Tech Transition: 3 POS Adoption Hurdles & How to Leap Over Them

By: Emily Nichols, Partner and Co-Marketing Manager at Toast

Last year, an estimated 73% of restaurants updated their technology to run their business operations more efficiently in modern times.

When running a restaurant, there’s precious little time to come up for air. Between serving delicious and memorable meals, there’s bookkeeping, hiring, ordering, marketing, and more to attend to.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that the prospect of investing in new technology is a daunting one for many businesses, surrounded by personal hesitations and perceived hurdles for the business.

Sure – a new restaurant POS purchase will probably result in more efficiency in the long run. But what about the here and now? The immediate needs of a restaurant’s guests and staff are always going to be a big consideration when transitioning systems – how will they be impacted and could there be negative consequences?

An Inconvenient Change?
If there’s even an inkling that switching systems could rock the boat, many restaurateurs will choose to minimize risk and stay put. While eventually convenient, taking the path of least resistance can hurt your business in the long run.

As Greg Wasserman, partner at Generation Investment Management, noted in this recent press release,

“The restaurant industry has historically been slower than others to adopt technology, leading to operational inefficiencies and missed opportunities. Advances in hardware, software, and cloud computing are shifting that dynamic.”

At Toast we’ve seen restaurants improve turn times by 15%, staff tips by 30%, and loyalty sign-ups by 10% – simply by upgrading their POS. Sticking with an outdated system can literally equal leaving money on the table.

Clearing the Hurdles
Okay, so you’ve convinced a restaurant that an upgrade can do big things for business. But those niggling concerns about actually switching systems are still there. We get it.
Below, we walk you through three common hurdles to technology adoption restaurant owners face when considering an upgrade and how to surmount them.

1) “You Can’t Teach Old Dogs New Tricks”
Have you talked with a restaurant owner who wistfully referred to the “simpler” days of pen and paper tickets or carbon copy credit card machines? I have, and although it makes me chuckle, it also makes sense. People are creatures of habit. We tend to be most comfortable with the systems we use day-in and day-out.

Announce you’re changing one thing, and everybody loses their minds!

But, understandably so. However, old dogs can be taught new tricks, especially when those new tricks will make their jobs easier.

Clearing This Hurdle
For the Parker Restaurant Group in Chicago, the difficulty of training new hires on how to use their old POS system motivated management to explore other options. Veteran employees would spend countless time answering questions about a dated and quirky system – so much so that it detracted from the time that should have been spent with guests.

Even though the current system was what experienced servers were used to, it still detracted from business by keeping old employees pre-occupied with training new employees.

Once staff members were able to see how their new, intuitive POS eliminated those frustrating pain points, the “the protests only lasted a day or two,” says Director of Operations, Nick Sorise.

2) Fear of Technology
Technology can enable you to do so much these days, sometimes it seems overwhelming. Nobody wants to pay for bells and whistles that will go unused, whether that be due to competing priorities or to not being, well, fully tech-literate.

Hey – no judgment, but remember that these hesitations can cause restaurant owners to pass on a solution that could produce powerful business insights.

For example, Howdy Russell of Jumpin Jax House of Food in Jacksonville, Florida decided a POS upgrade was critical to “stay relevant and ensure [they were] answering the demands of millennial guests.” The ability to perform detailed analysis of customer activity is hugely important to understanding the impact of marketing efforts and a big benefit technology can deliver.

Clearing This Hurdle
Tech newbies can avoid feeling overwhelmed by the capabilities of a new POS system by zeroing in on a couple critical questions they would like their data to answer.
For example:

  • Which guests spend the most money? A mystery or source of guessing before, a POS system with a rich CRM answers this.
  • What are our most popular menu items? Quick sales reports detail the best-sellers by day, week, or any period of time.
  • Which of my servers have the shortest table turn times? Don’t just make an observation – let the data tell the truth.

Working backwards from a few key insights you want to learn can help steer how you use new POS technology and boost your comfort level with its features. Remember, just take it one step at a time.

Another tactic for mitigating hiccups with new tech? Embrace an old-school standby. Dana Walls, Manager at Farm Burger in Decatur, GA suggests having “an old school paper training manual so that staff can take it home to study.” As she points out, they still have some employees that don’t even have access to computers at home.

3) Analysis Paralysis
Restaurant owners who have a while since researching restaurant POS options may be surprised to learn it’s a whole new world out there. Finding the time to research options alone can be daunting, not to mention calculating the long-term benefits vs. near-term trade-offs for each.

The looming chore might cause restaurateurs to put a POS hunt on hold again, and again, and again.

I like to call this “analysis paralysis.” Between review sites, quotes on pricing, and more, this massive undertaking lacks an instant payoff.

Clearing This Hurdle
Don’t let analysis paralysis halt positive change. Develop a list of the top priorities, selling points, and considerations can help focus a search.

  • Where do you see your restaurant’s greatest inefficiencies?
  • What features do you wish your current POS not have that you wish it did?
  • What experiences – positive and negative – have your peers in the industry had with different systems?

Starting with these questions can help frame up needs and establish where many begin a POS search.

Making the Change
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to a smooth POS transition, these tactics can help it go as smoothly as possible.