Gotcha! Security system catches thief.

caught.JPGOur integrated point of sale and security system played a key role in catching the newspaper insert bandit in our retail store. Armed with the evidence our team pounced today and caught this lady red-handed. Integrating point of sale deeply with a smart camera system is helping our retail store and many others cut the cost of theft and add real dollars top our bottom line.

LCD panel draws crowds at newsagency trade show

The LCD panel displaying a short film about us and our newsagency point of sale and home delivery software brought in good crowds at the trade show last weekend. You know you’re doing something right when a competitor tells their customers they are about to do the same thing. Trade shows are good for that – getting people bouncing between two or three competitors and comparing their wares.

In our case, having the best looking stand staffed with a professional team made us stand our. Arrogant? Yes! We have every right to be.

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Sydney Newsagent Trade Show

Not to be outdone by our efforts at the Jewellery Trade Show is Sydney last weekend, here’s a photo of some of our team from the NSW Newsagent Trade Show. It was our best ever with more than 30 serious sales leads, many from newsagents wanting to switch to our software from something else.

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Trade shows are a challenge for any supplier. The costs of getting there and staging a professional display are considerable and usually more than half the people you meet with are existing customers. While this is good, the show needs to pay its way. This year, the NSW show will easily do that.

More from the JAA Jewellery Trade Show

We flew our development team to Sydney to spend a day at the trade show to better understand the jeweller marketplace. In the photo below one of our senior developers, Gary Hall, is talking with our national Jewellery channel manager, Andrew Halpern, about enhancements to our software.

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JAA Jewellery trade show

Here are photos of our stand at the Jewellery trade show in Sydney this week.

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The stand represents our re-entry into the jewellery marketplace after consultation with many jewellers and wholesalers about their requirements.

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The benefits from jewellers knowledge flow to our other verticals including newsagents, hair salons and gift shops. The synergy is unexpected yet significant.

Trade show season

gns-blog.JPGIt’s trade show season for us and we have three cities and four shows to cover in three weeks. The photo of is part of our newsagency stand at the second of the shows – this one is for newsagents. What is attracting the most attention is the movie playing on the plasma screen at the rear of the stand. It demonstrates a professionalism we feel is not often shown in small business software circles. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant. Usually at these shows software companies create stands which look like they are from, well, software companies. We create a stand which reflects comfort with and enjoyment of technology. This provides prospects a head space to aspire to and suggests we can help them achieve this.

Software as divorce cause

How do you feel when you discover that the person stealing from the business is the husband of the owner who called you about the theft problem? This is what happened a year and a half ago. The money was being used to fund a second ‘home’ and our evidence unlocked far more than expected when we were called in to help with a theft problem.

MYOB pointing the finger

MYOB is putting up billboards with arrows pointing to businesses below and to the side, saying they should be running the MYOB software. Not the best way to advertise in my view. If I was a business below such a sign I’d want compensation for MYOB leveraging off my good name. They need to focus more on selling the benefits rather than their arrogance.

New approach to marketing of Gift Shop software

Giftrap.jpgWe are reinventing how we market our vertical market software packages. This is the new ad for our card and gift shop software. It will appear in next month’s Giftwrap magazine. The ad reflects our non IT approach to this marketplace. It also reflects an understanding of the importance of aesthetics without ignoring detail.

Our card and gift shop software focuses on improving the consumer relationship, facilitating efficient use of resources in store and linking with suppliers to ensure efficient stock.

With PCs now twenty years old companies like ours have to present more than a geek solution. Our clients are looking for true partnership and this begins with a deep understanding of how they do business. Hence an ad which speaks to them away from the usual IT perspective.

Damn reference checks

I don’t mind reference check calls from individual businesses considering hiring a former employee. They are usually over quickly, especially if the former employee has been given a glowing written reference. It’s the calls from the personnel agencies which frustrate the hell out of me. They usually ask if you have ten to fifteen minutes to spare to answer their questions. My “NO” is met with shock. As if anyone is going to give them this amount of time doing their job for them. Personnel agencies charge way too much as it is. Surely they could do a better job than calling a former employer to ask inappropriate questions. It is not my place to say what I think of their personal situation or whether they are likely to have a gambling problem etc. While I happily write a reference, I now refuse to answer questions from personnel agencies.

Cutting employee theft

In our work with small business on customer and employee theft situations we have developed some cross industry advice which we’re told helps cut the cost of theft. Here are five tips for cutting employee theft in retail:

1. Background check every new hire. Get their permission and use an agency to check with the police and other sources. Make sure you know the person you’re hiring! Often just asking their permission to submit to a background check will turn away those you don’t want.

2. Pay above award wages. The quality of your employees is up to you. If you’re doing your job you have good employees. Value them. Pay above award – by up to 10%. This will reduce theft.

3. Engage and show respect. Ask for their honest comments about the business. The more they feel, genuinely feel, valued, the less likely they are to steal from you.

4. No employee bags at the counter.

5. Offer fair discounts to employees. Let employees buy products for a fair discount and demonstrate respect for their involvement.

Our pitch is that the best way to cut employee theft is to instll our integrated point of sale / security system. This provides the evidence essential to putting money back in your pocket.

ACCC slow to respond

We have brought several complaints to the ACCC about a competitor and what we consider to be false and misleading conduct. It’s been three months and still nothing, not even a response. In the meantime the competitor is claiming something for their offering which is not true.

Software support fees

Central to any small business software company and their capacity to enhance software to meet existing user needs is support fee revenue. While we offer discounts from time to time, our support fees have not changed in four years. This is one reason for 90%+ of our client base being covered by support. It enables us to maintain a bigger development and QA team than competitors. It also respects the cash-flow and budgeting requirements of our client base.

POS software update moves to beta test

blog-r2.JPGWe have commenced testing of R2, the next release of our Retailer point of sale software in our own retail business. This will be followed by testing in ten other stores. Once R2 passes our stringent QA criteria it will ship to all supported users on CD with a backup copy of the software for safe keeping in the event of hardware malfunction and users need to install a new computer quickly. (We don’t like the online download approach.) R2 is faster, eliminates re-indexing and delivers several new facilities.

Free user meetings add value to IT investment

Here are the details of our second round of free user meetings and group training sessions for the year. Our users and prospective users are welcome to network and make their IT investment more rewarding. Each session runs for between 90 minutes and two hours. Email your name, your business name and the session you want to attend to bookings@towersystems.com.au.

Cairns August 15; 10:30am – 12:30pm, Holiday Inn

Melbourne August 29; 10am – 12noon, Tower office

Sydney August 30; 10am – 12 noon, Tower office (Miranda)

Brisbane September 1; 10am – 12noon, Tower office (TBA)

Adelaide September 5; 10am – 12noon, Rydges South Tce.

Geelong September 6; 10am-12noon, Mercure Hotel

We’re also glad to arrange a free user meeting in your area – get ten Tower users to commit and we will make arrangements. We have representatives on hand from support, development and management to answer your questions and welcome your suggestions.

Book by emailing bookings@towersystems.com.au.

You’re welcome to bring along colleague newsagents not currently using Tower so they can experience the Tower Advantage TM for themselves.

We will usually meet around 70% of our client base face to face at meetings like this each year.