You're always supposed to have a backup plan, or preferably, plans A-Z, in the event of something unexpected. This is especially true for merchants who rely on technology to ensure things run smoothly. The reason? A lack of planning can cost you more than just money, and it can hurt your reputation.
So what do you do when your POS terminals go kaput? Do you shut down until it's fixed? What if that takes hours, or even the rest of the day? Below are six tips:
1. Plan for the Worst
They say you plan on winning the lottery. In other words, you can't expect things to go smoothly all the time. That's why, if you're operating one or several point of sale machines, you need to learn how to troubleshoot and have a plan to fix it should it suddenly stop working. Talk to the vendor who sold you the machines. Read the owners' manual inside and out. Ask around. Or, better yet, have a plan in place that includes non-digital solutions in case you can't figure out how to fix the problem. That's right; you might have to accept cash-only or even break out the old calculator and/or pen and pad.
If you have employees, make sure they are trained to know how much tax they should charge. And, of course, they need to be familiar with all your prices. You and your employees should also be well versed on the types of abbreviations you use with the retail POS systems. Remember, don't make your problems your customers' problems, too. Other than that, items to keep on hand include a manual credit card swiper, a notepad to record the work and, of course, a calculator.
2. Alert the Customers
Generally speaking, if your customers know that you're running into some technical difficulties but are trying to work through them while still taking orders, they'll be somewhat patient. If you switch over to cash-only, alert the clients immediately – including new customers who are walking into your store and are unaware of the situation. They might be irritated, but they'll be a lot more upset if they don't know what's going on and just think you're unorganized or slow.
3. Did Someone Step on the Cord?
Start with the obvious: make sure everything is still plugged in. You'd be surprised at how often it's something as simple as a cord that was accidentally pulled out.
4. Restart the Machine(s)
See if this sounds familiar: you're having trouble with your computer, so the IT guy at work simply tells you to “reboot it.” The reason they tell you this is simple: that's often the solution. Same goes with POS systems. First, make sure you can find the on/off button. If the machine is working, then you should check to see if the credit card readers are online. Your system likely is connected to a central database, where all your information is kept. Switch Commerce says today's POS systems typically saves information to a database about every 10 minutes.
5. Check the Breakers
This is also where you'll often find where the problem originated. Switch Commerce has a simple way to check your breakers: have one employee stand by to watch the POS while another one flicks a breaker. This will prevent you from spending too much time trying to figure out which breakers go to what machines, Switch Commerce says.
6. Have the Manufacturers Number Handy
This goes right along with having a backup plan. Make sure you know who to call should your POS systems go down. It's possible that you could have a repairman out to fix the machine(s) right away, but if you don't know who to call or have that information readily available, then you're wasting valuable time.