POS System Failure Mystery Solved With Power Protection
A series of system failures baffled a VAR and angered a customer. The culprit was hiding in the kitchen. Are you facing a similar risk?
The Wilderness Inn, formerly used as a tollhouse in the 1800s, is a restaurant and bar on the outskirts of Sparta, NJ. Combining old-world charm with modern conveniences, the Wilderness Inn features a WWII shuffleboard, video games, and live entertainment. The menu includes Black Angus steak, seafood, pasta, and chicken. An outdoor beer garden (seating area) plays host to summer pig roasts. New owner Al Paddock wanted to update his point of sale (POS) system to keep pace with the Wilderness Inn's growth. Blending the old with the new presented Paddock and POS VAR Business Data Systems with a problem.
Cold Call Lands Customer
Brian Coffelt of Business Data Systems made a cold call to Paddock, shortly after Paddock had taken over the Wilderness Inn. Much of Business Data Systems' business comes from cold calls and referrals. For the past 12 years, the company has installed hospitality POS systems for restaurants in several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey. "The restaurant had been using a manual system with no reporting capabilities," explains Coffelt. "The new owner wanted to have more control over inventory and have up-to-date sales data." Coffelt sold Paddock two POS terminals and a back office computer. The Windows-based system consisted of two standard PCs with Elo TouchSystems touch screens, Epson receipt printers, Digital Dining POS software, and SmartPower Systems UPS (uninterruptible power supply) devices. According to Coffelt, adding receipt printers at the bar and in the kitchen helped speed order processing. The printers also tracked food and drink coming out of the kitchen and the bar. This eliminated any chance of theft or, in the case of alcohol, overpouring. According to Coffelt, the installation of and training for the new system were uneventful. It wasn't until the system went live that the problems began.
No Clues To Power Problem
"We expected less-than-perfect power because the restaurant was older," admits Coffelt. "But the POS system froze up and failed frequently, right from the start. We had installed one UPS on the back office computer but realized that probably wasn't enough protection." Coffelt had UPS devices installed on the two POS terminals, but the system continued to fail. Paddock became increasingly frustrated with his new system. It wasn't streamlining his business at all. Worse yet, he became frustrated with Business Data Systems. "After about two weeks of ongoing failures, we replaced every piece of hardware we had just installed, with all new PCs," says Coffelt.
Despite the new hardware and the UPS devices, the system continued to fail. At a loss, Coffelt and Paddock contacted the local power company, as well as electricians. Just prior to having his restaurant rewired at great expense, Paddock learned from Coffelt that the source of the system failures had finally been identified. "The least-expensive piece of hardware - the kitchen printer - did not have a UPS attached to it," explains Coffelt. "That's how we learned how valuable power protection is to a POS system." An additional SmartPower Systems UPS was added to the kitchen printer, and the system ran smoothly. Paddock reports that he is finally satisfied with his new POS system. It offers the reporting capabilities and inventory control his business requires. The month-long search for the power problem was aggravating, Paddock admits; but today, he and Coffelt get along just fine.
Looking back, Coffelt says that ignoring the kitchen printer was a mistake. "Restaurant kitchens have many electrical devices, making power disturbances common in those areas," he says. "We made no money on the Wilderness Inn installation." The experience, however, was priceless.
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at LisaK@corrypub.com.