Canadian Pizza Magazine

Features Business and Operations Marketing
The case for cash


Owning and managing a restaurant is a tough profession. It is a real love affair to pour the hours of your life into it. The economic indicators are sometimes conflicting but in general the signs point up for food service. Last year may have been a tough one for growth, but pizza is a resilient product that sticks close to the heart as the ultimate comfort food. There is much power in positive thinking. Keep the optimism up as the many economic changes continue through 2010 and beyond.

Owning and managing a restaurant is a tough profession. It is a real
love affair to pour the hours of your life into it. The economic
indicators are sometimes conflicting but in general the signs point up
for food service. Last year may have been a tough one for growth, but
pizza is a resilient product that sticks close to the heart as the
ultimate comfort food. There is much power in positive thinking. Keep
the optimism up as the many economic changes continue through 2010 and
beyond.

It seems as though a lot of the economic changes are happening right at
your register. PCI compliance kicks in July 1 (for more information
check out columnist Michelle Brisebois’ column on page 20). The
security benefits of PCI compliance are clear and should be worth
jumping through the hoops, although something else on the to-do list is
often the last thing a restaurateur needs. The Canada-wide transition
to chip technology means mandatory upgrades to your terminal will be
required by Dec. 31, 2015. This is the last date retailers are able to
accept magnetic swipe cards, which will no longer work in ABMs as of
Dec. 31, 2012. It will be at a cost to you but the change, again, is a
measure to increase the security in our plastic system. Personally,
I’ve had my bank account information hijacked twice in the past year
and am glad to see a crackdown on increasingly sophisticated thieves.

Finally, Visa and MasterCard have rolled out their debit card products
in an effort to get a chunk of Interac’s big money business. Fewer cash
transactions mean more fees taken from you at the register, no matter
how you slice it, despite a voluntary code of conduct or any other
measures. I have a hard time believing that Visa and MasterCard will
not raise fees once the cards become popular, as this was what happened
in the United States. Who will absorb the costs of the increasingly
cashless society? Pizzerias can’t, or they’ll have a tough time staying
in business. Stories are starting to surface of restaurants making it
clear to customers that they prefer to be paid in cash. It’s a fine
line to walk in telling customers how you would prefer to be paid, but
if they are educated on why – and if they care – then this may be a
route that more businesses take in the future. At least, in an ideal
world, that is. Starting a cash-only movement would surely be
beneficial to merchants when it comes to money lost on the transaction,
but the future appears geared to plastic and consumers tend to lean
towards convenience. They also like to collect rewards points. Cash is
facing some tough competition. On the upside, more use of plastic may
be safer for delivery drivers. Contactless cards that don’t require PIN
entry will be the next widespread transition. I’ve heard eventually
you’ll be able to pay with your phone. I can’t imagine it will be free
to do so. When something looks free, inevitably someone is paying for
it somewhere along the line, whether in time or money.

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Education is at the root, successfully easing through the evolving
money marketplace. Comprehension is still the best defence. Explain to
your customers the recent developments and how they affect both you and
them. You could use signage or develop a points system for using cash.
You may not gain an upper hand but at least you won’t be unnecessarily
taken advantage of. And who knows, perhaps there will be a nostalgia
for cash like there is for a home-cooked meal, and people will grown
tired of their cards and want the feel of money in their hands. After
all, it still feels good to have a fat wallet.