Are You Leasing Your Credit Card Terminal?

Do you want to pay $2160 for a $300 terminal? One of our customers did just that. He had a $45 per month lease for 48 months on a credit card terminal that should have been purchased for about $300.

Terminal leases are great for credit card processors and horrible for small businesses. Any Credit Card Processor that pushes a lease on you is not looking out for your best interests. In addition to the lease they are probably going to overcharge you on the processing as well.

At Essential we take pride in earning our customers’ trust. Although $300 may seem expensive when you are starting out or changing processors, it makes sense in the long run. Purchasing your terminal and signing up with Essential for a merchant account will save a lot of money in the long run. We know it is tempting to lease the terminal or to take the “free” terminal option from a processor, but short term savings is not worth higher fees over the lifetime of your account.

Our rates are very fair and competitive plus we don’t sign you up for a long term agreement. We know that some companies offer “Free” equipment, but they make up that cost many times over on the processing. We decided not to take a percentage of your sales so we cannot give away the equipment, but we are also not going to take advantage of you by singing you up for a lease either. Buying the terminal upfront and paying a low processing rate is the best possible way to accept credit cards for most businesses.

Should You Move to a Cloud-Based Point of Sale?

As technologies continue to move to the cloud, point of sale (POS) systems are following that trend and becoming increasingly cloud-based. Cloud-based POS systems can offer many advantages over the more traditional “hardwired” systems.

The greatest advantage with perhaps the largest impact to business owners is cost. POS becomes a low monthly fixed cost system with all services included.

POS systems can now be streamlined networks that connect to mobile systems and software that provide multiple data points about consumers. With this kind of information, businesses can drive highly-customized, automated loyalty programs.

The system can also be accessed online from anywhere and like traditional POS, can be integrated with hardware and peripherals like cash drawers, scanners and printers. By interconnecting every part of the system, you minimize friction throughout the process.

So what are the major advantages to cloud-based POS?

  • Cost: Cloud-based POS systems cost significantly less than their traditional counterparts because configuration costs are lower.
  • Convenience: Owners can access customer data anywhere they can connect to WiFi.
  • Centralized Data: All of your data is stored in one place, and can be accessed virtually.
  • Security: Since everything is stored in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about certain network vulnerabilities that exist with other traditional systems.

In general, using cloud-based POS systems give your business flexibility. By streamlining the hardware and networks used to run your sales, you can remove multiple opportunities for human error, cyberthreats, and system breakdowns. Combine these benefits with the other features of mobile POS, and you have an easy business decision in bringing your POS to the most up-to-date infrastructures in the cloud.

Ready to upgrade your POS? Download our POS Checklist to see if moving your system to the cloud is the right decision for you.

 

 

Providing Online Ordering (OLO) Through Your POS System

Your customers enjoy many benefits from the option of ordering online. They save time and skip the line, while your employees can minimize error in preparing their meals.

Your POS system is a great place to manage Online Ordering and give you a clear picture to your customers. Does your POS measure up? A solid POS should have the following online ordering features:

· Full menu integration. Your OLO menu offering should mirror the POS menu, in other words, it should utilize the same database. That way, in case you ever need to change a price or menu item, you only have to change it once in the POS system. This minimizes confusion, and cuts down on potential for human error.

· Item stock depletion. If your restaurant has limited stock of a particular menu item, your POS should have the ability to count down the limited supply, and stop offering the product for sale when the item is out of stock. This limited stock count is shared and depleted between both the In-House POS and the Online Ordering Portal.

· Gift Cards & Tipping. In addition to paying by credit card online, the system should have the option to accept and sell gift cards as part of the order. Through your POS, OLO guests can also add a tip to hardworking servers, cashiers, and cooks who are busy getting their order ready. This is an important option as it reduces friction when guests don’t have any cash but still want to tip.

· Confirmation emails: Your guests want to know that their order has been received, so your POS must have confirmation emails sent to OLO customers. These emails will also clarify if the guest has already paid online, or if he or she is expected to pay in person upon arrival to the restaurant.

· Dynamic lead time: During busy periods, the restaurant can increase the lead time for online order to be picked up, right on the POS. No need to call and request this change or log into a website, which means you can spend less time managing and more time servicing your customers.

Your POS should have a mobile app as an option. Consumers prefer apps over mobile sites, because apps offer a better experience through benefits like speed, extra features, special offers, and ease of use. Simply direct the customer to your online ordering portal that synced with your POS.

OLO through your POS is a great way to eliminate mistakes made via phone or in-person order accuracy. Fewer incorrect orders means more time, resources, and money for your business. And, allowing consumers to control the experience through placing the orders themselves means efficiency and transparent order accuracy.

Are you looking to integrate OLO into your POS? OLO is a free feature of MobileBytes. Using this mobile POS system, you can deliver a seamless ordering experience to your customers. MobileBytes also collaborates with restaurants to create customized marketing pieces, like table tents, promotional cards, and posters, to create more revenue streams for restaurants.

Driving Customer Loyalty Programs through your POS

Customer loyalty programs are essential to bringing back your most enthusiastic guests, again and again. The days of paper punch cards have passed, so how can you bring your business into the digital marketplace?

Your point-of-sale (POS) system is a great place to start collecting data about your customers. It’s where you can gather the most information about their behavior, like how much they typically spend, and what time of day they usually visit your business.

But, you could take it one step further, by empowering customers to be in control of their own customer loyalty programs. By giving customers the power to see how far they are along towards their next incentive, guests develop a vested interest in patronizing your store more frequently. That’s great for sales, of course, but it’s also great for developing a fanatic customer base.

Many POS systems can allow guests to, for example, scan their own receipts using their phone to earn rewards. The scanned receipts also provide customers a transaction history of their own orders, and allow them to easily re-order their favorite items. With these POS features, guests no longer have to remember to tell your staff that they are loyalty program customers before checking out. Their receipt becomes a scannable way that customers can earn points to work towards their reward.

The app-based loyalty program makes it fun for guests to use, but the data you will gather from this system is invaluable. In addition to phone numbers and email addresses, you can also see stats such as number of visits, average time spent in-store, lifetime rewards, and lifetime spend. This allows you to segment your customers and target them with promos, events, or specials. This is particularly valuable when their phone indicates they are within close proximity of your storefront.

If your current POS system does not enable customer loyalty incentives like we’ve just described, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Look for a POS systems that has built-in loyalty options as well as the option to work with 3rd party apps. In addition to making the customer experience fun and engaging, the data insights you’ll get about your customers make switching to a better POS a no-brainer. Not sure if your POS system is delivering value to you? Download our free POS checklist to see if your POS should be improved.

5 Ways to Improve Your Yelp Listing

Yelp can be an intimidating place for business owners. Reviews can make or break a restaurant. Still, many restaurant owners still avoid Yelp— even though we know that whether you create a listing or your guests do, you can’t avoid Yelp any longer.

The good news is that Yelp can be an invaluable tool for improving your reputation and finding new patrons, even if you do end up with a few negative reviews. These 5 simple steps will help you to conquer your fears of facing your Yelp page.

1. Ensure your business profile is complete

Yelp has a “Free Tools” section that every business owner can use to set up a business page. This allows you to provide information like hours of operation, address, photos, and whether or not you take reservations. This also allows you to see analytics related to your yelp visitors and improve your marketing efforts.

2. Don’t forget about mobile!

Yelp offers a free mobile app called “Yelp for Business Owners.” This app allows you to manage your Yelp page from anywhere. You can quickly respond to guest complaints, comments, and questions. A fast response reassures prospective guests, and also shows that management is responsive and truly cares about their guests.

3. Make the most of Yelp’s advertising features

Yelp’s business goal is to provide accurate and helpful reviews and information so that lots and lots of people use the Yelp website and app, and so that restaurants pay to advertise on Yelp. Ads push you to the top of search results and can be a great investment for a new restaurant. Yelp also provides Yelp Deals — prepaid vouchers for discounted meals. This can bring in new guests and show them how great you are.

4. Reach out to your vendors

Vendors most likely know your restaurant really well, so they can provide thorough, insider information in their reviews. They don’t have to leave a review as a “guest” either. Speaking about the integrity of the owners can be enough to convince new guests to give your restaurant a try.

5. Respond to your customers

Whether it’s a positive or negative review, responding to a guest can be an effective goodwill-building strategy. Thank guests for their loyalty. Address concerns or complaints. Five minutes a day should do the trick.

Yelp, like all crowd-sourced reviews, can attract the good, the bad, and the ugly. One bad review will not bring down your business, the same way one great review won’t be the thing that brings in tons of new traffic. A good Yelp strategy requires consistent and ongoing attention. Used correctly, it can help attract and then turn new guests into guests for life.

Does your POS system help you drive business? Download our free POS checklist to see if you’re getting the most out of your POS system.

Third Party Online Ordering Fees: Are They Worth It?

Third-party online ordering systems can be helpful to businesses. They take generate sales, and even new customers, and can be convenient for restaurants. But at what costs?

If you’re a growing small business, the fees can be exorbitant. Some restaurants use five or six different third-party online ordering systems, including GrubHub, DoorDash, Eat24, or Seamless. Transaction fees can take a whopping 10% cut from restaurants, and still leave businesses with operational tasks. Some orders might come via email, some arrive at a tablet POS at the storefront, and some require re-entry into your existing POS systems. When you start adding manual tasks that are inconsistent across third-party systems, the time and labor costs really start to add up. The result can be employee confusion about processes, and delayed food deliveries to impatient customers.

Furthermore, any restaurant using third parties is ceding control over the customer experience—a crucial piece of marketing that creates repeat customers and ensures happy first time visitors. While an in-house POS system can track consumer behavior, including valuable data like frequent orders, when they order, and what day of the week they order, third parties give an incomplete picture. In fact, some of those systems are keeping that information for themselves, and could potentially sell that data to someone else. While your customer doesn’t realize that your business isn’t responsible for that happening, he or she will still associate ordering from your restaurant with it.

What’s a restaurant manager to do?

  1. Ensure you’re really benefitting from third-party systems. What are your margins, on average, from your online sales? When you factor in additional labor costs to your front of house (or whoever is doing system input), do you really make enough of a profit to give up controlling the user experience? If the answer is no, you don’t have to stop using third parties. As we said at the beginning of this article, there is some acquisition benefit to using third-party systems. If Doordash is popular in your demographic, use it to acquire new customers.
  2. Use an in-house POS system that can accept online orders. Systems like MobileBytes for iPad can empower restaurants and their employees to control a customer’s entire experience. With online ordering POS software, you won’t lose any of your profit to a third party, and you can gather value behavioral data about your customers. With these insights, your marketing team can create targeted campaigns that will keep customers coming back, again and again.
  3. Encourage customers to use your own online ordering POS system. There are a few strategies to test with this concept. Perhaps you offer specific deals on your website, that are only applicable if a customer orders there. Or, offer a benefit like faster delivery for certain zip codes. If you use third-party systems to acquire new customers, make sure their orders arrive with printed, website-exclusive offers like a coupon on a pizza box or menu with website-only specials.

By integrating third-party ordering systems with a larger marketing strategy, you can create well-defined purposes for each part of your POS systems. From there, you can maximize ROI by applying resources to the campaigns that acquire and grow accounts and make sense of your POS software by getting clear visibility on consumer data.

Looking for a new POS solution that provides customer behavioral data without the transaction fees? Check out our iPad POS software. At just $139 monthly, you’ll save on third-party fees in the first month.

Essential Employee Spotlight, Scott Fuller-Logistical Operations Manager

Not All Superheroes Wear A Cape

Scott Fuller is the Logistical Operations Manager here at Essential Systems Solutions and in this position Scott is responsible for running the warehouse, ensuring that the incoming POS equipment and materials from suppliers are in good order and properly stored.  He ensures that the all outgoing customer orders leave in the right quantities and in good condition.

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Throughout the day, Scott may negotiate with shipping companies over rates or service levels; prepare documents; or review invoices. Scott regularly saves that day by resolving any issues with suppliers, customers, transportation companies, and sometimes employees.  He’s even rolled up his sleeves to save us all from a leak in the bathroom.  That’s just Scott  🙂 

  1. Where’s your hometown? Rockville, Maryland
  2. How many children do you have? One 16 year old daughter, Hana
  3. What do you like about your job? Lunch time
  4. What did you want to be when you were small? Forest Ranger. I love being outside and hiking
  5. What would you sing at Karaoke night? Nothing because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket
  6. If money was no object, what would you do all day? I would travel a good bit and maybe open a Chick-Fil-A franchise
  7. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be? Not sure but they would have to love Chick-Fil-A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Employee Spotlight, Judy Manahan-Controller

Judy Manahan is company controller here at Essential Systems Solutions andas the Controller and head of the accounting department for the company, Judy Manahan oversees cash management and risk management for the company. She is responsible for the company’s financial statements, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and budgeting. If you’ve ever met or talked with Judy, one of the first things you’ll notice is that she is committed to this company and making Essential the premier POS technology company on the East Coast.
Judy loves her job, but who is the REAL Judy Manahan? We asked Judy 9 questions and this is how she answered.

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  1. How many children do you have? I have 2 Sons, 3 Step-children, 16 Grandchildren, 3 Great-Grandchildren and 3 more on the way.
  2. Where’s your hometown? I was born in Emmitsburg Maryland and I still live in Emmitsburg Maryland today.
  3. What are you hobbies? I love cooking for the whole family and working in my flower beds.
  4. What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play? Baseball (Go O’s!)
  5. Who is your hero? Manny Machado of course (Go O’s!)
  6. If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join? The Beatles!!
  7. Do you collect anything? Longaberger Baskets
  8. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? I am not a daredevil, but I have ridden on the back of a Harley!
  9. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? “Caution”

Last Friday, a huge ransomware attack began in Europe, Japan, China and is still lingering. The WannaCry software has locked thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. Users are confronted with a screen demanding payment in order to restore their files.

Last Friday, a huge ransomware attack began in Europe, Japan, China and is still lingering. The WannaCry software has locked thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. Users are confronted with a screen demanding payment in order to restore their files.

Ransomware is a very fast growing and threatening type of malware attack. Everyone is a target, no matter how large or small your company is. Large companies like Target, T.J. Maxx, and Home Depot, have been attacked and had their customer data compromised. But what about smaller businesses? 1 in 5 small businesses hit by a ransomware attack are forced to close their doors. They just aren’t able to afford the payment demands and have lost years of company data.

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7 Tips to Defeat Ransomware

Luckily, Friday’s the attack was thwarted before it could hit every state in the U.S., but it’s not over. The attackers will realize how they were stopped, they’ll change the code, and start again. Your POS software and firewall updates are urgent right now. Your POS solutions provider can make these updates. There are solutions available to help you safeguard your POS system and your biusiness. The cost to protect yourself from a threat can be far lower than the cost in time & money of losing your data, and not being able to serve your customers or potentially having to rebuild your IT infrastructure. Download our “7 Tips to Defeat Ransomware” for additional information. Just one tip could save your business.

Mastercard Is Changing Their Numbers, It Will Impact Your Business.

All merchant POS (Point of Sale) terminals, credit card processing systems, webpage checkout software, and anywhere a Mastercard card number is accepted or housed, must be 2-series ready by June 2017.

What does this mean?mc-world-credit-card_2BIN-contactless-lmc-360x360.jpg

Bank Identification Numbers (BINs) are the first six-digits of a credit card number, and are fundamental to payments. They identify the issuing institution for the account and ensure that each transaction is routed correctly.

Mastercard® has received an additional range of 2-series numbers to add to the 5-series that are currently used. The 2-series BINs operate in the same way as the 5-series numbers and Mastercard has made changes to their systems to accommodate the new numbers. Banks began issuing 2-series BINs in early 2017.

Merchants should work with their service provider to evaluate their systems to determine whether updates are needed to accept 2-series BIN payments.

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2-series BIN impact
checklist for merchants

 

Potential implications for merchants

  • POS terminals and/or cash register updates
  • Educating your employees
  • Reporting, processing, and reconciliation
  • E-commerce/online checkout

Essential customers, please contact us for support.  If you’re not an Essential customer, please feel free to contact us for any questions about the new Mastercard 2-series BINs.