Archive for the ‘Restaurant Management’ Category

Managing the Impact of Restaurant Commodity Price Swings

November 26, 2014

Produce prices are in constant fluctuation. This is no big deal for a restaurant if the shift is small, but can make a massive difference if the price jumps significantly—especially if the commodity is one of your most used items. You can’t control the changing costs of commodities. You can, however, employ some strategies to help manage the impact of those changes. Here are a few techniques to help ameliorate the impact of commodity price swings in the best way possible.

Have a Clear Picture of Which Commodity Items Are Driving Your Highest Costs

In most restaurants, it’s usually about 20% of the commodities that are driving 80% of the costs. When it comes to managing commodity prices, these items are the most critical to focus your cost saving efforts on. Don’t get side-tracked pinching pennies on items that have a negligible impact on your overall costs. Focus on the big guys, and then take the time to shop around, compare prices between produce suppliers and find opportunities to negotiate better deals.

Want to Know When the Next Restaurant Commodity is Going to Soar? Keep an Eye On the News

Commodities prices are affected by what is happening globally, and no one can predict when the next fluctuation will come. That said, keeping an eye on the news can at least provide some indication of the next big price increase and can help you be prepared to handle it. Whether it’s a drought in the Bread Belt, frost in Florida or civil war in Columbia, commodity prices are going to be affected. Knowing where your main commodities are coming from and monitoring the news from those areas will go a long way toward giving you a head start in dealing with the forthcoming price increase that occurs when disaster strikes.

Consider Restaurant Purchasing Contracts Instead of Managing Produce Orders In-House

Another way to manage commodity costs is by partnering with a purchasing company. There are a number of benefits to doing so—not the least of which is negotiated rates, as well as buying and consulting support. Restaurants who have purchasing contracts are protected from being at the whim of dramatic shifts in commodity costs throughout the course of the year. When deciding to enter into a purchasing contract, shop around and get a number of proposals as a tool to negotiate the best deal. Know your specifications to ensure that you’re getting comparable price quotes from suppliers and distributors. Look for fixed contracts to best manage commodity prices over time.

The downside of purchasing contracts is that you’re not free to shop around for a better deal until the contract is done. If you know that the price of a produce item is likely to go down, look for shorter-term contracts. When your contract is up, be sure to take a fresh review of available alternative options before signing the contract for another round.

No one can guess what will cause one item to spike while another stays static, but we all know how much those fluctuations can effect our bottom line—especially when they are unexpected. Taking the time to be aware of which commodity items could cause the most risk in your restaurant business if prices fluctuated, monitoring the news from areas where those commodities come and considering purchasing contracts to lock in better prices are all great strategies to help manage the impact of commodity cost fluctuations.

3 Tips to Reduce Restaurant Waste

November 19, 2014

According to the EPA, America produces around 250 million tons of solid waste per year. That figures out to about 4.5 pounds of trash created per person per day. Do you know how much waste your restaurant produces?

The odds are good that there are tons of waste (literally, over time) currently being produced by your restaurant that could potentially be recycled, composed or otherwise diverted from the landfills. Waste reduction is more than just the feel-good factor of attending to social and environmental responsibilities though—a good waste management plan also affords a number of cost saving opportunities. Here are three tips for reducing your restaurant’s waste production.

Measure & Manage the Cost of Restaurant Waste Disposal

The first step toward managing your waste-stream is to track the amount your business is currently spending on waste disposal. Set up a simple spreadsheet and log all of your waste expenditures. Doing so not only gives you an opportunity to identify trends over time, but also presents you with several waste management opportunities. For instance, you can determine if you are being accurately billed for the services you require, gain a clearer picture of your operation’s waste system and identify ways to adjust operational practices. This will help you take advantage of inventory and utilize recycling opportunities.

Give Your Restaurant a Thorough Waste-Stream Audit

Now that you know what your waste disposal is currently costing you, it’s time to get a handle on what you’re throwing away. Do a detailed analysis of the quantity and type of trash that is created and break it down into categories (paper, plastic, metal, glass, organic, etc.) Examine the overall life cycle of the items being discarded and get a pound for pound record of what’s going out the door. If you don’t want to do this yourself, hire a consultant or contract with your waste vendors. A good audit will uncover opportunities for waste reduction, diversion, recycling and re-using and can show you how to save money with a waste management plan.

Recycling and Food Waste Reduction in the Restaurant

The environmental and cost-saving benefits of recycling are well known, and according to the National Restaurant Association, around 60% of restaurateurs are already recycling at least a portion of their waste in some form or fashion. If you haven’t already examined the recycling options in your area, there are a number of both free and consultation services available to help you.

It’s a rare restaurateur who likes to see good food go to waste, so when it comes to food waste reduction, most restaurant owners are all about it as well. Donating food can be a great way to garner both tax incentives and goodwill in your community. Work with your local food rescue agency (a food bank, mission or hunger relief agency) to determine what kinds of food they can receive. As a general rule of thumb, cooked foods can be donated, as long as they have not been served and have been cooled down and stored according to food safety guidelines. According to CNN news, just 5% of America’s leftovers could feed 4 million people for a day. Can you imagine the impact your restaurant’s leftovers could have on your local community?

Getting a clear picture of your restaurant’s waste-stream from entry to exit is smart, both financially and socially. Take the time to see where your restaurant business could stand to lose a few pounds!

3 Strategies to Keep Restaurant Opening Costs from Ballooning Out of Control

November 12, 2014

Restaurant buildouts are expensive, and opening costs can quickly get out of hand. Without careful planning and preparation, it’s easy to get in way over your head and quickly find yourself struggling for a life-preserver. Here are a few strategies to keep your up-front development costs low and help you gain some control over ongoing operational expenses.

Give Expert Evaluation to the Restaurant Location

Restaurant location is one of the most critical choices you have to make. Be sure to carefully evaluate whether or not the neighborhood can support your concept before investing. Furthermore, ensure that the structure itself can serve your needs. Can you efficiently produce your menu, serve your guests and monitor your dining room with the existing layout? Is the seating capacity the right size for the goals set in your business plan? It’s a good idea to bring in experts to help with the evaluation, especially those who are familiar with local building codes. They will see things you may not, such as the gas and electrical systems, proper venting of exhaust, the overall soundness of the structure and whether or not anything is going to need replacing.

Look for Lease Agreements with Concessions

All of this information will help you be a shrewd negotiator of the lease as well—another important aspect of controlling opening costs. Obviously, you want to be working with property owners who are flexible and fair; people you’d like to stay in business with a long time. Ask for a lease with a rent-free concession before the restaurant’s opening date to provide some cushion in case of last minute fixes or permit delays. If you’re sinking a lot of money into the building for renovations, approach the property owner about subsidies for the improvements you make to the building. If the opening of the establishment adds substantial value to the premises, some owners will even be willing to contribute some financial assistance to the venture.

Work Directly with Restaurant Architects and BuildersPlan for Maximum Efficiency

Sometimes a fresh coat of paint and new décor is all that is needed to open your restaurant’s doors. If renovations are in order, however, don’t miss the opportunity to plan the perfectly designed restaurant by working directly with your architects and builders. While it’s nice to find an architect with restaurant-specific expertise, the more important qualifier is how well he or she knows the local building codes and is able to bring your idea to life. Design for maximum efficiency in the layout of your kitchen and dining areas. Don’t make your servers and kitchen staff walk a mile to have what they need at hand. Review all plans with a fine-tooth comb. Now is the time to catch mistakes in design—changes made down the line can get costly.

Once you have your plans, it’s time to collect your builders. It’s smart to utilize a contractor for their carpenter contacts, project management and permit expertise. If you want to save a little on contractor costs, interview and get quotes from the plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists yourself.

Opening a new restaurant can be an expensive and risky endeavor. With careful and strategic planning ahead of time, however, both cost and risk can be managed more successfully.

Success Strategies for a Restaurant Mobile App Launch

November 5, 2014

The use of mobile applications in the restaurant industry is on the rise, and for good reason. A good mobile app can serve as an ordering and payment platform, a loyalty program, a data collection service and customer communication forum all rolled into one. However, when it comes to choosing a mobile application to best serve your restaurant, you’ve got some choices to make. Here are a few success strategies to utilize and factors to consider.

Lay the Groundwork Before Launching Your Restaurant App

Before bothering to launch a mobile application for your restaurant, make sure that you’ve laid the proper groundwork to ensure its success. Clean up your image online (reviews, general customer sentiment), ensure your website is fully optimized for mobile (and thoroughly tested!), and that your membership program or “e-club” is in place. Most restaurants already have some form of user profile option that allows customers to save their information for faster ordering. Your mobile application is just a larger, potentially more useful extension of that. Take the time to run a social media monitoring campaign to learn what your customers would most like to see in your restaurant’s mobile app. Utilize the opportunity to gauge their interest in, and receptivity to, joining your mobile program and to discover valuable features and functionality that you may not have thought of.

Which Features Need to Be Present to Ensure Maximum Functionality in a Restaurant App?

Speaking of features, it’s smart to make a list of what you want. Consider what features should be present in the mobile application so that it serves the restaurant’s needs with maximum functionality. The most basic of mobile applications serves as an ordering and payment platform. It should also be both affordable and branded. Ideally, it additionally includes a loyalty program, the ability to shape the technology over time, run customer campaigns, provide interchange savings and supply an extensive collection of data, not to mention integrate with the POS.

Customized Restaurant Application or Third-Party Solution?

Now that you know what features you want, the next choice is whether to go with a customized mobile application developer or a third-party solution. Which you choose depends on the needs of the restaurant business. Those that just need a basic ordering and payment service will be fine with a third-party solution. Additional functionality in third-party providers is available, but varies widely, and it can be difficult to find one perfectly suited to your particular business.

Those who want to take their restaurant app to the next level will want to go with a customized application developer, if the means to do so are available. A custom app developer can build pretty much any feature you can imagine into your restaurant’s mobile app. If you decide to go with a custom developer, bring your wish list of mobile functionality and work closely with the developer to make it come to life in the most efficient and practical way.

Restaurant mobile applications represent an opportunity to track consumer behavior, collect data and connect with our customers at a level that was never possible until the digital age. Investing in the development of a mobile application for your restaurant can be a powerfully effective way to engage your customers and improve your bottom line.

Golden Rules of Restaurant Hospitality

October 29, 2014

Despite the fact that any restaurant’s success hinges on its ability to attract and retain customers, many restaurant businesses lose sight of the basic rules of hospitality in favor of simply trying to keep the business afloat. While it’s always important to keep an eye on the bottom line, keeping your customers coming in and leaving happy is equally critical. No matter what state your restaurant’s business is in, here are a few “golden rules” of hospitality that should never be absent.  

Take the Craft of Restaurant Hospitality Seriously, Not Yourself

The first important thing to realize about hospitality is that it is an experience that starts the moment your customer sets foot in the door. This experience is largely determined by the mood that you and your staff set. How is it possible for a guest to have a relaxing, enjoyable experience if the staff is emanating a frazzled, semi-cranky, “hurry up and tell me what you want” attitude? Customers want to see that restaurant employees are knowledgeable about the dishes that are being served and that they take the quality and experience of that service seriously, but they also want to receive this service in an environment where people are relaxed and enjoying what they do. Bottom line, recognize that good hospitality can have more to do with friendly, open attitudes and excellent, upbeat service than the actual quality of the food itself.

Treat Every Restaurant Guest as a Family Friend and Every Dish as a Competition

The definition of hospitality includes receiving and treating guests or strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. This means giving them a warm welcome when they enter, engaging them in some form of personal conversation during their stay and ensuring that their experience is a positive one in every possible way. In other words, treat every customer as you would a dear family friend, taking measures to impress and delight them and to assure their happiness and comfort.

Furthermore, underscore your commitment to excellence by treating every dish that you create as if it were going to be entered into a competition. Ask how customers like their meals shortly after delivering them and be prepared to take any action necessary to make sure they are happy with their orders. Let every customer know that you have worked hard to make their experience with you special, and that every dish has been personally prepared with loving care. Customers who are made to feel special, welcomed and heard will return to your business again and again.

Cultivate Goodwill Between Your Restaurant Business and the Public at Large

Last but not least, cultivate an attitude of sharing and goodwill between your restaurant and the public at large. The can be as simple as freely sharing the recipe for that favorite dish, or as elaborate as letting the local community know that your business is interested in buying local produce and sponsoring local fundraisers, events and gatherings. Also, look for ways to tailor your offerings to better suit your core demographic. For example, if you have a lot of kids come into the restaurant, consider starting a “kids’ club” program, or take a survey of your most loyal patrons to see if there is any way you can make their experience with your restaurant even better.

The take home point here is that a restaurant can’t afford to neglect the basic rules of hospitality if it hopes to survive. Those basics are easily met by treating every customer as an honored guest, cultivating an attitude of openness and warmth and making a commitment to going above and beyond to ensure that your customers leave happy, satisfied and eager to return.

3 Cost Cuts Restaurant Customers Won’t Notice

October 22, 2014

With margins that can sometimes be paper-thin, restaurateurs are always looking for ways to cut costs and save some of that hard-earned cash. Unfortunately, those cost cuts aren’t always perceived positively in the eyes of the public—especially if the attempt to increase the bottom line comes in the form of menu price increases, lack of adequate staffing or use of inferior ingredients. Fortunately, there are a number of behind-the-scene ways to tighten up your restaurant’s budget and make cost cuts that your guests won’t notice.

Be Smart About Restaurant Supply Delivery and Proportions

There are several ways that you can make better use of your supplies to save money. For instance, if you are currently receiving multiple deliveries per week from several different vendors, consider consolidating vendors and deliveries down to one or two a week. Less-frequent deliveries equates to better bulk savings. Ordering larger quantities from the vendors you stick with may enable you to negotiate better prices as well.

Furthermore, make better use of the inventory you have on hand. Keep careful track of what is coming in and what is going out; build specials around surplus ingredients and make a point of utilizing all of your currently available inventory before the next shipment of new supplies is delivered.

Last, but not least, be consistent about your portion sizes. Consistently sized portions keep guests from feeling cheated if they get a smaller portion one time and a larger portion the next. They also help to control costs and improve inventory tracking. Extra scoops add up over time and a lack of standardized portioning makes it difficult to know exactly how much each dish is costing the business to produce, in comparison to the amount of product sold.

Leverage Restaurant Beverage Sales

Another smart way to improve profit margins is to leverage beverage sales that are cheaply produced. Iced tea, for example, can cost as little as five cents a glass to provide. Rather than providing water automatically, notify guests that it is available upon request as a conservation strategy. Not only does this save on water, but it also increases the odds that they will order other beverages off the menu instead. Lastly, build your drink specials around surplus inventory to further make use of everything you already have on hand.

Make Best Use of Restaurant Staff Scheduling

Striking a balance between over-staffing and having adequate staff on hand to handle the amount of customer traffic is always a tricky business in the restaurant industry. Yet, making best use of your restaurant staff scheduling is another way to cut costs. Obviously, you want to schedule fewer people on days you anticipate will be slow, but you also want to make sure that you have your most skilled and efficient employees scheduled on your busier days. Furthermore, it’s smart to try to pair servers who have established rapport and have demonstrated the ability to work well together. Servers who get along are going to be far better at working together and covering a room more efficiently. Talk with your staff and observe them in action to figure out how to best put their unique skill combinations to use.

Identifying areas where you are spending more money than you need to be can be challenging. Looking for opportunities to save money without sacrificing the quality of service is critical to any restaurant’s success. Sometimes a little experimentation is required in order to strike the perfect balance for your restaurant business, but the cost-saving effort is worth the while.

3 Restaurant Cash Flow Tips for Smoothing Out the Financial Ups and Downs

October 15, 2014

Having adequate cash flow is the bottom line for every restaurant business. Without enough cash on hand to pay suppliers, employees, rent and bills, a restaurant can’t keep its doors open, let alone attain profitability. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that you can employ to help smooth out the ups and downs of the sometimes uncertain income that can go hand in hand with being in the restaurant profession.

Restaurant Cash Flow Tip #1: Don’t Spend What You Don’t Have

Deep down, everyone knows that it’s risky business (and probably not a good idea) to spend more money than you have, yet many restaurant owners end up doing exactly that in a desperate effort to make ends meet and keep things running smoothly. No matter how tempting it might be to do so, pay your bills only on revenue that you actually have in the bank, NOT on the sales you hope you might make. Paying out money that you don’t actually have is a great way to put your business on the fast-track to failure.

Restaurant Cash Flow Tip #2: Prioritize and Spread Out Your Bills

While it is smart to sit down at the beginning of every month and make a plan for meeting your bills, it’s not necessarily wise to pay all of them at once. Many restaurant owners do this, hoping that they have either set aside enough money or that sales will float their payments, only to run into serious cash flow problems a few weeks down the road. While it’s fine to write out all of your checks in one setting, stagger when you send them off according to due date and priority to ensure that your restaurant’s cash flow is stable. Consider changing to a bi-weekly payroll, with pay days alternating with business bill days. Furthermore, consider investing in a payroll service, and leave the headache of saving for, or making incremental payroll tax payments, to the pros.

Also, prioritize your bills. If a missed payment could hurt your business’s ability to operate, such as rent and taxes, make sure these are paid first. Bills such as utilities or insurance often have a reasonable grace period, or more manageable late fee, and may be better choices to put off, if such a choice has to be made.

Restaurant Cash Flow Tip #3: Maintain Open Lines of Communication with Vendors and Financial Partners

Maintaining open lines of communication between your vendors and financial partners is a critical factor in stabilizing cash flow. Many vendors offer flexible payment options and financing and are happy to work with you as long as the payments are regularly scheduled. Establishing solid relationships with your bank and credit providers is important as well. While your bank might not give you a loan, they most certainly can clear NSF fees from bounced checks, and will be more likely to do so if you communicate with them and let them know what is going on with your business. Most cash flow blues come in a sudden storm, so setting up relationships with a reputable credit provider is important as well. If you’re working with a good company that provides working capital, stay with them and focus on building a strong relationship. People are more likely to help you if they know you before you come asking.

Managing cash flow is never going to be a simple or easy process, but being smart about your financial planning, and building solid relationships with the financial investors who can help, will go a long way toward stabilizing the ups and downs in cash flow that are part of what it means to be in the restaurant industry.

3 Franchise Success Markers to Consider Before Buying that Restaurant

October 8, 2014

There are a number of benefits to buying a restaurant franchise rather than trying to start your own single-store location. You get to set up shop under an established brand name with a proven system of operations. Depending on which franchise you choose, you may also get handed trained staff, marketing plans, in-place supplier relationships and an existing customer base. That said, not all franchises are created equally, and finding the brand that is the right fit for your personal style and needs takes some research. Here are the three biggest success markers to consider before determining which franchise brand is best for you.

Restaurant Brand Perception: Don’t Pick a Bad Egg

The first marker of restaurant franchise success is the local populace’s overall perception of the brand. The last thing you need when starting a new business is to try to fight a bad reputation for poor service or inedible food before you’ve even gotten started. That’s like hobbling your horse before you push him onto the race track. It’s a waste of time and effort. Make sure that you’ve done your research on consumer perception of the brand before you buy.

Is It Better to Pick a New or an Already-Established Franchise?

Assuming you have narrowed your list of potential franchise options down to only those with a neutral or positive consumer perception, the next question to ask yourself is whether or not you want to go with an already-established, well-known brand or a new restaurant franchise startup. There are pros and cons to both choices.

The benefits of going with an established brand include an established track record, customer base and system of operation. The cons can include higher franchise fees and less management flexibility. Before you go this route, ask the seller for detailed financial information for a minimum of the past three years. This information will give you a much clearer picture of the highs, lows and warning signs it is critical to know about before striking any deal.

The benefits of going with a new startup restaurant franchise are that you’re able to start from scratch, often forging your own relationships and being totally in charge of creating the brand perception for the franchise in your area. New franchises are often cheaper to get into as well, since you won’t have to pay a higher fee for goodwill or purchase past cash flow. The cons include greater risk and more elbow grease to get going.

Total Franchise Cost and Management Flexibility

The last considerations to take into account when choosing a successful restaurant franchise are the total cost of getting going and the amount of management flexibility the franchise allows. Franchises are often prone to a number of additional fees and royalties, including the upfront franchise fee, as well as possible fees for renovations, marketing campaigns, training materials, extra suppliers and annual “membership” to the franchise. Brands vary widely on the fees that are included in the agreement, so be sure you have read the fine print before you sign!

While most franchises have a set of guidelines about how the business should be operated and marketed, management flexibility varies widely from franchise to franchise as well. Some will dictate all promotions and policies (leaving you free to run the shop); others will give you much greater freedom (giving you more choice and control over how you run your business). Which you choose has a lot to do with how much control you want over your restaurant.

Buying a franchise isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but can be quite a successful venture if the franchise is properly selected. The bottom line: don’t pick your franchise because it makes your favorite dish. Do your homework and pick your franchise based on the one that has the best chances of success.

3 Important Concepts for a Successful Loyalty Building Restaurant Campaign

October 1, 2014

No one is likely to disagree that building customer loyalty in the restaurant industry is important, yet there are a surprising number of restaurant businesses who have yet to implement any sort of loyalty rewards program. The most cited reasons are cost and limited ability to measure results. That noted, there’s also no doubt that loyalty programs are effective, and if done properly, can be just the incentive needed to get that customer’s foot out of your competitor’s door and into yours.

Restaurant Loyalty Programs Can Run the Gamut from Simple to Sophisticated

The first thing to recognize about loyalty programs is that they can come in many forms. They can be as simple as a paper punch card that gives the user something like “buy 10 get one free,” or as sophisticated as a mobile application that integrates with the POS, collects data and provides a mobile payment platform that doles out rewards the instant they are earned. There are pros and cons to both sides of the spectrum, but there’s no doubt that the expectation of rewards is a big motivator. In fact, customers will often spend a good deal more on a ticket when they are about to receive an incentive than they do on the average transaction. As a result, the restaurant often makes back what it spent on that reward in a single transaction.

Regardless of how you go about your loyalty building campaign, in a highly competitive arena like the hospitality industry, it’s risky not to employ every viable way of enticing customers into your restaurant (and then taking measures to ensure their continued engagement)—especially when your next-door competitors are doing so.

A Restaurant Loyalty Program Needn’t Be Discounting

Another important understanding to have about loyalty programs is that it needn’t be all about giving your customers frequent discounts and promotions, if that is not consistent with the brand image you’re trying to create. It’s important to recognize that the point of a loyalty program is you’re telling your most valuable customers that you value them, by creating a program that is personalized and relevant to their interests and needs.

If you’re building for the long-term, you’re trying to create a loyalty program that engages and rewards customers, enticing them to make the extra effort to visit your establishment over a competitor’s. This kind of loyalty program can actually build your brand up.

Providing a Consistent Customer Experience is Key to Building Loyalty

One of the keys to building loyalty is to provide a consistent customer experience. This concept applies at the single store level just as well as it does across an entire franchise system. It doesn’t matter how good your promotions are, or how spiffy your loyalty rewards program, if the quality of service can’t be relied upon. People need to know that they can count on having the exact experience they are after if they are going to be loyal in seeking it out. It’s as simple as that.

Recognizing that you have a lot of options when it comes to what type of loyalty program you are going to build, as well as how you are going to implement it, is a liberating understanding. You know how important it is to build a loyal following for your restaurant if you hope to see it succeed long-term. Having a commitment to consistently providing the best customer experience possible, as well as finding ways to reward your most valuable customers for their business, goes a long way toward ensuring the success of a loyal following for your restaurant.

3 Ways to Ensure Better Restaurant POS Security

September 26, 2014

The hospitality industry has held the dubious honor of having the highest number of data breaches among all industry segments in 2011 and 2012, and fell only marginally behind the retail industry in 2013. Point-of-sale (POS) systems have proven to be particularly easy targets for criminals to mine customer data. It is critical that restaurant owners take preventative measures to avoid these breaches in data security. Here are three ways to minimize the risk that your POS system will fall prey to thieving minds.

Enact Strong Password Policies and Restrict Remote Access

The simplest of POS security measures start with smart password policies and the restriction of remote access to the system. One of the biggest problems with hospitality data breaches in 2013 was actually stolen vendor credentials—typically because the vendor was using the same password for all of the organizations it managed. For this reason, it’s wise to limit remote access by third-party vendors to your restaurant’s POS system. Make sure that you have changed all passwords used for remote POS access away from the factory default and pick passwords that would be impossible to guess. Do NOT use the names of your POS vendor, dictionary words or anything else that a computer program or smart hacker could easily stumble onto. If a third-party is handling your passwords, ensure that their password policies are equally as strong, and more importantly, that they use a unique password for every customer.

Be Smart About Maintaining Restaurant Customer Privacy

When it comes to customer privacy, it’s vital that the POS terminal truncates card numbers and is only showing the last four digits on receipts. Do not store PIN numbers at all, anywhere. Store customer account and personal information in separate places and keep both under tight lock and key. Don’t ever send customer information over email or any other unsecured gateway. Last, but not least, never store CVV card validation numbers anywhere.

Ensure Best Online Security Practices for Your Restaurant

First and foremost, do not allow your POS system to be used for anything else other than POS-related activities. Do not surf the web, check your email or social media, play games or do anything else on the POS system. This goes for both you and all of your staff. Every place that a POS system visits online increases its risk of data breach. Don’t risk it.

For that matter, you’ll also want to ensure that all online access to your reporting or POS management system is encrypted with an SSL certificate. Without an SSL certificate, any computer between you and the server you’re sending the information to can see the data being sent. With an SSL certificate, the data is unreadable to everything except for the server for which it is intended.

Data breaches and restaurant customer security should be taken seriously. Data theft is one of the most prevalent crimes we face in our day and age. These measures will go a long way toward ensuring that your restaurant’s POS system is as secure as it can possibly be, and along with it, your customers’ information and your restaurant’s reputation for handling that information.