For more than 20 years, I’ve helped startups and small businesses through various stages of development, and one thing has always been clear: The fundamental concerns of a company stem from money in and money out. How long a business can hold on to cash is what makes the difference between success and failure.
Ever present, ever necessary—and ever eliciting negative reactions from business owners—are point of sale systems and the credit card processing that goes along with them. The credit card industry is unregulated, and there are plenty of unscrupulous salespeople out there who are only interested in getting you to sign their lease documents. And then once you do… Poof! They’re never to be heard from again. It’s a churn and burn strategy that gives no regard to the business owner.
In my attempt at bringing fair practices and knowledge to small businesses, I’m going to share what I consider to be the best point of sale system for the money: Clover. Full disclosure: I run a company that sells (among other things) credit card processing equipment and services, and the Clover system is front and center.
Consider this scenario:
Small business. Low on funds. Needs the following: point of sale system, website, online ordering (e-commerce), technical help (web developer, social media manager), HR support, bookkeeping help.
- It’s low cost. Even with three versions—small, medium, and large—the cost of the Clover system never goes above the cost of a good laptop. The least expensive of the systems costs about the same as a smartphone. Best of all, you never give up functionality or features.
- It’s easy to use. Clover runs on an Android platform, and if you can run your smartphone, you can run this system in your sleep. Because of this, the learning curve is almost nonexistent.
- It’s expandable. With just a little money down, this system comes with everything you need right out of the box. And as your business grows, Clover expands using open source apps from its exclusive app market.
Back to our bootstrapped business:
Let’s say you need a website that supports online ordering. Instead of spending your time and money (to the tune of $3,000 or more) to build a new ecommerce site, you use Clover’s Menufy app. For a $1.25 fee per order, Menufy will build an ecommerce website that integrates directly with Clover. Integrates! Who does that without employing a software developer and integration specialist? Not only that, but because everything is integrated, you can effectively streamline your accounting and bookkeeping. Again, with no money spent building an unnecessary website and developing API integrations, you’re up and running with minimal effort and minimal expense.
It’s cloud based. You can work the back office from anywhere, at any time, and from any device. No programs to corrupt. No hardware to break down. This is essentially a tablet that is always updated, so you never lose your information. And in unlikely the event that something does break down, burn down, or fall down, you can get a new Clover for the cost of a laptop, start ‘er up, and Boom! Your information is still there, untouched and unharmed.
It’s a multitasking machine. Clover integrates into the process that is your business, including online accounting software like Quickbooks Online and Xero. HR apps are available that make scheduling your staff easy via text and email. Marketing programs allow you to monitor your social media presence, including Yelp. Not only does Clover function efficiently as a process engine, it also seamlessly integrates your branding efforts in real time.
It provides marketing intelligence. Now, the fact that this machine only works with First Data and is sold through its affiliates (Bank of America, PNC, Wells Fargo, etc.) might be seen as a drawback. I honestly consider that an asset. First Data is one of the largest payment processors in the world, and they’ve integrated their market intelligence into this machine.
To be clear, using collected payment card data, Clover tracks all of your sales information and keeps a running log that records every minute detail—including the weather. Using this and other sales data, Clover will create heat maps of where your customers were before and after they visited your business, and how you compare to other businesses in your area. Having information like this at your fingertips translates into better spend of your marketing dollars and facilitates the discovery of strategic partnerships. It makes growing easier.
So, objectively speaking, if I were a bootstrapped business, the point of sale I would choose would be, hands-down, the Clover system. Much more than just a glorified calculator, this baby poises itself as the nucleus of any company. Weaving into both the process and the marketing of the business, it will streamline your back office and amplify growth.
For more information regarding Clover, or to request a free consultation, please fill out the form below.