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?
Since the POS allows the employees to punch in and out, how does everyone else handle this issue, besides buying a punch card system?
Yeah, and in an ideal world we'd all just trust each other. Labor is one of your largest expenses though and I'm just saying it's something you need to keep an eye on...just like all the other things you mention. And just a sidenote; if someone's scheduled for say 8am-noon but they just love their job so much and come in at 7:45am, throw on the apron and start working, you are legally obligated to pay them that extra 15 min whether they're scheduled or not. I'm not making this up...someone close to me works in labor law.