Every bar has a “Point of Sale” system. Or, commonly known as the “POS” System. What does it do? It’s a cash register. It processes credit cards. It has specific keys for every food and beverage items. And more. There are so many different types of POS Systems that it would be next to impossible to give a lesson here on how to use one.

And let’s not forget about “Liquor Cost.” The bar’s POS System has everything to do with how management tracks the cost of liquor – or “Pouring Cost.” We’ll briefly discuss both of these issues here in this lesson.

The Bar’s POS System

Before I go on here, please be aware that there are still many cash register systems out there used by some bars that are very basic. Believe it or not, some of your “Mom and Pop” type bars still use these systems. Many have just six keys: Food, Liquor, Beer, Wine, Tax, and a Total button. That’s it. It’s also very common in a banquet bar type situation.

The Bartenders POS System and Liquor Cost

Do you have a smart phone? A smart TV? Then you’re already half the way there. All bars are different (you’re probably tired of hearing me say that), so there are tons of different types of systems. The POS System is probably going to be the very first thing you are trained on – so pay attention!

The front of the house (FOH) system is the POS System. It’s the food and drink order system/cash register that all employees use. The back of the house (BOH) system is what management uses to monitor sales, inventory, purchases, etc. And communicate with the FOH Systems.

Newer BOH systems allow management to access information, in real time, on just about anything going on in the bar. They can change drink prices, pay bills, order products – you name it. And, most importantly for bartenders, they can monitor exactly what you’re ringing up, how productive you are, and calculate your pouring cost if they’re taking inventory before and after your shift. Many bars and restaurants will have someone in a “controller” position that monitors all of this activity – as well as management.

Some bars and restaurants have mobile (tablets) POS systems. Some have terminals scattered throughout the place. Some even have kiosks where the customer enters the information themselves.

We’re going to talk about the POS System that most bartenders will use – the ordering/cash register system that you will operate and become quite familiar with.

Generally, here’s what the POS Systems do:

  • Employees may be able to sign in and out – depends upon the system
  • All food and beverage items are listed on the POS screen
  • There are many sub-sections or “modifier” keys
  • Credit card processing is done through these systems
  • Everything is controlled by management using an integrated BOH system

The important thing here to remember is that you really need to know what you’re doing. All food and liquor items will (usually), have their own key. You must be accurate!

A few more things:

  • Don’t ask other employees to sign you in and out
  • Don’t “void” any food or beverage item without management approval
  • Do use the proper key for each item
  • Limit the use of the “No Sale” button
  • Do follow all house policies and procedures
  • Do count your cash bank before every shift!
  • Know how to account for comps/waste/spills/free drinks

Don’t stress about using a bar’s POS system. They will train you right away, and remember that these days most people are very familiar with touch screens and the like. As I mentioned before, if you know how to operate a smart phone – you’ll do just fine

Liquor Cost

The Bartenders POS System and Liquor Cost

You’re going to hear a lot about liquor cost. Or, “Pouring Cost.” I go into great detail about this subject in Section 13 – How a Bar Operates. In that section, I’ll show you how liquor cost is calculated – and a whole lot more. For now, briefly, I’ll touch on how the POS System has a lot to do with liquor cost.

Just know that the POS System is how management tracks your pouring cost. You need to make sure you’re using the proper keys. Beware of too many “no sales.” Never void anything without management approval. Customers are going to ask for change – follow proper procedures. Counting out your tips? Follow proper procedures!

And for gosh sakes – pour your liquor according to the house’s specifications! Reduce waste and spills, and make sure all “freebies” are accounted for.

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