Is now the right time to ditch your old point of sale for something new?

Like most small businesses, restaurateurs threw their 2020 plans out the window after pandemic shutdowns shuttered locations. But SMBs aren’t the only ones who altered their plans. You can add point of sale software providers to the list.

Companies like Heartland began upgrading products and developing new features to help small business owners thrive when business is unusual.

Here are six of the latest product features and things you should consider when deciding to upgrade your point of sale:

Is your POS more than you bargained for?

Point of sale systems aren’t one size fits all. Some solutions are designed for complex businesses, offering features that you’ll never use. Usually, complex solutions mean a complex user experience. If you’re having trouble navigating the display screen, think about the new server you just hired. How many hours will it take to cross-train him on the system?

Support. Support. Support.

If location is most important in small business hierocracy, support is the next bullet on the list. Make sure you’re getting the point of sale support you need as the business grows. Is the company offering consulting support? If not, find a partner who’s aware of the latest payment tech trends and products, so you have the tools you need today and in the future.

Does it have online ordering?

Yes, it’s not new, but before you skip ahead to the next tip, make sure you understand the benefits of integrating online ordering with the point of sale.

A cloud-based POS with a built-in online ordering tool lets you accept orders on your website and manage them at the POS. And since these are cloud-based systems, you can track online sales from anywhere, on any web browser.

Make sure it’s restaurant approved.

Remember, not all point of sale systems are the same. Choose one built for your restaurant. Some newer, cloud-based POS systems offer an array of features like real-time reporting, time and attendance, inventory management, and customer buying behaviors. These systems are perfect if you want to save on inventory costs, reduce overtime wages, and optimize your menu.

Can’t touch this.

Payment companies invested a ton of resources into contactless and touchless payment technology over the last year, with Scan to Pay and Pay-to-Link being the latest to hit the market. These two features are transforming the way restaurants accept payments. Sounds great, but what is Scan to Pay and Pay-by-Link?

Scan to Pay technology lets customers scan a unique QR code with their smartphone, usually printed on their check, and pay for their meal at the table, host stand, or the curb.

With Pay-by-Link, you can create a unique payment link and text it to the customer. No more accepting cards over the phone. No more unpaid to-go orders.

Keep scheduling, payroll, and the POS under one roof.

Why should you find a solution that combines these three functions? Well, fewer headaches for one, but by combining scheduling, payroll, and payments, you’ll spend less time scrolling through spreadsheets and more time growing your business.

An integrated solution shares data, so if a server enters her tip on the point of sale, it’s synced with the other programs. And since these are cloud-based systems, you can create schedules from anywhere, on any web browser. Staff can view schedule updates from their phone in real time.

If it feels like the right time to update your point of sale, we suggest you check out Heartland Restaurant. It’s a smart, cloud-based POS designed for restaurants; it checks all our boxes.

 

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How Tech Helps Restaurants Prep for the Future

 

When “Daniel” shut down due to COVID-19, Chef Daniel Boulud quickly developed creative weekly menus, powered by an online delivery and carryout platform. His pivot shows how some restaurateurs have faced new circumstances with remarkable resilience and innovation.

“In response to the changed environment, the first thing restaurants are doing is purchasing a digital point of sale,” says Andre Nataf, senior vice president of point of sale at Global Payments’ company Heartland. “In addition to accepting digital transactions, they need to have tools to engage with customers, such as email marketing capabilities, loyalty programs and a robust website presence.”

 

New customer expectations

About 70% of consumers said eating at a restaurant will help them feel normal again, according to a nationwide Global Payments survey of 1,000 consumers. However, when they do arrive, they’ll be more wary of safety, cleanliness and quality.

The good news: when people feel safe, they’re likely to return. Use technology to build loyalty and trust:

Digital ordering. Customers can reserve, order and pay from their mobile apps and devices. Digital also minimizes interactions between delivery drivers and staff.

Touchless payments. Restaurants can add QR codes to digital drive-thru menu boards or restaurant receipts, with customers ordering and paying with Apple Pay or Google Wallet. About 44% of consumers are willing to tap to pay, up from 29% before the pandemic, according to the Global Payments survey.

Digitally powered inventory. Restaurants can control menus with a click or a tap for instantly reflected changes, even with multiple locations.

Cloud agility. Cloud-based platforms allow restaurants to streamline tasks including kitchen management and drive-thru operations. They also help with customer intelligence and social media reputation management, centralizing reporting and analytics for deeper, faster insights.

Guest list management. Digital POS Systems allow customers to place orders while waiting and receive texts when their tables are ready.

UV-C disinfection. Ultraviolet light can kill or inactivate 99% of microorganisms on POS devices and kiosks. It can be added to existing screens and monitor surfaces for when they’ve been cleaned.

Low-contact server tips. Cloud-based tip processing allows employees to receive funds on prepaid cards, and tipping software like Netspend® Tip Network™ integrate with POS systems to digitally allocate tips.

Consumers are more comfortable in a digital world–technology will only play a bigger role in the future.

Precious time—and software to make the most of it

Time spent managing employee shifts, PTO, overtime, and full-time/part-time status is time away from customers and coaching the crew.

And labor hours can be some of the biggest costs in the business, usually accounting for 25%-35% of restaurant expenditures; the complexity can use up a lot of a manager’s time, too.

But there is software available that can greatly simplify the process while improving accuracy and regulatory compliance and helping you improve your bottom line. Here are some attributes to consider when shopping for an employee time-management program.

Easier scheduling. Scheduling shifts is like a 3D puzzle with multiple factors affecting PTO and overtime. Look for drag-and-drop technology that automatically recalculates the payroll reporting affected by each change. Also give employees access to a linked mobile app to see schedules, look for open shifts and request changes.

Intuitive time tracking. Forget the old, easy-to-game punch systems. Look for a solution supporting pin-punch and iPad clock-ins/clock-outs. Integrated facial recognition software removes temptation, and GPS-enabled geofencing can prevent offsite check-ins.

Simplified time-off tracking. The best time-management software can be tailored to PTO rules and state mandates and regulations. Look for a system with a mobile app; managers and employees should be able to request time off, and check hours earned, used and available. You’ll also be alerted as employees approach full-time status.

Software integration. Your time management software should sync with your POS and payroll software. But there are advantages to migrating to a single integrated solution– including a single log-on and the power to seamlessly transfer data from one application to another.

Customer support. A good restaurant management program is more than software– it’s backed by a knowledgeable customer support team available by phone or online during restaurant-friendly hours.

Learn More 

About Heartland 

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN). Learn more at heartland.us.

NATURAL GAS MEANS BUSINESS

There’s nothing more important these days than finding smart, sustainable ways to save money without sacrificing quality or service. With 35 percent of small businesses citing energy as a major operating expense, natural gas provides a solution that can help save money and energy — while improving quality, service and reliability.

Natural gas is a true win-win for businesses big and small — especially those in the restaurant and lodging industries. That’s because adding natural gas to your energy mix is a cost-effective, energy-efficient way to meet water heating, cooking, drying and other operational needs.

Plus, you can save thousands in natural gas equipment rebates right now. Check with your natural gas provider for more information.

More hot water, less energy

Natural gas water heaters can easily handle high loads while using less energy. What does this mean for your business? It means more hot water in less time. And because it uses less energy, it also means lower utility bills.

In fact, today’s natural gas tank water heaters have new features like superior insulation, efficient design and precise temperature controls that consume one-third less energy than they did just a few years ago. And they work even if there’s a power outage.

Or you can opt for a tankless and get endless hot water on demand with added efficiency that saves even more energy. In fact, these are the additional benefits:

  • Endless supply of hot water
  • No more storing unneeded hot water
  • Life expectancy of more than 20 years
  • Space saving over tank style

Cut your kitchen’s operating costs

You already know professional chefs prefer natural gas for all their cooking, frying and baking needs, thanks to perks like instant heat, a wide range of temperature controls, and precise settings. While natural gas booster heaters can help save dishwashing time and effort.

Natural gas ranges, fryers, ovens and booster heaters provide the right tools to make your restaurant or kitchen more efficient while cutting operating costs with benefits like:

  • Easier and more consistent cooking with precision heat control
  • No waiting for an element to heat up with instant on/off
  • A power outage is typically no trouble for gas appliances, so you can keep serving when electricity-based kitchens are shut down.
  • The flame heats the bottoms and sides of pans, which can mean it works faster
  • Wash and sanitize dishes faster with a natural gas booster heater

High-demand drying — faster

Linens and clothes dry faster, more thoroughly and more economically with natural gas. And because natural gas dryers produce a moist heat, it’s gentler on fabric. Whether it’s for your hotel, lodge or salon, natural gas dryers are the ticket for your high-demand drying needs.

The smarter, tougher energy for Florida businesses

Tough times require strategic business decisions. At the Florida Natural Gas Association, we’re here for you. If you want to learn more about how natural gas can benefit your business, give us a call or visit FNGA.com/FRLA.

Reimagining Digital Transformation in the New World

By Michael Young

COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. It’s forced parents to become teachers, enterprises to shift business models as well as turned ships and convention centers into hospitals. It’s allowed us to push technology to new limits as it kept people safe, helped business stay open, kept culture alive and comforted us in the face of great uncertainty. It’s also exacerbated cracks in our society – gaps in access to technology, infrastructure, education, healthcare and economic security.

As countries, communities and businesses struggle to recover while addressing the growing concerns around social injustice, it gives us an opportunity to reimagine what a better world could look like. The current environment has shown the need for governments and businesses to innovate and organize themselves to adapt as well as respond rapidly to unforeseen external pressures. This moment has significantly accelerated what already was a growing trend of digital transformation.

A Path Forward for Policymakers

The disruption caused by the current environment offers policymakers around the world the unique opportunity to fully adopt and utilize digital technologies, such as tele-health, tele-work and remote learning solutions, and strengthen their resilience and competitive posture.

As Dell Technologies continues to develop and provide innovative and empowering technology solutions, we are mindful of both the opportunities and responsibilities that come with such powerful tools. Our insights and experience as a global leader in applying emerging technology solutions to improve lives have informed our view on how governments should approach their next steps in a path forward. We believe governments have a responsibility to boost digital infrastructure, as connectivity has become ever more vital for all of us – big businesses and entrepreneurs, universities and schools, families and individuals, in metropolises and rural communities – to continue to function at a distance. Governments also should work with the private sector to ensure privacy protection and cybersecurity, as new paths of communication and work environments have highlighted increased risk of cyber-attacks. To enhance innovation, governments should foster an environment for businesses to create jobs, for entrepreneurs to create new opportunities, for a data-driven economy to realize its full potential, and for everyone to have access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.

Policymakers and businesses are recognizing that this situation has three phases, each of which offer the opportunity for governments to make progress:

  • Respond by adopting immediate relief measures to safeguard the economy and public health;
  • Recover by developing medium-term measures to activate an economic rebound; and
  • Reimagine by transforming how we work, learn, heal, create, and play.

Read our full whitepaper online titled “Accelerating Digital Transformation in 2020: A Path Forward for Policymakers” which outlines our view of accelerating convergence of technology, innovation and new opportunities for all. We look forward to working with governments across the globe to assist in undertaking their digital transformation to address humanity’s greatest challenges.

If you’d like to learn more about how digital transformation can help your business, get additional information about the discount program, or even have general questions about Dell Technologies, reach out to Steven.Shipe@Dell.com and let him know you’re with FRLA. You can also shop online at www.dell.com/FRLA.

Michael Young is the Senior Vice President, Global Government Affairs and Public Policy, Dell Technologies.

The Flu

The flu shot is more important than ever this year with COVID-19. COVID-19 and the flu will both be spreading this season, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It is important this year to protect yourself with a flu shot as it will help reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization, which lead to two of the biggest concerns, serious illness and hospital capacity with the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits such as, avoiding people who are sick, covering your mouth and nose when you cough, and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Other health habits include getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a new coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) and flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses. Because some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis.

The CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. The flu season can last until March, so you can still get the flu vaccine later. No matter when you get your flu shot, it will still be valuable to help protect you for the rest of the flu season. Talk to your provider about the best time to get your flu shot. Remember to ask about other vaccines you might need to protect yourself this year too.

Speak to your doctor to learn more about how to get the most out of a healthy lifestyle. For more resources on ways you can help protect yourself against the flu, visit: https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/flu/faq.

The Stress of Uncertainty

2020 has evoked a sense of fear and anxiety like we’ve never seen before. As the world grapples with how to respond to the pandemic, the hospitality industry has been hit especially hard. Leaders and employees are realigning to new operational and safety requirements, but the challenges they face are not limited to a reduced revenue stream.

You’re open.

You’re closed.

Pivot to take-out?

25% dining capacity.

Increase room service?

Let employees go.

Bring employees back.

We are creatures of habit. We like to feel in control. But when life throws a curveball, the uncertainty of the outcome is more stressful than knowing something bad is going to happen. Think about being stuck in a traffic jam on your way to an important appointment.  The closer you get to that point where you have a 50/50 chance of making it on time, the more stressed you get.  Once you realize that there is no chance you’ll make it, the stress subsides.  It’s not the negative outcome that eases your stress; it’s the certainty.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the

oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft

The brain’s primary job isn’t to think; the brain’s primary job is to keep us alive.   Because survival is the neural priority, the brain is always scanning the environment for potential threats. This is why uncertainty is so unsettling.  It doesn’t know how to protect us from the unknown.

There is no question that there will be more challenges ahead.  Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup.  For your sake and for the sake of your family, friends, and coworkers who count on you, here are a few strategies to help you keep the stress of uncertainty in check.

  1. Increase your sense of control by finding choices. It’s easy to get caught in the negative feedback loop of the unknowns. Focus on that which you can control. Daily intentional acts of kindness, healthy diet, and regular exercise will all help you increase your sense of control and will disrupt the negative thought cycle.
  2. Connect with others who care about you. We are social creatures who are wired to connect.  Schedule coffee, lunch, or a weekend walk with someone you trust.  Put it on your calendar so that you can actually see something positive ahead and take your focus off the stress of the uncertainties.
  3. Look for opportunities to contribute. One of the best ways to reclaim a sense of control is to find ways to give your time or your talents to something bigger than yourself.  All of us want to know that what we do matters. Find a way to make a difference to someone else and you’ve doubled the ROI of your efforts.

The bottom line is that we cannot totally eliminate stress from our lives… nor should we. Our stress radar is what keeps us alive. But we can learn how to weather uncertainty more  effectively.

Dr. Melissa Hughes is a keynote speaker, best-selling author, and self-proclaimed neuroscience geek. She is the author of Happy Hour with Einstein, Happier Hour with Einstein: Another Round, and the companion Happier Hour Gratitude Journal – all designed to help people learn how the brain works and how to make it work better. As a keynote speaker delivering to a wide range of audiences – from teachers in the classroom to executives in the boardroom – Melissa combines her vast experience in marketing communications with extensive research in neuroscience and behavioral psychology to inspire people to tap into their inner genius for extraordinary results.

 

New Year: Are You on Track?

As you think about the tax year ending, some of the important considerations on your mind might be:

  • Tax returns and W-2 preparation
  • Applicable ACA reporting
  • Missing tax identification numbers
  • Missing employee information
  • Fringe benefits
  • Shorter processing periods
  • Alternative package delivery methods

It’s a long list. And there’s reason to be preoccupied with getting it all done and double checked.

Employers must file W-2 forms with the Social Security Administration (SSA) by January 31. You’re also obligated to file any 1099 and 1095 forms with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you do end up filing W-2s with missing or incorrect Social Security numbers or employee names, the potential IRS penalties can really add up:

  • $50 per Form W-2 if you correctly file within 30 days of the due date
    • Maximum penalty of $194,000 for small businesses
  • $110 per Form W-2 if you correctly file more than 30 days after the due date but by August 1, 2020
    • Maximum penalty of $556,500 for small businesses
  • $270 per Form W-2 if you correctly file after August 1, 2020, or you do not file the required Forms W-2
    • Maximum penalty of $1,113,000 per year for small businesses

But wait!

Before you get too worried about what could go wrong, take a deep breath. As long as you have a plan in place and the appropriate resources to follow through with it, you can have a smooth year-end experience.

Above all, the top priority on your list to avoid potential W-2 filing errors has to be auditing your employee data. Confirm the following information is complete and accurate for each employee:

  • First and last name
  • Social Security number
  • Address, city, state and zip code

If you’re still feeling concerned about the many other important tasks that need to be completed as part of year-end preparation, outsourcing your payroll could be a viable option. You’ll receive action items, reminders and assistance far in advance to ensure your year-end is processed in a seamless and timely manner.

End of Year Is the Best Time to Switch Payroll Providers

Thinking about switching payroll providers?

A quarter of small business owners are shopping for a payroll provider near the end of the year. Some are fed up with the bad service they’ve received. Others are frustrated by payroll platforms not integrated with their business’s software and hardware. Maybe a vendor’s lack of attention has resulted in costly errors and penalties. Or perhaps a business owner is just tired of doing payroll with everything else on his/her plate.

Whatever your reason, the New Year is the best time to make a change.

Why? At the start of the New Year, there’s no historical data to migrate from your old system into your new one. You also don’t have to go through the hassle of collecting all your year-to-date and quarter-to-date information from your old provider. Changing providers at the beginning of the year allows your new payroll company to hit the ground running with a clean slate.

For a smooth transition, be sure your last pay date of the year is with your old provider, and your first pay date of the year is with your new provider. For example, if you have a pay period ending in December 2020, with a pay date in January 2021, that cycle should be with your new provider since it will be reported on your 2021 W-2s. Your previous provider will prepare the 2020 W-2s. Remember, payroll taxes are based on when wages are paid, not when employees work.

Also, don’t forget to take care of a few vital tasks before you make the switch:

  • Produce copies of all your financial records from your old payroll company such as employee information and tax records.
  • Prepare tax filings from your previous provider that include Q4 2020 quarterly, 2020 annual, and 2020 W-2s.
  • Prepare basic business information for your new provider, such as your Federal and State Employer Identification Numbers and bank account details.

You can certainly switch payroll providers after January, but you’ll have more information to transfer and the added complication of whether it’s the former or current payroll provider’s responsibility to perform certain tasks. That brings us to the most important question – what should you look for in a new payroll provider? Not all providers offer the same level of service. Before you officially make the switch, ask the following questions:

  • What payroll features are provided? Go beyond processing payroll. Source a service that can help you with HR, recruiting and onboarding, time and attendance, and benefits administration – today and as your business grows.
  • Is the payroll system easy to use? You want an intuitive platform that eliminates data entry duplication. It should also be cloud-based, with a simple to navigate dashboard that allows you to view and automate activities, and generate pre-built reports.
  • Is the payroll system integrated? Does it connect payroll, hiring, time and HR to streamline back-office operations? Is it able to exchange data with accounting services, worker’s compensation, 401(k) and more?
  • Will the payroll service keep you compliant? Protect your business. Seek easy access to certified HR professionals who can provide personalized guidance on HR issues, labor laws and federal, state and industry regulations.
  • Is the payroll provider experienced and reputable? Find out how long a provider has been serving the payroll/HR community, and how many active customers it has. Ensure you’ll have access to a dedicated service representative who understands your business, serves as an extension of your team, and is your single point of contact for all of your needs.

Payroll is far too important to stay with an unsatisfactory provider. If you’ve been toying with the idea of outsourcing payroll or changing providers, now is a good time to pull the trigger.

Stop Paying More in Taxes! This One Credit Provides Substantial Savings.

About $1 billion in tax credits are claimed each year under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program. Sadly, many restaurants and lodging businesses are unaware of the program or simply don’t take advantage of it.

WOTC was founded in 1996 by the Small Business Protection Job Act to reduce the federal tax liability of employers who hire from “targeted groups” that commonly face significant obstacles to employment. Examples of target groups include qualified veterans, ex-felons, designed community residents (DCR) and qualified long-term unemployment recipients, a recent addition. In turn, this measure for greater workplace diversity and inclusion incentivizes businesses through compensation for making these hires. (SOURCE)

WOTC offsets the costs of hiring a new worker. This should be welcome news for the hospitality industry, where the turnover rate approaches 75 percent and businesses spend $1,200 per employee on training.

Here are five common reasons why businesses miss out on WOTC funds.

  1. Failure to screen applicants

While there is no limit to the number of new hires employers can claim for WOTC tax credits, businesses often fail to screen new employees to see whether they meet the certification criteria. The remedy is to screen new employees when onboarding new hires to determine WOTC eligibility. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars in taxes each year.

  1. Short submission window

The federal government requires that WOTC applications be processed within 28 days from the applicant’s hire date. Thus, it’s important to identify candidates immediately upon being hired to take the swift action needed. An integrated workforce management solution can make it simple and fast to capture all necessary WOTC information and promptly submit the documentation to qualify for the tax credits.

However, there is one temporary exception to this rule. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) allows eligible employers to retroactively claim the WOTC for all targeted group employees for anyone who began work after December 31, 2014 and before January 1, 2021. (SOURCE)

  1. Unsure who qualifies

Over 20 percent of the workforce qualifies for WOTC, and you wouldn’t know if you were hiring eligible applicants because many of the questions to determine eligibility wouldn’t come up in an interview. For instance, three-quarters of the program’s beneficiaries are food stamp recipients. It’s important to have a system in place for new hires to access and complete WOTC qualification.

  1. Tax liability confusion

It’s a misperception that you must use your WOTC credits immediately or that you need a tax liability to benefit. Once an eligible applicant is certified, the credit can be applied to estimated quarterly tax payments. You can carry the credit forward up to 20 years, and keep the credits on your books as an asset in a possible sale.

  1. Unaware of potential savings

WOTC tax credits can substantially reduce the total amount of money you owe to the IRS. You can claim between $2,400 to $9,600 for each qualifying new hire depending on which target group the employee falls under. The only catch is that your new team member must work a minimum of 120 hours within the first year in their hired role to qualify. After 120 worked hours, you can claim a credit equal to 25 percent of the new hires first year of qualified wages. After 400 hours, a tax credit equal to 40 percent of their first year of wages can be claimed.

CARES Act employee retention credit

In response to the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. Eligible employers (experienced a full or partial suspension during the calendar year) and/or experienced a significant reduction of gross receipts due to sheltering-in-place, stay-at-home or similar public health measures, certain employment taxes may be deferred if the employer continues to pay the employee for services unable to be rendered during the period. If you haven’t claimed WOTC for an employee during the same period, you can claim the credit.

 

When looking for a payroll provider, make sure they have the ability to screen new hires during onboarding to determine WOTC eligibility and flag candidates, and that they can assist you in completing and submitting applications within the required timeframe to secure your tax credits. (SOURCE)