How to Use POS Reports Effectively

End of the night point-of-sales reports provide a clear gauge into what is working in your restaurant and what is not. They are the nuts and bolts of the engine of your business. They help you understand where profit is coming from and where losses are occurring. Analyzing POS reports on a night basis and spending some time with them once a week is imperative for benchmarking a restaurant.

The most important evaluations that can be done are

  • Comparing costs as a percentage of revenues
  • Breaking down percentage costs by category (i.e. meats, salads, desserts)
  • Comparing those costs to previously identified goals

These should be calculated regularly (once a week in most restaurants) to stay on top of what the business is doing and how well it’s doing it. This is on top of printing out nightly reports and comparing total sales to cash and credit card revenues.

But there are many other pieces of information that can be gleaned from the POS reports. In the end, it’s important to spend time with POS reports for all of the following reasons.

Find out What’s Selling

Which entrees are selling can change quickly, and sudden changes have to be recognized and examined, especially when there is a sudden drop with specific entrée. This can be the result of changes in the kitchen or ingredients used to make it. Consistency is critical in the restaurant business, and the POS reports can reveal inconsistencies.

On the other hand, management must know what is selling and be sure to offer guests what they want. This can help shape menu changes and daily specials. It can also provide servers with ammunition for selling popular items to guests.

Find out who’s Selling it

POS reports should provide a breakdown by server. This should reveal total sales, sales per customer, and sales of individual entrees. Needless to say, these provide valuable benchmarks in a sales-driven environment. Servers have to be salespeople. They have to be working to merchandise the menu, especially the items that management most wants to sell.

Servers who are sellers must be rewarded and servers who do not work to sell entrees should be retrained or punished. As with menu items, this can change in a heartbeat, and it’s worthwhile to be familiar with recent trends with respect to the service staff.

Eliminate Waste

Waste is the hallmark of a dying restaurant. Managers committed to eliminating waste must pore over POS reports and compare the difference between previous and current inventories with total items sold. This should be a regular (weekly) process, and it should always reveal lapses in the kitchen.

Waste does happen in the restaurant industry, but the Chef or Kitchen Manager should always be on top of it. This means waste sheets are posted in the kitchen and communication about any instance of waste is thorough. Monitoring the POS reports can help make sure this happens.

Eliminate Theft

The first concern for most managers when inventory goes missing is theft. The POS report combines with waste sheets and vigilant management in the kitchen to ferret out instances of theft. On the other hand, when POS reports are not examined daily or weekly, theft can occur without management even knowing about it.

It’s also easier to spot theft by looking at individual server sales reports for red flags. These might include a server with multiple voids or comps on their sales report. It might also include reports that do not jibe with total cash in a drawer. Setting specific red flags helps identify theft quickly.

Assess Table Turns

POS reports can also reveal how long a table sat and how quickly it turned. In a fast-paced casual environment, quick table turns are often a key to success. POS reports can usually be set to measure the time between when a check was opened by the server and when it was paid out. Averaging this out for an evening can help managers see if servers are working to turn tables or whether they need some retraining in this area.

Run Contests

Sales contests are a great way to incentivize servers to become strong sellers. Contests reveal a range of numbers regarding server sales, including per-guest averages, total sales, and sales of individual items (such as daily specials).

In the end, POS reports provide the clearest picture into how the restaurant is operating and how effectively employees are working. For these reasons, they should always be printed out nightly and examined carefully at least once a week.