A great point-of-sale and shop management software can help your operation run more efficiently, cut losses, and increase profits. While implementing the right software for your business can be an exciting process, choosing the right point-of-sale and shop management software can be a stressful endeavor!
For over three decades, we have seen and heard horror stories from business owners buying and implementing the wrong software for their business. While searching for the best software fit for your business, it may help to keep these five common mistakes in mind.
Software recommendations from peers can be extremely valuable when you’re researching software. Software recommendations from peers can alsobe dangerous if not followed up with detailed investigation. Some of the worst implementation disasters we have seen over three decades have been in shops that have bought software purely on recommendation and have not spent the time doing the due diligence to investigate the software thoroughly.
Just because a peer runs a business similar to yours does not mean that their operation follows the same processes or will use all the same functions in the software. When buying purely on recommendation, one runs the risk of assuming or expecting the software will do things that it may not.
The “right” software should be the best fit for your business. Just because software is a fit for a peer does not automatically make it so for you. Recommendations are valuable, but are best used when paired with a thorough investigation.
As business owners, we are faced with so many challenging decisions, day in and day out, that simple solutions can often be the most appealing.
Software screens that are clean and simple often look most appealing. This is because limited options make decisions easier. If you are using a software screen that only has three buttons, it will be easier to decide what to do next than if you’re using a software that has twenty buttons on the screen!
Software should be easy to use, easy to learn, and intuitive. That being said, be careful to not fall into the trap of choosing software that is too simple. When businesses use simplicity as their #1 criteria for choosing software, we have often seen that an overly simple solution can “run out of gas”when deeper functionality is needed.
To avoid this trap, make sure to involve your bookkeeper or accountant in the decision-making process. Bookkeepers and accountants tend to have valuable perspective on details that a good piece of software should be able to handle.
It is a valuable exercise when choosing software to review the checklist of features of each piece of software you are considering. This often means creating a spreadsheet or self-made comparison chart to mark which software has which features. While this is a valuable exercise, a check in a column does not fully factor in the quality of the feature you are analyzing.
For example, two software systems might both have “Appointment Scheduling.” However, one system might only have a list of customers and appointment times, while the other system contains a list, a bay-by-bay scheduling tool, online appointments, customer appointment notification reminders, and in-system reminders when due dates are approaching.
Using a check grading system, both systems would score equally, even though the depth and quality of this features varies greatly between them. By using such a system, you are at risk of buying software that lives up to its claim to do everything, but doesn’t do anything well.
If you’re planning to make a comparison chart for analyzing software, check out our article, How To Choose Software, that includes a guide to creating a software comparison chart.
In today’s world of technology, there is no reason why you should not have an opportunity to try the software you are considering buying. If you are a multi-store operation, this involves running the software in at least two locations and seeing how inventory, customer history, and account details (like accounts receivable) are viewed and processed between stores.
Be wary of any software provider that is unable to provide access to their system in some sort of trial mode.
Keep in mind that it is very hard to test all functionality in a trial mode. Good systems take time to configure well. A trial-mode system will likely not have all of your inventory, canned jobs, vendors, and integrations configured.
The trial is only meant for you to test performance (speed and reliability) as well as to get a feel for the flow of the application. During a trial, you should ask yourself, “Once this software is configured, does this feel like it could be a fit for my business?”
The #1 mistake we see shops make when choosing point-of-sale and shop-management software is expecting technology to fix issues with their shop’s processes and procedures.
While technology can make you faster, more efficient, and more profitable, technology tends to amplify existing operational effectiveness.
If your shop has good processes and is decently organized, technology can shave hours off your day, automate processes, and help you increase profits.
If your shop in disorganized, has disengaged employees, and does not have any business processes in place, technology will only amplify that chaos.
If you are considering implementing a technology in your business, you should find a technology that helps you streamline your existing processes or suggests improved processes. If your business does not have any processes or procedures in places, getting your business working on paper is always the best place to start.
When choosing software, always make sure to describe your current processes to the software rep you are speaking with, and ask them how their software would work for you and could improve your existing processes.