POS 101: Employee Management Toolkit
If customers are the lifeblood of a business then employees are the heart, busily pumping away to get those customers where they need to be. Or maybe they’re the mitochondria, drumming up the business necessary to keep the whole thing running. Or maybe they’re the gallbladder . . . doing . . . whatever the gallbladder does. Okay, so my degree is in English, not biology, but you get the point.
Employees—whether they’re bartenders, masseurs, or rodeo clowns—do the work that keeps you in business, and your job as a manager, supervisor, director, owner, etc. is to make sure everyone’s doing their jobs and doing them well. Your responsibility is to hire, train, and retain the best of the best, filtering out the fast-talking, smart-alecky ne’er-do-wells in the process. It’s the name of the game, and thousands of companies have spent boatloads of flaming research funds trying to crack the secret to maximizing employee productivity and minimizing turnover. Unfortunately, the businesses that have managed to uncover the secret key to employee whispering seem less-than-willing to give it up, and the rest of us can’t afford to figure it out for ourselves.
I’ll let you in on a secret, though. If you know what you’re looking for and how to use it, your point of sale system has some of the best tools for successfully managing your employees. If you promise not to tell those corporate big wigs, I’ll give you a breakdown of the various POS features that every business owner should have in their employee management toolkit.
You pinky swear?
Okay, I trust you. Here it is.
Yeah sure, a manual time clock is a pretty simple thing to set up and it’s arguably more fun to “punch the clock” with one of those old fashioned, angry-sounding machines that stamps a timesheet, but eventually we all have to modernize. So let’s get with the times (heh heh, I’m so funny) with a digital time clock built right into your POS. Most systems have them, and some, like ERPLY (see our review) even generate commission reports to help you track how much each employee is earning. Others won’t let an employee clock out without declaring their tips and/or performing a till count (for cash management purposes). Different POS time clocks will come with different features, but the moral of the story is that you want one. It’s a great way to streamline and consolidate multiple records into a single system that can be accessed quickly and easily.
Beyond just being able to track your employees’ hours with your POS system, some of them (iConnect (see our review), for one) will let you completely manage your staff schedule. We’re not just talking about setting up the times your employees are scheduled to work for the next week. With the right integrations, you can approve shift trades, accept or reject requests for time off, and set up task list and goals for your staff from cloud-based software that you can access anywhere.
Of course, there’s also the matter of determining how many people you’ll need on the clock at any given time. A full reporting suite will give you a breakdown of sales by the hour, item, employee, and more. Figure out what times your business sells the most, what items you’re going to want to push the most, and which employees are the best at doing just that. If you know how to take advantage of all those reports and learn how to decipher the meaning behind a sheet full of numbers (A Beautiful Mind style), you’ll be on your way to maximizing efficiency at your store. And one of the best ways to do that is to . . .
Recognize and Incentivize
Forbes published an article a while back outlining 7 management practices that can improve employee productivity, and at the top of the list is incentivizing. The author, Victor Lipman, brings up the point that if you expect good employees to be invested enough to really start producing, you have to make the company’s success their success. Selling on commission is a good place to start, and investing in the right POS system will make tracking those employee earnings a simple process. For more individualized rewards for exceptional performance, in-depth shift reports (like the ones that Shopify (see our review) and POS Lavu (see our review) offer) will give you the practical numbers needed to identify your top performers. By recognizing those with great track records and rewarding them for it, you’re more likely to foster a deeper commitment from your employees and reduce turnover.
It’s not that you don’t want to trust your staff, it’s just that sometimes you can’t afford to. I get it. I never did get the combination to the safe while I was working my way through college at a fast food joint. That long con was kind of a bust, but it just goes to show that with the proper security measures in place, a wayward English student isn’t going to run off with a couple wads of ones and a roll of quarters to purchase ramen from the local convenience store. More high-volume establishments are probably going to want to some extra protection, and your POS should be your first line of defense.
Pick a system with great cash management features—and I’m not just talking about something that lets you input a starting and ending cash count. I’m talking about a system that lets you run till counts before and after shift changes, one that carefully documents cash-ins and cash-outs, and one that runs comprehensive X and Z reports. Toast (see our review), in particular, offers some of the best cash management functions I’ve seen. You’ll also want to be sure you can set different access permissions for your employees. Some POS software comes preset with employee levels that allow increasing amounts of access depending on which level each employee is assigned. Other systems, like Revel (see our review) allow you to decide on a per-case basis which specific features each individual employee has access to. You might even want to consider an integration with a video surveillance system. Whatever you decide, there’s a whole schmorgisboard of features out there to protect your business from teenage cons looking to compromise your loose change safe.
Lastly, lets go back to the beginning and talk about the first step of the employee management process (you can tell how strategically I structure these articles). The training process can either be a great way to introduce a new staff member to your business or it can be a confused disaster. Fortunately, most cloud-based POS software is specifically designed to be as easy to use as possible (ShopKeep and Quetzal are great examples of this), and if it’s not, it generally doesn’t do very well on the market anyway. That said, every system is different and there’s bound to be an adjustment time for any newcomer, which is why it is important to think about the onboarding process when selecting a POS system. How difficult is it going to be to train employees on this system? Is there a training mode built into the interface? How comprehensive are the training materials? Does the vendor offer on-site training and support?
Though the training phase generally only lasts a short time and may seem pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, how an employee is integrated into the workforce will inevitably affect the entire experience. Speaking from personal experience (and I’m sure other people can back me up on this), no matter how good of a worker you may have, they will not be able to reach their full potential without the proper training, and selecting the right POS for your business is a big first step.
I’ve never been very good at endings. They always seem so forced to me, like I’m trying to reduce a thousand word article to a couple summarizing sentences so I can explain the importance of employee management to a disinterested waitress at a cocktail party. Ehm. Not that I’ve ever done that before.
But if I had, I guess I’d say that the right point of sale software is the unsung hero of employee management. Well, maybe it’s more of a sidekick, to you—the merchant—the real unsung hero of employee management. You’re the one, after all, who is replacing that outmoded time-punching-clock-thing with a POS system that not only tracks your employee’s hours, schedule, sale records, commissions, and tips, but also provides the functionality necessary to maximize efficiency and minimize risk. You’re so good at this hero thing. You could be an Avenger (or a member of the Justice League—depending on which side of the nerdom you stand).
But don’t forget what you promised me at the beginning of this article (it was so long ago, I know). This all stays between us and the disinterested cocktail waitress so those corporate bigwigs don’t find out. Of course, if you’d like some help finding the right POS for your business, I guess we could loop in some of the experts here at Merchant Maverick. Just let us know what you need, and we’ll get it done together.