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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First, Thanks for the comments Kathy - Always appreciated!
Brady - Don't apologize, A lot of people out there have a cash register and love it. It all depends on the owner and the individual. I like to say that we can't MAKE someone want a POS, we just want them to consider ours when they come to that decision. PS - always enjoy your posts - they keep us thinking!

There are a couple areas where a POS always beats a cash register:
1) Ease of use - are employees ringing things up for incorrect prices (consistency is not just in product)
2) Tracking - Not inventory control but just want is selling. If something is a dog - get it off your menu.
3) Theft - Even cameras can't prevent all the little theft that occurs in a store. Giving away drinks, employees clocking in early etc all cost you money.

The other, more time intensive items like inventory control allow you to really take advantage and cut your bottom line - the flip side of that is that only about 10-15% of ALL pos customers use inventory control. The ones that do, run tighter stores and have a higher profit margin in my experience. As always, call me if anyone wants to chat about it - I'm pretty low pressure
Jay,
Good points here - It's always WHAT does a customer want from a POS. I think that we get bogged down in the inventory control sometimes and forget the basics. With very few exceptions, most people at shows tell me that the crew rings things in wrong, that up charges are not happening and that they spend too much time training - That stuff accounts for more POS sales than inventory in my opinion.

Jay Caragay said:
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.
Hi Stephanie, This is exactly the situation that I run into on a regular basis. Inventory control is great if you will commit to receive the items and do a physical inventory on a regular basis. If your are not, then I suggest you track some specific items (cup counts and milk) that will let you make sure your waste is under control.

stephanie crocker said:
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?
Let's just say this isn't an issue at present, cause we don't have any employees... but at a previous shop we just wrote down our actual hours worked on the paper schedule. 1 minute with a calculator at the end of every week and call in the hours to the accountant. LOW tech - aka "don't need to buy anything expensive".

Paper... its not just for to-go cups anymore!
Another advanatage of the pos system is the in house gift card program. Mine has no fees to sell or accept and also doubles as my frequent coffee club card. Other gift card program require fees to accept or to sell. You can also Keep track of your top customers and you have a data base of names and address.
Amelie & Barb said:
Since the POS allows the employees to punch in and out, how does everyone else handle this issue, besides buying a punch card system?

The time clock punch card system really is not that expensive and more accurate than handwritten hours that are easily fudged. Adding on to Brady's suggestion for the paper schedule though, if you typically have a manager type person there you could make it policy that they always have to initial each employee's hours at shift's end. This would add another layer of oversight.

Personally, I like the idea of trusting people but in this case your bottom line has to come first, so if it's not a pos I would have a time clock. You might also search online for computer software to handle this real time...I searched Google under "time clock software" and a bunch came up.
I don't understand this. If you work for me and I have you scheduled for 7-noon, that's what I pay for. That means you are at your station and ready to work at 7:00. If you show up late frequently, we have a problem that I need to be aware of. If you work overtime, you are doubling someone else, which is ok sometimes but should require authorization. Having your hours for that day be anything other than your scheduled hours should require management awareness anyway.

I guess I feel like if you can't trust your employees on the time card, how can you trust them with your quality standard, your register, not comping their friends drinks, and a million other things that have more impact on your bottom line?
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.
Regarding the trust comment, maybe I haven't quite been clear. I agree that payroll accuracy is important. All I'm saying is that there are far worse ways that a lax employee can damage your business. I've been to too many shops where the staff was just not doing a good job of creating the experience that the owner intended. Poor service, lousy drinks, dirty dining room... and owners that can't figure out why people don't return. Install a timeclock to keep things accurate if you like. But if you don't have trustworthy employees or a solid management structure in place to keep an eye on everything (including hours accuracy), you probably have far bigger problems.

Teresa, thanks for bringing up the legal aspect of pay. I had not considered that and learned something from your post. Thanks!
teresa said:
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.

You're right about the legal aspect, I was never allowed to punch in 5 minutes until my shift at my old job. I'm salary now, so it doesn't really matter. Great tips everyone, thanks!

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