Want to run the perfect restaurant?
Then you’re going to need some help.
After all, there are a lot of different things that you’ll need to perfect in your restaurant company, from managing orders, to dealing with inventory.
While there are plenty of POS (Point of Sale) tools on the web today that can assist with back-end business management, few are specially designed for the restaurant owner. Lavu POS is one of just a handful of software solutions that can give you everything that you need to run an effective restaurant. What’s more, through partnerships with PayPal and Square, Lavu is rapidly becoming one of the most significant players in the mobile POS world.
What is Lavu POS?
Lavu POS is a restaurant point of sale system that supports business owners in everything from payment processing, to restaurant hardware.
The Lavu POS was one of the first POS solutions ever to appear in the iOS app store. Additionally, with more than 300 available features, Lavu promises that it can speed up your service times, modernize your restaurant, minimize your mistakes, and so much more.
Hosted on the cloud, Lavu provides the software that you need to run restaurant transactions in any environment. In fact, Lavu can provide unique software solutions for the different kind of restaurants or food establishments that you want to run. You can purchase a subscription for a single restaurant or bar, or multiple locations and franchises.
There’s also unique POS offerings if you want to run a bar, an ice-cream store, a coffee shop, food truck, winery, pizza place, brewery, and more:
The fact that Lavu’s definition of “restaurant” is so broad, makes it easier for business owners from all environments to get the kind of functionality that they need for their POS.
Regardless of which “version” of the POS you choose, you’ll get access to:
- Open table, open order, and payment status management
- Customization features for each customer
- Shift scheduling and clock-in clock-out options
- Back-end messaging for team members
- Inventory tracking to reduce food waste
- Customer data management
- Optional restaurant POS hardware
- Payment processing from your favourite companies
- 365/24/7 customer support
- Open API for customizations
- Preauthorized bar tabs
- Menu and layout customization
- Food and labor cost tracking
- Gift cards and loyalty programs
- To-go online ordering
- Warehouse and commissary
- Item transfer
Lavu POS review: Pricing
When it comes to figuring out whether Lavu POS is right for you, one of the first things you’ll need to consider is the pricing. After all, the best POS system will always be one that you can actually afford.
Lavu’s pricing is a little complicated. It’s not easy to find out much about the pricing options on the Lavu website. To get started, you’ll need to download the Lavu POS app on your iPhone or iPad (not available for Android). There’s a 14 day free trial which you can use to figure out what kind of package you need.
The basic pricing package from Lavu starts at $69 per month if you pay annually, or $79 per month if you pay monthly. This covers:
- A single location for your restaurant
- 300+ features to choose from
- Free updates
- 24/7 customer care
- Employee management functionality
If you need to upgrade and include more POS terminals on your package, then this costs another $69 per terminal. On the other hand, if you need a package for a multi-terminal or franchise plan, then you can contact the Lavu team.
Lavu promises to provide a custom cost that’s based on the features that you’re actually going to use for your multi-location business. Unfortunately, that means that you can’t predict pricing without getting in touch.
Lavu POS review: Hardware
While you’re figuring out the cost of a solution like the Lavu POS, it’s also worth considering your hardware needs.
One of the big benefits of the Lavu POS system is that it comes packaged with the ability to work with a wide selection of peripherals. Lavu can run on any iOS device, although you’ll probably get the best experience with an iPad. Additionally, you’ll have the option to protect your hardware experience with the Lavu Local Server. The LLS is an in-house server backup that keeps you protected if you ever lose your wireless connection mid-service. The LLS comes pre-configured and runs on an Apple Mac Mini, complete with remote installation.
Speaking of equipment for your Lavu POS experience, there’s also a bunch of other hardware available from Lavu too.
Head to the Shop.Lavu.com website, and you’ll find a bundle of hardware devices that you can purchase to upgrade your restaurant experience. The simplest option, for $399.99, includes an iPad stand and a card reader. If you want to upgrade from that, you can access the Quick Service Bundle which is available for $1,220.99, and comes with a cash drawer, stand, receipt printer, and card reader. The Full Service Bundle is $1,499.99 and features everything in the Quick Service option, as well as a printer.
Any hardware that you buy from Lavu can be accessed with a free installation from the Lavu team – which is a nice touch. Plus, you don’t have to go for a bundle to purchase hardware. You can also buy individual pieces, like receipt printers, mounts, iPad stands and more. If you’re building a particularly impressive restaurant business, Lavu can create a digital menu board for you that can be customized with your business branding. These menu boards make it possible to showcase nutritional information, special offers, and pricing with your customers.
Probably the most popular piece of equipment from Lavu is the Kiosk.
The Lavu Kiosk allows you to turn an iPad running your Lavu POS into a self-service kiosk, where customers can browse your menu, add modifiers, and pay for items without assistance. Once orders are placed via the Lavu kiosk, they’re directly routed to your kitchen display system or printer.
Lavu POS review: Ease of Use
Planning out the price of your Lavu POS investment can be quite the challenge.
However, from what we’ve seen so far, the solution is actually quite affordable, similar to something you might expect from tools like the Square Restaurants POS, for instance.
If you discover that the Lavu POS suits your budget, then the next thing you’re going to need to consider is how easy it is to use.
Fortunately, whether you’re a newbie to the world of POS systems, or a long-term lover of mobile point of sale software, you should find Lavu to be a very accessible solution. The sleek and attractive interface of this product makes it incredibly user-friendly. On the front-end, you’ll see all the shiny appeal of a well-made app for the iOS store.
Lavu is all about giving you high-speed technology that you can use to manage your orders and keep them coming. You can use the system to take orders at the side of a table, on your phone, or at a standing terminal.
The back-end window is accessible via any web browser, and it’s very easy to navigate. There are consistent menus and plenty of clear information across the window. From the moment that you log into the back-office, the guided setup process ensures that you have everything you need to get up to speed quite quickly.
Lavu will even handle your forced modifiers, like the size of a meal, and the optional modifiers that you may want to give to your audience, like “add spice”. The more you get used to the back end, the more comfortable you’ll feel using it to do everything from tracking your payments, to generating real-time reports and overviews.
Lavu POS review: Taking Payments
So, how does it feel to take payments with the Lavu POS app?
Well, ever since Lavu rolled out their Lavu Pay solution in 2018, things have been pretty simple.
Lavu Pay is the company’s in-house payment processing system. The service allows you to accept dip, swipe, and contactless transactions from all major card providers. However, there’s no obvious hint to how much you’ll pay in card processing fees. On their website, Lavu tells customers to email them their last three months of credit card processing statements, and Lavu will show them how much that they can save.
Obviously, this kind of insight into transaction fees is pretty vague. However, it might be promising if you think that you’ve been overpaying on your transactions.
Additionally, one bonus of Lavu Pay is that you get complete protection with things like PCI compliance. This means that you can rest assured that all of your transactions are safe and protected from beginning to end.
If using Lavu’s own payment structure doesn’t appeal to you – then there’s nothing to force you into it. You can also explore other opportunities too. For instance, Lavu directly integrates with PayPal.
You can quickly and easily set your Lavu POS up to work with PayPal transactions, and Lavu also allows you to continue using your PayPal point of sale systems and card readers too.
If you’re concerned about setting Lavu up with PayPal, then you can find a video on how to manage the process here.
Lavu POS review: Ordering
Just like the ability to take payments quickly and securely, managing orders is something else that you need to feel comfortable with when you’re using a restaurant POS. Fortunately, Lavu makes the process relatively simple, with tableside ordering.
You can bring your iPad to the table and allow your customer to order whatever they want, with quick select features to speed up the process by keeping your hottest items at the top of the screen. There are also help functionalities like “Hold and fire” which allow you to assign different orders to be processed at specific times.
For instance, if someone in your restaurant wants time for a drink before their food arrives, you might give them a little longer before processing their order.
The ordering screen also allows you to choose the layout that’s most suitable for your environment. For instance, you can choose quick-serve for fast-food establishments, or tabs for bars. You can also combine orders while maintain separate checks and monitor the status of an order at any time. For bars, there’s even a “happy hour” function, when you can set discounts to automatically apply at a certain time.
One particularly impressive feature that you won’t get from other restaurant POS solutions is the Lavu To Go capability. This software application works with your POS to track and process online orders for delivery. Excellent for pizza companies, this service makes it easier to ramp up sales. Your customers can place orders on your website using the Lavu To Go option, pay for the order via your chosen payment processor, and their request will go automatically to your kitchen.
If you’re a Pizza company, Lavu also has a special plugin where your customers can design their own pizza. You can also set up bundles that allow your audience to take advantage of offers on things like a pizza and drink combo, for instance.
As mentioned above, all of these fantastic ordering capabilities can also be combined with a custom-branded digital signage solution from Lavu. This makes it easier for your customers to see exactly what you have up for sale on any given night.
Lavu POS Review: Management Tools
Aside from excellent ordering tools and everything you need to access amazing transactions, Lavu’s POS also comes with an immersive and easy-to-use restaurant management system. After all, it takes a lot of work on the backend to keep a restaurant running smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
For instance, just as you can customize the layout and menu on your Lavu front-end, you can also adjust components of the Lavu back-end to make your life easier. Lavu can track your stock counts in real-time for you, so you always have an accurate overview of how much inventory you have left. If you onboard your vendors, then you can place purchase orders directly from the POS when you’re running low or automate your POS to place those orders for you.
Lavu is on hand to generate accurate reports on all of your orders and financial situation. Additionally, it’s great for keeping track of your warehouse.
Other management tools include:
- Floor plan management: With Lavu, you can customize the look of the floor plan on your point of sale system to match your restaurant layout. This makes it easier to track things like open orders, open tables, payment status, and the status of the order at every table.
- Staff management: Keeping track of your employees is important. Lavu allows you to set up systems where your team members can clock in and out of their shifts using ID numbers. You can also create schedules in your POS, assign specific roles, and set up specific pay rates. You can arrange custom permissions, allow for shift trading, and use your Lavu system to split tips between employees at the end of each shift.
- Kitchen display systems: With kitchen display systems, you can make sure that the people at the front of your restaurant and those in the kitchen can communicate in real-time. The KDS offerings come with customizable interface and display options, real-time ordering, and an order time. You can also get reports on order times and item updates.
- Customer relationship management: Lavu POS is one of the few point of sale systems that also comes with a customer relationship management system built-in. This means that you can automatically track things like order history, contact information, and payment information. There’s also the option to use tools like Lavu Loyalty so that your customers can earn redeemable points on their purchases.
On top of all of those management tools, Lavu POS also makes it easy to generate reports that offer an insight into how well your sales are going. You can even use a free iPhone app called Lavu Pilot to track your data and view a variety of reports linked to the performance of your business. Some of the data available to track includes daily and hourly sales, labor costs, and your top-selling items.
Lavu POS Review: Integrations and Add-Ons
As you saw with Lavu Pilot above, Lavu has a number of impressive add-ons and extra features that allow you to tap into extra functionality for your business. While the Lavu Pilot app lets you track the performance of your company, the Lavu Local Server gives you a back-up in case anything goes wrong with your POS internet connection.
Users can also explore tools like the Lavu KDS 2.0. This kitchen display system is designed to get rid of the waste of printed kitchen tickets by using interactive displays. The displays are connected to wireless monitors, and offer information on things like closed order tracking, order prep instructions, and more. You can even use the structure to identify paid and unpaid orders.
Lavu ToGo is the online add-on that allows customers to browse your online menu and then visit your physical location to pick up an order. With Lavu Routing and Delivery, you can also add an extra functionality to the experience that allows you to create orders and assign drivers to a task. Routing and Delivery comes with the option to track customer information and mark deliveries as completed.
Some of the other “add-ons” you can explore with Lavu include:
- Lavu Accounting: The in-house accounting app that integrates with Xero and QuickBooks.
- Lavu Gift: The gift card program that you can use with or without credit-card integration. This feature costs $25 per month, or $40 per month if you buy it with the Lavu loyalty program.
- Lavu Loyalty: This is a mobile customer loyalty app that allows frequent customers to earn rewards over time.
- Lavu digital menu boards: Customized signage that allows you to create an eye-catching menu for your customers to use as they order.
- Lavu pizza creator: An app that allows customers to build virtual pizzas, or you to build pizzas on your device for delivery.
- Lavu kiosk: An add-on and hardware solution that allows you to add kiosks to your location for self-service. You will need a PayPal gateway and PayPal Here card reader for payment processing to use this service.
The Lavu POS also integrates with a number of alternative third-party services, from Business Management tools like Avero, to Online ordering services like Chowly. You can also link to beer control systems like TapHunter, Inventory management systems like Marketman, and the Epson KDS for kitchen display systems.
Lavu POS review: Customer Service
Even if you have the best POS solution in the world, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need help with it from time to time. For instance, you might need assistance setting up your new terminal when you decide to expand your business, or maybe you want someone to talk you through the extra integrations available with Lavu. Fortunately, Lavu POS has a range of customer service options available.
Customer service is included as part of both the monthly and annual packages from Lavu. Though the reviews about customer service that clients have left are somewhat mixed, you can at least try a variety of ways to connect with Lavu, such as:
- 24/7 phone support
- 24/7 email support
- Live chat (available anywhere on the site)
- The knowledge base: Here you can find articles, FAQs, blogs on new features, and various troubleshooting solutions. You’ll also have the option to submit a request for help.
- YouTube: Lavu has a pretty brilliant YouTube channel, where you can check out some videos from the company, and hear from experts like Gordon Ramsey
Lavu also has a range of social media channels to explore where you may be able to gain additional assistance with getting started on the channel. You can also request direct onboarding assistance when you’re getting your Lavu hardware installed. Lavu certified specialists are available to answer any questions that you might have and guide you through a deployment plan.
Lavu POS Review: Verdict
Small to mid-sized restaurants have a number of ways to benefit from the numerous features that Lavu has to offer. Not only will this unique solution help you to manage your transactions in a restaurant or bar environment, but it could actually make you more successful.
Unlike other mobile point of sale systems that are little more than cash managers, the Lavu POS assists with everything from employee management, to customer relationships, and inventory support. What’s more, the open API from Lavu means that you can create exactly what you need for your company, without having to settle for a one-size-fits-all environment.
Whether you’re looking fort take your restaurant to the next level with extra features for your iPad, or you need some help making the most of a multi-franchise environment, Lavu can help you to get started. It’s probably the most comprehensive restaurant POS that we’ve seen so far – and it’s only just getting started.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the price that you’ll pay for Lavu is pretty impressive when you consider how many features you can get. Though you do potentially need to account for some extra expenses along the way, such as Loyalty app fees, or the cost of your hardware, Lavu will allow you to build an environment that works perfectly for your needs. It’s just a shame that the pricing structure is so confusing at first!
Remember, you can always check the service out with the 14-day free trial before you commit to anything. We’d definitely recommend taking that option if you’re still not sure.
Are There Any Alternatives to Lavu?
If you decide that you still need a restaurant POS system, but you’re not happy with the experience you discover on the Lavu app, then there are a few other options available. For instance:
- TouchBistro: TouchBistro is a much larger version of the Lavu POS, which offers a wide selection of features for bigger companies. This solution is used across 100 countries, and it’s very popular, thanks to it’s flexible nature and ability to work in a range of restaurant environments. The bundled prices for Lavu start at around $105, which includes the cost of any hardware you need, as well as your software.
- Square for Restaurants: Square for Restaurants is the Restaurant-focused version of the Square Point of Sale system. This service comes with fewer features than you might get from some other mobile POS solutions for restaurants. However, you do get a much cheaper price tag from Square than you’ll get elsewhere. The Square for Restaurants product may be well-suited to people who run very small businesses in the food service landscape.
Do you have any Lavu POS alternatives that we’ve missed? Have you tried the Lavu POS yourself and want to share your feedback? Join the conversation in the comments below, or come and speak to us on social media.