Buying a New POS System: Is Your POS Disposable?

By : Jessica Lundberg

December 14, 2009 12:29 PM

Restaurant operators make significant investments in a restaurant, from kitchen technology to décor and aesthetics to furniture and equipment. Each investment helps build the brand, streamline operations and keep the doors open. More than any other investment, a POS system can help restaurant operators control costs, improve guest experience and order accuracy, and enable high productivity in the operations.


Oftentimes in our industry and especially in today’s economy, many restaurant operators fall into the trap of trying to find the cheapest purchase price when choosing a POS system, ignoring the costs that may arise over the life of the system. When buying a POS system, one question to ask …”Am I buying a disposable POS system or do I expect this system to last for 5-7 years?”


Not many people would answer that they are buying a disposable POS system. When evaluating POS technology, make sure you are looking at the benefits you will receive across the life of a system, not just the initial purchase investment. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your system:


• Make sure your POS technology proposal includes the cost of your system over 5 years –Studies show that the average life of a POS system is 5-7 years. However, most POS systems will also have something on the terminal fail once over the course of its lifetime. If something does fail on your POS system, you want to make sure that you are covered for it under your maintenance contracts – without those service costs increasing year after year. Look for a vendor that can give you a fixed hardware maintenance rate over 5 years or at least show you what your expenses would be over that timeframe.


• Check your POS provider’s “Return to Service” policy –It’s important to know what type of hardware maintenance your POS provider supplies. Most POS hardware vendors deploy an “onsite repair” mentality. This means that if your mag stripe reader is having issues, the POS company will dispatch a technician to your site who will open up the POS terminal and fix the mag stripe reader at your restaurant, taking up valuable counter space and disrupting your daily operations at the site. Look for a provider who offers a “whole unit replacement” maintenance model. If the mag stripe reader on your terminal malfunctions, the POS provider will replace the entire unit with a fully refurbished “like new” unit, that is most times better than your original unit. There is no need for a technician to open your terminals at your restaurant. They just unplug the old unit and replace it with the “like new” unit, providing minimal interruption to your site.


• Ask your POS provider what type of coverage they guarantee – There are three types of reasons a POS terminal may be having issues – functional failure, normal wear and process breakdowns. A good POS vendor should cover all three of these within their service contracts.


Buying a POS system is not just a one-time purchase, but is a significant investment into the profitability of your restaurant. When purchasing a system, do your homework and make sure that you are getting the best value over the lifetime of the system. What other questions should restaurant operators be asking their POS vendors?