How to set up your business right from the start.
You’ve made the decision to open or expand your FEC or amusement facility (congratulations!), and you’re ready to implement your new software solution to help you manage it all.
But you’re probably feeling the pressure of getting all the construction, packages, products and hiring pieces figured out, so implementing your new facility management software isn’t an urgent fire that needs putting out. This might mean implementation gets pushed aside and considered later. But your point of sale touches every guest and every dollar, and it will save you time and headaches in the future if you implement it carefully.
We can help. Whether you’re opening a new facility or expanding a current business, here’s what you need to know to set one of the most important systems in your business up right from the start.
No. 1: Give yourself enough time.
As you’re selecting vendor partners for your project, it’s best to engage with your point of sale provider early so that you give yourself and your team enough time to set up and learn your new system.
As you move closer to going live, you will find that you’re being pulled in more directions than ever. So, it’s a good idea to give yourself at least a few months before opening. This will allow you to take the time you need to set up your system, stations and your product offerings and reporting structure – and be able to train your staff.
Issues will always come up, so getting this critical piece out of the way early on will help save you lots of stress trying to cram everything in at the last second. Plus, setting up early means you’re ready to sell when it’s time, even before opening, so you can launch your business and your sales from the outset, start gaining positive cashflow and collecting vital guest data as soon as you open.
No. 2: Begin with the end (reporting) in mind.
During set up, discuss with your accounting professional how you will want to review the revenue and costs associated with your offerings. This will allow you to allocate revenue and taxes and determine profitability for products and packages.
For example, you will likely create unique packages with food and beverage as well as with attractions. Many operators begin thinking in terms of allocating 50% to food and 50% to attractions, but they haven’t factored in food costs, ramifications from liquor license requirements and how taxes will need to be allocated.
Also, remember that you can allocate package items broadly and specifically - such as allocating group event sales to both an Events category as well as the individual items being allocated to attractions, games, etc. This can be especially helpful when creating sales goals and targets for important programs in your facility, like group events and birthday parties. Be sure to set up notifications for special reports to run and send automatically to your general manager, an owner or an accountant – or to whomever else to save time later on.
No. 3: Coordinate your physical deployment requirements.
As you near the delivery of your physical stations and onsite deployment, one area where operators can cause themselves some unnecessary stress (and often additional expense) is by not factoring in what physically needs to be in place before you schedule your onsite installation.
Along with ensuring that your space is set up with the appropriate cabinetry, remember to include IT work, such as correct power running the systems, network cabling or other connectivity and having any other necessary hardware prepared before your point of sale stations are scheduled to be installed and configured.
It’s typical for an installation specialist to help you set up and test all of your stations while they’re onsite, so be ready to maximize their time at your facility. Did something change during construction that means you may need additional stations to meet your expected traffic flow? Review your plans a few weeks before deployment so you can order additional stations and avoid interruptions to your installation schedule and go-live date.
No. 4: Check and double-check your accountability processes.
One of the major pros to implementing a new software system is the ability to automate processes and systems. Be sure that you think through your system permission hierarchies for different staff levels, test out different reports so that you’re sure your information will display as you’ll need it, and set up notifications and reports to email to the correct point person.
This includes not just important revenue or labor reports, but also those of inventory, online party bookings to be confirmed, event tasks and milestones, and online gift card and merchandise fulfillment to name a few. It’s not uncommon for turnover or shifting responsibilities in those early days, so be sure you’re managing all these details so nothing slips through the cracks because the person who was going to prepare online orders for shipping left or got moved to another area of the business and wasn’t replaced in the system.
No. 5: Practice, practice, practice.
You can never spend too much time practicing before your grand (re)-opening. Make sure you build time with staff going through many different scenarios until they feel comfortable navigating your point of sale and interacting with their prospective guests. Make a list of important scenarios for them to work through so that they’re ready to go at showtime.
Ideally, your system will have a training mode that allows your staff to simulate real-world transactions without making your accountant lose sleep trying to separate training transactions from the real thing. Your soft opening for friends and family should be the dress rehearsal that will allow you to analyze how the team’s soft skills of service and hard skills managing transactions come together so that all you have to do is coach and fine-tune their interactions.
If you don’t have a training checklist for frontline staff, find one here. Your grand opening is a stressful time for everybody, don’t compound it by making the soft or grand opening the first time your team members are expected to use the point of sale with speed and accuracy.
It's an exciting time to grow your business, and with the right implementation of your facility management software, you'll be set up to start reaping the benefits of increased revenue and efficiencies.
To learn more about how CenterEdge can help you upgrade your guest experience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.