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The True Value of Handheld POS Systems in Restaurants


Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

With summer and warm weather comes the joys of patio season, and this has us thinking about two things:

  1. The beach

  2. The value of tableside ordering and handheld point of sale systems

We’ve talked about the impact of mobile POS systems in a previous article, but we wanted to lay out some of the cold hard facts we’ve seen on how handheld POS solutions help restaurants. Hopefully, this information will help you feel more confident in making the investment in restaurant handhelds to take your restaurant to the next level.

And to help you evaluate the tools along the way, you can download the POS comparison guide and check out the Toast vs competitors compare guide.

Why your restaurant should use handheld POS systems

We’re going to break down why your restaurant can run more efficiently with handheld POS systems. Ready to deliver faster service and be ready to pivot on the fly? Let's talk handhelds. 

Increase efficiency, focus on the guest experience

Did you know that, on average, a server walks back and forth to the POS 4-5 times for every table? Think about it:

  • Greeting the customer

  • Taking orders

  • Entering orders

  • Adding additional drinks

  • The entire check-out process

  • Printing a receipt

Any server might agree: This takes a lot of time.

With handheld restaurant POS systems, you can bring that number down to zero — servers will have the terminal with them wherever they go, reducing the time spent running back and forth across the restaurant.

This increases efficiency while also allowing your servers to focus on building deeper relationships with each table and improving the guest experience.

Turn down the heat and up the table turns

We’ve seen that restaurants using handheld POS systems can turn tables 15-20% faster than restaurants that don’t. This can mean 15-20% more sales during peak times, helping you get more revenue out of each table, server, kitchen, and restaurant.

Why is this? We've already covered the time it takes to walk back and forth from table to terminal, but let’s think about the bigger implications — using a handheld POS system means that food is getting sent to the kitchen 3-5 minutes faster, so customers get their food 3-5 minutes faster.

At the end of the meal, this reduces the number of steps it takes to close the tab. Servers don't have to be signaled for the check, run to the terminal, run back to the table, wait for guests to decide on a payment method, come back, run the bill, and bring back the receipt.

With a portable POS system, it becomes a simple one-step process. You also get to avoid being slowed down by the changing of receipt printer paper or waiting for other servers to checkout their guests at the POS terminal. You can easily help customers in real-time with handheld POS hardware.

Whether it’s by getting to tables faster and offering pay at the table or getting out from behind the counter and busting lines during busy hours in a QSR, these mobile point of sales work.

Odd Duck, a restaurant in Austin, TX, has seen the positive effects of using handheld POS systems first-hand. Since using handheld POS devices, they’ve noticed a stark decrease in ticket times, and turn times dropped anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes per table. With this came an impressive increase in revenue — an additional $500,000 a year in sales.

How much could a switch to handheld POS systems mean for your restaurant?

Loyalty programs never seemed so cool

The third area that’s improved by handheld POS systems is loyalty programs. With restaurant handhelds, we’ve seen that loyalty sign-ups increase 10x as compared to traditional methods.

Loyalty programs allow restaurants to drive repeat visits, upsells, and customer engagement. Each restaurant will value this differently, but we’ve seen that these programs can increase customer visitation frequency by 35% and drive on average 45% more spend. Done right, tableside ordering and loyalty programs can lead to more regulars for your restaurant.


Server Training Checklist

Use this comprehensive checklist to streamline your training process and cover all the essential tasks new servers should learn, from basic steps of service to side work.


Embrace an unbeatable ROI

If you own a restaurant, you have to think like a businessperson. ROI (return on investment) may sound like a corporate term, but it’s equally important in the restaurant industry.

By building deeper customer relationships, increasing table turn rates by 15-20%, and increasing loyalty by over 10x (which can drive 45% additional spend), the value of handheld POS systems pay for themselves. Serving more customers more efficiently and enticing them to come back for more means more profit for your business.

This is the ROI you can get from a restaurant POS system, and it shouldn't be ignored.

Restaurant technology that pays for itself

We built Toast Go® 2 because we believe the future of the restaurant POS is in your hands — literally. We’re excited to partner with restaurants everywhere to help delight guests by equipping staff with portable technology designed exclusively to maximize restaurant success. This mobile device still contains all the crucial features as our original POS:

  • Easy, clean functionality

  • Card reader for credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards

  • Apple Pay capability

  • Online ordering integration

  • Cloud-based wifi connection

  • Payment processing

  • Touchscreen

  • QR code/contactless payment (accept NFC and digital wallet payments)

  • And much more!

You can purchase our handhelds for your restaurant in-store here. There are 2 pricing options for this hardware.

1. Pay as you go - Payment processing fee covers all your hardware costs(except shipping and taxes). This is not a lease – you own the hardware. (3.09% + 15¢ processing fee, $0 upfront, $0 monthly fee.)

2. Standard - Pay for hardware upfront and pay monthly for software. This is our more traditional pricing model. (2.49% + 15¢ processing fee $799.20 upfront $69 per month).

Our customers tell us all the time that Toast handhelds help them increase revenue, decrease costs, and delight their guests. After introducing Toast Go™, our handheld, custom-built for restaurants, to the market, word on the street was that servers using Toast Go™ were walking a mile less per night but turning more tables than ever before.

These are some of the facts we’ve learned and the stories we’ve heard. Does this reflect the experience your small business has had? We’re always open to capturing more information on the value of restaurant handhelds to help you learn and grow.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.