The History of the 86 Feature
The term, “86" started so many years ago that its origin has long since faded into the memories of all but a few restaurateurs. Suffice it to say, if you “86" an item you are out and you need to stop taking orders immediately.
A lot of table service restaurants use a board located near the kitchen to write items that have been 86st for the day. Servers are expected to actually read this board and remember the items that are not available. Some restaurateurs yell out the items as they run out. Problem is, the restaurant sounds more like an old style fast food restaurant with employees yelling at each other.
Yelling is not the only problem with trying to track items in this way. Like, who has time to write the items down? Also, do you really expect the wait staff to remember how many of each item is left? And then when the count gets down to 1 item left you know that 2 servers are going to sell that last item.
The Need for the 86 Countdown Feature
You need a fast and accurate method of letting the wait staff know the exact number of items left and then stop servers from ordering the item after the last one is sold. This needs to be displayed at each station every time the server goes to the terminal. It needs to be visual, eye catching and instantly updated each time an item is sold.
The Solution for the 86 Countdown Feature
Some restaurant point of sale systems come standard with an “86 Item Countdown" feature that displays actual counts, deducts from the count when an item is sold and then prevents sales of the item once it is sold out. All management has to do is set the count for the items to be tracked and the system will do the rest.
Every item being tracked will have the number of items left displayed on their menu button. Each time an item is sold from any terminal in the system the number available will decrement and update on every terminal. Once an item is sold out the item will no longer allow the item to be sold.
Some systems will even allow for an substitution menu to pop up for items that have been sold out.
The Benefit To You
Better communication to your wait staff means better service to your customers. Your wait staff will now be able to approach your customer with confidence about the quantity of items remaining and be able to quickly shift customers to other items when your daily specials are all sold out.
Customers will benefit from knowing before they order if an item is available. No one wants to order an item and have the server return to the table and be told that they can't have what they want. By using an 86 Item Countdown feature this problem will be reduced.
Something Extra For You
How about getting more than just a countdown of daily specials? How about using this feature in a bar to inventory bottled beer? Yes, you could use this same feature to inventory and count down bottle beers.
Other uses for this feature would be baked breads in a bakery/sandwich shop, pre-made salads in a fast food restaurant and tickets to a special event.
Use your imagination and you will be well pleased with the many other uses that are possible with this easy to use feature.
However, not all restaurant point of sale systems have this feature. Please make sure to ask to verify that this feature is available on the software you are considering.
About the Author
Jerry D. Wilson is Director of Internet Sales for DirecTouch Restaurant Point of Sale. With over 25 years of hospitality point of sale experience, he has written several articles explaining different aspects of hospitality point of sale software. You can visit DirecTouch Do It Yourself Restaurant Point of Sale or DirectRetail Do It Yourself Retail Point of Sale for more information.