Ann Reichle's mechanical instincts helped her build and race a drag car several years ago. But that knack for nuts and bolts didn't translate at all to a knowledge of computers. She learned that lesson the hard way when, several years ago, she and husband, Jim, decided to assemble the first POS system they bought for their pizza company.
"We don't want to do that again," said Reichle, co-owner of Angelina's Pizza, based in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. The worst surprise, she said, was the "warranty battle" between the multiple brands represented in their system's setup. "We always got stuck between whose warranties covered what, or whether the problem was with the hardware or the software. It seemed like nobody wanted to take responsibility."
Reichle said that first POS purchase was based on price, but she's since bought a complete turnkey system. Paying more for a complete package was worth it, she said, because it removed the tech tension from her mind.
Reichle's story is fairly common, according to Tom Bronson, president and CEO at Rockland Technology Group, the Lewisville, Texas, maker of the DiamondTouch POS system in. But it's a lesson some operators have to learn the hard way.
"(T)he comfort level of knowing it's going to run right is priceless," said Bronson, referring to his company's onsite delivery, set-up and service. The tab for a three-terminal DiamondTouch system runs about $14,000, he said, but it includes everything. "There are no add-ons for our system. It's complete."
David Brekke, sales manager for Lynden, Wash.-based Speedline Solutions makes no apology for his company's average $15,000 tab for a three-station setup. It's a serious system for serious operators, he said.
"If they don't want a lot of stuff like back-office support or integration into QuickBooks ... all the stuff we've spent the last seven years building into our product, maybe we're not what they're looking for," Brekke explained. "They have to look at what it's going to do for them rather than what it's going to cost them."
Tom Jans, owner of T.J.'s Take & Bake Pizza in Hilton Head Island, S.C., did put together his own POS system by sourcing hardware, software and some help with his network. But the money he saved translated into many hours customizing the new software to suit his shop's needs. The menu alone took "two solid days of dedicated work," he said, and he thinks some operators might not want to put that kind of effort into their POS system.
Rockland's Bronson agreed. "By and large our industry is still owned and operated by people who have a lot of pizza experience, but not a lot of computer experience. Tweaking a POS system isn't what they want to be doing."
Pizza operators want the system to work, period, said Lori Sims, vice president of sales and marketing for Indianapolis-based Custom Computing. Knowing that a pro has assembled, programmed and customized their investment is why so many TouchExpress customers willingly pony up the $13,000 for a three-station setup, she said.
"It handles all their money, employees, food cost, inventory levels, purchasing — the business side of their businesses," she said. "So when you break it down over a two-year period of time, that's about $15 bucks a day to manage all of that. So is it worth it? I'd say it is."