General Manager’s Guide To POS In The Front Of House (FOH)

Part II of the General Manager’s Guide

General Manager's Guide
General Manager's Guide to POS: FOH

Front of house (FOH) performance is critical to your business’s brand and it’s also your primary territory as the General Manager! POS technology is the most prominent in the FOH because it’s also your guest-facing area. 

Here we’ll dive into all things service related: service models, ordering tools, POS interface functions, and reporting

Service Model Types & The Role POS Plays In Each

Your chosen service model is extremely important to your business’s atmosphere, your staffs’ efficiency, and your guests’ experience. It may sound like a lot of pressure, but experimenting with new things and seeing what works best for your particular team is the only way you’ll land on the right service model.

Of course, your POS system plays a big role here and different tools are critical for each service model.

Table Service

The most traditional and formal of service models, table service depends on face-to-face staff-guest interactions for every aspect of the ordering process. Guests order, pay, and sign directly through servers who travel table to table. 

As far as ordering technology, servers are either equipped with mobile POS in-hand or they share a stationary POS terminal somewhere else in the space. Mobile POS speeds up the process because servers can send orders right from the table to the kitchen or bar, and don’t have to wait their turn at the shared terminal. 

Table service is inherently labor intensive because team members visit tables every step of the way. It can also mean guests wait longer: They must wait for a server to order the next round of drinks, get an additional side of dressing, and even get the check. 

Counter Service

On the other end of the formal spectrum is counter service, which is also far less labor intensive for service staff. Counter service is super diverse, in that it can be used at almost any type of establishment: bars, restaurants, craft beverage spots, music halls, coffee shops, etc. 

When guests order and pay at the counter or bar, staff use a tabletop POS terminal. Guests either retrieve their order when their name or number is called, or staff run it out to them. 

As a General Manager, here’s what you need to know about counter service:

  • It reduces labor costs: With staff not having to run to every table, you can manage with less staff on the clock. 
  • Tab and tip size can suffer: Counter service makes it harder for guests to get another round of drinks or more food, especially if there’s a line deterring them. That, in addition to less interactions with staff, can lower both tab and tip size. 

Like most small businesses, you’re conscious about rising labor costs but also want to provide the best guest experience possible. Our POS crystal ball may have just the service model for you…

Flexible Service: Combining Tradition & Contactless Ordering

What if we took the best parts of both service models and added some savvy contactless ordering technology to optimize staff efficiency, guest satisfaction, and profitability? Meet the flexible service model!

You’re likely familiar with our matrix barcode friends, QR codes. They served as business-saving technology during the pandemic, but they’re continuing to be used by food and beverage spots to allow guests instant access to menus, ordering, and closing themselves out

Flexible service benefits business in many ways: 

  • Empower your guests: Self-serve ordering lets guests order whatever, whenever they want. The next round is as easy as a few clicks on a phone!
  • Reduce staff workloads: Instead of boring admin tasks like running receipts, give your staff more time to engage guests with brand education, upsell suggestions, and event invites. 
  • Boost tab and tip size: QR code menus, ordering, and payments is proven to increase tab size by 37% and tip size by 27%

It’s hard to argue with that data! More on contactless ordering tools to come in the General Manager’s Guide To Enhancing Guest Engagement

Mobile POS Tools That Servers Depend On To Maximize Efficiency

Portability isn’t the only reason mobile POS is superior. Its cloud-based technology and dynamic tab functionalities also help run businesses better. 

Cloud-Based Technology Syncs Your Entire POS System

Just as your personal devices store all of your photos and other information in one place, cloud-based POS systems store your sales data in one place. That means all sales information—from POS on-site, mobile POS off-site, and guest devices used for ordering—is accessible on one dashboard. 

This also includes ongoing software maintenance, which reduces hardware costs and ensures you’re getting the latest and greatest efficiency from your POS technology. 

Cloud-based POS increases ordering efficiency: When an order is placed by a server or guest, your kitchen and bar POS devices are updated immediately. That means your bartender could start preparing a drink while the guest is still relaying their entree order to the server. (Drink delivery mid-order actually happens for Arryved merchants—just ask Ray Decker at Avery Brewing Company!)

Synced information also lets any staff access any tab. So servers can help each other and tag team all tables, instead of being assigned to a certain section of your business. 

Cloud-based POS also increases reporting efficiency: Curious about sales performance in the middle of a Saturday night shift? With cloud-based POS, you have the convenience of getting real-time information on any device. As the General Manager, you can see insights from the comfort of your couch at home if you’d like!

Dynamic Tab Functionalities Increase Order Accuracy & Make Customization Easy

Don’t let the size of mobile POS devices deceive you in how powerful they are! Here are just some of the useful functions service staff can perform with their handheld sidekicks.

Make ordering faster:

  • Predictive search bar: Locate tabs quickly by using a predictive search bar. You can search by table number, name, venue, etc. 
  • Transfer tabs: Guests like to be mobile, too! For roamers that want Happy Hour at the bar and dinner out on the patio, simply transfer the tab instead of having them close and open a new one elsewhere.
  • Hold & send: Servers can collect an entire meal’s worth of orders at once—appetizers, entrees, and desserts—and enter them all into their POS. In order to make sure a guest’s steak is hot and their ice cream is cold, put the last two courses on hold. Once appetizers are finished, send entrees to the kitchen. Once entrees finish up, send desserts!
  • Seat numbers: Correspond every order to a specific seat number. No need to interrupt a conversation or auction items off—now, each server knows exactly where each plate and drink goes.
  • Modifiers: Personalize each order—a burger’s temperature, a side dish, etc.—quickly and easily using POS modifiers.
  • Flight tools: If you’re a beverage-centric business, you may serve a lot of flights. Enter 2-8 customized choices quickly using flight tools like the ones from Arryved POS.  

Take payments easier:

  • Card on file: You want to keep tabs open because it encourages guests to continue ordering, but holding cards in a rolodex is a pain for staff and guests alike. Card on file lets staff swipe cards, hand them right back, and keep tabs open. Guests don’t even have to close out—all open tabs are automatically closed at the end of the night with a standard gratuity of your choosing. 
  • Split tabs: Quickly split tabs evenly, by seat number, or by order. This pleases big tables of friends and eliminates the headache for your staff!
  • Claim tabs: If you use a flexible service model, staff often start tabs and guests add subsequent orders via QR code ordering. Handy tab claiming tools let guests claim their open tab on their phone, and they have the freedom to add or close out from there! 
  • Gift cards: Gift cards are good for business because they guarantee future business! Your POS should easily handle loading and redeeming gift card payments. 

Streamline overall service operations:

  • Digital, timed menus: We know digital menus are easier to update than printing new physical ones. Plus, with a cloud-based system, they update automatically across all staff and guest devices! 

Timed menus are helpful for businesses with time-sensitive pricing changes, such as Happy Hour. There’s no hassle for staff to pass out new menus or relay updated prices to everyone—a timed menu automatically updates based on your preferred settings. 

  • Differentiate revenue centers: Your business is likely split into separate revenue centers, or venues, such as a patio, bar, gift shop, online store, etc. These venues differ in layout, offerings, and what’s required of your team when an order is placed. 

Arryved lets you categorize and customize these venues so you can expedite order delivery and identify which venue is the most profitable when you look back at reports. Here are some of the personalizations Arryved lets you make:

  • Menu offerings
  • Floor plan
  • Tip and order screen settings
  • Enable returns (handy for Gift Shops or Online Stores)

Now your bar staff doesn’t have to sift through your merchandise menu when they’re inputting a drink order, and runners know exactly which seat number in each venue that orders need to be delivered to!

  • Tab tags: This internal communication tool lets your team tag any tab with the naming convention of their choosing. It’s great for naming groups (BDAY PARTY), overserved folks (CUT OFF), off-premise orders (TOGO), etc. Tab tags are another helpful filter when looking back at reports.  
  • Auto-gratuities & tip pools: Automatically adding gratuity to big parties or divvying the right amount of tips to your staff is much easier using your POS system. 
  • Offline mode: Should lightning strike or your Internet provider fails, offline mode ensures your team can continue to collect orders, and therefore revenue. Once power is restored, sync all orders made offline with the rest of your system in one easy sweep. 

Denver Distillery uses offline mode to sell their spirits at farmers markets and festivals across the state of Colorado, worryfree of an internet connection. The easy-to-use tool supported off-premise sales becoming a significant revenue stream for the distillery: They brought in over $13k in sales from offsite events alone in 2022. 

POS Reports That Inform FOH Performance

Quantifying sales and employee performance is crucial for a successful FOH team. As a General Manager, here are some FOH-focused reports that help you identify what’s working and what needs tweaking.

Quantify Labor Costs & Individual Performance

Revenue To Labor Cost Percentage: See how much revenue you’re bringing in against how much you’re paying to staff your business. Obviously, revenue should outweigh labor costs, but a healthy benchmark according to The Trust Cost of POS webinar is labor should equal about 18-20% of your revenue

Employee Performance: Identify your top performing employees by seeing who’s bringing in the largest tab sizes, selling certain flagship products, or any other insights you’re curious about. Perhaps your star server can share their secrets with the team, or you can host a friendly competition to encourage everyone to upsell for the sake of those tabs!

Quantify Sales To Identify Traffic & Tab Boosters

Hour By Hour Sales: See traffic broken out by the hour to identify when your business’s rushes are. This can inform your scheduling needs, so you’re never over or under staffed. 

Mel Timm, the General Manager at The Rayback, uses this report to both optimize her staffs’ schedules and inform where they can improve in baseline sales and processes. The data gives the Rayback team a framework to understand how things are working and identify where they can do better to maximize beverage sales

Average Tab Size: It’s a good idea to know the average of how much each party is spending per visit, because then you can create attainable tab maximization goals!

Seattle Cider Company was successful in increasing their average tab size 17% with the help of Arryved’s card on file feature in addition to the ability to take orders in offline mode. 

Venue Stats Report: See how much money is coming from each of your different revenue centers. Identify your top performing areas and where you have the opportunity to boost sales. 

Filter Reports By Comps & Tab Tags

Tab Tags: We mentioned tab tags are great filters in reports and here’s why: Say you have a softball team that comes every Tuesday night after their game. You tag all of their tabs with SOFTBALL, and at the end of the season you look back at total sales with that tag’s filter. Now you can see the total revenue those ballers brought in! If it’s significant, you know that it’s worthwhile to incentivize other teams like them to come in. 

Comps: Look back at the total discounts taken by filtering by comps in your data dashboard. Perhaps you’ll realize staff are being too generous with Industry comps or not generous enough! Time to update that Employee Handbook and shoot a friendly reminder to the team. 

Well, as DJ Casper famously said: take it back now y’all! Let’s cha cha on over to the next chapter:

    Ready for a better POS?