MRM EXCLUSIVE: What Happens to Your Tickets When the Internet Goes Down?

At the heart of any business is the point of sale — it’s one of the most integral but somewhat tenuous parts of running any business. Unfortunately, it takes just one outage — of internet connectivity, of the POS service provider, or of any third parties used for payment processing — to bring it all crashing down. Understanding the cause of any outage and how to troubleshoot are pertinent to maintaining exemplary service during such incidents. Lengthy outages disrupt employee productivity and can result in lost tips and lower overall revenue because of slower turnaround times and dissatisfied guests.
North American companies have cited losses of up to $700 billion annually as a result of IT outages. In 2015, Starbucks reported a loss of several million dollars within just a few hours of a point of sale system failure. As more restaurants shift to cloud-based platforms to manage POS logistics, preparedness for service interruptions is critical.
As more restaurants shift to cloud-based platforms to manage POS logistics, preparedness for service interruptions is critical.

Outages and other disruptions in connectivity and technology failures are inevitable. However, restaurateurs can take certain steps to be proactive and combat the extent of repercussions due to these incidents. These steps include training key staff to become familiar with incoming internet wiring, access points, and routers, as well as other mission-critical networking. Other options include having a commercial internet connection plan, which includes more powerful and resilient connections intended to support high-volume, mission-critical solutions compared to a home connection.

Although one can use best practices to reduce the risk of internet disruptions, these things are not always entirely preventable, and it’s necessary to have a documented, practiced backup plan in place. Having staff members who are competent in using the system in offline mode is critical. Make sure staff members are well-versed in the documented plan and able to continue when there is a disruption by conducting periodic drills.

Lastly, not all restaurant POS vendors are created equal, so it’s important to do some background research on vendors. Find one that will provide the support you require through internet disruptions. Be sure to access and look through any records of how the vendor has handled past incidents. You can inquire about its status page to review this information. It should display a good history of regular updates. Lack of updates in the Apple’s app store (for iOS) and Google Play (for Android) are indications that the specific vendor doesn’t devote enough resources to stability and security — this is a warning flag.

The vendor should also have clear, precise documentation regarding offline mode that ensures, at the very least, that it accepts credit cards and split checks and can fire kitchen tickets during outages. Most importantly, it is essential to have open communication channels with the vendor so it can notify you immediately of any incidents and can provide you with phone and chat support during these situations.

Having a supportive restaurant POS vendor, proactively planning for disruptions, and preparing to work in offline mode will ensure these disruptions will only be small hiccups in the business day as opposed to major complications.