Jeremy Julian

How to get more from your POS investment

September 17, 2013

If you are a restaurant operator I don’t need to remind you how many of your hard-earned dollars are spent on POS hardware, software and implementation.   The list includes terminals, tablets, hand-held units, POS printers, computers for reporting and other hardware to automate your business.  The challenge comes when it’s time to turn this POS investment over to your staff and they are not motivated to handle your equipment as they would their own laptop or smart phone.

Just like your car or home, POS systems need maintenance.  In the end, good maintenance practices will extend the life of your POS hardware and maximize your investment.

POS is a critical part of your business. When your critical technology systems are not working in the middle of a shift it ends up costing time, money and customer goodwill.  For several years, I’ve watched our customers struggle with this challenge.  Some have come up with creative and useful ideas to extend the lifecycle of their POS equipment.  Here are just a few that I’d like to share you today.

How to get more from your POS investment

  1. Spot Check Your Hardware Daily. In your pre-shift meetings, assign each work group to check one component.  The kitchen staff to check the POS kitchen printers, the bussers to confirm that there is paper in each of the check printers, the servers to check the POS terminals and so forth.  Each staff member should do a quick cleaning of each piece of hardware with a damp cloth without destructive chemicals.  Damaged items should be reported back to the manager immediately so they can be remedied before the shift starts.    TIP:  When specific and valuable pieces of hardware or equipment are issued to staff members, i.e., hand-held computers, pagers or kitchen knives, require that a personal item be collected as from the staff member as a deposit to ensure the equipment is returned.  Make this part of the checkout and check-in process for each shift.  Personal items held for deposit may include a driver’s license, car keys or cell phones.
  2. Make sure all kitchen stations are working.  Also as part of pre-shift, assign someone to send an item to the kitchen that contacts each station.  Set up an item in your configuration that goes to every station.
  3. Quick credit card authorization check.  Run a simple $1.00 credit card authorization at start of each shift to make sure your credit card software is operational.  Nothing gets a shift off to a bad start as when the equipment is not functioning as designed.
  4. Final check at the end of the shift.  Each day, as part of their checkout process for the end of shift, each member of the team should be assigned to do the same simple checks of components.  Make this similar to filling the sugar, salt and pepper and put it on the daily shift checkout sheet.   TIP:  Look for damage such as water damage, scratches in the touch screens, frayed wires and other items that will prevent the equipment from functioning as expected.  This needs to be done in the pre-shift check as well as the after shift check as part of side work.
  5. Hire trained technicians to do a full maintenance once per year.  Similar to a 30,000-mile tune up for your car, your POS systems should be gone through on at least an annual basis.  Your POS provider or hardware provider should offer these services to you.
  6. Replace your most used components on a regular basis. Items such as kitchen printers get more abuse due to the harsh kitchen environment than POS terminals at the host stand.  Set a reasonable lifecycle management system for each device.  One of our customers had adopted a useful lifecycle date for each piece of equipment.  They use the barometer of six years for a POS terminal, four years for a kitchen printer and eight years for a POS printer.  Obviously life cycles will differ between different restaurant groups, the types of hardware chosen, and the environment, but these are useful guidelines.

Do you have any other proven tips that work for your restaurant to increase the longevity of the hardware?  I invite you to share yours in the comment section below.

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