We've been struggling and going back and forth between buying a traditional cash register with a good amount of keys and report printing options or the POS system. While one is much cheaper than the other ( $1000 Vs. $5000), a POS that is compatible with our Quickbooks system is very tempting... insert the little disk from the POS into your portable laptop and Voila, your info is magically transmitted into Quickbooks. For the people out there who are still using simple cash registers in their cafes, how much time are you spending each day/week with data entry and other accounting related duties? I understand the benefits of having the POS, but aren't there people out there who are completely satisfied with a simple register?

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We took over a coffee shop which had a simple register. I spent about 3 hours a day trying to track as much information as I could. It was also hard to change prices and to do a accurate inventory. My monthly inventory was reduced by $1500. when we upgraded to the pos system. We currently have selby soft and love it.
We've used a cash register the past 9 years, and I think we've about had it. There are so many advantages to a POS that I think the weight is on that side of the argument at this point. We just haven't quite found the time to figure out how to put a system together that's versatile (we're a restaurant as well as a coffeehouse, plus retailer), works on a Mac, and interfaces with MYOB.
Kathy Fadorsen said:
We took over a coffee shop which had a simple register. I spent about 3 hours a day trying to track as much information as I could. It was also hard to change prices and to do a accurate inventory. My monthly inventory was reduced by $1500. when we upgraded to the pos system. We currently have selby soft and love it.

Wow, that's a big saving. Thanks so much for your input!
We have both systems in seperate outlets we have involvement in. The POS wins hands down. Not only can you hve access to a huge number of very relevant reports at a seconds notice- most POS also allow you to tack on membership programs and of course you can as mentioned track inventory, wastages (real and theoretical), work out average tickets for any second of the day etc etc. In my experience indeed the POS is more expensive upfront, but pays itself off very quickly in inventory control alone.
I'm also debating this issue as I'm doing financial projections for an espresso cart/kiosk operation. I was originally planning for a store, but as the economy is suffering, the cart option seems more practical. Does everyone still still a POS System is worth the $$ for a cart? My intent, down the road, would be to either add more carts or open a store as things improve. Anybody have experience with Coffee Shop Manager?
Oh, and btw what are the mac users doing for pos??
Alun Evans said:
We have both systems in seperate outlets we have involvement in. The POS wins hands down. Not only can you hve access to a huge number of very relevant reports at a seconds notice- most POS also allow you to tack on membership programs and of course you can as mentioned track inventory, wastages (real and theoretical), work out average tickets for any second of the day etc etc. In my experience indeed the POS is more expensive upfront, but pays itself off very quickly in inventory control alone.

Membership programs are deffinitely a plus, It appears that most everyone agrees that it is worth the upfront cost. Thanks!
Maybe not everyone.

I'm amazed at how universally supported the "gotta have a POS" idea is. Lots of upfront expense, additional transaction time for the cashier, extra complexity with your merchant services provider. Am I insane? Is there really nobody else out there that thinks the old register is sometimes the smarter choice?

I've worked register using both register and POS. BIG preference for the register. I'm also involved in the reports that we create to track our internal efficiencies, waste, sales trends, etc. No place that I can see where the register wouldn't give us the same info.

Reports are great. Track your waste - but are you really going to key in every drink you remake? Every sink shot? Every 4oz of milk left in the pitcher? If you don't your report will lead you astray. Accurate inventory is great - will you track every refill? Which flavor shot that customer wanted in their latte? Everything that you waste?

Good numbers are more critical to an accurate picture than easily-obtainable numbers. (I was a QA engineer in a manufacturing plant tracking waste and scrap - trust me.)

You'll want to track daily sales by category. You'll know what drinks sell based on what drinks you make, take orders for, etc. OK, maybe if you are an absentee-owner this makes sense, but a cart? a small indie shop? an owner-operator joint?

Sorry Mike, I know you're on here and don't mean to dog your product, which I'm sure is a fantastic POS. I just don’t believe it is the right choice for every shop. I do appreciate your support of this community.

Kathy Fadorsen said:
It was also hard to change prices and to do a accurate inventory. My monthly inventory was reduced by $1500. when we upgraded to the pos system.

Hard to do an accurate inventory? Are you running a warehouse? Your $1500 reduction was probably due more to smarter thinking about inventory, not the POS.

I manage the shop's coffee, syrup, sauce, and mix inventory. On order day, I:
1. Grab inventory sheet (which lists minimum inventory and reorder quantity).
2. Walk over to storage location.
3. Look at inventory, make note of items that need to be reordered.

Do what they do in manufacturing plants (again, our owner was the head materials manager for a giant tier-1 auto supplier for many years - so we know how this works). Know what your minimum stock level is. Make a place for everything so that you'll see immediately when you need to reorder.

Give it a try.
Hey Brady- Well, you certainly put in your 2 cents. Thanks, it's truly helpful. You make alot of good points regarding inventory. There are a few shops in my area that are still using a cash register and they seem to be doing well with it. The guy owns 5 or 6 shops and each one of them has a register, so something must be working right. I'm just not sure that we can fit in our budget at this moment, there are other more important things we'd rather spend our money on, but I must say, it is the ONE piece of equipment that we go back and forth on.
Yeah... that post surprised me with how big it was when I hit the button. Glad you found it helpful.

This issue happens to be a sore spot for me. We spent the cash for a POS at upfit (albeit not a great one like Mike's guys would sell you). I think that money would have been better spent on a larger marketing budget... which would have impacted our sales. Otherwise I think we did a great job of managing upfit expenses, so I don't complain... but that hopefully explains my extremely long post.

To me, it is critical to spend every dollar as wisely as possible at upfit. When you start making tradeoffs (and you probably will), I'd rather see money go towards items that improve the customer experience or increase sales.

Good luck.
Brady brings up a number of good points. A POS is not a "necessity." Sure, it's a cool device but do you really understand what it is that you're tracking with the POS?

In a theoretical world, you should have developed strict recipes for all of your products. Then you could key in the recipes, as well as the received inventories into the POS and at the end of the month, the POS would tell you how much product you should have consumed. Compare those generated numbers with the actual inventory consumed and you'll know how efficient your operation is running. Of course, this presumes several factors:

1 - you have developed strict recipes
2 - you have trained staff to make those recipes
3 - you have inputted those recipes and ratios into the POS
4 - you input all inventory received into the POS
5 - your organization has the discipline to key in every item into the POS - even free ones
6 - you are willing to do a weekly/monthly physical inventory
7 - you are taking the time to review and analyze the data

Truth is that most operators don't take this approach and the POS doesn't really tell them what it could - especially considering the investment.

First off, you need to know and understand just what it is you want a register/POS to do for you. What are you tracking? What are you analyzing? If you don't know those answers then a POS is just a fancy, expensive and computerized calculator.

Learn about what you want to track and how it will impact your business, then make a decision whether or not a POS is right for you.
I'm a little on the fence myself, having spent most of our first year with the cash register and now considering a pos system.

Our current register was supposed to parlay the data to quickbooks, but we have a newer version of quickbooks so it doesn't work so we just manually enter our end of day reports like once/month. Realistically, it doesn't take that long to do a whole month's data, but that's the only data we can get really without a whole lot of extra work...let's face it, I own a bakery with a small staff...I'd rather be baking.

Lately, our cash register has been doing random voids (we "caught it" by tracking it once/hour) and the till has been off (both over and under) by lots for all people (including myself). So we can probably fix the problem, etc., but it has pretty much made me realize now's the time for the POS.

One argument for the POS is we recently changed our prices and that totally slowed us down ringing people up because we had to use the cheat sheet. Even several months later, I still hear our baristas mis-ringing people up with the old prices so a pos would have helped with consistency.

Anyhow, what I wanted to ask is about the inventory features...what are you using them for? I mean, I can't see adding 1 dozen cookies to "inventory" every time throughout the day that I bake them? So what types of inventory is everybody tracking?

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