Why staff hate using your POS

24th October 2013
Ugg Brigage: A Flickr Creative Commons photo by Joris_Louwes http://www.flickr.com/photos/jorislouwes/

I began working in restaurants in the early 90s, a time when you had to memorize a three-digit PLU code for every item on the menu, the barlist and for commands (like pick-ups). At the same time, you didn’t punch a code to log-in, you used a tiny, easy to lose and bizarrely expensive to replace, black plastic key that you inserted into a terminal to enter an order.

In the late 90s, I remember the revelation when I was introduced to my first touch screen Point of Sale (POS) and was able to press on a “table” to open it up and begin entering an order. It was much more intuitive and made moving to a new restaurant and learning the ropes far easier. It was also an eye-opener, because it was the first touch-screen device I had seen. The fact that information could be inputted to a computer without a keyboard or mouse was a new concept.

Fast forward to now. Most staff at Quick Service (QSR) and Fast Casual restaurants have owned a computer most of their lives and have a mobile device they carry with them at all times. They use Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and a large number of apps – all in the cloud, all free. Every day. In many cases they are upgrading to a new device every year and the software is updating itself every month.

The Problem?

The issue is that the products they interact with every day, on their laptops, tablets and phones are more intuitive than almost anything they will find in a restaurant. It isn’t a slight on the POS, hardware or software. The fact of the matter is that Google, Apple and others have entire teams ensuring this is the case. Even when something flashier is launched (Square Register for example), odds are the cost of replacing hardware will ensure that after a year or two, young staff find whatever system you have in place now a pain to use. Quite simply, the consumerization of technology and the expectations set by consumer device manufactures like Apple, are so high, you as a business owner cannot compete.

What to do?

First off, manage expectations and show some understanding when staff find the technology you have on-hand frustrating. Unless your POS has been revamped in the past year or so, they may be able to quickly learn how to use it, but find it to be a very painful experience. Imagine forcing someone used to an iPhone to spend their days with an old Palm Pilot.

If you are in the market for a new POS, investigate cloud-based solutions. Most cloud solutions (NCR Silver, Square Register and Intuit POS for example) are less costly to roll-out than traditional ones. In many cases, you purchase the hardware separately (or possibly use hardware you already have on hand) and then pay a monthly fee for each terminal you have online. The benefit of a cloud-based solution is that you can access information easily from remote locations AND the software (check with the vendor) will likely be updated seamlessly. As technology progresses, your POS automatically gets better. No waiting to install new versions or requiring the purchase of an entire new package to get “Version 2013″ .

Feedback

How do your younger staff feel about your POS and using it each day? Let us know your experiences below.



Chief Operating Officer at LIVELENZ. Greg began working part-time in restaurants when he was 15 and continued in the industry for a decade. He then began working for technology companies developing a passion for improving operational efficiencies at fast-growing organizations.

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