Great POS systems are the beating heart of every restaurant operation.

As far as diners are concerned, it’s just the terminal that’s used at the end of a meal to take their money, but to the restaurant owner, management, waiting staff and kitchen team, POS is an invaluable tool.

If you’re either in the market for a replacement POS system for your restaurant or need to pick your first for a new venture, here’s ten things you absolutely must look for*:

*we’ve not bothered with the obvious (if you find a POS system that doesn’t offer a receipt printer and cash drawer, keep looking)

1. Marketing tools

An odd place to start? Nope – not in the digital age.

Modern POS systems are capable of storing vast amounts of data about diners, and that’s data you can use for marketing purposes. Make this your first question when speaking to vendors.

2. Great support (that you rarely use)

The POS system you choose shouldn’t require a ‘lifeline’ to the vendor, but knowing you have someone to talk to should you need help offers great peace of mind.

Look for POS systems that offer telephone support and an abundance of online training content.

3. Training available (but not necessarily required)

That training content mentioned above will get you so far, but the ability to call on the odd training session or two if you want to get deep into your POS system is invaluable.

4. Table management

Whether it be a simple list of tables or an overhead graphical view of the restaurant layout, the POS system you choose should offer table management as a marquee feature.

5. Setup and configuration you can take control of

A swanky new POS system isn’t much use if you have to ring the vendor every time you want to change something.

Make sure every piece of setup and configuration you’d ever need access to (VAT configuration, user setup, kitchen printing options – that kind of thing) are available to you.

6. Deep reporting

To run a successful restaurant business, you’ll need to rely on quality reporting.

Look for a POS system that offers real depth of reporting, including key performance indicators (KPIs), employee labour and the more obvious sales reports.

7. Stock control

It might make you roll your eyes every time you think about it, but stock control is an intrinsic part of running a restaurant and there’s no getting away from it.

Just ensure your POS system makes the process as easy as possible with built-in stock control.

8. Approachable, familiar user interface

Every POS system you review will likely feature a touchscreen interface, and, when designed correctly, it should feel as familiar as your smartphone.

This is one area where you shouldn’t have to undertake much – if any – training.

9. Cross device compatibility

Imagine running the same POS system on a static till, tablet and smartphone.

Now, you can – providing you go for a system that offers true cross device compatibility. It’ll make the world of difference by mobilising the entire operation.

10. Plenty of integration options

Accounting software, hotel booking systems and CCTV are just some of the third party systems you may benefit from your POS system linking to.

When speaking to vendors, ask what partnerships they have and how you might connect their POS system to third party platforms. Even if you don’t need those integrations now, you might do in the future.

And finally…

Don’t stress too much about table reservations. Plenty of POS systems offer this feature, but nothing quite beats a dedicated online restaurant table booking system!