Thursday, 6 May 2010

Manage Daily Sales with CMS (Cafe Management Software)

A few years back, I started my I-Cafe business with only four (4) computers. I didn't really planeed on renting out computers. I was not aware that broadband connection was already available for my disposal and still living contented within the boundaries of dial-up connections. LAN (local area network) multi-player games dominated the Philippines market and surfing the web was not yet the the thing of the past. Counter-srtike, Diablo II and Warcraft were a few to make one use a PC in your store.

Monitoring my shop's sales was taken into a regular notebook and any writing medium that I can get my hands on. I eventually bought logbook which you can commonly find at office supplies stores or bookstores.

When the customer turn-out increased so was my services. I started with the printing of documents then added some photo printing in a few weeks time. A few more services came to make additional income - PC repairs, online electronic loading station, snacks and drinks.

Then the worst day happened, my logs got mixed up creating chaos and resulted in shortage to my earnings despite the downpour of customers.

A former I-cafe owner suggested that I should get a Cafe Billing Software to lessen my errors. I was hesitant to follow his advice. Maybe I don't want to invest my time in learning something new. Using a different system will need more time and require further tests before you can finally use it in production stage. Maybe I'm too lazy to do the deed.

I have no other choice but to proceed as planned. It took me a few days to learn one billing software and a month to finally harness its full potential. I have used more than 5 CMS and maintained at least 2 of them throughout the duration of my internet cafe operation.
I started using free versions - open source and free softwares like Cybera. Prepaid tickets were used in this software which I like at first because of the straightforward system yet got tired of cleaning up the used tickets that customers left around so I tried for other possible options.

Account management is a perk that you can make use of if you want to setup a membership system in your I-Cafe. It gives the customer a more personal feel and imbues them to take advantage of the privileges as a shop member - discounts, reward points and free time.

The security feature that customer management system (CMS) softwares offer is one thing that we as owners and operators would like to have. Locking out your customer at a press of a button after using up his purchased time assures a quicker turn-around in your shop services. It also aids in the maintenance of your computers for possible intrusion or defamation made by some unruly users. You can hide your drives or prevent access to certain folders and applications with proper configuration.

Point-of-sale is another feature that CMS softwares offer. A good way to monitor auxiliary service along side with your rented out computers. Integrating your sales within one system for easy accountability and lessen the hassles of monitoring multiple inventories and sales.

CMS may vary from one to another. There are simple billing and time management while some have more flexible and complex schemes.

Having a CMS software in your business is an advantage for it can ease up on the burden in your I-Cafe's daily shop operations. Though a regular maintenance is required to assure quality performance.

Other advantages of CMS:
  1. Maintain order. In all aspects. Sales, inventories, billing.
  2. Maintain records for future references. Helps in assessing the present state of your business.
  3. Secure business with it's security features from external and internal threats.
  4. Avoid unwanted shop downtimes.
A reminder to those who plan in using one, make yourself familiar with the tools that these softwares offer. Often times, certain tools are not used to the fullest that might have a large impact in operating your internet cafe business.

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