Toast, Inc. provides hardware and software POS solutions to restaurants and bars of all shapes and sizes. Like some of your diners, Toast POS, their signature system, is young and hungry. Unlike your diners, Toast is here to earn its keep. From small-scale single terminal coffee shops to enterprise-scale installs for takeout chains, does Toast's service stack up?
|Aloha Restaurant POS||Rating|
|Ease of Use|
|Help & Support|
|Reviewed by Expert Market:||09/06/2017|
During setup, Toast asks users a series of questions about the function of each POS terminal being installed. This helps streamline the remainder of the install process. You can designate a quick service order terminal, connect it to a receipt printer and start serving in minutes.
One drawback is that there's no training module within the software itself. This means that if you're training an employee, they'll be processing live transactions which will need voiding. Toast's relative newness to the restaurant POS space partially excuses them on this front. Still, it's an odd omission, especially since many of Toast's rivals have included training modules for years. This is certainly a feature to look out for in future software updates.
Toast is deployed in the cloud, giving you instant access to key business metrics no matter where you are, and giving staff the essentials no matter where they are in your establishment. Among the key features are:
- FOH suite that includes tableside ordering and payments, mobile POS, touchscreen register, kiosks, and hardware
- Streamlined BOH hardware and communications
- Powerful admin utilities for inventory management, labor management, menu customization, and analytics
- Online ordering
- Guest database with customer reporting, gift cards, and loyalty program
- On-site installations and robust support options
With excellent server uptime, Toast's cloud-based architecture is a definite strong point – except when it's not. A dual install (local and cloud) such as Aloha tends to work better if internet issues arise.
Toast Ease of Use
Training isn't the only time that a POS system can pose challenges. A sudden rush – especially when you're understaffed and your servers are working double shifts -can lead to frustration.
Toast's excellent user interface does a lot to minimize pain points during peak hours. The initial learning curve with is, however, a mixed bag. Some features – especially the ones that are customer-facing – are very easy to understand and learn. Reporting, likewise, is comprehensive but comprehensible. Where users tend to run into issues is with things like menu updates, which could stand to be streamlined.
Toast provides such thorough support that even users who find the system isn't the best fit still love the support they receive. And no wonder. Before your installation, a Toast representative will conduct a site survey to look for potential issues. Installs are fast and efficient, and training takes place on-site. For any issues after installation, you'll have phone and email support, and an extensive knowledge base, close at hand.
Plans and Pricing
There are two sets of expenses: hardware and service. Hardware costs start at just over $600 for a single-terminal setup (suitable for a shop that would only run one register).
The service is billed on one of three tiers:
|Pricing Plan||Monthly fee||Best suited for|
|Express||Starts at $79||Quick-service restaurants needing only a limited number of terminals.|
|Professional||Starts at $99||Restaurants needing an on-site install. Comes with more features, including API integrations and food and liquor reporting.|
|Enterprise||Pricing is by quote only||Chains, large franchises, and other multiple-location restaurants.|
As is common with POS systems, costs depend on the size of an install and any additional products or features. We recommend shopping for quotes among system providers to get the best deals.
Case Study: O'Maddy's Bar and Grille
Until recently, O'Maddy's Bar and Grille in Gulfport only had a single POS terminal for their popular outdoor patio area. This meant that staff had to walk the distance from their tables to the terminal for orders, changes, and cashing out.
Switching to the tablet-based Toast sped up these processes. It made work easier on staff's feet, and reassured customers (their credit cards never left their sight). O'Maddy's sales rose by 20% – $1 million more per year.
Toast POS: The Verdict
Would we recommend Toast? Yes. It's intuitive, reasonably powerful, and has plenty of integrations, so anything that isn't native to the software can generally be tacked on as needed.
Whether it's right for your business is something else. Some competitors – most notably, Breadcrumb – go far deeper on reports and analytics. This is the kind of feature you don't always realize you need until you have it. However, even customers who are lukewarm on the system overall find it easy to use, and the company's customer service earns plaudits all around.