By Charlotte A. F. Farley
If you've ever consulted with a point-of-sale expert, you may have wondered how they ever got into that line of work to begin with. Perhaps you’re wondering if you might want to change gears and go into the point of sale industry yourself. You might be reading this article just because you want to see how other guys get it done (we get it).
The Point of Sale NewsTM talked with three value-added resellers (VARs) who offered their insights and expertise for both business owners who implement a POS system and for anyone who has ever been interested in pursuing the field.
Meet three VARs:
- Scott Appel, owner of Gotham Hospitality Solutions, has been in business for almost 19 years and serves clients within the tri-state area (200 miles radius of New York City).
- Steve Kramer is the co-owner of DCRS Solutions, a business 40 years old this year that serves clients in Missouri and southern Illinois as well as site locations owned and managed by regional and national clients with headquarters in the St. Louis area.
- James Cawdron, owner of Manhattan POS, has been in business since 2007, serving clients in the greater New York metropolitan area through the Mid-Atlantic.
Scott Appel, Gotham Hospitality Solutions
Segued into the POS industry when he had to research, purchase, and implement a point of sales system for a small chain he was running at the time.
All three men come from different backgrounds and have different reasons for what attracted them to the industry—not one of them set out from the get-go to become a value added reseller. Scott Appel, for example, started working in the restaurant industry when he was just 14 years old, which nurtured his interest in the hospitality industry. “As I grew, I worked for and consulted for several highly respected hospitality companies.” He segued into the POS industry when he had to research, purchase, and implement a point of sales system for a small chain he was running at the time. After installing the systems, the POS company offered him a sales and training position. “It seemed like a very interesting business,” Appel explains.
Steve Kramer, DCRS Solutions
“The responsibilities lined up with my background: Managing Sales & Marketing. I wanted to learn everything about the business, so my initial role was Sales and Programming/Installation.”
Steve Kramer didn’t start out trying to take over the family business; in fact, he spent a near-decade as a regional sales manager for Firestone. A relocation back to St. Louis in 1980 inspired him to join his brother and father, who had started “Data Cash Register Systems” in 1976, after spending 30 years at National Cash Register-NCR. Steve says that “the responsibilities lined up with my background: Managing Sales & Marketing. I wanted to learn everything about the business, so my initial role was Sales and Programming/Installation.”
James Cawdron, Manhattan POS
He credits his early success in POS from his extensive background in hospitality: “I knew what I wanted to get out of the system.”
James Cawdron hails from the east coast of England, and came to the U.S. with years of working in hotels and on cruise ships under his belt. Upon arriving in the U.S., “one of my friends got me a job in a snooty upper East Side restaurant.” Cawdron then ran a French restaurant group for almost ten years, and worked with VARs and point of sale systems, he thought “it seemed easy.” He credits his early success in POS from his background in hospitality: “It was helpful to transition, since I knew what I wanted to get out of the system.”
Switching careers comes with challenges, and the point of sale industry brings its own set of challenges to the table every day. It seems that regardless of what field you were in before and how much your experience lends itself becoming a value-added reseller, the biggest challenge is pace of change. Kramer states that “there have been many changes in the last forty years.” Appel explains that “whether it’s the ever evolving credit card security requirements or cloud-based technology, I need to carve out several hours a week to keep current.”
While anyone in business for themselves needs to dedicate time to invoicing, generating new business, marketing, and staff training, the nature of the point of sale industry with its constant change of pace prevents a sense of routine. Kramer says that every day is different, and his colleagues tend to agree. Appel says: “It could be sales consulting meetings for a few hours and service calls the next. All the while ensuring the client’s needs are attended to in a timely and precise manner.”
Cawdron normally heads to the office to delegate to his staff, but he states that one beauty of working as a value-added reseller is the ability to work remotely. Cawdron begins his business day by answer emails and texts, which will determine whether he goes into the office, goes on the road, or works a few hours from home, depending on the urgency of what’s going on. “Most of our business is based on the internet, and to a degree I can work from anywhere on programming or troubleshooting.”
While “the constantly changing landscape is the biggest challenge” according to Cawdron, he admits that he enjoys the enthusiasm generated around new concepts and meeting new people and new businesses. Kramer piggybacks off of that concept; he believes that VARs are in the business of problem solving and that is his favorite aspect of his career: “Finding success at problem solving is not only challenging, but it also delivers personal satisfaction to our entire staff, and every day is different.”” Appel enjoys the problem-solving nature of the field, explaining that “it’s a great feeling when I look back and see an improvement in the client’s business—and sometimes even their quality of life.”
Can something as simple as having an efficient point of sale system running really affect one’s quality of life, and if so, does that actually improve ROI? Appel says yes. “Sometimes the return on the investment may never end and this is a good thing. We have consulted on projects that would only involve guidance on a new payment or payroll processor to full technology upgrades including security and point of sale.” He explains that recently, his company had to replace a point-of-sale system in the dining hall of a local hospitality culinary school and has since received extremely positive feedback from the director of the program. “He told us that the reliability, ease of use, and features has enabled them to dedicate more time with the students in the program and less time on maintenance of a system that did not work for their business.”
The fiscal view regarding return on investment depends on the product, according to Cawdron. “Liquor tracking is definitely faster,” with a few months, with “POS probably nine months to a year, and surveillance is harder to measure depending on the business and how much is spent on the product; product has a big variance in cost.” Appel agrees that having the right product in place is key. He offers this example: “We were recently contacted by one of our clients that felt there were not getting the best value from there merchant processor. We made an introduction to one of our certified business partners and saved that client over $3,000.00 a month on their fees. This is not typical, but savings of $400.00 a month or more is.”
Kramer says it’s also about the support a client receives from their VAR: “as far as full return on investment, our support of those systems is what makes the return far more successful.”
For business owners looking to invest in a new point of sale system, Cawdron advises that owners find a reseller or dealer that they’re comfortable working with. He also recommends checking the facts. “One thing that surprises me is that very few people call references. If you’re going to buy a new car, you ask friends, you read about the car online, you check garages,” so why not do the same when it comes to investing in your POS system?
Appel echoes this advice and suggests that business owners ask many questions and follow up by spending the time to verify that the answers you received are correct and make sense. He warns that “anyone can walk into a business and have the gift of gab. That does not mean the product and company are right for your business.”
Find quality VARs in your state on our Find A Local POS Specialist page
The on-site images above are courtesy of DCRS Solutions
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