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Give POS Downtime the Boot to Improve Franchisee Productivity, Service

The very nature of being a franchise means that locations are widely dispersed, a factor that can often put a strain on information technology departments to ensure that systems are running on par. One of the most important areas of support for any organization is that of the point of sale (POS) system and software.

As a business' "central nervous system," technical issues can result in productivity dips and an inability to maintain sales volumes. What's more, inadequate security can make customer data vulnerable and violate PCI compliance mandates. Fortunately, remote management and support tools are helping operators and IT managers to address issues from anywhere, at any time, and drive customer loyalty and profits in the process.

Reallocating managerial attention
The notion that IT service levels can have a tremendous impact on core business principles is immense. There are a number of technology solutions on the market that provide franchisees with remote support. Solutions, such as LogMeIn Reach, the technology in place at Quality Dining Inc. (QDI), provide restaurateurs with a secure way to connect to a franchisee's POS system remotely, allowing technicians to prevent and repair issues, and restaurant operators to focus on what's most important to them: delivering great food and top-notch service.

On the IT side, remote access is firstly instrumental in controlling costs. Without it, operators would need to increase headcounts to make room for far more service calls by phone and physically onsite. The ability to monitor and maintain systems — whether they are attended or not — means there's no need to schedule time with end users to get the job done. Limiting distractions enables operators to focus on maintaining sales volumes and provide superior customer service, which is more important than ever as the turbulent economy continues to thin the supply of ready consumers.

Maintaining POS system health
Remote support is even more detrimental to the health of the POS because it can be used proactively by setting up a system that enables restaurants to receive alerts when problems are on the horizon. Most of the time, a restaurant's IT team is aware if a POS system is working toward a crash and is able to get ahead of the problem and manage system downtime. The IT team can actually call the store and say, "It looks like you're about to crash. You need to do X, Y and Z."

Remote support is also beneficial when it comes to managing file moves back and forth through corporate offices as needed. This can include the need to upgrade software, detect potential fraud, repair and maintain virus software, and complete general business application support. In the case of QDI, whose diverse offering of 175+ restaurants include Burger King; Chili's Grill & Bar; blue2O seafood grill + bar; Papa Vino's Italian Kitchen and Spageddies Italian Kitchen, remote support provides the IT staff with the ability to conduct software upgrades as if they were virtually on-site, further limiting distractions to on-site management.

Training 'on the fly'
Remote support technologies can also be used to conduct "virtual" point of sale training sessions when rolling out a new application. For example, QDI recently rolled out a new web-based product management application to its operators. Leveraging its remote support solution, the IT team was able to hold training sessions with restaurant management on their back office computers. The basic training principles of "Tell, Show, Do" are easily applied using this technology, as it allows the instructor to offer a live demonstration and then watch users as they apply what they have learned.
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