Monday, May 02, 2016

3 reasons retailers should make the switch from print to digital signage

3 reasons retailers should make the switch from print to digital signage: The way retailers communicate is changing. Print ads are no longer the flashy, new guy in town. In fact, making the switch from print to digital signage is increasing everyday as more and more companies realize the power and impact HD digital signage has on their branding message.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Digital signage tells you you're driving the wrong car



Digital signage tells you you're driving the wrong car: Imagine driving down the highway in your Toyota when you notice the digital billboard off to the right change its message to tell you a Chevy Malibu gets better gas mileage than your Camry. That's the kind of impression digital signage delivers.


GoVision to unleash 'Colossus' on Bristol Motor Speedway

GoVision to unleash 'Colossus' on Bristol Motor Speedway: GoVision will install the world's largest outdoor, permanent, center-hung digital display at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, late this month.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The POS Store - Reinvented & Relaunched

www.theposstore.biz

  We have redesigned an relaunched www.ThePOSStore.biz to give you more options, more info, more products in Point of Sale, Digital Displays, Video Surveillance and more.
  Stop by www.ThePOSStore.biz to take a look and let us know your thoughts.  We realize not all features are fully functional yet, but more will be coming soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Coffee Pot - more than just a coffee shop

(especially now that she has a New Menu Board with Breakfast & Lunch)
Just another example of our design team.
 

  So what are you waiting for? An invitation?  Guess what, we can do it on a Digital Display board for you.  Anything that you can imagine - we can create.  Just give us a chance to dance on your screens.  Your own restaurant will sparkle with a Digital Menu board that changes for each Meal Time.  They are so much better than those cheap plastic boards from Coke or Pepsi.
 

Sunday, May 04, 2014

ALDELO 2013 Professional Restaurant Point of Sale



Aldelo Professional Restaurant for all types of Fine Dining Restaurants Casual Restaurants, Quick Service Restaurants, Carry Out Restaurants, and Delivery Restaurants

Learn more by watching this video today.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Do you Sell to Minors? 

 Have you planned your Jail Vacation?

We can help keep you out of the Cell.
We have 2 Point of Sale packages that include AGE VERIFICATION SCANNING of the Customer Driver License.  Never again would your Employees be able to sell to an Under Age Customer.
Contact us to find our more and ask for a POS Quote today.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Another Beautiful Menu Board goes Live!

We recently designed and installed a Menu Board display for Corner Office Gourmet.


 
So what are you waiting for?  The difference is striking!
Find more information at www.ACTDigitalDisplays.com and let's see what we can do for you!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 EOL

 You have probably heard that Windows XP Support is ending on April 8, 2014.  What you may not realize is that Windows Embedded POSReady 2009 is the XP version of Embedded and will also be ending on April 8, 2014.
 
What does that Mean for Customers running a Point of Sale terminal that has POSReady 2009 as the operating system?
 
It means that there will be no security updates, no patches, no support for bugs or errors and many new software package will NOT run on these.
 
In addition, any system that is running Credit Card software will not longer by PCI Compliant for Security since not updates will be issued for known vulnerabilities. 
There is also No Direct Upgrade Path from POSReady 2009 (XP) to any other Operating System, therefore you will need to move your database to a new blank hard drive - preferably on a New POS Terminal.   Give us a call to get a Quote on a new PCI Compliant POS Terminal and protect your investment.  The cost of a Data Breach will far exceed any cost of New Hardware.
 




Saturday, March 15, 2014


 Join over the next three days for fun, food, eductation and entertainment at the New England Food Show in Boston.  Assured Computing Technologies, Ind will have a full display of our Digital Signage and Point of Sale offerings for yo to view including the new Aldelo Touch.  We are in booth 3259.  Stop by and say Hi

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ACT-POS Mobility has Something for Everyone!

  Everyone talks about the cloud, but what is it really and how will it affect you?  CLOUD is a fancy word for 'Remote' meaning that the application or process that you are using is loaded 'remotely on a Server somewhere in the world.  Until they actually learn how to make Servers float in the air and produce rain or snow - it's just a pretty picture.  Server 'Farms' are located all around the world with some companies operating several, some for their own internal use and others for outside use.  Microsoft is a great example of this type of use.  The software that resides on these Servers is licensed for use to others by paying a monthly subscription.  The low price of Monthly subscriptions versus buying a major software package outright, can be tremendous for a small business.
   Cloud based programs cover the entire spectrum of needs today in many offices.  Everything from Office 365 from Microsoft to Hosted Digital Signage messaging,  Remote Back-up,  Accounting software and too many to mention here.
  BUT, if you are in the market for any type of software or back-up, contact us first with your needs and chances are that we have a low cost solution.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Building Directory LCD is Bright and Cheerful!

Not just for Menu Boards, Digital Signage and Displays are everywhere a printed sign or poster exists.  They are easily changed.
 
 
Another Stunning Example of the change from static printed sign to the glossy flashy LCD version.  This Building Directory was dark and haunting.  We brightened and lightened the display on a 55" LCD Monitor.  Learn more at www.ACTDigitalDisplays.com

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Roast Beef Sandwich Diner Make-Over!

We recently did a Menu Board makeover for one of our customers.  The old Menu boards were plastic, dark and depressing, prone to dirt in the grooves, cluttered and hard to read.  We replaced the existing 7 panels with 2 -  47" LG Commercial Monitors that brighten up the entire front counter!
See for yourself!
 
 


Now picture your place of business with bright new shiny LCD's - cost is less than you think!

Friday, August 09, 2013

BrightSign HD 220 Digital Signage Giveaway!

WIN BRIGHTSIGN HD220 DIGITAL PLAYER ON FACEBOOK
Our Summer Facebook Contest is Running NOW! Register for your chance to win a New BrightSign Solid State Media Player.

Vist us on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ACTDigitalSignage to Enter to Win or Scan the Barcode below.


SUMMER BRIGHTSIGN GIVEAWAY
 
 
 
 

Point of Sale System - More than nice to have.

A Point of Sale system is and should be more than a 'nice to have' item in your store or restaurant.   Windows based or Apple based - both get the job done!
 



In this current economy when everyone is looking for the least cost, return on investment and value, a Point of Sale system guarantees all three if purchased and used correctly.
What does that mean in English? Simply that many businesses do not really understand what a POS system is, how to buy one, how it can improve and perhaps even save their business - not even considering that it really can save money - even over the short term.

  Everyone talks about Return on Investment, but in today's economy who has time to wait? Most folks want to see Real Savings NOW, not next year.
Let's look at both Retail and Restaurant POS systems which are similar in function but different in performance.
-RETAIL: How fast can you service your existing customers using the system that you currently have in place? What I mean by this is best shown by example. I come into your store and while casually walking around I ask a clerk for the price of an item, or want to know if a certain item is available in a different color or style. How does your clerk respond? Does he or she have to go to a manual printed listing? Is the information perhaps in an Excel spreadsheet? Do you need to contact the vendor? How long do I have to wait before I get the answer to my simple questions? While your clerk is getting the information for me, how many additional customers are waiting for help? How many give up and walk out because it was never acknowledged that they were even there? If I decide not to buy because the price is unattractive after you have searched for me, how much potential profit did your loose? Not just mine, but other customers who were ignored? This may not happen if you am a large merchant with several clerks, but if I am a Sole Proprietor and often work by myself who takes care of my customers?

The same process using a POS system would have allowed you to quickly scan the item at a POS station, verify the price, check availability in different styles/colors and even find out who the distributor is to contact for similiar items if needed. How long would that take? About 5 minutes give or take. Not only have you quickly taken care of the customer, but possibly gained a LOYAL customer for future sales and still had time to handle the other customers easily. So how does that save money? First you wasted less time, time is money. Are your employees on the clock? Second, how much money is your own time worth?

Do you need to order more of the item for the customer or hopefully restock the shelves because they purchased the last ones? Simple again. Go into your POS system, choose the item, select the vendor and process a reorder - print it out or even email it directly. A few minutes tops!

-RESTAURANT: A very similiar situation arises. A new customer comes in for lunch or dinner. While the customer stands around at the register or sits down waiting for someone to acknowledge their presence, all of your staff is in the kitchen either arguing over the last customers order that the waitress hand wrote in shorthand for no sauce and the cook interpreted as meaning extra sauce. In the meantime the new customer may hear the argueing and wonder if they chose the right place and time. When the staff finally gets to the customer and begins taking their order, it may include a dinner salad and drink. In many establishments the wait staff prepares their own salads. No need to write it down, just add it to the bill later. Oh and that drink at the bar? The order is called over and prepared - never written down, never charged. When the customer is finally served and IF the meal was correct this time, they may leave a tip. However if the staff forgot something because it wasn't written down correctly or the kitchen prepared it wrong - where is the tip now? When the customer is ready to leave the wait staff walks over to a calculator and begins adding everything up. However they have another customer waiting to be seated and an order ready for pick-up in the kitchen so they rush through the bill. Is it correct? The customer may or may not comment, pay the bill and leave. The next time they may choose a different restaurant with faster service and more attentive staff. Maybe even leave a tip at the other owners restaurant. Will they tell their friends about how great your place was?

What if you had a POS system in place, what would be different? First and most importantly the staff would be on the floor taking care of each customer as they arrive. There would be little or no waiting for service. Orders between the wait staff and kitchen staff would be easily communicated through printed orders that are uniform for every item, modifier, drink and billable item. No more shortcuts 'I meant this! That's not what you wrote!' Because the staff is in the front of the house instead of out back, the customer feels more important when all their needs are met promptly. There is the opportunity to sell more - extra drinks, deserts, optional add-ons with each meal. When it is time to pay, the bill is printed in a matter of seconds with everything listed, totalled correctly and perhaps even Suggested Tip listed at the bottom. This customer is sure to tell their friends and family about the great attentive staff and experience (this is true even if the meal wasn't perfect). You've increased sales, insured that everything was billed accordingly and perhaps through word of mouth gained a few new customers.

Check out some of our Great Deals on Point of Sale systems for both Retail and Restaurant here at THE POS STORE

Where are Your Customers? Are they hiding?

Did your Customer Come Back Yet?

 

Obviously everyone wants to know what happened to the customers that haven't yet come back. The economy has yet to give us the great influx of new dollars from the Stimulus packages.
  More folks are saving more and spending less. Where are the dollars they are spending going? Into VALUE, seems to be the general opinion. While many retailers have seen sales drops and chains are closing stores, Wal-Mart has continued to flourish. Is it really that they have such great products and their prices are unbeatable? Hardly. It is the perceived value of the customer. Wal-Mart is hardly 'giving away' items. They may have low pricing on some items, but they are still making a healthy profit. Lowes new lower pricing. Home Depot lower pricing. Local supermarket lower pricing.
Is it really 'lower pricing' or the perception that is attracting shoppers? Quizno's started a price war with $5.00 Subs, now there is hardly a Chain that doesn't have a $5.00 or less sandwich, pizza or meal deal. In some cases it is the same product they had before - with no change just different emphasis on marketing.
What 'VALUE' do you offer your customers? Whether it is Retail, Restaurants, Services or something that is a combination there must be a 'value' associated with your offering to compete. Why should I take batting lessons at YOUR place? Why is your Soup and Salad Special better than the one next door? We can't tell you, but if you ask some on your regular customers why they keep coming, you may find an Advertising point that you haven't thought of yet.
Do you have Survey Cards? Do you ask customers for feedback? How was your food, how was your lesson, how was that new outfit you bought last week? Your personal touch alone could be the 'value' your customers appreciate. But you won't know if you don't ask.

Vermont Grocers' Association Fall Show!

THIS JUST IN! Assured Computing Technologies, Inc. will be Exhibiting at the Vermont Grocers Association in Burlington, Vermont with our full load of Point-of-Sale and Digital Signage displays.  We will be in booths 104-106

Vermont's largest food industry show just got better. A wide array of events are planned for all food industry members including:
• New Dates, Expo now on Friday, 9/27
• Matchmaker sessions between retailers and exhibitors on Friday morning
• Thursday Golf Outing at the Cedar Knoll Country Club
• Monte Carlo Night & Reception at the Doubletree Hotel
• Friday's Chairman's Banquet at the Doubletree will feature Burlington's own Improv Group
• Closing Saturday Brunch & annual meeting

2012 slide show of convention -Find the Picture of the ACT_POS booth from last year!  Tell Elizabeth how great she looks.

Baker's Dozen Financing Special Deals on POS & Digital Signage

 
Huh?  What's Cookin at ACT-POS and ACT-DIGITAL?
  A 'Baker's Dozen' of savings!  We have partnered with one of the leading finance houses in the country to offer our customers a special selection of payment options.  Beginning with a Bakers Dozen.  Take your total, divide by 12, Add 1 Extra payment and closing costs and that is the total of your Finance costs.  No Monthly Payments and pricing you can afford.  Got your own clients that you would like to offer this too?  Give us a call and we can share the 'secret sauce'.   We also have conventional leases up to 60 months for easy qualifiers.  Think that you might not fit our requirements?  You could be surprised. Get more information today.

Discounting to Win?

ARE YOU DISCOUNTING TO WIN SALES?
 
Groupon is moving away from Discounts and Towards value added.

In an issue of 'Restaurant Startup & Growth' magazine (a publication of www.restaurantowner.com ) there is a great article on discounting called "BLUE PLATE SPECIAL' by Patricia Luebke, which discusses the virtues and pitfalls of offering discounts. She offers actual case studies and examples from current restaurant owners. The insights are telling in that they not only apply to restaurants but also any business operation that sells to the public. While I was reading this article I thought about many of our customers outside the restaurant industry. Retail, Services, Airlines and more could all take a page from this article and apply it to their own operation. One of the chief tenants of her story is "once you discount, how do you go back?' How do you value something for more after you charged less. Two dinners for $15.95? After the recession ends how do I go back to my Dinner for $12.95 EACH?
Take for example a Membership Club that offers exclusive benefits for it's members at a premium cost. The economy has impacted their membership with several members electing to not renew - even though they believed that the price was well worth the the benefits they received. To maintain their revenue stream, they send out a mass mailing in the area offering 50% Discount for all new member applications. As Club owner, I am getting many new members, but at half the price and half the profit of the old membership cost. My utilities are the same. I still need to have staff on hand. What have I accomplished?
What about the existing member? I been loyal to the club for a year or more paying twice as much for the same facility usage. My renewal comes up and it is the same as always. What do I get? I am told that the discount rate is only for New members, so I let my membership lapse and go elsewhere. As the owner I have just lost a loyal client who may never come back. And the New member? They may stay for a couple months and leave.
The TAKE-AWAY? Add something more, or offer a discount on something you haven't had before. An example for the Club might be 'SPECIAL SWIM CLUB ONLY RATE' (doesn't include the workout facility.) You decide what's right for your business but beware - anything you give away today, you can't charge for tomorrow without expecting backlash.

StoreTender POS for Grocery and C-Stores

Do You have a C-Store or a G-Store?  How abut an A-Store?

StoreTender is a full featured grocery package designed to handle the demanding requirements of today's supermarkets. Individual modules allow you to select the areas of operation you wish to control such as ordering, receiving, pricing, sales ads, shelf labels, loyalty programs, inventory control, cashier management, and of course, point of sale.

In addition to accurate and reliable operations, StoreTender can expedite your check-out process translating into a more enjoyable shopping experience for your customer. A common complaint of grocery shoppers is the length of time they spend in the checkout line.

In today's instant society, faster check-out times can translate into repeat customers and increased profits. Eliminate the bottleneck at your checkout counter by installing StoreTender today!

With StoreTender installed your customers will give you an A or even an A+ for Service!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back to basics and beyond!

Back to basics and beyond may seem like a strange title, but I believe that is exactly where the Point of Sale industry along with our customers is heading.

POS systems offer so much added utility - sometimes too much for the average store or restaurant owner to utilize in a short period of time. a POS system is designed to assist you in running your business more profitably and for the most part they do a great job. However, all of the reports, functions and myriad options can get in the way of actually using the system in the best way - IF the owner/manager has not been adequately trained.

In the current economy taking care of the customer is 'job one'. If you can't do that, you close - period. And unfortunately we have seen too many of our customers closing their doors recently. Businesses that were running successfully for years suddenly empty ghost towns. We have to ask why? What worked before to keep the customers coming that changed in the course of a few months? It was more than the economy 'stupid'. In some cases the owners lost focus on the idea of creating business and only looked at the bottom line. When they couldn't increase profits, they began cutting costs. When cost cutting pushed more customers away because of lack of customer service, they downsized more. How far down can you go before there is nothing left?

So what am I trying to say? Use your POS system to track sales, monitor inventory, keep track of customer history and customers information for marketing. But for now leave the bells and whistles on the side until you have more time.

A great Point of Sale system doesn't have to cost a fortune to do what you need it to do, which is handle the items above. Anything else is simply 'extra' for now. Spend you money and your time in keeping the customers you have and gaining a few new ones by understanding what they really what and need. And what is that? You! Out front speaking to each and every one of them and genuinely Thanking them for their business and loyalty.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Do Webinars Work?

I recently posted a Discussion Question across several qroups that we belong too on Linkedin regarding Webinars, i.e. do they work, which are best etc. and was pleasantly surprised by the number of responses I received. Below is just one sample of responses from ChannelWeb Group. Linkedin DOES work when you have something to ask.

Do Webinars work for customer interaction? Which ones are the best? There are so many choices that it's difficult to know who to go with. I would appreciate your experiences and choices.


Comments (8)

  1. Marty Sos

    Marty Sos

    Chief Operating Officer at Stagirus, Inc.

    Hi Frank,

    I have used webinars very successfully. They give customers an opportunity to participate in an information/education session without feeling like they are in a sales pressure situation. I used to schedule regular "First Tuesday" sessions , where the first tuesday of every month, we would have a webinar on some topic of interest to customers. That would always generate traffic to our web site for more information or directly to sales.

    I have used ReadyTalk (
    http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ereadytalk%2Ecom&urlhash=mN0e&_t=tracking_disc ), it is easy to use and it works great. You can run campaigns, measure them easily, show your slides online in parallel with a conference call...and have it recorded, moderated by an operator if you choose...have a chat window for questions...and capture any kind of registration information you choose.

    I am a fan of webinars.

    Best of luck,

    Marty

    Posted 12 days ago Reply Privately

  2. Have used WebEx mostly, expensive offering - but becoming corporate standard in most places. Most WebEx offer the same feature/functionality, regarding customer interaction, I think having a customized presentation is the most important thing based on the end-user information / problem, if you're just going through your vanilla presentation you may hit a lot of points which may not be pertinent to them and they will zone out altogether. (easier on Webex than in person where you can gauge response and easily adapt)

    Posted 5 days ago Reply Privately

  3. Amy Boyd (Conroy)

    Amy Boyd (Conroy)

    Director, Channel Partner Programs, NGT

    I have found webinars to be extremely beneficial, especially in this day of reduced travel budgets. They are especially good for introductory product information, ongoing refresher training, or drill down on product details when a rapport has already been established. Fusion has a great service that is relatively inexpensive. It has the same capabilities as WebEx but without the hefty price-tag. Let me know if you want a contact at Fusion. http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efusiontel%2Ecom&urlhash=G00R&_t=tracking_disc or send me an inmail and I'll give you my contact's name and phone number. Good luck!

    Posted 5 days ago Reply Privately

  4. Darren Bibby

    Program Director, Software Partnering and Alliances, IDC

    In case you want to do a more formal "pre-recorded" presentation, I have been impressed with what Adobe Presenter can do. Apparently a few vendors have been using it to quickly create training and other marketing communications messages for partners. Here's a link to how Adobe explains its own partner program. http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eadobe%2Ecom%2Fpartnerportal%2Fabout_partners%2Fspp_overview%2F&urlhash=l3hy&_t=tracking_disc It's pretty slick and it seems easy. It is an add-on of sorts to PowerPoint.

    In terms of webinars, I'm a big fan of the really interactive ones. Most Webex or LiveMeeting type applications allow you to run polls or quizzes during the webinar to keep people engaged. Good luck.

    Posted 5 days ago Reply Privately

  5. Alan Hill

    Alan Hill

    Experienced Marketing Manager - with focus on channels and technology

    Hi, I just wanted to also "chip in".

    I too have used Webex as a platform for both Webinars and training of resellers throughout Europe (on IT products). I was forced to drink the house wine, since it was the software of choice for the company I was working for. But to be honest, I would use it again and will. They (webex) have been recently bought by Cisco, which give them huge credibility.

    It worked really well for me on an international scale, where network band-width was an issue. Customers dialed into a phone conference for audio (you can automate this from within webex - NEVER do audio over the web!) and I found that I could not only present, but also "interact" with my audience (typical size - 30).

    Hope this help? Feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

    P.S. you can go get a free trial at:
    http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ewebex%2Ecom%2Ffreetrial%2Ehtml&urlhash=GAkU&_t=tracking_disc

    Good luck, Alan

    Posted 4 days ago Reply Privately

  6. Rob Rae

    Manager of Partner Development at Level Platforms

    Our organization runs a LIVE education and product demonstration seminar around Managed Services for Solution Providers twice weekly and we have received only positive feedback. We get a great turn out and rarely have any hiccups. We are running audio both over the phone or over the web (we offer the choice now but Alan offers some good advice). We have even started to run videos in the middle of it (they are a little more touchy but get the message across none the less). We keep our phone lines muted, to keep the demo on track but offer up a Q&A panel so Solution Providers can type in their questions and get answers - real time. We've been using WebEx as well and they have been solid.

    I've found webinars to be a powerful tool.

    Posted 4 days ago Reply Privately

  7. Terry Miller

    Marketing Programs Manager at Citrix

    Hi Frank: I have found webinars to be a very successful way to reach customers and partners. We mute lines during the presentation, but at the end offer 10 minutes of interactive Q&A. We then archive the webinar and publish the link for those that want to view at a later date. We use Gotomeeting and/or Gotowebinar. You can receive a free trial version at http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Egotomeeting%2Ecom&urlhash=a0jh&_t=tracking_disc

    Posted 3 days ago Reply Privately

  8. Alan Hill

    Alan Hill

    Experienced Marketing Manager - with focus on channels and technology

    Hi Frank,

    You have many great suggestions here, given freely by industry experts. Do you care to comment? Has it been useful? What conclusion have you drawn? Please leave some feedback on this thread.

    Alan


LinkedIn: ChannelWeb Network: Discussion

Monday, February 02, 2009

HP Financing - ZERO % INTEREST


Hewlett-Packard announced ZERO % Interest Financing last Thursday for 12 months, same as Cash. What does this mean for you? It gives you a little breathing room if you're looking for new technology at a price you can afford. With the wide variety of products that HP offers it should be easy to find the right technology to improve your business efficiency. You can get that New Point of Sale system with the software that is going to run circles around your old cash register and save money doing it. Best part is that you get the 3 years ON-SITE Warranty FREE when you buy a POS system with the software of your choice from us loaded on a new Hewlett-Packard system.

Want to know more? Call us (877) 627-0636 and let us explain how simple it is.

Monday, January 26, 2009

You NEED Social Networking

Last year we tried to push you towards Social Marketing. Some of you took the hint and joined Facebook, My Space and maybe even Linkedin. But few of you took the total plunge and joined all of the sites. (I'll give credit to the EI guys who have created some nice communities on FACEBOOK) Well we always try to follow our own advice and can be found on just about every Social Network out there from Flickr to YouTube to Linkedin to Beebo to Yahoo Groups to Facebook. We launched 30 new web domains in 2008 and a New e-Commerce Store front. Our Blog is a daily affair and then we have our ACT-POS Social Ring on NING.
So how to keep track of everything? One tool that I have found that actually works is 'FLOCK' a hybrid version of Firefox designed especially for SOCIAL Networking. You can check it out here for yourself: http://www.flock.com/ If you're like me and trying to do several things at once, then this could be a real TIME SAVER.
The article bleow is from Brick Marketing's BLOG, a firm that specializes in Marketing GORILLA STYLE. You can catch more of their insight here: SOCIAL MARKETING JOURNAL
TEN REASONS TO NOT IGNORE SOCIAL MEDIA WEBSITES
Writing by Brick Marketing on Monday, 22 of December , 2008 at 3:29 pm

It shouldn't come as a surprise that even smaller local businesses can even benefit from Myspace or Facebook. The social media landscape is not just for big business anymore. It is important that any business of all sizes tackle this channel very soon. 2009 is going to be a very busy year for many companies and the social landscape will be an area of extreme importance. Partially because their audience is there and the fact that it is free to participate so you only pay for time spent. If you have the time then you have no excuses.

1. Your Customers are There: It doesn't matter whether you are shining shoes or a hotel consultant your audience is here. The social media space is taken up by a very large number of internet savvy shoppers and many of them will buy from you either now or at a later date if they only know you exist.

2. Cheaper than a Newspaper Ad: It doesn't cost you anything but time to get onto these websites and begin to engage in some sort of conversation with others. A newspaper ad is very expensive and often times doesn't warrant the spend. If you have 30 minutes or an hour each day you can begin to interact on a Myspace or Facebook so people can see who you are.

3. It is Still Early: Social media is at the nose end of its life cycle. This area has just begun and it is exponentially growing. Get on board now because even a year or two down the road and it might take you even longer to catch up and learn everything.

4. Link Building: Building profiles and all the various different social websites helps your website with something called link building. As you build profiles they will give off power to your current business websites allowing to further climb the search engine results for your targeted keywords.

5. Proactive Reputation Management: As you build profiles they will rank for your company name this way allowing others who might want to tarnish your online reputation down the road a bit more difficult.

6. Online Branding: This shouldn't even require a reason but here it goes, as you connect and engage with your community online your branding message will linger in peoples minds for future purchasing needs. The more people you connect with, the further your reach extends online.

7. Fan Groups: Once you build an online following for your business you can start online groups which are basically collections of fans that will leave comments and engage in online discussions to help your brand grow. If people like your brand they will be willing to talk about it.

8. Your Competition Is Probably There: Chances are you already have some of your competitors already there taking away business from you. It doesn't matter how unique your business is if you have competition chances are they have already begun their online marketing.

9. It's Quick: It doesn't require a great deal of time to get things going. You can get on a computer and build a profile much quicker than it takes to contact your local publication and get things started on offline ad.

10. Because we Don't Live Under Rock: Unless you live under rock you have not come to terms with the idea that you need this. Social media is the future whether you want to admit it to yourself or not. only those who decide to break their mold and start using will prosper. 2009 will be a strange year for all business owners so it is up to you in order to stay competitive

Whatever you do or don't do is up to you. All we want to do is give you some information so that you know what your options are. Be sure to check our BLOG, Facebook My Space and YouTube for more information.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can Technology Save Your Business?


Can technology save your business? The answer is a resounding YES and NO. Confused? It's really quite simple. Many companies whether a Retail Store, Restaurant, Manufacturer, Distributor or any Service Company goes out shopping for a 'solution' to their woes and comes back home with the perfect product that will take care of everything. But lo and behold, not much changes. Why? Because they purchased a product on the assumption that simply by installing it everything would get better.



How do you learn? By osmosis? Great! Just put your hands on the new piece of hardware or software and you will know everything about it. All those little secrets that are in the Help manual, tricks and tips will just jump into your brain. I've tried it and it just doesn't work.

Having been in the technology business, retail sales, restaurant management and business accounting fields over my carreer span, I have discovered that the only real way to learn the technology is through digging, reading and hands on use. Printed manuals are a thing of the past. Everything is in pdf format or similiar. But I believe that this is actually more useful in many cases. I can open the program, open the help files and see exactly what I need to do while using the program.

However in some cases I have needed real training. This is where the company that sold the software or hardware comes into the picture. Today many companies offer real-time training over the internet that can speed up the learning curve significantly. In many cases it is included in a Support contract or available at a slight additional charge.

My point here? Is take the time to Learn the software and hardware. Spend the time neccessary to get the most out of your investment. Contact your vendor and find out exactly what they offer for training and invest in it. You have already paid for the product, why not learn how to use it from the experts? Nothing can help your business if you don't use it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Are Kids Recession Proof?

Late last night I had a conversation with one of our long term customers and came away with some interesting observations.



Are businesses that cater to children more recession proof than other types of businesses? It would seem that way given our client list and the businesses that are maintaining or even growing their sales.


This started with a conversation with one of the new owners of a Birthday Party store called 'Kangazoom'. They have been in business for about 3-4 years now and recently underwent a change in ownership. Their sales are up year over year and recently they finalized their Franchise offerings. Their core customers are parents looking for a low cost, but entertaining and safe party facility.


Another one of our customers is 'Plaster Fun Time', a chain of childrens plaster and painting locations. Kids choose their mold, create the character and paint them however they want. Good fun, inexpensive and allows a little mess along the way. They currently have 8 locations and each one is doing great in this economy. (Just in - they are opening #9 next month. Must be something in their business. )
A 3rd customer of ours, Extra Innings Indoor Baseball batting franchise is holding their own and getting ready for one of the busiest seasons they have had yet. Prices are reasonable and sales are up.
So I guess my question would be how do you market to the families with kids and is your business one that perhaps could use a slight rework to market to kids?


Let us know your thoughts and we can share them with others that could benefit.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Let's Start 2009 Fresh!


Face it, for most of us 2008 started out with a BANG and ended the year with a Duh? Meaning what in the world is going on. All of our hard worked plans for business success that we put together at the end of 2007 going into 2008 fell apart, imploded, exploded or simply failed to materialize. Companies such as Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, DELL and anyone else you can think of - found that their marketing plans, business plans and day-to-day plans often had to be scrapped and readjusted as the year went by.

For the smaller retailer, restaurant, salon or service owner/operator each day that went by only brought worst news of impending collapse on some new front. Credit dried up, customers stayed home, holiday sales were down (unless you were Walmart) and nothing looked very rosy.

But hey, this is now 2009 and things can't get any worse, can they? The answer to that is up to you and me. Small business is business. This country needs the survival of small business to pull itself back up and move forward. So this morning when I get to work I will be looking at ways to succeed this year. What can we do differently, how can we adjust to current conditions and where is the silver lining that always comes after the storm?

The government is bailing out big business, wallstreet, banks and pouring good money after bad. But what are they doing for Small Business? Did you receive your Bailout check yet? Maybe the address they have on file is wrong. Let us know when you recive yours so we can look for ours. In the meantime, we want to know how you plan to throw away 2008 and start fresh in 2009.

P.S. The image in this BLOG came from 'ONION' in their January 2008 issue. It may have be great for 2007, but it holds even more weight for 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YEAR END RECAP AND MORE POINTS

During the past year we have discussed Loyalty Programs, Gift Card Programs, PCI Credit Card Compliance Issues, Social Web Sites, Web Optimization, Various In-Store and Outside Marketing Opportunities, Your Customers, Our Customers, Technology and Video Surveillance. All of these are very important topics when reviewing your business past performance and future plans. But what if you are simply unsure of what is the 'most important' in terms of how to survive and thrive in this turbulent time? Is there one area that is more important than others? Unfortunately, they all require some of your time and each will pay it's own dividends over time.


INDUSTRY 'EXPERTS?'
Is there really any such thing as an 'Industry Expert when we are talking about your specific business type or model? I would be inclined to the argument that you understand your particular business better than any 'expert'. However there are standard processes that can apply across many models and insure added success beyond the basics of daily routines. Many times as business owners we are so involved in the daily operations of our business - i.e. paying bills, making out orders, selling to customers, handling payroll etc. that we feel there just is not enough time in the day to do anything else. This is where the experts might be able to assist us in finding the 'focus' that can help our business 'survive or thrive'.
I would be the first to admit that I am no business guru with all the answers. Even after more than 10 years in the technology field and 3 decades in retail and hospitality, there is more I don't know than what I do know. New processes and procedures, new technologies, new marketing avenues are arriving faster than I can keep up with them. So I read the tech journals, industry journals, newsletters, email promotions and sometimes I see something that may help YOU!


Shari Waters writes a column on About.com for Retailing and has a list of 'Top 10 Ways to Better Your Business' that I thought was worth sharing. Each subject has a link to learn more about Shari's list in more detail. I strongly advise taking a moment to review it.

Top 10 Ways to Better Your Business
By Shari Waters, About.com
Retailers all have the same basic path to success. That is, we must increase sales and reduce expenses in order to improve profitability. The goal is the same but how we achieve each milestone may vary. Take a look at the following ways to better your business.
1. Reduce Shrinkage1You may believe employee theft and shoplifting aren't a problem in your business, but simple pricing mistakes can also cost retailers quite a bit. The average shrink percentage in the retail industry is about two percent of sales. Learn to identify and reduce sources of shrink.
More: Retail Loss Prevention2
2. Increase Sales Opportunities3Whether you're up-selling to a customer or planning an expansion into a multi-channel environment, retailers should learn to notice and take advantage of every possible opportunity to sell.
More: Turn Returns into Sales4
3. Improve Customer Service5One easy way to better your business is to improve customer service. Retailers should develop customer-friendly policies, train employees to provide outstanding customer service, and learn how to create customer loyalty.
More: Customer Service in Your Retail Store6
4. Add New Products or Product Lines7One way to keep customers returning to your shop is by offering new and exciting products. When adding new products or expanding product lines, keep in mind that not only should there be a demand for the item, but it must also be profitable and something you enjoy selling.
More: Choosing Products to Sell8
5. Buy From Vendors with Best Value9The vendor who sales an item at the lowest price isn't necessarily the vendor you want to buy from. When selecting a supplier, consider shipping, terms of sale and other factors to determine the vendor with the best value. These small details may erode a retailers bottom line.
More: Buying Wholesale Merchandise10
6. Increase Marketing11How often have you said you can't afford to advertise right now? Maybe once business picks up you'll place an ad. Or maybe you're holding those advertising dollars until the holiday shopping begins. Either way, you could be losing potential customers right now. Begin tailoring your marketing efforts to your target audience. If you don't spread the word, no one will know you exist.
More: 50 Marketing Ideas for Retailers12
7. Lower Expenses13To better your business and return more profits to your bottom line, learn where you can cut operating expenses. Look around your shop. Could buying instead of leasing save money? Are you outsourcing something you could easily do?
More: Reducing Retail Business Expenses14
8. Get Out of the Store15Attend a trade show or other retail expo. These conferences are developed in order to give retail owners, buyers and managers the opportunity to meet existing suppliers, conduct business meetings, network with others in retail and investigate new products.
More: Tips for Trade Shows16
9. Add One New Time or Money Saving Piece of Technology17Every time we invest in a new piece of technology, we're always amazed at the results and wonder how we lived without it for so long. Find one new money or time saving piece of technology to implement in your store this year. For example, if you are using manual cash registers, consider a POS system.
More: Retailing Equipment & Technology18
10. Provide Training for StaffOnce you've determined how to best implement the nine ways to better your business listed above, pass that information on to your staff. Your retail employees are the ones on the front-line every day and should be trained to reduce shrink, improve customer service and increase sales opportunities.

CUSTOMER LOYALTY - WHAT IS IT?

CUSTOMER LOYALTY Why should you care about 'Customer Loyalty'? Because your repeat customers are the ones who will sustain you during difficult economic times. The following excerpt is taken from an on-line article in 'ConnectIT News' which is one of dozens of newsletters that I receive weekly to stay abreast of current market trends. I have spoken about the importance of Loyalty in this space before, however maybe someone else will have more of an impact. Loyalty programs key to surviving economic downturn "Any business should strive to be the only brand their members consider," said Denali Marketing's loyalty marketing expert Margaret Murphy. "If you are a merchant without a loyalty program or are not leveraging the one you have, you risk losing customers. Membership in a meaningful and relevant loyalty program is your economic glue." "More than ever, customers are shopping versus buying," Lacek said. "Loyalty programs are a great opportunity for companies to get closer to their customers and show appreciation for their business." The advantages of implementing loyalty programs, according to Lacek, include increased brand loyalty and profitability. "A strong loyalty program often generates 50 percent of a company's revenues," he said. Loyalty programs also represent added value for customers by offering benefits and amenities that might not be found with a competitor."In tough economic times, loyalty program members are an insurance policy on your business," said Lacek. "It is easier and more efficient to keep a customer than to try to find new ones. This is the best investment a company can make." READ THE ARTICLE HERE This applies not only to retailers, but also restaurants and any service oriented business. Every one of the software programs that we represent has either a Loyalty Program built into it, or the ability to add one easily and inexpensively. It is definitly worth the time and effort to insure that you are using the tools available to build your repeat business - now more than ever. If you are not sure how to institute a Loyalty program, call us and we will help.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Our Economic Incentive Program for YOU!

It is not too late to save money on your new Point of Sale system by acting now!

Don't just think about being competitive, ACT

We know that right now businesses are unsure on which way to turn with the current economic situation. We also know that one of the best ways to control your expenses and increase business is with a Point of Sale system. We don't just say that because we sell them, we say it because the industry has proven this as a fact with multiple studies on Return on Investment. So we have come up with a special 3% Credit Offer that may give you an added incentive to purchase that POS system sooner rather than later.

- How will you be starting 2009? Still using the old calculator and paper? A Royal Cash Register from 1989?
- We want to help you get the technology you need at a price and payments you can afford today. We have payment schedules that allow you to take 6 months to pay, NO INTEREST! Or you can Finance your system for 2, 3 or possibly even 4 years (depending upon total purchase cost).

So how can we convince that now is the time to ACT? The truth is that a POS system is not an expense, but an investment which could SAVE YOUR BUSINESS! We have several Free White Papers that will show you how a POS system can actually earn you more customers and sales. In addition, check out the offer below.

In addition to our payment and financing options we are offering the following Economic Incentive to get started with your New POS system today!

Right now through the end of the year, we are offering a special limited offer to new customers only. Purchase a complete POS system and receive a 3% Credit toward any future purchase. This could be used for supplies, additional hardware or even service. Get the best price, plus an additional 3% Credit for the future!

So What are you waiting for now?
Save 3%

Receive a 3% credit toward any future
purchase of hardware, software, supplies or
service when you purchase a complete POS system
before December 31st, 2009 Call now to take
advantage of this Deal!

Offer Expires: Dec. 31,
2009 Please mention Code 'Save3' when
ordering!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SPECIAL OFFER - EARN $100.00

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that we have launched an Economic Incentive of our own. Refer your Business Associates, Friends, Family or Post a link on your website and earn $100.00 for EVERY REFERRAL who purchases a complete POS System from us before the End of Year.
We need your business and we will pay for it.

Send us the Name, Email and Phone Number and we will take care of the rest. Once they buy, you get paid. Easy Money for you, New Customers for us.

Visit us at www.ACT-POS.com or Call: (877) 627-0636 today.

Monday, October 20, 2008

GET READY TO 'FIGHT'

Ready for a New Day?

We are never sure how many folks actually read these ramblings, although we get a report on the number of 'opens' that give us enough indication that many of you at least open the email. So we continue to send them and hopefully you will find some tidbit of information in here to use.

This isn't abut politics, but we all know that Change is Coming - it doesn't matter who brings it, but it will affect all of us. Are you Changing? What have you done differently in the past few months to stay ahead of the curve? Or are you?

Of course we sell POS systems and our desire is that every one of you will have a POS system in your business. But that is not the only reason I fill in this space each month. We want you to grow, thrive and prosper. You went into business for yourself so that you could be your own boss and believed that you had an idea that was different enough to sustain a business. So don't give up, easily.

Market the hell out of your business. Spend money and TIME on Direct Mail, Email, Website, Gift Cards, Loyalty Programs and all of the new FREE Social Sites that are out there. Keep your name in front of your current and future customers.

Credit is getting tight, but not non-existent. If you sell a product that is 'high dollar' do you have leasing and finance partnerships in place for customers? Have you heard about some of the new Payment Options? E-LAYAWAY allows customers to purchase your products on-line and make monthly payments that same as in a traditional brick and mortar store. Another option is BILL ME LATER.

How much money do you have sitting on the shelves in 'unsold inventory' or outdated products? Sales are a fast and easy way to generate quick cash. Even if you sell the items from last years catalogue at cost, you are still turning that money around. What does it cost you to have outdated products sitting on the shelf day after day?

One of our customers ran a 'FLOOD SALE' a couple years back and were amazed at the response it generated. They talked about making it an annual event, but other things came up and well - that inventory they could have sold is still sitting on the shelves. (Sorry guys)

Here in New England 'Yard Sales' are huge and in other parts of the country it's FLEA MARKETS, Trade Off's, BARTER HALLS etc. The point is that there are many places to get the word out about your offerings. You don't have to give it away, but make it special.

For Restaurants and Food Service - offer a Food Tasting! Keep your menu fresh and exciting. Of course there is something to be said for the standard fare. But adding items and specials has never hurt a restaurant that I know of personally. Look what McDonalds is trying to do with their new McCafe line of drinks.

If you have special tricks that you have employed to keep the customers coming let us know so we can share them with others. We are all in this together and the majority of our customers are SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS Just Like You!

I really hope that you are all around with us to celebrate the new day when it arrives. Keep you head up and pockets full