Whether you operate a single store or restaurant or multiple establishments, a POS system is one of the largest investments you will make in your business. In addition to exercising care in choosing this system, you must maximize your investment by ensuring the longevity of the hardware and software alike. Here are six tips for extending the life of your entire POS system.
1. Clean components regularly: Accumulations of grease and grime will eventually degrade the components of your POS system, so inspect them regularly and remove buildup as soon as you notice it. To clean CRT touchscreens, use a freshly-laundered towel or cloth that has been sprayed with ammonia-free glass cleaner; do not spray the cleaner directly on the screen. Printers should be wiped down inside and out with a soft cloth, while a piece of clear tape will effectively lift buildup off finger sensors.
Additionally, clean the interior of your computer terminals at least twice each year. Neglecting this step allows an excessive amount of dust to accumulate, which in turn can cause the units to overheat and, possibly, sustain costly damage.
2. Practice disk maintenance: Regular disk maintenance should occur monthly, as well as whenever you notice that the POS system is running more slowly than usual, after a forced shutdown from a power outage, or following the installation of new software. Disk maintenance involves checking hard drives for errors and performing de-fragmentation if needed. Some POS system vendors will show you how to do this. You can also hire an outside computer expert for the job.
3. Train staff to treat equipment properly: For example, instruct employees to preserve the life of touchscreens by always using a finger, rather than a pen, to input orders and information into the POS system, and to avoid “pounding” repeatedly on displays that do not seem to be responding to their touch. Similarly, request that they keep mobile POS system components away from liquids and make a concerted effort not to drop the units or leave them on surfaces where they can easily fall or be exposed to spills. Some companies make spill resistant and drop resistant devices, but caution should always be used when handling expensive technologies.
4. Be proactive: At the end of each shift or day, assess the POS system for any signs of wear or damage, such as scratches on the touchscreens, frayed wires, water damage, and other problems that will prevent the equipment from functioning as it should. Rectify or repair any minimal damage before it becomes major damage.
5. Start over every month: Any POS system vendor will tell you that the first step in troubleshooting your POS equipment is to power it off and restart. However, many operators insist on keeping their POS systems running 24/7 for long periods of time, often not noticing when performance begins to degrade. While you don’t need to turn off your POS system every night—and cannot do so if reporting or other routine tasks are scheduled to occur during off-hours—restart it once each month to clear it of small glitches. Do this more frequently if you notice unexplained issues, such as printer queue or networking errors.
6. Bring in the professionals. Hire a trained technician to inspect and perform maintenance on your POS system at least once annually. Some POS system vendors and resellers offer this service.
By the same token, if your vendor or reseller has a POS system maintenance program, sign up for it. Completing necessary repairs will then be faster and can potentially prevent more expensive fixes or replacements.
You will likely opt to upgrade or replace your POS system at some point. However, you do not want to be forced to do so because your hardware and software have ceased to function prematurely. Heeding the above advice will prevent this from happening and preserve your POS system investment.