Business tips

How POS software can help your restaurant survive the pandemic.

By Jereme Sanborn on
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If you are a restaurant owner who is managing to stay afloat in spite of every nasty surprise 2020 sent your way, let us be one of the first to congratulate you for making it this far. Unfortunately, the roller coaster ride isn’t over yet, and that’s why you need to marshal as many additional forces as possible to keep you solvent, starting with your point of sale (POS) system.

The shift in consumer behaviors.

Before the early part of last year, many of your patrons may have frequented your establishment regularly, perhaps even more than once a week. They probably brought their friends and coworkers, and the place was often hopping with activity. There may have even been times when you secretly wished for a moment of peace and quiet.

Then came the coronavirus. It was no wonder that people didn’t want to go out to eat, and no surprise that local and state governments, upon realizing the need for social distancing, closed down indoor restaurants altogether in many places.

Now, winter weather that prevents outdoor dining in many localities is only making things worse. In light of these factors, what is a desperate restaurateur to do? Tapping into your POS software capabilities would be a great first step!

Contactless payments.

You have mask mandates in place to stop the spread of infected droplets, and you went out of your way to alter your layout to allow for social distancing. You have paper menus and utensils, and you strictly enforce time limits for seating.

But what do you do about cash? Even at the best of times, bills and coins are loaded with germs and viruses and who knows what else. In the age of COVID-19, what measures can you take to make your payments as safe as possible?

Luckily, contactless payments have been made possible by the happy marriage of digital wallet-equipped smartphones and readers with near-field communications capabilities. Instead of needing to put their hands on the reader or hand over icky cash, customers can now settle their bills with a tap or a wave of their phone or card.

Your POS software is outfitted with technology that enables it to securely communicate with your payment services provider to authenticate the customer’s identity, and verify their payment. If you choose to do so, you can even have receipts emailed instead of printed out on paper. Best of all, you can integrate each patron into your database while beginning to accumulate a gold mine of information that you can use for any number of marketing purposes.

Contactless ordering and tableside payments.

Let’s say you are able to have indoor or outdoor dining with limited capacity. At the same time, you want to protect everyone’s safety by minimizing the amount of exposure between customers and wait staff. This is where tableside ordering and payment processing for restaurants can increase safety while freeing up your staff for other tasks.

The fun doesn’t stop when the check arrives. Instead of waiting for a server to bring the paper copy, patrons can simply pay using a tableside tablet. (Make sure to visibly wipe the tablet when a new customer arrives, thus putting their mind at ease about the safety of touching it.)

Delivery to your customer’s door.

Now more than ever, consumers are choosing to stay home. Like it or not, the pandemic forced most consumers to hunker down in the safety of their residences, only coming out to go to work if necessary, or for essential items like groceries. Capitalism’s irascible push to make a buck kicked in as well, and the third-party delivery companies that had already been doing quite well took off like rockets.

Thanks to folks like Uber Eats and DoorDash, many food establishments are cashing in on people’s tendency to get tired of their own cooking. Sure, the fees charged by those services take a big chunk of your profits, but without them you would need to go through the hassle of hiring a delivery person, and maybe even buying and insuring a vehicle. Instead, you can integrate these well-known third-party services with your POS software, and let them do all the work.

Marketing to get the word out.

Back in the good old days when you only wore a mask on Halloween, and staying six feet apart from the guy next to you meant that you were an introvert, you may not have had hours to spend on your social media presence. After all, you were fully occupied running a busy restaurant. During the pandemic, all of that has changed, and what once may have seemed like a frivolous waste of time might just save your restaurant’s bacon.

Just how, you might ask, can you go about connecting with people? For that matter, who do you connect with in the first place? The answer lies closer to home than you think: In the customer data contained in your POS. It’s time to pull out all the stops and market to the people who have shown love to you, and spent money in your establishment in the past.

Connecting via social media is only one of the steps you might take. You can also contact customers via email to make them aware of the many safety precautions you have implemented. Throwing some coupons their way will never hurt either. The idea is to gain the trust that can only come when they feel safe walking into your restaurant and sitting down for a meal.

Sooner or later, the coronavirus will leave us as so many plagues and pestilences have done before it. In the meantime, however, small business and restaurant owners are struggling for their very lives. Your POS system can function as a vital liaison between you and the patrons you value so much. Capitalize on all of its capabilities, and your establishment will hopefully be thriving long after COVID-19 is in our collective rear-view mirror.