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Outsourcing POS Support: The Six Most Common Mistakes to Avoid

Outsourcing Point-of-Sale (POS) Support is a viable alternative for most Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO). However, there are several common mistakes that can be made when a MUFSO elects to outsource some or all of their POS service and support needs.

This document is intended to be a common-sense guide to help MUFSOs avoid making mistakes that can affect profitability and customer service at the store level.

Common Mistake #1, Depot Hardware Service Without Dedicated Spare Equipment:
The Depot hardware method of servicing POS hardware works well for most MUFSO's, if the correct procedures are followed. One of the requirements for an efficient Depot hardware service program that is often overlooked is the necessity for a dedicated stock of spare hardware devices to be maintained by the service provider for the MUFSO.

The spare hardware devices are typically referred to as "hot spares". When a hot spare program is in effect, the service provider will immediately ship a replacement device to the appropriate location as soon as the service provider has determined that a device is in need of repair. Upon receipt of shipment, the local store personnel will put the working device into service, then ship the broken device back to the service provider. The service provider will repair the broken device and put it back into the hot spare stock. It is possible to have depot hardware service without a dedicated stock of spare hardware, but the turnaround time for repairs, loss of use while awaiting return of the repaired hardware device, and premium shipping charges required to expedite repaired equipment usually outweighs any initial cost benefit that may be offered.

It is highly recommended that the service provider chosen dedicate a stock of spare equipment for each MUFSO customer they service. A dedicated stock of spare hardware guards against the service provider running out of hot spares when the MUFSO needs them the most.

Common Mistake #2, Inadequate Service Level Agreement Details:
Details are important in the Service Level Agreement. The MUFSO needs to verify that a provision is included in their agreement with the service provider that covers each type of service the MUFSO expects to receive from the service provider. Specific details should be documented in the agreement that specifies such things as: hours of operation, minimum response times, prioritizing support calls, expected turn-around time for various types of services, etc.

Failure to be specific in the initial agreement can lead to additional expenses that were not budgeted by the MUFSO, and/or an unsatisfactory working relationship between the MUFSO and the service provider.

Common Mistake #3, No Worst Case Scenario Plan:
There are a couple of worst-case scenarios that should be considered. The first worst-case scenario is the one where your service provider has unforeseen difficulties that cause them to cease operations. It is a good idea to know what back-up POS service options are available to your company in the event that your primary service provider is not able to fulfill their obligations.

A second worst-case scenario involves a broken file server. Today's computers are significantly more reliable than the PC's and Servers that were commonly in use a few years ago. In fact, since they don't break very often, some MUFSOs do not consider their file servers when they enter into POS service and support agreements. Specific details are required to assign responsibility for the processes required to replace a broken file server and to get the correct software applications and historical data restored on the replacement file server. If the process is not defined in advance, it is likely that the replacement of the file server in this worst-case scenario will be a time-consuming and painful process for all involved.

Common Mistake #4, No Hardware Repair Cost Ceiling:
Almost every hardware repair agreement has provisions that allow the service provider to charge the MUFSO additional fees for hardware repairs in certain incidences. A common occurrence is operator abuse of the hardware, such as dropping a printer on the floor or spilling a beverage in the computer.

It is recommended that a common sense clause be written into the hardware maintenance agreement that requires the service provider to receive authorization from the MUFSO when extra cost repairs will exceed the replacement cost of the item being repaired.

Most service providers will still charge a fee to cover the service technician's time spent diagnosing the repair requirements, but that fee will be minimal compared to the MUFSO receiving a repair bill that exceeds the value of the component being repaired.

Common Mistake #5, Failure to Verify Service Provider Credibility & Financial Stability:
There are many quality service providers from which a MUFSO may choose. However, it is a good idea to do some homework on the service provider you are considering doing business with, prior to signing an agreement.

There are several questions you should ask, including:

  1. Is service and support one of the service provider's core competencies?
  2. Do they maintain an adequate stock of back up parts in order to meet your company's hardware repair needs?
  3. What recourse do you have if the service provider is not able to meet the terms of the agreement you have signed with them?
  4. How long has the company been in business?
  5. Are other companies happy with the level of service they are receiving from the service provider?

Common Mistake #6, Lack of Availability of Required Information:
There are many service providers from which a MUFSO may choose when selecting outsourced customer care services. Some service providers provide hardware repair service only, some provide help desk services only, some provide single source solutions and others provide some services through third-party alliances.

Receiving the type of service you require is important, but it is equally important that you be able to receive information about the services you are receiving. Prior to entering into an agreement with a service provide it is imperative that you know what type of information you will be able to receive, how frequently the information is updated, and what the process is that you need to go through in order to receive the information.

The systems and methods used by various service providers to provide you with call logs, unresolved service call reports, hardware repair status, and spare hardware asset tracking vary from provider to provider. Make sure you are getting what you need before you sign an agreement.

Submitted by SupporTrak .