Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations POS
Ask questions to avoid POS worries

On the eve of the biggest pizza event in North America, Big Dave Ostrander reminds operators to ask a lot of questions when selecting a POS System.


March 6, 2008
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

Given the amount of talk, debate and shared frustration
at pizza events, you’d think the decision to invest in a point of sale
system for the pizzeria falls somewhere after root canal.

cashierGiven the amount of talk, debate and shared frustration at pizza events, you’d think the decision to invest in a point of sale system for the pizzeria falls somewhere after root canal.

However, for those who have persevered and triumphed over the fear of technology, they wonder, “How did I ever go without?”

A POS system raises those tentative thoughts, mainly because it’s new to so many, and it’s technology that doesn’t actually cook the pie.

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“It’s a really big cash outlay. They’re in a comfort zone with the cash registers, cash boxes, order pads,” says Big Dave Ostrander, a restaurant consultant and frequent speaker on the pizza expo circuit.

“And that’s why they’re afraid. You have someone saying ‘Give me $15,000’ and (pizzaiolos) are afraid of getting a bad system.”

Ostrander, who describes himself as a tire-kicker for about four years before investing in his first system, says often the POS systems look really good on paper, but the operator doesn’t know which questions to ask.

“Often, we know our own business, but not the technical aspects.”

Ostrander says the best way to venture into the world of POS systems is to get out to the industry events and trade shows and try them. He also recommends online demonstrations.

But most of all, his recommendation is to dig very deep into “service after the sale.”

“There’s an old sales expression: ‘love me as a prospect, love me as a customer.’”
Operators must have the assurance that the company providing the POS will stand behind their product after installation, and provide rapid-response service according to Ostrander.

“We have to accept that things break; computers, phones, anything technical. What you need to have is someone who will be able to fix it fast, at any time of the day or night. You want someone to own the problem.”

In helping operators navigate through the process, Ostrander suggests some key questions be asked:

Company
1. Is the company the manufacturer of the software, or reseller?

2. Can you visit the company’s office?

3. What other companies are using their system?

“A product is only as good as the support behind it,” says Ostrander. As such he also recommends that pizzeria owners “test drive” the customer service aspect before signing on the dotted line. “You should always have the ability to get a live customer support person.”

Customer Service
1. What are your support hours?

2. How much is an annual contract?

3. What is the per call charge?

4. Is phone training available after the initial install?

5. Can calls/issues be reviewed by the customer?

6. Is ‘Hot Swap’ replacement equipment available? (Hot swapping is the process of removing and replacing components of a machine while it is operating.)
From there, operators must also explore thoroughly the areas of labour management, the order process, delivery management and business management.

These areas are unique to each location and each demographic served, so operators must also have a very good grasp of their current business model.

Ostrander says he has a couple key threshold points for when investing in a POS system becomes ideal and invaluable. Ideally, a pizzeria with annual sales of approximately $350,000 will see the POS system pay for itself in a very short period of time. Pizzerias with annual sales of $500,000 and up, he says, must invest in order to preserve and maximize food costs.

“If not, you could be losing thousands.”

On a hardware side, Ostrander notes there are several brands and quality levels of POS systems. Some include PC workstations, touch screens, printers and an assortment of available peripheral devices. And the same consideration that operators gave to customer service levels on the software side must apply here.

“You need to consider their warranties and the estimated longevity of the hardware.”

1. What brand of workstations are being sold? Touch screens? Printers?

2. What is the warranty of each component? Years? Parts and repair? Onsite?

3. What is the processor type and speed?

4. What is the standard memory and maximum upgradeable memory?

5. What is the network speed?

As for when a decision is made, Ostrander says it’s a good time to really review your menu. The company selected will require all the details as to what an operator would like programmed on the POS, discounts, coupons, promotions and anything else necessary to make the pizzeria a business success.

“Define what it is you want,” Ostrander says. And don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions to get all the information you want, and need.•