hospitality technology made simple by kevin sturm Consulting

sweating the small stuff - part two

I frequent this site to keep up with who is doing what, where and when in hospitality. I've found about half the content recently is either economic-doom-and-gloom or hopeful-economic-optimism. So which is it? If you've come to this site to find the answer, I don't have it for you. Sorry...

What I do have are tips on how to optimize your existing technology solutions to either increase profits or decrease costs. Today we are specifically focusing on lowering your Cash Cost.

Cash Cost is inclusive to each area your business incurs a cost in receiving cash. This includes cash accountability on the part of the employee and cash accounting on the part of management. Multiply this process for each individual employee that accepts cash and your Cash Cost can get expensive.

The prolific way to eliminate this cost is to go cashless. Many venues across the hospitality space have adopted this model: such as this one, this one, this one, and this one. But getting completely cashless requires cash, sometimes a lot of it. Instead, let's look at some small ways you can alleviate Cash Cost.

prevent cash theft

Most POS systems (probably yours too) have built in cash accountability to help prevent theft and cash counting errors. The first step in taking advantage of this is to ensure your employees are not sharing POS User Accounts. My experience is if employees get to share accounts, there is a good chance they have also get to share in an " unofficial" employee bonus pool. Second is to require employees to enter a Cash Drop at the POS. (Whether this is a blind drop or a not should be based on your business requirements and employee job function.) Requiring a cash drop allows the management staff to review system reports that highlight over/short employees saving time by focusing first on the problems.

increase credit transactions
Increasing Credit Card transactions is a good way to decrease Cash Cost (and is a type of cashless payment), but you need to do the math for it to make sense. Getting the most from your merchant services provider requires transaction volume and aggressive negotiation. If you are not sure about how to go about negotiating your fee contact a company like this that does it on your behalf and gets paid based on your savings. To make any meaningful savings here you should also have a software based payment solution integrated with your point of purchase system(s).

The best way to increase credit card transactions it to market it, but you also have to incentivize the consumer. This can be implementing a no-signature transaction policy (moot if we ever migrate to EMV) or joining programs that encourage customers to pay with their credit card (i.e. here and here).

implement gift cards
Offering gift cards creates the opportunity to decrease Cash Cost and encourage customer loyalty. However, this is the type project where scope creep can kill the initiative so be conscientious and realistic in defining what you are going to implement. There is a very good chance your point of purchase system (PMS, POS, etc.) or credit card solution offers or includes a gift card solution. It will most likely not offer all the bells and whistles of this or this or this, but the goal remember is to initiate low cost steps in decreasing Cash Cost.

customer account integration

This is an often overlooked but simple option to move in the cashless direction. Additionally, this option has the HUGE upside of tracking your customer's purchase habits. Again there is a good chance also your existing point of purchase solution some sort of customer account charge. For larger venues the better option is to implement an integration between the point of purchase system(s) and the customer account system(s).

The basis of this solution is an interface from your POS system to your customer account(s) system.

Property Management System to POS: guest transactions are paid with a room key and/or name
Membership Accounting to POS: member transactions are paid with a membership card and/or name

As with automated product/item depletion there is a very good chance your vendors already have the interface in place, meaning you can implement it with a minimal investment.

currency counting integration
If you handle enough cash to use currency counting machines another interesting option is to investigate an interface from the currency counting solution to the POS. I have only seen this integration implemented a few times, but it has proven to be a highly cost effective solution with a convincing ROI. It usually is accompanied with a higher investment cost however as this type of interface is generally custom integration that uses the POS Accountable Cash data, POS Cash Drop data, and Cash Counted data consolidated to a single report for simplified cash accounting.

If you have someone on the payroll that has the sole duty of counting cash and reporting discrepancies, this is probably a worth while option to investigate.

Obviously this list is not comprehensive, but hopefully stimulates some ideas. If you have successfully implemented other options or have other ideas post a comment and share your knowledge. In times like this it is worth it to share our experiences so we all come out ahead.

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