Conduct a Needs Assessment When Purchasing a POS

Any solid restaurant, retail, or hospitality business plan should entail a solid POS. The POS can be your greatest commercial asset, and yet, even a couple of years ago, people wouldn’t think much about the various characteristics and features offered by POS systems. Indeed, they would pretty much choose a unit using one or two criteria, such as price, and stick with it.

Well, times have changed and people are getting increasingly picky because they now realize that a POS can literally spell the difference between success and failure. This invaluable tool, used every day, must maintain peak performance as the survival of your business may be predicated on it. Any point of sale system must not be prone to mechanical failure or glitches. or you risk compromising your business operations and customer satisfaction.

Consequently, it’s essential to perform a needs assessment when purchasing a POS – a serious, important task because it will impact your business and exert a potentially positive or negative influence on it.

Questions to ask when performing a POS needs assessment:

What are the failure rates for the product?

How many times does the POS fail per month? That’s a question you must ask and the provider must be willing to share that kind of data. Watch for the reaction when you pose the question, and any hesitation or discomfort manifested by the salesperson is probably indicative that the unit is not reliable.

What happens when the POS is down?

This is another vital point … if the provider sends a technician right away or if they provide instantaneous technical support, or offer a backup, you need to know beforehand so you know what to expect when the situation occurs.

Have you worked with my niche before?

If you own an art gallery, for instance, ask the salesperson if he/she has worked with another art gallery – experience never hurts, and this might be something to help you decide between two different providers as every little detail matters.

Do you offer any warrantees?

You want to know if you’re safe, if the provider is considering your best interests, and if there exists a worst case scenario plan.

What features set your POS system apart from competitors?

It’s crucial to get an idea of the benefits, and the drawbacks, of any given POS system. What is the extent of its inventory tracking capabilities? What does it offer in terms of customer and employee management options? Is there a reservation system in place? Tableside ordering? Are a wide array of reporting data available? (One cannot underestimate the value of consumer data, for example, as you should be able to pinpoint your biggest sellers, most loyal customers, etc. to better satisfy your customers’ needs.

Now, something you should keep in mind is that every business has its set of priorities and that you have the responsibility of identifying them. Does your staff need training on how to operate and maintain a POS? Is the POS always used by the same employee or is it used by 5 or more people throughout the day? Do you need to upload data into a payroll system or speed up the ordering process?
Write down your POS ‘wish list’ and ‘absolutes,’ and determine whether the POS you’re considering satisfies such criteria. By thoroughly examining competing point of sale systems in context of your unique business needs, the probability of making the right choice will greatly be enhanced.

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