when things go wrong
you expect solutions,
not a message
As you have probably noticed the complexity of modern systems is continuously increasing which in effect increases the chance of unexpected problems with both software and hardware. Unfortunately, not every failure can be resolved by restarting the affected device or talking to a friendly person in a foreign call centre who keeps asking irrelevant questions and then asks you to restart the device. Sometimes you will urgently need professional help - when things go wrong you expect solutions, not a message saying you have called outside of the business hours.
In the hospitality industry POS providers offering support only during business hours, only on weekdays, only through emails or tickets submitted on their website should be ranked accordingly. Many venues operate outside of business hours and sometimes require urgent support from their POS provider. If you have no ability to contact your POS provider directly and request priority support, then you will need to have a plan in place allowing you to continue your operations when the system fails.
Any POS provider offering 24/7/365 phone and remote login support should be prioritised not only because critical issues can be promptly resolved, but also because it shows how confident they are with the quality of their product. Vast majority of issues can be usually resolved with a simple phone call and/or remote support session. The remaining small fraction of faults where on-site presence is required to fix hardware narrows your search to providers having a technician available within a reasonable driving distance from your venue.
You should also consider the cost of support plans. The support charges can vary dramatically from being included in the POS fee to many hundreds of dollars per enquiry. The cost can also vary depending on the type of support be it on-site or over the phone and time of a day the request is made. It is worthwhile to familiarise yourself with the support options as it may be the most effective insurance against loss of profit caused by system failures.
locally available technicians for responsive
2. System Performance
For most cloud POS solutions, their performance is directly related to the Internet connection quality. This is one of the major reasons high volume sites in Australia find it difficult to use the cloud based systems for critical business operations. For sites dealing with a relatively small volume of orders this often isn’t an issue as likely interruptions caused by the Internet faults can present a justifiable trade off against the initial installation costs.
Whereas local data hosted solutions are not influenced by many external factors and can deliver high speed reliable service constantly as long as the required local infrastructure was properly designed and installed. The professional POS provider would have specified:
- POS devices including tablets, POS terminals, servers and networking equipment including business grade Wireless Access Points that have suitable technical specifications to meet the demands of high-performance POS systems
- High quality network cabling that is properly routed to remain free from any interference and terminated with reliable sockets
How easy is it to train
The hospitality industry is significantly affected by the staff retention problems. Your venue, as many others, may experience staff changes at much higher rates than expected. This makes training one of the most important aspects of your POS selection and finding answers to the following questions is important;
- Does the POS system have a training mode?
- What costs are associated with training your staff?
- How will your POS provider assist you in training your staff, remotely or in person?
Many POS providers provide training during the initial commissioning of the POS system, but in time staff rotation causes progressive devolution of the required operational knowledge. Eventually this lost knowledge may create difficult to overcome bad habits which can affect the overall system performance. This situation can be avoided with a periodic re-training or presentations designed to refresh the critical aspects of daily system operations.
Several POS companies offer group training sessions only in their offices, others expect the owner to be proficient in all aspects of the system after completion of on-line training and pass down this knowledge to staff without further help. In summary, you need to consider not only the availability of training but also the related costs and benefits.
Is there an upgrade plan
All professional POS software continuously evolves by reacting to any changes in business operations or the underlying hardware infrastructure. Your POS provider should take into account your wish list and continuously set out to deliver new updates to address not only the known problems but also feature requests.
You may come across providers offering free minor upgrades but charging for every major upgrade, making your system virtually obsolete the moment a new major version is released. You may also find that some upgrades will require technical assistance at your venue and re-training of staff.
It is desirable for your POS system to be regularly updated and upgraded when necessary, thus the following question should be answered;
- Do you have to pay for upgrades, and what is that associated cost?
- Is there a yearly or monthly subscription plan giving you access to updates and upgrades?
- What happens if you don’t want to pay for upgrades, will your system remain supported?
- When was the last time an upgrade was released for the system that you are considering?
- How is a software update, or upgrade deployed to the clients’ venues?
- Will updates cause service interruptions, for example your staff may be required to log out of all devices at a set time to install updates?
- Will upgrades be released to all your venues at the same time?
- Is your POS provider willing to schedule the upgrade outside of your business hours to avoid service interruptions?
What is your
5. Data Entry
Helping you get out more than you put in
There is an important rule which applies to all information systems, including your POS software. This rule states that the quality and quantity of the input data is directly related to the quality of output. In simple terms, you can only get meaningful information out of your system if you have correctly entered all the required data.
If you are not familiar with the reporting features or ignore the minimum data input requirements, it is doubtful that your POS system will be capable of assisting you in making informed decisions.
For example, if no supplier invoices, product costings or Employee Award rules are managed within the POS system, then no accurate recipe costings, stocktaking or wage percentages can be calculated.
Initially, many venue operators will do regular stock takes and review the recipe costs. Unfortunately, this time-consuming process often gets delayed as focus is shifted to completion of higher priority tasks. It is very important that the data within your POS system is regularly maintained to remain accurate and ensure correct operation of the entire system. If you need to know how much stock you should have on hand at any point in time, the corresponding data has to be correctly entered.
If your venue doesn’t require features enabling product costing or staff time and attendance management, then you should look for a system which doesn’t include these features or can be configured to disable the features you don’t need. It makes sense to pay only for the features you will actually use.
Data integrity helps make important decisions
6. Software Contract
Contracts should be easy
Some POS providers require the clients to sign a 12-month contract or a rolling contract for their services. One of the very first questions you need to ask should be related to the corresponding contractual arrangements and termination clauses.
Be careful when signing any contracts, pay particular attention to any complex and hard to interpret conditions which can make termination of managed services costly and time consuming. Ultimately, you will spend a lot of time and money to deploy the POS system at your venue, and the last thing you need is a financial penalty for early termination of a service which has proved inadequate.
It may be wise to avoid any long-term contractual arrangements since many providers are now moving towards a “no contract” model. Companies offering short-term subscriptions display higher confidence in their services and know that if they cannot meet your operational needs, you may move to another provider with no recourse.
Without complex contracts, it is also much harder for the POS provider to charge for anything that wasn’t previously disclosed. In summary, litigation is a costly and frustrating process. The ability to terminate a monthly service agreement provides a better way out of an unwanted service.
Are you locked in to a system that doesn't meet your needs
7. Proof it works
Demonstrations are an important process to show how POS works
During your meeting with a POS provider you should insist on explanation and demonstration of all the features applicable to your venue. This demonstration can be conducted using a sample data-set on a test system, or preferably by inspecting a fully operational system at another venue. Being able to see the proposed system in action at a venue similar to yours will not only deliver undeniable proof of its true performance but also allow you to talk with experienced users.
It is essential that you prepare for the meeting with a potential provider by making your list of all required features and then request a demonstration showing exactly how the proposed POS system will help you achieve the desired results.
Accept no verbal assurances about the functionality that cannot be demonstrated, if you can’t see the system performing a desired function you have to conclude this functionality is not available.
Your POS provider has to show how the relevant activities are conducted and what the end results look like, never accept the comment “yes, it can do that”.
See how your
What is your POS
All POS systems should be subject to a comprehensive security risk assessment.
When you are subscribing to a cloud-based solution, there is not much you can do to ensure protection of your data other than keep your access details safe. If the server hosting your cloud POS system is hacked, and the data is stolen or damaged, there is nothing you can do about it. You can only hope that your provider keeps sufficient live backups and will promptly restore all services.
If you deploy a locally hosted system, there are many precautions that should be taken to ensure the safety of your data. Automated backup systems can be put in place to protect you from hardware failures and ransomware. Remote access to any devices on your network can be protected by security gateways or systems enforcing two factor authentication. Local network protection can be set up to disallow connections from non-registered devices.
If a POS provider does not discuss with you the potential security risks, then it is important that you clarify what are the security responsibilities of the POS provider and what responsibilities remain with you to accept and manage? Unless otherwise stated, the responsibility to secure your data is on yourself or your IT department.
How secure is your data
Reporting is a very important part of any POS system. It’s what allows a business manager or owner to make informed decisions and accurate predictions.
The ability to receive instant text messages or email notifications combined with remote access to generate and view reports is essential.
More sophisticated POS systems can send periodic custom reports to a specific group of people pushed to their email accounts rather than use time to find that information themselves. Managers can receive information related to their own Key Performance Indicators regularly rather than waste time trying to extract and interpret all the relevant information.
Some reporting features may incur additional cost or initial setup fees; therefore, it is important to find out what reports will be included in your package.
The ability to design a custom report or change an existing report to better reflect your own operations can prove critically important, thus the associated costs should be clarified and taken into consideration.
Are reports customisable or require fees
Your POS system is the most important technology investment you will make
It is hard to deny that experience plays a critical role in making business decisions. Despite every venue being fairly unique, many challenges are often similar and constructive feedback can prove invaluable.
Your POS system is the single most important technology investment you will make to develop your hospitality business. The selection of a POS system should not be taken lightly, as it has a potential to hinder or stimulate the growth of your business.
There is no substitute for experience therefore finding out the number of installations completed by the POS provider and verifying how long the POS provider has been in business is very important.
It is fairly uncommon for a POS system sales representative to be an experienced venue operator who can understand your business and recommend suitable solutions. Often making a sale is the only priority and many limitations remain unmentioned until the system is installed and fails to meet the expectations.
Keep in mind that promises POS providers make to you during their sales call will be of no value if they cannot be substantiated with an extensive experience presented at the time of setup, launch or later during the use of your POS system.
Only experienced providers will understand your business needs
Don't be shy, say hi!
BOSSII LTD (CYPRUS)
Vatilis 8, Kato Lakatamia
Nicosia 2323 Cyprus
BOSSII Australia Distributor Help You Unit Trust
PO Box 4270
Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113
Australia: 1300 805 511
Head Office Cyprus: +357 9919 3877