How Long Does It Take to Setup and Install a New POS System?


If you are just starting the process of looking into POS systems there are several factors that will determine how long it will take to implement and install a new POS system. Consider the following factors that go into a successful POS implementation when estimating a timeframe.

Your Guide to a Successful POS System Implementation

1. Has the POS Vendor been selected?

Give yourself enough time to select the right software and vendor for your business needs. Make a list of the top 5 or 10 things that you feel are critical to the way you do business and use that as a starting point for making sure the system you choose does what you need it to. Contrary to what you may be thinking, not all POS are equal.

2. Is this a new implementation or are you replacing an existing POS system?

Familiarity with and access to an existing POS system can be both an advantage and a curse. Menu pricing, button layout, modifiers, inventory valuations, employee/job code lists, etc…are all available from your current POS so collecting that data can often be quick and painless. On the flip side, if the current POS was inherited and the prior person in charge made a mess of the system it can often take longer to weed thru the information you need and the information that’s no longer valuable moving forward. Both steps 1 & 2 are important to get right – so leave enough time and as the saying goes “measure twice and cut once” – be thorough.

3. Is there any construction or remodeling that needs completing first?

If there are issues ancillary to the POS that need to be addressed don’t forget to include those in your timeline planning. Last minute electrical and network changes can unnecessarily impact or delay your POS rollout.

4. Are you leasing or purchasing the equipment outright?

It’s important to realize that the lease process can add days or even weeks to a planned POS rollout. Start early with the lease process and be sure to stay on top of your end of the process. Get pre-approved. Ask your lease vendor in advance what information will be required. If you have business partners, that will indeed affect the lease process. The more you know, the faster it will go.

5. Has your menu been finalized and is it ready to send to your POS Vendor?

The menu is the most visible and the most obvious set of information you need to get to your POS provider. But beware, it’s the not the piece most people overlook the most, nor is it the piece that tends to delay the project the most – that award typically goes to the modifiers. In most people’s minds the modifiers are ‘easy’. They incorrectly assume they don’t need to think them through and document them completely, but during the soft opening (or possibly the go-live) what happens? Incomplete orders because modifiers are missing from the system or not required. Margins are off because upcharges were forgotten or are incorrect. A patron’s satisfaction is at risk when you don’t pay attention to modifiers – after all, what’s the goal? To deliver exactly what the customer ordered and to collect the proper amount of tender; you can’t do that without correct modifiers!

6. Do you have an internet connection and is your business wired for networking?

It seems simple enough, but don’t leave the Internet connection and the network (wiring, firewall, etc…) to the last minute. The vendors need time to come out and perform the job, you need time to test the services and have them repaired in the event there is an issue. Plan ahead. This is an easy one.

7. Have you selected a Credit Card Processor and have they provided a parameter sheet for the POS?

This piece of the overall puzzle doesn’t often end up delaying a POS rollout, but it can cause you pain if you haven’t taken the time to test the processor and validated that the cash is making into your merchant account. Several days before you go live, run a card for a small transaction amount (with tip if that’s applicable for your type of business), make sure the money makes it into your account! Run reports. Familiarize yourself with how to make sure you’re collecting your money – after all, that’s the whole point of this isn’t it!?!?

8. Will you offer gift cards and or a loyalty program?

You need time to design the cards, order the cards, get them in and set them up in the POS system, test the cards, etc…

It seems like a big list but really it just scratches the surface because each business is different. So how long does all this really take? The average POS system is installed in 3 – 4 weeks, that means there are those that can be up in 1-2 weeks and those that can stretch to 6-8 weeks. Holiday’s, seasonal fluctuations in demand and how busy the POS vendor’s implementation is can also impact the timeframe, but the biggest thing that affects the timeline is the merchant – how prepared and how diligent they are in keeping the process moving.


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