Mexican cuisine has become a favorite in the United States, where Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in U.S. homes – even among non-Hispanics – according to a 2013 Pew Research study. Americans have grown to love tacos and burritos as much as they love burgers and fries. Forget ketchup and mustard, we’ve got queso and guacamole on the brain.
The popularity of Mexican and Mexican-style restaurants is growing. Food research company Technomic found that sales at these restaurants grew 9.3 percent in 2012, outpacing the 5.8 percent increase among all limited-service restaurants. For example, sales are up at Chipotle Mexican Grill as they have become a quick favorite among environmentally conscious consumers and quasi-Mexican chain Chili’s is looking to doubling its Mexican menu.
Although Mexican restaurants have become as popular as classic American-style restaurants, their needs are unique to their specific environment. One of the main challenges faced by these restaurants is that they often serve dishes and items with names that may not be familiar to their diverse clientele, or might experience a language barrier between employees and customers.
For those reasons, it could be challenging for Mexican restaurants to find a POS system tailored to their unique environment. Mexican restaurants require a system that can support these needs and streamline communication between kitchen employees, servers and customers.
Here are a few challenges that Mexican restaurants face, and how a purpose-built Mexican restaurant POS system can fulfill those needs.
1. Menu item consistency
It’s important for items to remain clear and consistent across the menu, point of sale (POS) software and kitchen display system so that confusion doesn’t ensue somewhere between the customer’s request and the server’s delivery. For example, if a customer is able to read menu items in English and Spanish, then employees should be able to enter those items in both languages.
2. Dynamic menus
Mexican restaurants also might need to be able to quickly change back and forth between menu boards, as special dates like Cinco de Mayo might inspire dish specials and popular drinks like tequila and margaritas could make for a pretty profitable happy hour.
3. Menu translations and quick access to ingredients
It might also be useful for servers to have access to menu items and recipes via the POS software or a handheld mobile device so that they are able to list the ingredients in a dish that a customer might be unfamiliar with. Not to mention, some customers might not be accustomed to the level of spiciness of some dishes, and may want to know how spicy they are ahead of time.
4. Switching back and forth between language modes
It is important for Mexican restaurants to use a system that supports both the English and Spanish language. Again, both Spanish and English-speaking customers and employees should feel at home and able to communicate effectively. The POS system should be able to quickly and easily switch back and forth between language modes.
5. Multilingual receipts
To streamline the ordering and food preparation processes, a Mexican POS system should allow employees to enter orders and print receipts in both English and Spanish as per the customer’s preference. And restaurants that lack a kitchen display system to streamline kitchen orders can benefit from being able to print order tickets in either language.
When Mexican restaurants are able to find a POS system that meets and supports these challenges, they will be able to run their businesses much more smoothly. When employees and managers are able to spend less time focusing on operational and organizational issues, they can spend more time improving their customer service and profitability.
While statistics may show that Mexican-style restaurants are growing in popularity in general, how will individual restaurants know if they are part of this growth?
In addition to improved inventory management and customer service, a POS system allows restaurants to measure their growth and success through reporting features. For instance, they can measure response to pricing and special events, as well as assess the effectiveness of their advertising efforts.