Have you ever been to a restaurant and witnessed a line at the register? Only this line was on the OTHER side of the counter? A procession of employees waiting to clock in at the point of sale system in the front of the restaurant is not ideal. When shifts change, there is a natural bottleneck that occurs as employees scramble to either clock out and go home, or clock in on time and get started. This can cause an unsightly mob surrounding the little machine they all are trying to access. Customers see this and, even if they understand what is happening, the ensuing chaos can create a negative experience for the diners who are waiting to check in for their table or order their food.
When I was a kid, Sears Roebuck, Inc. (may they rest in peace), would publish its huge annual catalog called “The Wish Book” right before the Christmas season and send it to people all over the country. In the auto parts section, (my dad was a mechanic, ok?) I would look at the show trucks and cars they displayed burdened with every possible option bolted on in an attempt to showcase every conceivable product. My mind was overloaded with the myriad of items added to the truck and wonder how they even got them all on. Curb feelers on a truck? Really?
Many restaurants struggle between reducing costs, and purchasing new technology. Wanting to maximize their dollars, they opt for the most cost-effective solution they can find, then start trying to use it for as many tasks as possible. They make the decision to use that one point of sale system to its fullest. Many POS systems promise numerous features above and beyond what they are really designed to do, which is take orders and track sales.
Like the truck from the Wish Book, there are POS systems that bolt on all kinds of inventory, purchasing, reporting, and time and attendance systems meant to track all of the restaurant’s product and employee activity. While it’s intended to provide an all-in-one solution, this can actually be more problematic. There are multiple logins and passwords to remember and track for each employee for each system. And, often these systems were built separately and combined in an acquisition, so they do not communicate well with one another.
Since the POS is designed to track sales and not be everything to every restaurant, there are ways to improve the clock-in/clock-out process for employees and managers. These tools will help avoid the employee line at the counter.
1. Dedicated Hardware
This always seems like a scary term when you start talking about dedicated hardware. The dollar signs start to add up in your head and the thought of using one more expensive piece of equipment seems daunting. However, this can be accomplished very simply with the use of an android tablet mounted on the wall in the employee area. These are small, intuitive touch screens and you can usually find one for around $100. It allows employees to interact in the back of the house and not in front by the register. This improves the experience for guests and employees. Of course, this system needs to interact well with the software which leads me to point two.
2. Time and Attendance Software
Then it’s time to add software specifically designed to manage time clocks. Integration with biometric time tracking devices and tablets is essential. If you have the proper BOH software, this data can be transferred directly from the time clock device to payroll and calculated on a daily basis. This then feeds into the daily labor stats and the P&L at the end of each day. This helps managers more effectively manage the labor costs which is such a large part of overall restaurant expenses.