Should I Program My New POS System?


Are You Looking to Configure and Setup Your Own Point of Sale (POS) System?

One of the first questions often asked by first-timers buying a new POS is:

  Why does the programming of the POS system cost what it does?
  And, can I do it myself?

To someone giving it some quick thought it seems as though it’s just a few items with some prices, how difficult and time consuming can that be? In reality, if you are purchasing a POS that’s designed to control the accuracy and efficiency of your business those aspects are just the part of the iceberg you see sticking above the water. A good point of sale system is vital to the success of your business, but a good system that’s improperly configured or inefficiently programmed can actually be a hindrance to your business.

What Exactly Needs to be Programmed?

So what’s in the part of the iceberg that’s under water? Well, that depends upon your business and operational model. Are you restaurant or retail? Large or small? Without boring you too much, it’s everything from modifiers/sub-modifiers, discounts, service charges, job codes, privilege levels, taxes, merchant account setups and so on if you are a hospitality business. If you want to get into it deeper it can be when and where chits, vouchers and receipts print. It can be how tips are allocated or to whose totals the cash gets posted when they open up another’s check. Not convinced yet? How about adding additional revenue centers, loyalty promotions, happy hour pricing specials, customer house accounts and more. The point is, your business isn’t one-dimensional and the system you expect to run it isn’t either.

Think about it, I didn’t even mention inventory or vendor management. I didn’t talk about handling item attributes, setting up UOM’s, stock and selling locations. I didn’t talk about getting all the peripherals setup and connected, like printers, scanners, scales, displays, etc…

Some POS companies actually quote you inexpensive systems without setting the expectation that you’ll be programming it and training on it yourself. Or they tell you they’ll get you up and going in 10 days. Most owners couldn’t collect all that data in 10 days (they don’t have that kind of free time!), never mind get it programmed, tested, and have you sign off that it’s just the way you want it. When you are comparing competitive quotes, make sure the vendors are providing equal value. If you are not sure, ask the sales representative. Better yet, call references who have gone through it.

As a business owner, it’s extremely important that you take responsibility for the proper implementation and use of your point of sale system but that doesn’t mean you need to (or that you should) do it all yourself. Can you do it yourself? You sure can. But as Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald’s chain of restaurants, was fond of saying, “you can’t work on the business when you’re working in the business”.

Is programming the nitty-gritty of the POS system really where your valuable time is best spent?

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