Voiding vs. Refunding Payments

It happens every day. A server runs a credit card on the wrong table. A cashier overcharges a guest.

Humans make mistakes, however, when dealing with a guest’s money it can turn into a huge pain point. Once a credit card is swiped, an authorization for the check or inputted dollar amount is returned. At this point, the bank will hold onto those funds for 3-5 business days to ensure it will be available when finally settled.

In FOCUS there are two ways to ensure this money is returned to the guest. You may either void the payment or perform a refund back to the credit card. Both are very useful for very different reasons.

Voiding Payments

Any payment performed on the current business day can be voided to be removed from a check. With credit cards, this must be done prior to settling the credit card batch which is typically done at the end of the business day. When a credit card is voided from a check it is removed from the active batch and re-opens the check. The transaction can now be corrected by voiding or discounting menu items, ringing additional items, or applying a different payment. The guest will not see the voided credit card payment immediately drop from their account nor see a returned amount in this instance since it was only removed from the active batch. This method is especially useful in table service where the check itself needs to be corrected.

Refunding Payments

After the batch has settled, you cannot void the credit card payment. At this point, FOCUS has told the processor that no more changes will be made to the transaction and to finalize the charge. The only way to put funds back on the guest’s card would be to perform a refund. A refund can be performed via the ‘Refund’ function or by returning menu items.

The ‘Refund’ function is typically located on the Function screen and allows you to charge a designated dollar amount back to a credit card you swipe or search for using the ‘Find’ option. This action does not adjust inventory and is useful if the guest still consumed the items on the original transaction.

Return Items

‘Return Items’ allows you to ring negative price menu items to both return the items to inventory and return the funds to the guest’s card. This is especially useful for retail or resalable items so they can be sold again. This function is not active in all systems by default, however, you may ask one of our awesome Helpdesk Team Members to help you set this up.

Both refunding and returning items can also be used on the same business day as the original transaction. Doing this would ensure the guest sees both the negative and positive transactions on their account.

You should only use one option, void or refund, for correcting the transaction, not both.

Want to learn more? Use the links below to walk through each process in FOCUS!

Voiding a Credit Card Payment

Credit Card Refunds

Returning Items

Tablets and Pay at the Table

Tablets and pay at the table devices promise increased efficiency and boosted tip percentages for your hardworking staff. Let’s review a few key points to consider before picking a solution in order to help you reach these goals.

Ordering Tablets

If you are looking to increase your service staff’s efficiency, tablets allow them to place orders quickly from wherever they need to be instead of going back to a stationary terminal.

Don’t like the idea of guests feeling like they are being neglected while a server places an order on a tablet? Having a thought-out steps of service that includes how and when to use the tablet ensures servers are attentive to guests while still being able to take advantage of the device’s flexibility.

Tablet Payments

Adding on card readers for swipe or chip credit card transactions means that both ordering and paying can be done from a single device. This allows your staff to quickly process a transaction while still being tableside, giving the guest the piece of mind that their card never leaves their eyes.

Want to print receipts or credit card vouchers? Printers can either be strategically placed at convenient locations on the floor or WiFi printers can be carried or clipped to a belt to offer mobility.

Prefer to have your guests tip and sign at the time of processing? Tip and signature prompts allow the server to hand or show the tablet to the guest to complete the transaction if desired.

Self Pay Tablet

Tablets that can be left behind by a server or permanently installed at the table can allow guests to reorder drinks or simply pay out their check at their convenience.

Tip and on-screen signature prompts allow the guest to complete the transaction without having to wait for a paper voucher. Not only does this make guests happier to be able to leave at their own pace, but tip prompting has shown to lead to increased tip percentages for staff.

Knowing how the new technology you implement will affect your guests and staff will allow you to choose the right solution. Our Solution Consultants can help businesses like yours analyze how tech can drive growth and prosperity for you and your team.

Find out more about tablets and mobile POS here, or chat with a Solution Consultant.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Card Check List

The holidays are almost here, and gift cards can give restaurants a huge sales boost at the end of the year.  Are you ready to cash in?

Integrate Gift Cards

Activating and using gift cards through your POS system saves servers time. Unlike gift certificates, a running balance is kept for each card so you can ensure the proper amount is used towards a guest’s bill.

Gift Card Supplies

Order now to ensure you have enough cards and envelops to make it through the busy holiday season. Custom holiday versions are also available from most printing companies.

Holiday Purchase Promo

Want to entice more gift card sales? Many restaurants will offer guests a perk such as a coupon or an additional gift card they could use for themselves. Plan out your promotion ahead of time so you can pre-activate gift cards or prepare other incentives for guests.

Employee Sales Contest

Get all of your team on board with selling more gift cards! Create a sales contest to track your top gift card sellers. Rewards can be for pride, traded shifts, no side work or some extra holiday cash.

 

Need to get gift cards setup or more supplies ordered? Give us a shout!

 

Point of Sale and the Cloud

The biggest trends everyone seems to be talking about are Big Data and The Cloud.

Both concepts are not new in the technology world, however, the buzzwords are getting thrown around a lot recently by companies offering web-based reporting and point of sale to restaurants and bars.

Still a little fuzzy on what these two terms mean? Check out our other posts on The Cloud and Big Data to learn more.

If a POS system was 100% cloud-based, you would not be able to utilize it when your internet goes down. So instead, most point of sale companies that market themselves as cloud-based have built solutions that allow you to operate offline. In most cases, data is always stored somewhere locally before being sent across the internet to a remote data storage facility.

Most major point of sale systems currently have the capabilities for their data to be accessed in one way or another from the web. FOCUS, for instance, has MyFocus Central that provides real-time web reporting, manager log, and a mobile application for quick access from your phone. The newest addition to the MyFocus Suite is MyFocus Office, which allows you to manage your menu and employees directly from a web portal.

So then, what are the major differences between systems marketed as cloud-based and those typically thought of as “legacy”? The biggest difference is the pricing model.

Subscription-based services make sense for start-ups that don’t have a lot of capital, however, over time the cost adds up meaning you end up putting more of an investment into technology than if you outright purchased the whole system up front (and you never own it, you literally pay for it forever).

Our team introduced FOCUSCloud this year so businesses could have the best of both worlds. This monthly subscription service gets you a stable on-premises point of sale system along with cloud-based services such as reporting, online ordering, gift cards, loyalty rewards, remote management and 24/7 helpdesk support. We even have options for subscription hardware to dramatically reduce your upfront cost.

What can Big Data do for restaurants and bars?

For years businesses have been able to pull reporting to analyze sales, inventory, financials and labor. The benefit to this data being in the cloud is not just the quick access to this reporting, it is the ability to use all of the data together for broader trend watching using AI and advanced analysis. This reporting on steroids will allow business owners and operators to make faster and more informed decisions.

The cloud, big data, and all other subscription-based services help augment point of sale to take your business to the next level.

Reach out to a FOCUS Solution Consultant to take advantage of these solutions.

Visiting the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo? Meet with our team in booth 1121 to talk about all things cloud.

What is the “The Cloud”?

Everyone is talking about cloud this and cloud that, but what is The Cloud?

“The Cloud” is a blanket term for data or applications stored on Internet-based servers instead of on local computers. While the technology itself is nothing new, it has become more accessible and affordable for small businesses.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways cloud-based solutions are benefiting businesses.

Accessibility

The benefit to apps that are cloud-based is the ease of access from anywhere with an internet connection. Information can be moved back and forth or accessed on computers, tablets and phones. This, of course, introduces the necessity for stable internet and network connectivity to access the cloud if being used for critical operations tasks.

Redundancy

When using the cloud, you no longer have to worry about data loss on your system at the store due to technical failure or catastrophic events since everything is stored across the Internet. Most services also offer data backup to ensure you never lose anything.

Updates

Most cloud-based apps give you access to regular updates of their services automatically. This means you always have access to the latest and greatest features without doing anything.

What are the downsides of using cloud-based solutions?

Internet

That same accessibility that is a benefit can also be an issue if you have unstable or slow internet connectivity. If you do not have access to the internet, some apps will either not work or work in a reduced function mode.

Security

All of that data you have quick access to can also be accessed by hackers if not stored securely. It is important to understand the security procedures for any web-based services you utilize.

Data Ownership

When your data is on a local computer you own, you control it. If that data is in the cloud you don’t really have full control of who can see or access it. If you stop using their services you most likely lose access to the data you had.

Learn more about the role “The Cloud” plays with Big Data and Point of Sale.

Increase Take Out Business With Online Ordering

Focus Online Ordering Increases Take Out BusinessAt this point, you cannot escape it even if you try.

With Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, and various other online ordering/delivery services, your restaurant will be available at everyone’s fingertips, whether you like it or not. So then, what is the point of rolling out your own online ordering?

Control

Most third party applications don’t give you many options for customizing, controlling the aesthetics, workflow, or for ordering. Meaning you don’t really get to dictate the customer experience.

POS Integration

Take out can extend your business and add revenue, but it also increases costs. Adding additional labor to deal with increased orders eats into the added profits you thought you would be making. That’s why having orders directly feed into your POS system and in turn go directly to your kitchen saves precious time and money.

Mobile App

Many online ordering providers also can help you build your own mobile application which further allows you to control your guests’ experience and even send them notifications on their phone.

Data, data, and more data

If your customers are not ordering from you directly, you may not be getting the full picture on their purchase habits. Online ordering companies can offer reporting to see trends and also collect marketing information.

FOCUS partners with ToGo Technologies to provide customized POS integrated online and mobile ordering for restaurants.

Learn more about Online Ordering.

Featured Customer: Coach House

Coach House Concert & Dinner VenueAround since the 80’s, Coach House has been able to see multiple generations of acts come through Southern Orange County. Ask any visitor and they will tell you there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Its small size offers an intimacy that is not available in most other venues.

Event venues require systems in place for super high volume since business comes all at once in short waves. FOCUS easily handles this by building out navigation and menus in a simple streamlined fashion. The goal is to be able to make every bartender and server as efficient as possible. Tab lists allow for quick access to open transactions that can be filtered by tab name or bartender for easy retrieval.

When the owners of Coach House approached us to build a solution, their biggest concern was credit card security. Each POS station is equipped with an EMV reader to utilize chip card technology. This ensures each transaction is unique and secure to protect their guest’s cardholder data.

Don’t miss your chance to catch some great musicians this summer at Coach House! Their event schedule can be found on their website at https://thecoachhouse.com/.

Photo by Nicole Priest Photography.

Are you ready for summer?!

You can already feel the warm California sun ready to soak us in its glory.

Summer is here. Coming with it the hoards of people… the staycationers, the adventurous locals and visitors to our great state come to bathe in the summer glow of California.

For local restaurants and bars, especially those in beach towns, the summer season can be incredibly busy. We have put together a checklist of items to plan for a successful summer.

Social Media

Put your social media on auto-pilot. Find a platform such as Buffer to manage and schedule your social posts so you can take less time executing timely marketing.

Hire Staff

Extra guests mean a need for more staff. You can always turn to Craigslist or instead check out services like Seasoned to find local talent.

Summer Specials

Plan out your summer specials to take advantage of seasonal favorites. Melissa’s Produce has a great list of seasonal items on their website. Fine-tuning your menu for the summer is best done before you get too busy. Not sure you can get the setup done in a timely manner? Our team can handle any FOCUS menu changes or workflow changes for you.

Extra Hardware

Having backup hardware that can be swapped in place when needed can reduce any downtime during a busy rush. Need additional devices to increase speed and efficiency? Hardware can be purchased and installed as a permanent device or temporary loaner. We even have options for mobile devices that can be used at festivals or other off-site events.

Plenty of Supplies

Running out of paper or ribbon should never happen. Our office keeps supplies stocked so you can get quick shipments locally. Take advantage of our supplies subscriptions so don’t forget to place an order.

Going Paperless in Your Restaurant or Bar

In a world of high tech everything, there is still a constant struggle between maintaining current habits and adapting to the new technology trends. Restaurants and bars are no exception to this ongoing dilemma. We hear from many of our clients who still continue to debate on whether it makes sense to go paperless or stick with printing guest receipts and orders. No matter the size of your operation, there are options that can help you either reduce printing on paper or eliminate it all together.

Let’s start off with taking a look at the kitchen, bar or other prep areas. Kitchen video has long been a staple for any high volume fast paced environment. Orders pop onto a screen that can show either full order details or simple item views depending on the needs of the person reviewing that order. Routing to each station is just as simple as it is in FOCUS, however, you also have more complicated workflow options based on modifiers or load balancing options. Besides not having paper copies of orders that can be lost, since the order data is being tracked at each step of the way you are able to see additional analytical data such as average ticket time and details of the cook times on each item.

Focus POS Rear Display Quick ServiceFor a Quick Service operation, printing at the POS station can be eliminated by utilizing FOCUS’ Signature Capture option. When processing a credit card transaction, the guest can input a digital signature on the point of sale touch screen. This can be achieved with either a station on a swivel base that can be turned and presented to the guest or our favorite option is a rear touch LCD display. The rear display can also be used for up-selling and order confirmation during the ordering process.

In a Table Service or Bar environment, getting a guest to a POS station is not really feasible. However other options such as using pay at the table devices, tablets or accepting payments through third-party applications can allow the payment to be processed with the guest so the signature can either be captured a the time of payment or possibly not even required.

New changes instituted by the credit card brands will also make signature obsolete for anyone processing with EMV. A recent article on Creditcards.com (https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/signatures-soon-may-not-be-required.php) explains that Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express all dropped the signature requirements.

But what does that mean for tips? The consensus so far has been even with getting rid of signatures most restaurants and bars will still present a check in some form to be able to collect a tip from the guest.

In the end, there are multiple options that each operation will need to evaluate to see what makes the most sense for each business. Our team is always here to review those options with you. Click here to schedule time with a Solution Engineer.

Tackle Restaurant Labor Costs Like a Boss

As an owner or operator in the food service industry it is a constant struggle to control restaurant labor costs and maintain a growing revenue stream. Traditional methods of labor management are not as effective in this age of instant consumer gratification.

What’s a restaurateur to do? Consider asking yourself these questions to see if your establishment could benefit from adopting newer, more efficient means of increasing profits and keeping your customers and employees happy.

  • Are my labor scheduling and communication practices effective?
  • Are we “behind the times” in utilizing the latest technology for the business?
  • How else can I increase profits and keep restaurant labor costs down?

Optimize Labor Efficiency

Time cards, paper scheduling, and staff memorandums are all antiquated practices.  They can lead to manual mistakes, over or understaffing, and employee miscommunication.  Restaurant operators should start making shift management a priority.

Finding a way to make it easier for employees to have a say in their schedules is a great way to keep them happier and more engaged in their work.  Looking into automated systems that help streamline communication between managers and staff these methods is a step in the right direction!

There are software systems that can integrate with technology that your employees use every day.  With smartphones, they can access work schedules, emails and important company announcements that help keep the lines of communication open and consistent!

Utilize Modern Technology

Today’s technology is more affordable and readily available to businesses to help curb restaurant labor costs. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Online Ordering Services: Allowing guests to order online or from their smartphone is like having an extra employee without the additional labor costs.
  • Self-Ordering Kiosks: Guests can order food and then sit down—no lines and enhanced order accuracy!
  • Tabletop E-Waiters and Checkout: Tablet POS credit card checkout reduces table turn times, allows guests to pay when they’re ready and frees up tables for the next guest.
  • Online Coupons: Get the right offer to customers at the right time — 58% of diners already use them— guest reward features encourage patrons to visit time and time again.
  • Digital Customer Communication: Get in front of your customers by leveraging rewards programs that offer text message, or app notifications.

Using modern technology can help ease the stress of staff, allowing them to focus on the job of creating a satisfying customer experience.  Customers also benefit by not waiting in long lines, having their food order arrive exactly how they wanted.

Make Use of Collected Customer Data

Using the above-mentioned technology also has a huge advantage in reducing restaurant labor costs.  It collects important consumer data about your customers.  Knowing who they are, what they order and when they order is vital information! It can help you optimize your staffing needs, food stock, and menu options to increase sales.

You can beat rising labor costs and be the boss of rising profits by implementing these techniques in your restaurant.

Contact Focus POS California about exciting new innovations in Guest Rewards.