The 10 commandments of POS programming at your bar.

Obey and prosper!

Posted: Friday, July 10, 2015


1.      Thou SHALT have a dedicated key for all product REGULARLY SOLD.

The whole point of a POS system is to brand specifically track sales.  Every brand at your bar should have its own key, as should all cocktails poured with any semblance of regularity (ie. at least once a month). The corollary is that if it's a rarely poured esoteric cocktail, don’t sweat it-- simply ring up its closest facsimile.  Don’t overpopulate your system with essentially dead keys; they will only distract from the ones you really need.

2.     Thou SHALT gather and populate TOP SELLERS unto the SPEED SCREEN.

No matter how diverse your beverage program, there are probably 35-45 items that comprise 80% of your sales.  It's crucial, first by means of educated intuition then later hard data, to accurately determine what those are, and reprogram them as they change.

3.     Thou shalt NOT use an OPEN LIQUOR key!

An open liquor key is like a black hole in your POS universe that bartenders will inevitably gravitate toward.  The result: a ton of mis-rings, oversight and theft which serve to compromise usage to sales metrics and accountability.  The argument that it speeds up service is bogus, as bartenders actually end up spending more time calculating the prices involved-- prices they all too often get wrong!

4.    Thou SHALT add/change keys, particularly of wine and beer, as product turns over.

Too often venue management simply throws new product to the mix without adding the keys or changing the name of the product in their system first.  For example, it’s not  unusual for us to see product sold in a p-mix report that hasn’t existed in a bar for months, sometimes years, logic being that the price point is the same, so who cares?  Problem is, it’s sloppy and confusing, both to staff and guests alike, not to mention another usage to sales saboteur.  Do NOT sell product until it's in the system +  get rid of dead keys no longer in use!

5.     Thou SHALT name keys with adequate specificity.

A key that reads “MONDAVI” is inadequate.  A key that read “GLS MONDAVI CAB” or “BTL MONDAVI CHARD,” is not.  Now throw in a BIN # for bottled wines and you’re really cooking with gas. 

6.    Thou SHALT categorize- and sub categorize- keys differently and cleanly.

Food and beverage keys obviously need to be differentiated (so costs can be separately tracked), but beverage sub categories make sense as well, at a minimum: LIQUOR, BEER, WINE… more if you’ve got a numbers oriented management team, ie. TEQUILA, VODKA, BTL DOMESTIC BEER, DRAFT IMPORT, CHARDONNAY, CABERNET etc, etc.  Programming ample categories from the start is recommended, as is making sure their associated range of PLU’s are spaced out enough to add more as needed.

7.    For premium brands thou SHALT always ring in the brand first, then modifier thereafter.

Without getting into a modifier dissertation, here’s a simple example: if a PATRON ANEJO MARGARITA is ordered, the first key the bartender should hit is PATRON ANEJO, the next is the MARGARITA modifier key (bumping price).  Ideally the appropriate modifiers would accompany their corresponding liquors (ie. MARTINI modifier shows up with all vodkas/gins, MARGARITA with all tequilas, MANHATTAN with all whiskies, etc), as opposed to there being a variety of separate modifier keys (the downside of this  approach, however, is that it’s more challenging to program and, alas, less frequently employed as a result). 

8.   Thou SHALT (within reason) try to anticipate and name all needed modifiers.

Sorry, just a bit more on modifiers: avoid using generic ones such as, say, +$1, + $2, +$3, reason being they will become totally misused by the staff, and again, will compromise your all-important usage to sales metrics.  In addition to the obvious modifiers in #7, try to anticipate ones like ROCKS, SPLASH, VIP BUMP, CADILLAC, etc.   Your p-mix reports will be infinitely more useful to you if you do.

9.   Thou SHALT ensure that all COMPS, SPILLS and VOIDS are rung up.

And to be clear, these should NOT be rung up under the same key (ie. COMPS); these are completely separate kinds of transactions!   COMPS account for product deliberately given away, SPILLS for product inadvertently wasted or returned, and VOIDS should only be used for mis-rings that are never actually made.  Conflating these will undermine your ability to judge whether these occur in reasonable proportion to your gross sales (ie. no more than 1-3%  each).  Trust us, unless these are carefully tracked, they will spiral out of control, undermining profitability.*  

10.Thou SHALT familiarize yourself with available profit efficiency reports, and supplement as needed.

All POS systems are equipped with a fairly large array of profit metric reports; the trick is understanding how to use them and ensuring that their data is accurate.   Unfortunately, due chiefly to over-complexity and unreliable data, this rarely happens and management teams settle for fairly uninformative monthly P&L’s.  A solution both cost effective and convenient, is to supplement POS systems with more user friendly (web-based) report interfaces like CTUIT or AVERO, and/or third party auditing services like BEVINCO and BARFLY SMS, which, in combination with your POS, provide much more effective profit efficiency intelligence.

(*Likewise for purposely discounted items.)