How Has The Economy Affected Your POS Customers?
Business Solutions, October 2009
Written by: Mike Monocello
If you’re like most VARs, you’re always looking for additional intel on how you can sell more POS equipment. In some cases, it can mean taking on a new hardware or software line. In others, it can mean targeting a new vertical. However, the 2009 economy has shaken up the traditional markets to the point that many best practices and common thoughts need to be reexamined. I recently spoke with a group of all-in-one experts about which markets contain the most potential for POS sales and what VARs need to know to be successful in those markets.
Solve The New Problems Facing Today’s Restaurants
When it comes to the restaurant vertical, Bryan Daughtry, VP of sales and marketing for Up Solution, says there are a number of things a VAR should know. “The restaurant vertical has experienced a very negative impact as a result of our current economy,” says Daughtry. “More people are staying home, and more people are using coupons.” For these reasons, Daughtry says providing incentives to customers is more important than ever before. Therefore, VARs need to react by helping restaurateurs fill their empty seats. “Gift and loyalty programs and customer data mining solutions provide great value to a merchant interested in repeat business, yet they continue to be heavily underutilized,” continues Daughtry. “Positioning a restaurant to push coupons targeting their slowest times to their customers, via email or text, allows the restaurant to drive business into their establishment.”
Of course, there are other problems facing today’s restaurateur VARs can help solve. The first is wait time. Daughtry says choosing the right POS system can help a restaurant streamline its processes and eliminate a major area of exposure for food service organizations. Another area a new POS system can help is with upsell potential. “A huge portion of profit potential for restaurants resides after the meal,” says Daughtry. “If the upsell or the ticket management is too difficult, no amount of sales training will help when the employee is always under pressure to turn more tables.” Daughtry goes on to say that research indicates that the work involved in closing a check directly corresponds to the addition or avoidance of upsold items.
Karl Schoessler, VP of POS-X, adds that almost every aspect of the hospitality vertical has been affected by the downturn in the economy. Rising food costs, fuel surcharges on supply deliveries, and ever-stiffer competition from quick service restaurants have left their mark on local restaurants. This has really opened the door to VARs, as it is critical now more than ever for a restaurant to be running as efficiently as possible. An upgrade from a paper or ECR (electronic cash register) system to the right complete POS system can help manage inventory and labor inefficiencies, among other things.
Indeed, Schoessler says the benefits of a properly implemented POS system can eliminate inefficiencies if the right hardware and software are used. “Software benefits such as optimizing labor, minimizing wasted inventory, and the ability to access vital real-time reports are all key components that can help a restaurant decide to buy into a new POS system,” he explains. “From a hardware perspective, the ability for self-contained all-in-ones to be mounted or placed just about anywhere in a restaurant has led to new levels of efficiency and style.”
Finally, a significant issue facing today’s restaurateur is PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance. Daughtry says most restaurateurs understand the significance of these regulations, yet most experience a great deal of frustration because they lack the knowledge about specific steps they need to take to become fully compliant. Due to this, many small and midsize business owners are either setting unrealistic goals about becoming PCI-compliant or procrastinating on taking action, convincing themselves that they are safe from a security breach. “It is for these and many other reasons that payment processing companies and POS vendors must serve as a buffer zone to their customers,” he says. “They must act in a consultative fashion, taking control and educating their clients about which, among the many, PCI DSS guidelines apply to their business and how to address them to become appropriately compliant.”
Take All-In-One POS Hardware To Healthcare
Steven Young, CEO of Posiflex Business Machines, says there is potential in the healthcare vertical. He says the healthcare vertical has attracted the attention of government policy makers, and there is scrutiny of continued cost explosion in the industry. “There is a need to improve business processes to reduce costs while maintaining service levels,” he says. “Integrated IT processes within service organizations and among service organizations will play a role in any successful solution.” For instance, several healthcare initiatives are in place and supported by the government to eliminate manual paper processes and replace these with electronic records. “Eliminating manual processes and paperwork will improve efficiency and enhance privacy while lowering costs,” he continues. “VARs need to make sure that their solutions support the integration of healthcare applications and interoperability with other systems to enable information sharing.”
That sounds great, but how does your expertise come into play as a POS VAR? Young explains that computerized record keeping can decrease medical costs due to errors and inefficiencies up to 30%. All-in-one touch screen systems allow for quick access to medical information and allow for more standard office operating procedures. Biometric devices attached to the touch screen systems can ensure that proper security access rights are maintained. “Compared to a touch screen laptop which is more of a dedicated end user tool for mobile information, all-in-one POS systems are proven components of information systems in retail and hospitality industries accommodating the needs of shift workers and customer end users, he says. “The healthcare work environment is industrial and requires rugged and reliable hardware solutions. All-in-one POS solutions can offer healthcare systems implementers proven and predictable return on investment.”
If you’re thinking about getting into the healthcare space, there are some details of which you’ll want to be aware. Young explains that the sales cycle is long, often taking up to a year or more. Additionally, every aspect of IT in healthcare needs to be implemented with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in mind.