We Americans love our pizza. Pizzerias make up 17% of restaurants in the U.S. and, in many ways, stand apart from other restaurants. Why? Well, there are a few key aspects of pizzerias that show they belong in their own category entirely:
Pizzas are completely customizable.It’s like a headache-inducing high school math problem. How many different pizza topping combinations are possible if you have 50 total ingredients? Pizza menus are as complicated as they come. Hyper-customizability also makes pizzerias particularly susceptible to over-portioning and misplaced inventory.
Pizzas are eaten everywhere.Nearly 50% of pizza orders are for carry out, according to a 2015 pizza industry analysis. Pizzeria owners have to concern themselves with the dine in, takeout, and delivery experience.
Pizzas are convenient.At its core, the pizza industry revolves around convenience. No time to cook dinner? Pizza. Need to feed a big group? Pizza. Nothing else open at 2:00 AM? Pizza. Pizzeria owners have to be hyper-sensitive to the guest experience in order to meet consumer expectations for convenience.
So, when evaluating technologies to run your pizzeria, your priorities will often be different than those of a typical FSR or QSR. Here are some specific things to look for when choosing a pizza POS for your pizzeria.
6 Must-Have Features For Your Pizza POS Software
Pizzeria owners serve customers with quality and convenience in mind; your POS system should do the same for you. Pizzeria technology should be lightweight, streamlined, and easy to use. Remember that humongous menu we talked about? Find a POS system that can handle that type of customization. Building a pizza on the POS terminal should be easy and - dare I say it - fun!
Your staff (which likely consists of many part-timers and seasonal workers) should be able to learn the system quickly so you don’t have to spend unnecessary time training new folks every couple months.
2. Online Ordering & Delivery
If you’re running a pizzeria and you don’t offer online ordering, please please please start today. A QZ report released earlier this year showed that online ordering is rapidly overcoming phone orders in the food industry. Orders placed online have more than doubled in the past five years. It’s hard enough to succeed in this business; independent pizzeria operators can’t afford to miss out on the customer convenience of online ordering.
RELATED ARTICLE: Why Online Ordering Trumps Traditional Call-In Ordering
Now, don’t go calling the GrubHub sales rep back just yet. As you’re evaluating POS systems, look into the possibility of integrated online ordering system. With a cloud-based system, you should be able to send orders taken online directly to the kitchen as if they were placed at the front counter.
You can reduce errors and avoid excess hardware and commission-based pricing with an online ordering and delivery dispatch system built right into your pizza software.
3. Real-Time Menu Management
Your online ordering system shouldn't only be convenient to your customers, though; it should be convenient for you as a pizzeria owner. Why should you have to update your in-house menu and your online menu separately?
Your pizza software should be able to automatically sync updates from your in-house menu to your online menu, saving you several hours a week. With menu engineering software, you should be able to monitor and make changes to your online menu in seconds, from anywhere.
In an industry that’s generally assumed to have an average profit margin of approximately 7%, every slice of pepperoni counts toward your bottom line. Modern technologies are working to combat the tediousness and error-ridden processes of inventory management with actual sales data from your POS system. Talk with your POS provider about how inventory and sales reporting can improve portioning accuracy and save you money over time.
Matt Stanfield, owner of Mattenga’s Pizzeria in Schertz, TX, told me, “I’ve saved thousands of dollars on food costs by being able to track my inventory better and removing the menu items that are a drag on my bottom line.”
Especially when comparing price quotes of different POS technologies, calculate how much each system will save you in the long run with built-in modules and capabilities like this. (the POS System ROI Template will be helpful for that).
5. Gift & Loyalty Programs
Like I said, Americans love pizza. In fact, 93% of them eat pizza at least once per month because it’s delicious, convenient, and inexpensive. Typically, this would be good news for business owners, but with domineering competitors like Domino's and Pizza Hut, building a reliable customer base isn’t easy.
Enter: the loyalty program.
A study at Harvard found that if you can increase repeat visits by 5%, you can raise profits by anywhere from 25% to 125%. There are few things as valuable to restaurants than customer loyalty, especially in a competitive market like pizza.
As a restaurant owner, you have options when it comes to loyalty programs, but certainly start by looking for it in your POS system. With a loyalty program built in to the POS, guests can often tie their rewards directly to their credit card rather than having to carry around a separate punch card. It allows you to collect valuable historical pizza customer data and it’s much more convenient (seeing a trend here?) for customers. Not to mention, you avoid the hassle and expense of yet another technology vendor.
HANDPICKED INFOGRAPHIC: How to Save Your Independent Pizzeria From Failure
6. Pizza Sales Reporting
Not only should your pizza POS system allow customers to place online orders, it should also track these orders in pizza sales reports and product mix reports.
Identify the menu items that are driving revenue and those that are a drag on your bottom line to optimize your menu. Compare sales of menu groups and individual items within a specified timeframe. Are there menu items from the previous owner that aren't selling as well? Remove them. Are there certain toppings that cost more than they're worth? Eliminate them. Your pizza POS system should be able to track inventory and food cost percentage so you can engineer your menu to your needs.
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Pizza POS
Now that you know what to look for, it's time to learn what to avoid. When searching for pizza technology, pizzeria owners should make sure they evaluate the various systems based on not only their general functionality, but also the elements that are esential to their unique segment of the foodservice industry.
Below are 3 common mistakes, or oversights, that pizzerias should avoid when purchasing a new pizza POS system.
1. Selecting a System That Doesn’t Have Integrated Caller ID Ordering
Call-in orders are still the most prevalent method of ordering food delivery, according to NPD Group. Pizzerias especially receive calls every day and need to take orders quickly.
A system that has integrated caller ID ordering will remember a customer's order history, average ticket size, phone number, and address whenever they call, so the cashier doesn't have to waste time collecting that information every time. Not only does integrated caller ID save time, it also allows restaurant staff to personalize the guest experience.
2. Choosing Software that Doesn’t Offer Insight Into Employee Productivity
Nearly all POS systems offer some form of labor reports and employee time cards. Pizza restaurants juggling in-house service, take-out, and delivery need to be able to analyze their employee’s productivity and real-time labor cost percentage. The ability to see labor cost percentage in real-time gives you actionable insight into how your labor is actually translating into sales at any given time.
With this feature, you’ll be able to quickly decide if you need to add staff in certain areas or send certain staff members home early to keep your labor costs on track towards meeting your financial goals. The ability to dig into individual employee productivity allows you to identify the servers that are turning tables the fastest, delivery drivers that are the most efficient, and staff who may need additional attention or training.
3. Assuming the Implementation Hours Quoted Reflect the Actual Number of Hours Reqiured
There are three crucial phases involved in implementing a new pizza POS system: (1) building the menu, (2) installation, (3) training. The menu is typically the most crucial piece of this implementation process; it's what typically makes pizza restaurants more complicated than the average quick service and full service restaurant. It’s not enough for a POS system to simply be capable of handling a complex pizza menu; the menu also needs to be properly built within the system.
Pizza POS vendors will often only quote 2-3 hours of menu software configuration or will only include the initial menu iteration. To avoid having to invest significantly more money or time than you anticipate, do not simply assume that the number of quoted hours will match the numbers of hours actually required for this step in the process. Most pizza menus take a number of iterations and require far more than 2-3 hours to create the menu and make the necessary modifications until it meets your exact specifications.
Find Pizza Software That Works For Your Business
If you own a pizzeria, find a technology that works for you, not against you. Your pizza POS system should be an investment toward growing your business. The return on that investment is generated even quicker with key value-added components like online ordering, inventory, and loyalty program integrations.