The great thing about being a hospitality business in 2021 is that there are thousands of different pieces of hardware for you to choose from to help your business operate efficiently.
The not so great thing about it is that with so many options, it can be easy to make the wrong choice by buying whatever is the shiniest, newest, or cheapest.
Depending on your service models, available space, internet/network reliability, and other factors, selecting the right hardware for your business will make or break your success (and investment).
Beginning with the type of dining venue that you’re running, let’s walk through the common hardware choices for each.
24/7 Food Service Operations & Cafeterias
If you’re running a 24/7 food service operation, making the most of your space and hardware is critical. Cafeterias are also often home to peripherals like weigh scales, RFID readers, printers, and cash drawers. Depending on the space you have, you may be able to support dual-lane checkout, self-serve kiosks on counters or free-standing, and more – or you may have limited space and require 2-in-1 units. When shopping for hardware for your 24/7 operation, consider the following:
- Will there be staff on-hand sometimes and not other times?
- Do we need orders to be placed in advance (pre-order kiosk), or are items picked up throughout the cafeteria then check-out is performed?
- Do I need barcode scanners, RFID readers, weigh scales, and other peripherals for my cafeteria items?
Lots of operators are making use of the Volanté Flip and other 2-in-1 style units to go from cashier service into self-service from the same unit, so it may be worthwhile investigating if this unit is for you. In addition, self-serve kiosks can be designed to support weigh scales and all standard peripherals, so you can take advantage of self-serve technology without sacrificing any of your menu items.
Quick-Service & Concessions
Quick-service restaurants and concession areas want to provide prompt, consistent service while encouraging combos and upsells. Part of this is ensuring that POS hardware looks good on the counters, is durable and can withstand high volume transaction processing. QSRs now have both cashier-service and self-service, so you’ll want to keep this in mind while looking for hardware options. Here are the questions to ask yourself while looking for QSR POS hardware:
- Am I going with a self-serve or cashier-service model, or both?
- Do I need integrated digital signage (menu boards) to enhance the experience?
- How much counter space do I have available?
- Will there be any line busting tablets needed?
As a result, a traditional QSR usually purchases:
- Self-serve kiosks to allow guests to order on their own
- Fixed POS terminals that are hard-wired, reliable and durable – often with an LCD display to show customers what they’ve ordered and to allow for marketing and promotions on the screens
- Digital signage that displays items, pricing, and promotions above or behind the cashiers
Less common in QSR are handheld tablets, which can be used to help with line-busting. You’ll also need kitchen equipment such as screens or printers to help your staff prepare the meals.
The goal of most table service restaurants is to deliver a unique dining experience with multiple courses and pairings. As you’ve probably noticed, dining environments are increasingly utilizing handheld tablets for tableside ordering. We’ve previously written about the benefits of selecting handheld tablets, which includes increased modifier usage, better order management as the orders flow to the kitchen, and a better customer experience. For table service POS tablets, ask yourself:
- How many serving staff do I have at all times? You should target 1 tablet per staff member for optimum service.
- What screen size is best for my staff? There are multiple size options for handhelds to consider, from 7” to 10” in most cases. Selecting the right size is important as it ensures your staff take advantage of the tablets and enjoy using them.
If you are using handheld tablets, investing in good quality Wifi will ensure the smooth transfer of items from tablets to kitchen equipment. Make sure your Wifi connectivity is strong, and hardwire the kitchen equipment if possible to increase reliability.
If you’re having trouble deciding where to go with your hardware strategy, we’re happy to help. Volanté has over 20 years of experience with POS hardware solutions and can guide you in the right direction, helping you get the most out of your budget.