Choosing an electronic point of sale (EPOS) system for a pub isn't always easy. There are now a huge number of vendors to choose from, all of whom claim to be the best. So, if you're opening a new pub, or need to replace an ageing till system, where do you start?
1. Define your EPOS goal (every business should have one)
Point of sale systems do an awful lot more than process over-the-counter transactions, but if that's all you want from yours, you've already defined your EPOS goal. As a result, you'll be best off looking for a simple solution that does just that without any of the fancy stuff.
If your requirements run deeper - for example, stock control, key performance indicator management, or having the ability to integrate a new loyalty program - you'll end up hunting for an entirely different POS system.
Take some time to sit down and work out exactly what you want from EPOS? Will it be 'just' a cash register, or something more closely tied to a specific strategy within the business?
2. Don't forget the cabling
If you're installing a single till, you can skip this one, but if the POS system you intend to implement runs to two tills or more, you'll need to take into account the cabling requirements - don't leave it until the last minute (or forget entirely).
Depending on your property, wiring up enough CAT 5 to serve a modern EPOS system may be a tricky job. Get an approved contractor and ask them to survey the building and make sure a significant portion of your budget has been set aside for running cables.
3. Don't be blown away by big-name brands
There was a time when there were just two options for POS systems: the cheap, off-the-shelf electronic cash register, and the expensive touch-screen till system that required three weeks of installation and training before you could start using it.
This isn't the case anymore. There has been an explosion in the number of affordable POS terminals and there are some truly innovative manufacturers entering the market. If the only name on your list at the moment is 'Toshiba,' start Googling. Many EPOS terminals are the same unit but simply rebranded, so don't be swayed by the big names.
4. Speak to other publicans
If you have a publican friend who is always praising the till system they have in place, find out some more about it. If possible, conduct a mini-tour of pubs in your area to find out what systems are in use.
5. Look for a two-way PMS interface
Don't forget your pub booking system. For a hospitality EPOS system to be truly effective, it needs a two-way interface to the Property Management System (PMS). That means the ability to post food and drinks bills to guest bedrooms from the till, but also the convenience of food and beverage revenue and takings ending up automatically in your PMS end-of-day report.
Pick an EPOS system without a two-way PMS interface and you'll sorely regret the decision further down the line.
6. Watch out for costly leasing
Leasing remains one of the most common ways to invest in a till system, and for good reason - it avoids the need for any hefty capital expenditure up-front and instead enables pubs to budget for a digestible monthly repayment.
Be careful, though. The wrong leasing package can be costly and if you come across an EPOS vendor who will only provide it through their leasing partner, tread with caution. If you have a preferred leasing supplier, reputable EPOS suppliers should be willing to let you go that route instead.
Keep an eye on interest charges, early settlement fees and what happens at the end of the lease (it is advisable to opt for a package that results in you as the owner of the kit at the end of the term).
The right EPOS system for your pub is out there, somewhere. Use the tips above to narrow your field of search and find a system that will aid day-to-day operations while providing valuable insight into the inner workings of your F&B operation.