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Small Business Guide to a Restaurant Management System

ByKiely Kuligowski,
business.com writer
| Last Modified
Apr 01, 2019
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If you are new to the restaurant industry, a restaurant management system (RMS) should be at the top of your list of necessities. An RMS can help you run your restaurant more efficiently by keeping track of your employees, inventory and your sales. An RMS typically comprises software as well as hardware, such a cash register, barcode scanner and receipt printer, depending on your business's needs. It provides a comprehensive tool that allows you to see your restaurant and its needs at a glance, which can simplify your workload on a day-to-day basis.

Many restaurant management systems are designed to integrate easily with other software applications, which allows you to customize a system that works well for your business.

Here's everything you need to know about choosing your restaurant management system.

What is a restaurant management system?

A restaurant management system (RMS) is a type of point-of-sale (POS) software specifically designed for restaurants, bars, food trucks and others in the food service industry. Unlike a POS system, and RMS  encompasses all back-end needs, such as inventory to staff management. A system typically includes software and hardware, such as registers, scanners and receipt printers.

What is the difference between an RMS and a standard POS system?

While both systems are classified as point of sale, an RMS offers features unique to the food service industry like ingredient-level inventory updates, the ability for waitstaff to send orders directly from the table to the kitchen, split billing and kitchen displays.

Editor's note: Looking for a POS system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

 

What are the benefits of an RMS?

An RMS offers more features than a standard POS system. Through an RMS, restaurants can:

  • Track sales and orders
  • Show accurate, real-time financial statements
  • Manage staff scheduling
  • Access data through the cloud
  • Utilize a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) tool to build mailing lists or start a rewards program

What types of RMS are available?

Because every restaurant has unique needs, there are different RMS types to choose from. To determine which type best suits your restaurant or bard, focus on the features your business requires and how important each of those features is to you.

1. End to end

This is the most robust and comprehensive type of RMS. Main features include core POS, inventory control, CRM, staff, menu, order and payment management, technical support, and reporting and analytics. Depending on the RMS vendor, you may be able to mix and match features.

2. POS

This is the core of the system and allows you to integrate it with third-party systems for inventory, accounting, marketing and other key systems. 

3. iPad or Android only

Most systems are designed to run only on one device type to maintain the integrity of the system. Determine which device type you will use in your restaurant. 

4. General POS

This system is designed for businesses that have both retail and food services available. It offers seamless crossover with add-on modules.

What can I manage with an RMS?

You can manage almost every pertinent aspect of your business, depending on which type of RMS you choose. With an end-to-end system, you will have complete access to:

  • Employee schedules, including day to day, vacation and sick time
  • Payroll
  • Financial statements
  • Inventory
  • Accounting
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Core POS
  • CRM
  • Menu
  • Reservations

What should I consider before getting an RMS?

Because this system will be responsible for much of your day-to-day processes, it's important that you find one that works well and provides you with exactly what your business needs. Start with a clear purpose you need the system to serve and a list of necessary features. Next, give serious consideration to the following:

1. Type

Determine what type of system you need. If you're going to be running your business on Android devices, do not get an iPad system. If you want a one-stop shop, an end-to-end system will most likely be the most cost-effective option. 

2. Scaling

If you have plans to grow or franchise your restaurant, buy a system that can be scaled. Make sure your system can handle an increase in the number of terminals and handheld devices, provides advanced large-scale analytics, offers multibranch add-ons, and can handle a large number of employees (and their schedules). 

3. Integration

No system is perfect, so you will most likely have to integrate your RMS with another (or several other) software apps to achieve what you need. Thus, you should make sure that your RMS easily integrates with other systems, for example, OpenTable or Yelp for reservations, so you don't waste time repetitively entering data into separate programs. 

4. Ease of use

Running a restaurant is tough as it is. You don't want to waste time troubleshooting your RMS in the middle of a dinner rush. Spend a good deal of time testing the RMS out, ensuring that it is intuitive, and problems are easy to fix.

A good restaurant management system makes all the difference in how well (or not) your restaurant runs. While there are many factors to consider, it is worth taking the time to determine exactly how the system must serve your business and what you want to gain from using it. By having a clear goal in mind and a list of non-negotiable features, you're well on your way to getting your restaurant up and running.

Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski
See Kiely Kuligowski's Profile
Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and is now embracing her hipster side as a new resident of Brooklyn. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.
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