How Do Point of Sale (POS) Systems Work for Restaurant Businesses?
The days of "Marge" taking your order giving the ticket to the short-order cook, taking the customer's payment and putting in the cash register are over in the modern restaurant business. Marge, and the short-order cook, may still be there, but the cash register has been replaced by a Point of Sale system. The system still begins with the customer's order.
A POS system tracks sales. The waitperson enters the ordered items into the computer or by touching the screen. The computer calculates the bill including tax. When the customer pays the waitperson enters the receipt number and the amount paid. The POS charges the credit or debit card or -- in the case of cash -- enters the cash amount and calculates the change.
In completely automated systems the order appears on the computer screen back in the food preparation area. The cook prepares the dish and keys that it is finished into the computer. The waitperson can see on their screen that the dish is finished. In less sophisticated systems, the POS system generates a ticket which is physically given to the food prep personnel.
The bartender is notified through the POS System that drinks have been ordered by the customer with the waitperson's number. The bartender fills the order and notifies the waitperson.
As the orders are completed the POS tells the inventory system that the ingredients to make the dish have been used. The inventory system then subtracts that from available items and puts the items on the purchasing system.
A fully integrated POS system cuts down on employee theft. An item won't be prepared unless it's in the order entry system which generates the customer's bill. There are some things the system can't prevent such as a waitperson shortchanging the customer or a bartender giving away free drinks, such as bottled beer or shots. The bartender or waitperson can also charge the customer for the drink but not input it into the system, then pocket what the customer pays.
Not only does the POS system have the ability to track sales, cash and inventory, it also can track employee productivity, average sales per employee, what menu items are the most popular and how quickly orders are served from time of input. Other reports include the number of customers served on an hourly and daily basis and the number of times the tables turn -- new customers are seated. Restaurants with more than one location can change menu items and prices with the POS system.