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POS software advice please.

 
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Virginiasmoke
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Joined: 01 Sep 2010
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Location: Central Virginia

PostPosted: Wed May 24 17 5:07 am    Post subject: POS software advice please. Reply with quote

Hi folks.
I'm in the final stages of moving my catering operation into it's own permanent kitchen.
I've been relying on my catering trailer and rented commissary kitchen so far.
I was lucky enough to find a place that will also serve as a quick service/take out operation.
I'm looking for a simple Windows based program that I can purchase a user licence for rather than a cloud based system.
I hope to spend less than $500.
I don't need inventory tracking and extensive reports. No bar tabs, split tickets, seating charts and all that stuff.
Something with decent product support (community based support would be awesome).
Do any of you guys use something similar that you could recommend?
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RodinBangkok
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Joined: 30 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 24 17 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't recommend a specific system, but here's some points about POS systems.

Today paperless kitchen systems are more prevalent, I'm not sure if they're available in small systems in the price range your looking for. But check them out, as they are much more flexible than printed tickets. Instead of a kitchen printer you'd be looking at a monitor, which that in itself is not expensive, but if you go for a touch screen monitor the price goes up considerably. With a regular monitor you'll need a keypad that is compatible with the software. That's probably the most economical. So I'd compare printer prices with a paperless system before you make a move.

Plain paper printers are fine for kitchens as there can be issues handling the thermal transfer tickets, keep in mind that the thermal tickets are flimsy-er and also can be destroyed easily with wet hands, where plain paper is much more durable for that short duration of their life. Some plain paper printers can be slower, but shouldn't be a problem in a small establishment. So I'd recommend you look at handling the two types of tickets first, decide which you like best to handle, then choose a printer. Epson makes the best systems but they can be pricier.

Stay away from anything that would require monthly payments.

For online ordering there is a system called Gloriafood, that is great, and its free. Don't worry at first about having to integrate it into your POS, as it can work fine with a little added work on your part as a stand alone online ordering system. Check it out.

We just completed a multi station system that has 6 different prep locations with no printers, and only one receipt printer at the cashiers station. The owners were reluctant at first about paperless but when they saw the advantages and flexibility of a monitor system, they were easily convinced.

Sorry I can't recommend a system but hope the above helps some.
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Virginiasmoke
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Joined: 01 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Wed May 24 17 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That does help thank you.
I'm beginning to wonder about the real importance of a paper receipt for an order of BBQ.
I mean who really wants a receipt for a small cash purchase anyway? I'm picturing spending a few hundred dollars on a printer so that a customer can throw a piece of paper away without even looking at it most of the time.
I can email cc receipts.
I'm beginning to think of going with a display in the kitchen and skipping the printer at the register.
Is that a bad idea?
Will I be able to use an auto open till without a printer?
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It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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RodinBangkok
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Joined: 30 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 24 17 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can always do a quick hand written receipt if they are not commonly required. As far as opening a cash drawer they work on a serial port or usb port, depending. The command can come from the printer driver in the case the printer has a drawer port, or can come from a serial port, or usb port depending on the drawer. For the latter you will need to check on the options on the POS system as to how to command the port. Here's an example of a usb converter for a drawer also:

http://www.cashregisterwarehouse.com.au/dt-100u-cash-drawer-trigger-usb.html

If you have a small operation you can have the orders cleared from the kitchen monitor directly from your main POS station, instead of having them cleared in the kitchen, this then only requires a monitor in the kitchen with not buttons to interface with the POS, but will depend on the flexibility of the POS software.

Finally if all your looking for is an accurate record of sales with your pos you can always yell orders or write them down shorthand and pass to the kitchen, a bit more work but really depends on how big your operation is and the time your FOH person has as cashier. You can then expand as you go instead of dropping the coin for everything in the beginning.
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Thu May 25 17 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again Rod
I've decided to skip printers and offer a handwritten one for those that must have a record of their lunch purchase (maybe a business lunch or something). CC sales can be emailed.

So that leaves me looking for a kitchen solution.
It looks like I can find small touch screens for less than printers.
What size screen would you recommend?
I guess I'll have to have one each for my cold and hot side huh?

RodinBangkok wrote:

If you have a small operation you can have the orders cleared from the kitchen monitor directly from your main POS station, instead of having them cleared in the kitchen, this then only requires a monitor in the kitchen with not buttons to interface with the POS, but will depend on the flexibility of the POS software.


Please elaborate on the above and especially what you mean by "have the orders cleared". Are you talking about closing a ticket when completed?
I've worked the line of many a kitchen in my younger days but always dealt with an expeditor that manned the printer. And I certainly have never dealt with FOH staff and their routines so please be patient with my ignorance on some of these details.
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BBQ is a fundamental element in all American culture.
It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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RodinBangkok
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PostPosted: Thu May 25 17 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The size of the screens and how many depends on the setup of your kitchen.
Size of screen will depend on how many open orders you want to see and can be working on at one time. The orders should be big enough in font size so they can be easily read from a normal viewing distance, so that can limit the amount of orders that can be seen at one time. Its a balance that depends on the average orders you have open at one time. So if your working on 10 orders obviously you need a bigger or multiple screens to see this amount of orders at one glance, but probably in a small operation you may only have one or two orders open, by open I mean that are being completed at one time.

The orders from the kitchen are bumped, cleared or flagged for pickup by pressing a button on the order itself to bump it, it then disappears from the kitchen pending screen.
This order can be recalled or looked at again by recalling it with another button, but once its prepped and bumped its out of the way of the kitchen screen. The orders are in order of being posted to the kitchen, the server can also Fire an order that will put it to the top of the list.

Once bumped it then shows up on the servers station, or expediters, as being ready to serve, that person then pushes a button on the order on their screen that says the order has been served. (A good system will give you all the stats on average kitchen prep time, wait time from bumped to served, and so on.)

If you have two adjacent prep areas you may want only one screen that both can view or two screens and one control station to bump the orders. Having two more expensive touch screens may not be necessary if only one side of the kitchen bumps the orders, the other side then only has a cheap monitor to see the orders.
A lot of different arrangements are possible. But the kitchen side should be very simple to use, and in some cases its not necessary to have any buttons in the kitchen if the server is picking up the order from a window, they then clear the order themselves with no interaction from the kitchen with the system, it all depends on the size and location of your operations stations.

We're doing a system now that is 5 stories high with 6 different prep areas, so an interactive kitchen system is a must, but if you have a small area with one service area and the kitchen is directly adjacent, then a lot of the automation can be streamlined and or eliminated. So as I said think thru the logical flow of your operation and make hardware decisions based on what you really need.

Hope this makes some sense.
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Virginiasmoke
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Joined: 01 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Fri May 26 17 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dude..., I couldn't thank you more for your time. You've been very generous. That gives me a lot to chew on.

Now I just need to decide on software. I have it narrowed down to a few and am playing with some demos.
I'm shying away from the couple that only have email contact on their website.
Would you (or anybody for that matter) mind mentioning a few features that I really should be looking for and maybe a few that just don't matter?
I guess that since it comes down to service style, I should elaborate a little?
I think I mentioned in the beginning that this is really simply an extension of my new catering kitchen in order to cover (and maybe more) its overhead cost.
It'll be quick service with limited seating. I call it the Subway model. I'll be serving walk-ups from a front counter immediately adjacent to the open kitchen. No table service. The cashier will be taking orders and sending them to the 2 stations (1 hot, 1 cold and no fry station). I'll have an expediter assembling and sending orders back to the front counter. I'm thinking of using online ordering but am not sure yet. So, pretty simple but I want software that will grow with me.
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BBQ is a fundamental element in all American culture.
It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Fri May 26 17 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh... here are the programs that I'm looking at:
Maitre D
Point of Success
Corner Store
Aldelo
Restaurant Pro Express
Plexis POS
Restaurant Maid
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BBQ is a fundamental element in all American culture.
It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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Capt Jack



Joined: 13 Sep 2013
Posts: 21
Location: Southport NC

PostPosted: Sat May 27 17 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can add one more POS option for you to look at. I went live with ORDYX back in February. The on boarding process was a mess, but the system itself is a fully functioning Cloud based system with the ability to operate when we are not connected for some reason. I even used existing equipment I had, but did buy a couple new printers capable of running on a network. I have one terminal that is the main checkout and one tablet that servers use at the table to enter orders. The tablet makes everyones job more efficient. The main terminal is a 15 inch touchscreen I bought on eBay.

It integrates with Quickbooks seamlessly. Reporting info is good. Capable of maintaining inventory.

The best thing I like about Ordyx is they do not have a required merchant provider. I have my own which is integrated into the system and is EMV. Plus they are working with my provider on a wireless EMV reader for pay at the table.
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Virginiasmoke
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Joined: 01 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Sun May 28 17 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Capt. I'll look into them. I like that I can use Windows!
Capt Jack wrote:
The on boarding process was a mess...

Can you please elaborate?
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It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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RodinBangkok
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Joined: 30 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 28 17 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't give any input on existing systems, but I recommend you download their trials and do some extensive entry.
When we train we throw a lot of changes at operators during order entry, so they have to go back and change things. This can show how well the programmers have thought thru modifying an order. Also recalling orders, cancelling, changing payment methods during cash out, comping orders or line items (complimentary). Flexible modifiers for items, (none of this or extra that). Try these out and see how easy they are to use quickly.
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Sun May 28 17 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good advice. I've been playing with a few already.
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It’s perhaps the only truly American cuisine and like anything else that’s purely American, it’s a mutation of influences from around the globe. – A. Bourdain
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RodinBangkok
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Joined: 30 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 28 17 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One last recommendation

Make sure you have a solid backup system for your main POS computer or server. Especially if your using Windoze.

If your on OS X make sure your Time machine is enabled, on other platforms you need to make sure you have some sort of backup strategy that will not copy infected media to your backups and maintains those backups on a regular basis.

Keep your OS software up to date, and use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) on your main computer.

If your buying new hardware/software I highly recommend dumping Windows for OS X as its Unix based and will give you hassle free performance over the life of your system.
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Capt Jack



Joined: 13 Sep 2013
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Location: Southport NC

PostPosted: Mon May 29 17 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Virginiasmoke wrote:
Thanks Capt. I'll look into them. I like that I can use Windows!
Capt Jack wrote:
The on boarding process was a mess...

Can you please elaborate?


Ordyx has a questionnaire for you fill out that covers an extensive list of needs for designing your system. They did not understand my specific requests that anyone that is accustomed to using a restaurant POS system could understand. I even thought they could not comprehend written English all that well. An example: They had me review the setup after installing all the menu items. I gave them a list of corrections. They fixed some things but not others. This kind of thing went on and on back and forth. I would give details of things to fix and they would do a few, but not the 10 given. So each time this happened I had to go back and make a list of things to fix per their request. It was like pulling teeth to get the install staff at Ordyx to understand my requests both in writing and over the phone. I finally lost my patience and told the set up person assigned to me that I needed someone that understood English and menus to get this done. That same day they charged my credit card the full amount due before the setup was complete. Meaning I still did not have a useable system. At this point I was done. But was able to salvage the process by demanding they get it right immediately or every professional restauranteur in the country was going to know about their ways and I would dispute the charges on my credit card. They had someone with better skills from then on set up my menu and had it right in a few days. My fault I didn't do that sooner.

They finally got it right after three months of set-up. But not until they forgot to integrate my merchant processor until the day I had to go live. It was a week later before the credit cards processing worked through the system. Very unprofessional and a lack of comprehension skills on the part of the install staff.

The system works and functions like we need now. We like the end product.
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Harry Nutczak
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Joined: 01 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 02 17 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

are you tech savvy? Don't want to spend a ton? Want a system that can grow as you need to grow? Use off the shelf hardware?

I used point of success for 7 years and loved it.
I started with a single terminal with 2 cash drawers and a single printer.

When I sold my place I had 3 terminals (2 with cash drawers, 1 just for delivery/call-in orders), 5 printers, 2 barcode scanners, an integrated scale.

You will want at least 2 printers , one for customer receipts, one for the kitchen, I highly suggest a 2-color kitchen printer so the cooks on the line can see modifications, promise times add-ons, etc

I built my system off refurbished Dell's running Win-7 Pro, less than $150 each, if you want a toch screen (not needed) go with Elo, they are the best but you'll pay heavily for them

Do you do deliver or timed orders? do you want employee time keeping? Inventory?
For less than $500.00 I can put together a single terminal with a printer that can double as receipt and kitchen, the software is only $300 for standard, I used premium because I had delivery and catering that needed future dates and order monitoring
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