POS system that holds your reservations, collects your waitlist information in an organized manner and gives your staff the information to know if customers are returning loyal customers with customer information.

Your staff run and move through your restaurant like a well-oiled machine. When your POS is increasing efficiency and decreasing the costs that eat into net profit, your floor can be calm, cool, and collected. Your staff have command of their responsibilities and are able to focus on the real nature of service—being present and attentive to the guests.

2. Integrations

Every restaurant has its own custom set of wants, needs, and expectations. You have your preferred accounting software, you want a robust reservation and waitlist program, you want to use a specific credit card processor. With Squirrel you get access to a partner ecosystem and integration expertise that is second to none in the industry. Whatever your priority—adding a new delivery and take-out service, moving to a new accounting solution, bringing in an inventory control system, or implementing online ordering and self-serve kiosks—we are pre-integrated with the hospitality industry’s best. Check out the Squirrel eco-system.

3. Technical Support

The average restaurant manager is not an IT specialist. Honestly, not many of us are. That’s why every solution vendor offers technical support packages. That being said, read the fine print. Squirrel knows that restaurants are not a typical 9 – 5 business so it’s imperative that technical support can be accessed at any given time, particularly because Poe’s law says something will go wrong at the worst possible time. Look for a 24/7 support system so you know you have someone to call at the end of the night if you’re a nightclub or bar, before dawn when you’re opening for breakfast, or right in the middle of the dinner rush when nothing seems to be going right. Ask vendors what their customer satisfaction rating is, how long are average hold times, and where is their support center located.

4. Flexibility

Have you ever dreamed of having a custom POS built, designed from the ground up to support your vision of the ideal guest experience? In reality, that’s probably not practical, but you should certainly demand that any POS worth your business is flexible enough to handle the customizations and processes that your business requires. Perhaps you need to handle unique payment flows, or your menu is modular and requires the servers to construct the order from a number of options, or you have multiple concepts with very different workflows. Your centralized POS should be able to handle it all with aplomb.

5. Reporting & Analytics

Easy access to reports is important, but the quality of the reports is equally as vital. Having a POS system with a fully integrated reporting system built-in allows real-time access to give accurate analytics on business revenue, labor costs, food and beverage margins, and so much more. Ensuring that your point of sale software comes with that functionality, is a key tool for running a profitable business and protecting your bottom line.

6. Offline Mode

In the event that your internet connection goes down, having your POS system automatically switch to offline operations is key. This mode allows your system to access offline data that is stored locally to take orders and process transactions. Later, when connectivity is restored, your POS should reconcile the records and ensure that everything is sorted out as if the network had never failed in the first place.

7. Upgrades/Development

Continuous evolution is important. It is a fundamental component of successful software. Point of sale software is no exception. When searching for the right POS software to fit your needs, a key question would be how often they upgrade their software and hardware. Upgrades, new features, and overall program evolution is a necessity in the hospitality industry as customer trends evolve, as efficiency improvements continue, and therefore, the software must grow with you.

8. Ease of Use

Every POS system provider says their system is easy to use and user friendly. Of course. But what does that actually mean? The best point of sale system must be intuitive for all users on numerous levels. For servers, it must be quick and accurate as you navigate through the system. Changes and orders must be processed swiftly and efficiently. For Bartenders, the POS system must be a clear communication tool, using it to report their inventory, receive detailed order information and the ability to submit orders, often times to the other side of the restaurant at the touch of a button.

Finally, for managers. The top restaurant POS systems should be intuitive for reporting above all. Revenue reporting, labor management, inventory – all of these are features that management must have the ability to easily access, smoothly.

9. Hospitality Grade

As time goes on, tech products get “sleeker” meaning thinner, they have “better resolution” meaning more sensitive screens, and their more “affordable” meaning more fragile. So, in a fast-paced environment, a little water, a drop, a bit of heat, could take your beautiful new tech toy, into an overpriced paper weight. The restaurant business is unforgiving. Your POS needs to be built on technology designed to keep up with, and exceed, guest demands.

10. Data Backups

There’s something to be said about planning for a negative scenario. After all, no one considers a person who purchases a first aid kit is a pessimist do they? Imagine, a break-in at your restaurant. The thieves steal your POS terminals and office equipment. All of your historical data is gone – or is it? The Datastore performs cloud-based off-site data POS back-ups which make disaster recovery easier. By backing up your point of sale software, you can be up and running again in no time!