What to Ask During a Restaurant POS Demo

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You’ve scheduled a demo—or maybe several—to find the right POS platform for your restaurant. Here’s what you should ask to ensure you get the right fit.

Choosing a point of sale system, also known as a POS system or simply a POS, is a big step in your journey as a restaurant owner.

From identifying the pos software features you need to determining your payment processing plans, researching POS platforms can feel like a far stretch from what you pictured when you dreamed of opening a restaurant.

But no sweat. We’re here to help you prepare for your POS demo call and identify the questions that matter the most for your restaurant. Let’s jump into it.

How to prepare for your POS demo

First, it’s important to evaluate all of the point of sale systems out there.

Many POS systems are built with retail businesses in mind. While a retail pos platform will likely work for your restaurant, it may not have the point of sale software features that you need to efficiently operate a food service business. When considering which POS companies to request a demo from, it’s important to keep your business type in mind, as well as any functionality and features you need to be successful.

We recommend making a list of things that you know you’ll need from your POS. For example, restaurants often need online ordering, loyalty programs, payroll, employee management/scheduling, gift cards, and inventory management to either be built into their POS directly or offered via third-party integration. Once you are aware of what you’re looking for, it will be easier to identify the key players in the market and determine who to speak to next.

Overall, it’s important to look for a POS platform that is built for restaurants.

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Questions to ask during your POS demo

Now that you’ve identified which companies to speak to, it’s time to consider what questions you’ll ask. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

1. Is your POS built for restaurants?

Many POS platforms are built with retail in mind. This means that restaurant-specific features, such as modifiers and live menu updates, split checks, and mobile payment options — such as pay at the table — may be missing. This can lead to errors in reporting, longer order times due to manual entry by staff, and a generally poor experience for both your employees and your guests. Be upfront with the sales team to ensure everything you need is included.

2. What are your cancellation and early termination fees?

This is an important question to ask whenever you are making a big ticket purchase or signing a subscription contract. Sometimes, what you thought was the right fit turns out to be wrong for you. Or, something unexpected pops up in your life and you need to make a change. Regardless of the cause, knowing your choices if something comes up will help you plan for the long term.

3. Do you offer multi-unit or multi-location management?

If your restaurant has more than one location, it’s important to choose a POS system that offers multi-unit management tools, such as easy menu publishing and menu versions, sales categories, and group location filtering. Using multi-location management will set you up for success, whether you have ten locations or hundreds. If the POS platform that you are getting a software demo from doesn’t include this, it may lead to headaches down the road.

4. Does this POS system offer offline mode?

When you’re running a restaurant, you don’t want to be beholden to your wifi connection to keep diners happy. If your internet goes down, or there is an outage with the POS provider, will you still be able to close out tickets and place new orders? Checking to make sure the POS provider you are speaking to offers safeguards such as offline mode can help prevent future trouble and help your staff feel more confident should a problem arise.

5. How do your offerings help me manage both the front- and back-of-house for my restaurant?

When you think of a point of sale device, you may picture an old-fashioned cash register that guests only interact with at the end of their meal or a big server taking up space in the back office. However, cloud-based POS technology and more modern hardware devices such as handhelds allow the guest to interact with the POS throughout their dining experience. Plus, with a POS system that directly syncs to your kitchen display system (KDS), gone are the days of delayed tickets and server mistakes. Your restaurant POS should help streamline operations, not slow them down.

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Bonus questions: Does the company offer access to capital and financing? Do you provide a referral program for your customers?

While these two questions aren’t related to the main use case of a restaurant POS, knowing whether the companies you’re evaluating offer additional programs may help you make the final decision.

Toast Capital offers eligible Toast customers access to loans from $5,000 to $300,000, so you can take what you need to accomplish your goals.

The Toast Referral Program allows you to earn money by referring other restaurants to Toast. Existing Toast customers earn $1000 when the referred restaurant starts using their new Toast system. Terms apply.

While these may not be top of mind when choosing a POS, they can certainly become deciding factors if you’re between two POS platforms. It’s important to have a technology partner that wants to see you succeed and will help you get there! 

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Get access to flexible funding for any restaurant need.

Toast Capital Loans are issued by WebBank. Loans are subject to credit approval and may not be available to borrowers in certain jurisdictions. WebBank reserves the right to change or discontinue this program without notice.

Running a restaurant is hard. Using Toast isn’t.

Easy to install and easy to use, Toast’s point of sale platform can be customized for your restaurant’s unique needs — with 24/7 support as you grow.

See how Toast differs from other point of sale platforms and get a free demo customized for your restaurant. Pricing starts at $0 upfront. Pay-later options available.

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.