There’s a lot of misconceptions about the bar industry. Favorite TV shows, like Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, paint a bleak picture for bar owners, where the majority of establishments close in their first few years and thousands close each year.
However, with the economy in an upturn, bars and nightclubs in the US have been experiencing steady growth. To make the most out of an economy and an industry trending up, you need to offer your customers the best and the latest in bar technology, which includes researching specialized POS systems for bars.
According to IBISWorld, a business and market research firm, the three critical factors to success in the bar industry are:
- Having a loyal customer base
- Quickly adapting to, and implementing, the latest technology
- Proper management of inventory to ensure a product is always in stock
Achievement of these three factors is all positively impacted by utilizing bar point of sale software in a mobile POS system. If you haven’t updated your existing system, you could be at serious risk of being “just another statistic.” After all, with customers increasingly expecting the latest and greatest tech, you don’t want to be known as the bar that delivers a poor experience with dated equipment.
Manage Customers And Orders
Service is vital for a bar, especially during peak times, like Happy Hour, where drinking establishments face a high volume of customers. It can be all too easy to lose track of someone’s drink order or miss a customer waiting to place a drink order at the bar.
It’s essential that your bar POS enhances your ability to serve customers and complete orders; it shouldn’t be a hindrance to your ability to fulfill customer requests quickly.
The other crucial aspect of managing a successful bar, which helps achieve that first factor of success of developing a loyal customer base, is delivering a personalized customer experience.
In terms of bars, this means remembering your regulars and their drink orders. With the right bar point of sale software, tracking your customers and their personal preferences is as simple as inputting information into your bar POS.
Manage Liquor Inventory With Ingredient
The third key factor of success stated by IBISWorld is all about a bar’s ability to manage their inventory. One of the biggest detractors to customer service is when a patron asks for something that you no don’t currently have in stock. In many instances, they’ve come to your specific business for that one product; if you don’t have the item on hand, then their entire customer journey has been for nothing.
Tracking inventory accurately is a particularly tough challenge for restaurants and bars because the majority of your products aren’t in simple units. You have to account for how much of each ingredient goes into each meal or drink.
Not to mention, there’s spillage, over/under pouring, waste and other factors that can affect your stock. With the right liquor POS software, you can track individual ingredients in different units, both big and small. For example, you could look at your liquor stock concerning cases, individual bottles or shots per glass.
This gives you a complete picture of how much stock is available and when you need to order more ingredients.
Process Credit Cards, Split The Bill
Splitting the bill across multiple credit cards is a common occurrence at restaurants and bars. At the bare minimum, you need a bar POS system that’s capable of handling these transactions efficiently and promptly. But, you shouldn’t aim just to do what’s expected of your bar business. Instead, you should look to excel.
That’s how you gain a competitive edge over the other neighborhood bars. In other words, your outdated POS system is undoubtedly capable of processing credit cards and splitting the bill, but not quickly or intuitively.
A slow and clunky bar POS system doesn’t slow down your ability to hand customers their check; it also disenchants your staff and employee turnover rates are a significant problem for bars and restaurants.
The other consideration, when discussing payment processing and POS systems for bars, is the ability to accept all payment types. In today’s increasingly mobile world, this means allowing mobile payments made via a smartphone or other device. This payment type completes secure transactions through a wallet app, like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
These apps leverage near-field communication technology (NFC). You’ve probably seen this acronym on your mobile smartphone. To accept mobile payments, you need a POS for bars that is capable of NFC.
Mobile payments are rapidly growing, thanks to consumers’ heavy reliance on mobile devices. By 2020, it is expected that 56% of the consumer population will be using mobile wallet apps. Failure to meet this need negatively impacts your ability to achieve success factor number two: quickly adapting to, and implementing, the latest technology.
There is no limit to the number of opinions on how to appropriately tip your bartender. Luckily for businesses, they don’t have to worry about how much to tip. They do, however, need to concern themselves with how much their bartenders are being tipped and how easy it is for customers to leave a gratuity, especially when completing transactions via a card or wallet app.
The quicker you can get customers paying and out the door, the more customers you can seat, which allows you to generate a higher number of sales in a shorter span of time.
Having a specialized POS for bars makes it easy for customers to calculate a tip. They can digitally select a percentage of their tab to add to the tip. This means no more table math or tip calculators; with just one tap of the finger, the customer can add a tip and finish their payment.
The other benefit to handling tips through a sophisticated POS system is, when tax season rolls around, your bar point of sale software can create a report that shows exactly how much your customers paid in tips.
The above section touches on one of the many accounting perks to using a modern POS for bars. Tips are just one of the dimensions of your business that you can track through POS reports.
You can also look at some different accounting-based aspects of your business. For example, you can see a statement that follows your overall revenue, transaction data of taxes and tips paid, inventory expenses or another angle.
These financial reports simplify the back office accounting of your bar business and allow you to look at your business through some different lenses. Accounting data can be vital for understanding how your business is performing and, potentially, where there is room for improvement.
You should look at POS systems for bars that allow for integration with your existing accounting software. If you’re using Quickbooks, for example, your bar point of sale software should allow you to integrate your sales data into your established Quickbooks reports.
The less time you need to spend on accounting and calculating your operational costs, the more time you have for greeting customers and improving your bar business in other areas.
Retain More Customers With A Loyalty Program
Having a loyal customer base, as mentioned beforehand, is an essential factor for a bar’s success. If you don’t stimulate a crowd of regular patrons, your bar business can be extremely volatile because you’re mainly relying on walk-ins as your primary source of revenue.
Loyal, regular customers are the lifeblood of any bar. They visit more often and spend more than walk-in customers. Without these individuals, a bar’s future can be extremely uncertain. Through the use of a mobile POS system, there are some ways you can improve customer loyalty and help your bar generate a crowd of “regulars.”
Bar patrons like to be remembered; it creates a sense of belonging. That’s why regulars keep returning to the same bar; they feel like a valued part of the bar family. But, creating this feeling is not easy. One way that you can help stimulate return visits and (hopefully) convert walk-ins into long-time regulars is through a loyalty program.
With today’s modernized POS systems for bars, creating an engaging loyalty program that customers want to participate in is easy. You can choose between structuring your rewards program based on return visits or points earned through spending.
Either type of loyalty program can encourage customers to make another visit because it incentivizes return visits and added spending through rewards. When customers come back to try and reach your loyalty program’s bonuses, they’ll slowly start to feel that sense of belonging and being-at-home in your bar, which is the foundation for creating a regular bar customer.
Offers Via Sales Receipts
The vast majority of consumers don’t review their receipts. They either toss them in the trash shortly after the purchase, or they tuck them away in a file that won’t be opened until tax season, if at all. However, bars are one of the outliers. It’s an industry where many customers do review their receipts.
They may not check it until the next morning, but you can be confident that, at some point, they’ll take a peep at how much they spent the night before. As any bargoer knows, the night (and your spending) can get away from you.
This presents a unique opportunity for bar owners. With many customers checking their receipts, they offer a compelling and often overlooked, touchpoint. With the right bar point of sale software, you can create receipts with custom messages.
You can craft receipt-based marketing messages that encourage your customers to participate in an online survey. Alternatively, you can include unique coupon codes or a link to your rewards program.
This mostly untapped channel can be a great way to connect customers with your latest efforts to grow your customer experience.
Mobile POS Hardware
Bars thrive on their ability to serve customers quickly and on the go. So, shouldn’t your bar POS system also be optimized for speed and mobility? Mobile POS systems are gaining popularity in some customer-facing industries. Mobile POS systems for bars and restaurants utilize a tablet or smartphone device to house the bar point of sale software.
This means that your POS system isn’t fixed to a single location, but can travel right to the customer. This is helpful for bars because it means that your staff can service a customer’s entire order in one location, even if they pay with a card; there’s no back and forth between customer and cash register.
Shifting to a mobile POS system and eliminating the fixed POS station yields some benefits for bar businesses. For example, with a traditional bar POS system, when a table wants to split the tab, it’s up to the waiter to remember what each had.
With a mobile POS system, on the other hand, they can split the check right at the table and, if there’s any confusion as to who ordered what or how the table wants to divide a shared appetizer, the waiter is right there to ask the customers.
Some bars even implement mobile POS systems at tables, which allow customers to order, pay and perform other collective actions, without having to attract the attention of the staff.
In short, a mobile POS system enhances a bar’s ability to service customers quickly. Eliminating a fixed bar POS system can raise a bar’s customer experience to new heights by creating a modern sales experience that is rife with today’s latest technology.
Track Sales With Cloud POS Reporting
Small business owners are notorious for working too many hours because, for them, it isn’t just another business, but rather the manifestation of a long-held dream. It can be hard for a business owner to step away and leave their business in the hands of their employees. This is undoubtedly true for bar owners.
It can be complicated for owners to adopt the hands-off approach to running their bar. You always want to know how the business is doing, where your profits stand and more. Thus, a day off can feel more like a nightmare than a vacation because you don’t have that hands-on access to your business data.
Modern POS systems for bars remedy this problem for bar owners by leveraging cloud technology to create always-accessible reports. As long as you have access to the Internet, you have access to your company data.
This means you can check in on your bar, even when you aren’t on site. For many bar owners, this level of access to company data is necessary to enjoy those much needed days off.
If we revisit IBISWorld’s three factors of success for bar owners (loyal customers, latest technology, proper inventory management), it’s clear to see how a mobile POS system for bars can help a bar business achieve each of those objectives. A mobile POS system means better, faster customer management processes.
Not to mention, the ability to create engaging loyalty programs, which helps build the crowd of “regulars” that are so crucial towards a bar’s success. Bar point of sale software also helps modernize your bar business by opening doors that grant access to cloud technology, mobile payments, and essential customer analytics data.
Lastly, today’s liquor POS software makes it easy to track individual ingredients, so you know exactly how many drinks, appetizers and other products you can offer guests before you’re out of stock. This feature helps protect a bar business from running out of product, which can be one of the most damaging forces to an exceptional customer experience.
In short, if you want to elevate your bar to the next level, and continue being a competitive force on the market, then you need to update your bar POS system.