Business Solutions asked Jared Isaacman, CEO of Harbortouch, about point of sale (POS) systems for hospitality, which features are in demand from restaurant owners — and from customers — and how resellers can help restaurants get the most out of their systems.
BSM: Which POS system features are restaurants most interested in?
Isaacman: POS technology has evolved considerably over the past few years. In addition to the standard ordering functions commonly found on most POS systems, many restaurateurs have become increasingly interested in many new features such as cloud-based reporting and POS management, integrated online ordering and reservations, mobile integration, and advanced loyalty functions.
BSM: What is the importance of restaurants offering loyalty and gift card services for their customers?
Isaacman: Both gift cards and loyalty programs offer various benefits to restaurants. Gift cards improve cash flow since they are prepaid, increase profit since many cards are never fully utilized, and increase revenue since customers generally spend more than the amount on the gift card. Gift cards also bring in new customers when given as a gift from a current patron. Loyalty programs are also beneficial since they encourage repeat business and increase the frequency of visits. It also builds loyalty so that customers choose that restaurant instead of other competitors.
BSM: What expectations do customers have about how technology will enhance their visit to a restaurant?
Isaacman: Customers want a seamless experience when ordering and paying at a restaurant. Any features that can help a restaurant serve customers quicker and more efficiently will ultimately help them achieve this goal. Consumers are also increasingly relying on mobile devices in their daily lives, so they like when restaurants incorporate mobile technology into their customer experience. For example, mobile payment integration and online ordering are two ways that restaurants can add convenience for their customers. Harbortouch has partnered with Tabbedout, a mobile payment and loyalty app for restaurants and bars, to deliver this type of seamless mobile integration for our merchants. Harbortouch is also currently developing a turnkey online ordering platform which will add significant value for our customers.
BSM: Are you adding new features for hospitality?
Isaacman: We are working on Harbortouch Tableside which will allow restaurant servers to input customer orders right at the table via an iPad. The orders are relayed directly to the kitchen or bar for a dramatic increase in efficiency. We are also close to releasing the 3.0 version of our cloud-based POS management and reporting platform, Lighthouse, which will include numerous upgrades and enhancements over our previous version. Lighthouse eliminates the need for a back-office PC by allowing merchants to access the information on their POS system from any computer with an Internet connection.
BSM: How can restaurant owners use their POS systems to improve the bottom line?
Isaacman: POS systems deliver a tangible boost to the bottom line. Reporting functionality allows merchants to identify top selling and underperforming items, the most and least productive employees, and the busiest times and days for their business. They can utilize this information to make more informed business decisions and operate much more efficiently and profitably. Other features improve order-taking efficiency and moving more customers through the restaurant, adding to the bottom line.
BSM: What should resellers consider so their restaurant customers get the most out of their POS systems?
Isaacman: It is critical to provide adequate training so that the merchant understands the full potential of the system. It is also important to make sure all of their employees are well versed in the functions of the POS system since they are the ones who will be using the system on a daily basis. It is also beneficial to check in with your merchants on a regular basis to see if they have any questions or concerns. This ongoing consultation will ensure that they are happy with their system and fully benefiting from the system’s features.