Jeremy Julian

Is Free POS Really Free?

May 27, 2015

Is Free POS Really Free?Frequent visitors to this site should already know that incorporating a point of sale (POS) software system can significantly improve and streamline their business.

After installing a POS system, most restaurateurs and restaurant managers can’t remember how they got by without it.

Finding the right POS system for you might require a trial period, especially since this system may require a substantial investment. To save on these costs, you might decide to try a free POS software, limiting your investment and allowing you to get your feet wet without committing to one system. But is free POS really free?

The Good

The obvious benefit of a free POS system is just that – it’s free! The web is full of point of sale programs that don’t have any upfront costs. Whether it’s shareware, freeware or an open source system, you can jump into any of these systems without spending money. If your restaurant is new or struggling to find success, this could be very tempting.

Choosing a free POS system on a trial basis can also be quite helpful and a great learning experience if you haven’t used this type of program before. You can find out what features you’ll need, what features you won’t need, and how this type of software can help you improve your restaurant. This knowledge will be extremely valuable as your restaurant progresses, and all you have to do is devote some time to the process.

The Bad

Unfortunately, many restaurateurs who ask “is free POS really free?” will find out that the answer is no. You may be able to get the software at no charge, but the company providing it will expect you to pay for installation, training, customer support and future updates. By the time everything is running properly, you may have paid more for this “free” system than you would have for a different POS that was a better match for your restaurant’s needs.

Also, some free POS systems might not include the features or functionality you need to run your restaurant properly. Some companies may offer you a free or limited “demo” version of their program that locks you out of important processes unless you pay for a “premium” package. Working around these limitations can be frustrating and waste time.

As mentioned above, a free POS system might not include training, or the support you need to make sure the program meshes well with your restaurant. Paying for a POS system typically includes the program itself and an installer who can set up any new equipment and make sure that the program is configured properly. Your upfront costs should also include training for management and senior staff, if not your whole restaurant team.

Is Free POS Really Free?

Adding a POS system is a vital step towards sustainable success for your restaurant. Restaurateurs should treat this decision as an investment, and do the necessary research to find the right system for their unique needs. Your POS system should make your restaurant run more efficiently and effectively, increasing profits and decreasing costs.

A free POS system might be better than no POS at all, it’s true. But the potential benefits of choosing a system with no artificial limitations, backed by an experienced company that can offer the support you need, can ensure the outcome you expect from such an investment.

Has your restaurant tried a free POS system in the past? How did it go? Are you still using it? Let us know in the comments below!

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