Guest Column | August 13, 2018

Banking On Disaster

By Daniel Steyskal, Trapezoid Business Services

How To Plan For Utility Disasters

Given enough time a disaster will inevitably happen and time spent planning for said disaster is never poorly spent. Beyond providing a higher degree of service to clients, disaster planning can be incorporated into an enhanced services package if not a separate line item billed on a recurring basis. While a small business owner needs to anticipate and prepare for a wide array of occurrences, there are a few high-percentage disasters every quality POS reseller must be prepared for.

  1. Credit Card Data Breach: Unless every single system is running an-out-of-scope solution where the side terminal is separate from the POS, there is a chance of a data breach. It does not matter if the NSA itself installed your security software — WikiLeaks leaked the software to crack that security.

Even the best security is useless when your manager goes on Facebook during downtime and clicks on malware laden links. However, the how the system was infected is unimportant — what you do to mitigate damage is far more important. Every system is different and the exact steps taken to address a breach will be unique to the system, but if there is no plan in place you are planning to fail your customers. At bare minimum, call up the credit card processor for that client, see what their plan is, and work around accordingly.

  1. Employee Theft: If you can’t use your system to determine who is stealing, you are using the system wrong. The best method to catch a thief requires a camera system but a properly setup POS feeding in clean data will produce reports which will allow you to determine who is suspicious. Be sure every employee has their own ID, buttons that allow a miscellaneous price input are disabled or use is logged, and — at bare minimum — ensure inventory deductions are logged if having full inventory audits.
  1. Full System Failure: A system is running slow so the employees decide to do a hard reset, power outages cause an unsafe shutoff, or despite the system being 10 years old the owner just doesn’t want to upgrade — then the call comes in there is a permanent BSOD or the bios isn’t loading. How do you get this client up and running and how are you going to get the transaction data out of the borked machine?

If you can’t answer right now, begin planning and share this plan with your customers. Some systems, especially those with cheap hardware, can be quickly swapped out but more expensive ones generally require a full replacement. If you are not offering a service to mitigate the issues caused by such a problem, you are not only doing wrong by your customers, you’re ignoring a great revenue stream. Even if the physical system is replaced, how are you going to restore the menu and other essential data? Again, data backups are an excellent service enhancement and can be as simple as a nightly save to a Dropbox file or a more sophisticated flat file upload in real time. No matter the method, just make sure it is done and you have a plan.

  1. Physical System Theft: The smart thieves break into the cash box and take the money, while smarter store owners remove all cash at night and leave the till open to advertise there is no easy cash available. Very rarely, a thief will steal the actual POS system or accessories, where a POS reseller must be ready to address the theft. Are your current systems secured to the countertop? Even beyond theft, this is a must do so a clumsy customer or employee doesn’t ruin an expensive computer.

Another consideration is tracking software for Tablet-based systems, as well as tools for desktop-based POS that can track a computer whenever it is connected to the internet. No matter what, talk to your clients and make sure their insurance or lease agreement covers the cost of system replacement in case something like this happens, however unlikely.

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated to my customer base how important emergency planning is. Only a few clients took the time and invested resources into making sure they were prepared, but these were the clients who had little downtime compared to others in the area that had to close for months. Once the northeast recovered, every client who had to shut down immediately wanted to do some emergency planning and handled the recent winter shenanigans with ease. These services are in demand and clients who understand the value of them are more than happy to pay for them.

About The Author

Trapezoid Business Services is solely owned and operated by Daniel Steyskal. Daniel has been a POS provider and business solutions consultant since 2008 working with small to mid-sized businesses and national franchises. When he's not making the impossible possible for his clients, Daniel enjoys cooking, gaming, and volunteering in his community. Find out more at www.tpzbusiness.com.