What does a POS sytsem provide?

Sherry Lee

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I'm a little behind on this subject, so please bear with me (priorities, you know!). I've read 'tid-bits' that have been sent in, but it's still a little murky to me.

Here are some random questions that I'd appreciate your input:

1) With a POS system, do I put in every "stitch" of inventory, or has the company put everything available into the system and we do something to acknowledge we carry the product? I ask because, if I must enter every moulding sample, matboard, etc., etc. in stock, I see TONS of hours of work!!

2) Can a POS system replace QuickBooks? i.e. - I assume it keeps customers addresses, invoices (for YEARS?), payroll?, "Things To Do List" (MY GRAY MATTER!!), calendar??? etc.

3) Are certain POS systems tied in with CMC's? i.e. - we currently have a Wizard - are they linked with a POS system for some reason? And if so, what is the reason?

4) Is there a certain POS system that has something "BIG" coming down the 'pipelines' that would make it a great advantage to have over another system?

5) Please add anything else that I haven't known about to ask!

We plan to examine these systems at the WCAF Trade Show in Jan. and I'm seeking some knowledge before looking - so to have a little edge on the subject, if you know what I mean!!

THANKS much!!
 

Jay H

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1. They have downloads that will install almost all of the products you buy and the prices you buy them. Labor type items, you will have to add yourself (fabric mats, nameplates, fitting…)

2. I think its better to separate accounting software and frame pricing software. Most of them store certain sales information and that’s fine. But payroll???? Run that by your accountant and I’ll bet I know what he would tell you. The one you buy should absolutely store contact information and account information for each customer. Coincidentally this is something I think Quickbooks shouldn’t.

3. I think some are connecting up with CMC’s. I think this is the pinnacle of stupid over use of technology. I wouldn’t base my opinion of POS software on this. Again, let CMC software run the CMC and let POS software manage sales and accounting software do accounting.

4. Yes. Pick any one. I’m sure they are all working on something “big”. But it won’t be exclusive more than about 5 minutes if it’s that big.

5. Download the demos. If you can’t get some numbers in there, tweak prices, and price something in 10 minutes or so, its too complicated. Test your prices against the software manually. I think too many people enter in price and markups and think that every thing is A-OK. It’s not! Price identical items at different sizes. Watch out for United Inch programs. UI is a horrible way to price framing. It needs a minimum charge on all items especially mats and frames. If you price a 5x7 mat and it comes to $2 and a 36x24 comes to $50 how hard is it to correct these numbers and get them closer to reality? For that matter any prices should be easy to tweak to reflect a specific price. How user friendly is it? Does it “LOOK” easy to use? If it looks complicated, it probably is. Again don’t be suckered in to thinking that because you have a POS system, you’re covered. Check its prices against reality. You might be surprised how far those two numbers are apart and getting them closer to reality is a nightmare. It shouldn’t be that way.

6. If you quit using it, can you get your customer and account information out of them easily? The software should absolutely have that information in a .txt file (or something similar).

7. Do you have to sign a contract (I wouldn’t)?

8. How much are updates?

9. Is it “free” LOL…I just had to toss that in there!

Carry on.
 

LeighAnn

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Well, we have been open for seven years but have only had FrameReady for 6 months. The differences I see is keeping all the customer information in one place. Their addresses, notes, previous work orders, etc. It hase been extememly helpful in this area. I love to be able to see how much is outstanding in invoices, work to do, etc. I had a mat in the other day and didn't know what order it went with. I went to the POS, searched the work orders for that particular mat # and the correct workorder popped up in just a second.

When I bought FrameReady they asked me what vendors I bought from and those were "active vendors" (not the right term) when I loaded the program on the computer. All the List Prices were correct and they put in their standard mark up on everything. I went in later and adjusted the mark ups to reflect our pricing for our store. Actually one of the vendors wasn't active and it just took a couple of key strokes (with help from FrameReady) to get it active. I guess ALL the vendors and their products and prices are loaded into the program but not ALL are active.

I am considering getting a Wizard in the next few months and am anxious to hear from others how these two systems work together. Ours won't be networked together at first so any input on putting information on disc or jump drive and transfering it to the CMC would be of help to me also.

I can't answer the question about Quickbooks, but there is a to do list in the program although I haven't used it.

The only time consuming thing we are doing right now is getting everything barcoded. Frameready can provide you with generic 5 digit barcodes and you can barcode all your samples for easier product input. I would highly recommend this. It is not only faster but more accurate.

I LOVE the POS and am sorry we didn't get one much much sooner.
 

Baer Charlton

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1. They have downloads that will install almost all of the products you buy and the prices you buy them. Labor type items, you will have to add yourself (fabric mats, nameplates, fitting…)
Jay, I don't know where you are getting your fabric from, but Frank's feeds 29,000 SKUs to the Software people.

As for your mark-up... that is up to you.

One of the biggest advantages Sherry, is when you plug in everything for an order.. "the computer says" the price...people seem much less likely to haggle.. it lends a certain "price comes from Corperate" aura about it; as appossed to just "pulling a number out of the air".

Almost all of the majors have a connectivity to CMC's that will give you a good general start... you can tweek the mat later.

The fact of a mailing list is great, but even greater is being able to look back and match the same framing that you did three years ago on the __________ that they really liked, but did for their sister in Walla Walla.

Updates, can sometimes (depends on the vendor) warn you about discontinueds.... (some vendors are good about that, others are just plain lazy or want to wait to sell the last foot before they tell anyone that it's gone.)

Most can look back at the year and tell you who your are selling and rank by $$.
Know who your top customers are, and maybe send a little thank you and Gift card for the holidays..

Know what your top 5 selling mat boards are, if you stock them. You may fill in an order to get a box pricing...

Knowing what you are REALLY selling, can tell you if you should even bother stocking 8x10 regular glass anymore...

Or whether it's time to get Museum in the box instead of the sheet...

I may not know the customerr, or remember their name..... "what was your phone number again?"... becomes..."are you still on Elm St, Judith?".
 

Mike Labbe

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Hi Sherry

POS Systems are an absolute necessity, in my opinion. We're fortunate that there are so many good quality products to choose from (LifeSaver, FrameReady, SpecialtySoft, and about 25 others). In other industries, a system like this would be about 15k. Because of the fierce competition, the best ones are about $1500 or less in the framing world. Even at the higher price, they'd still be a bargain.

I compiled a neutral comparison list of the various products and their features. This info lives at http://www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/ (click on software)

1) With a POS system, do I put in every "stitch" of inventory, or has the company put everything available into the system and we do something to acknowledge we carry the product? I ask because, if I must enter every moulding sample, matboard, etc., etc. in stock, I see TONS of hours of work!!
With most POS systems, you simply go down a list that has hundreds of mat and moulding vendors and check the ones you carry. The POS system automatically populates every product that vendor carries, and brings along length and chop wholesale pricing. It takes the wholesale cost and marks it up according to the rules/markup factor you have defined. Most systems have weekly vendor updates, which automatically handle new items/discountinued items/price increases. They'll adjust the database, and print a nice report so youll know what samples to discard.

Most systems will optionally handle tracking inventory of moulding, as well as gift and art gallery items.

2) Can a POS system replace QuickBooks? i.e. - I assume it keeps customers addresses, invoices (for YEARS?), payroll?, "Things To Do List" (MY GRAY MATTER!!), calendar??? etc.
If you poll people, I think you'll find most folks use both. The POS to handle your forever to date framing records, customer database, mailing list, employee hours, physical inventory, sales, tax tracking, job scheduling calendar, employee commissions, art consignments, materials ordering, etc. The Quicken/Quickbooks to track daily batch deposits and check writing for bills, maybe even payroll.

3) Are certain POS systems tied in with CMC's? i.e. - we currently have a Wizard - are they linked with a POS system for some reason? And if so, what is the reason?
Good question! All the major POS players can export cutting instructions to your Wizard. That being said, some people use this feature and others find it unnecessary.

The way it works: The POS exports files that contain the cutting instructions for each workorder/piece. These can be sent to the wizard folder through an internal network in your shop, or saved to a disc. From the Wizard, you just open each one up and dont have to type in the dimensions. With the POS we use, the filename is the unique workorder # assigned to each piece. Example 1023.

4) Is there a certain POS system that has something "BIG" coming down the 'pipelines' that would make it a great advantage to have over another system?
We have seen a lot of impressive changes in the POS market in the past couple years. It's hard to know what they all have planned. They tend to keep these things under wraps until the big 3 trade shows. (NY, Atlanta, Vegas)

5) Please add anything else that I haven't known about to ask!

We plan to examine these systems at the WCAF Trade Show in Jan. and I'm seeking some knowledge before looking - so to have a little edge on the subject, if you know what I mean!!
What we like most is that the pos practically eliminates price haggling. The customer has a greater confidence in the price, when calculated by a computer, for whatever reason.

Choice of location and a POS system to manage the business are major contributors to success, in my opinion. Selection and quality are right up there too, of course


My advice is to pick a half dozen or so systems that meet your requirements, from the above link, and invest some time to thoroughly evaluate each of them. All companies offer a free demonstration version that they'll be glad to send by mail. (If you have high speed internet, you can download them immediately in most cases) This is the fun part.

Perhaps make a list of good and bad for each, write down some questions, so you'll be better prepared for the salespeople at WCAF.

Support is another important issue, and I suggest asking for references. Email, toll free, online, etc Will the company be there for you, and do they provide timely updates?

We're all going to like the system we've invested in, so the real test is to try them out to see which ones YOU are comfrtable with. I have tried each of them, and no two are alike. They each have different workflows and steps to get the job done. Some are easier than others.

I'm sure others will have more to add.

Best regards,
Mike

PS: If you have quick questions about any of the demos you can always ask in the computer forum here, or in the Grumble LiveChat system. We have a good group of people in chat that use all the major pos systems - who will be glad to help.
 

Jay H

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Baer, you do realize that not every framer has handicapped himself to relying on one vendor for fabric don't you? I do know where you get your information from.
 

J Phipps TN

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I use LifeSaver and I love it.
Not only is it more efficient while pricing work for customers but for some reason, the customer doesn't fuss as much about the price if it is coming from a computer. Go figure!

It's a big time saver and yes, all of the big venders are in there and you just decide how much you want to mark there price up.

I love having my mailing list right in front of me and being able to find a customers old workorder without having to go into the backroom and dig through old files, while they wait up front, just to match something.

It has been the best piece of equipment I have in my shop. :D

It's one investment that really does pay for itself. I have made way less mistakes in workorders and measurements. That alone is worth it.

I also heard that Lifesaver was giving some of their programs away at the show. You may want to ask about that. I paid $1000. 3 years ago.


Jennifer
 

JbNormandog

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I use Frameready and what I like best is that it automatically creates an order at a click of a button.

it will sort out of the order things you have in inventory and list others that are not.

I am sure they all do this but I have worked in several shops all with different pos software and I liked this one best .

When I opened my shop Frameready is what I bought.

They have great phone support and were less expensive than others.

All vendors are pre loaded after a brief conversation on the phone with Burt. (He's very helpful)

I know everyone will have their one preferences and just about any of the big names will probably work just as well.

Six months after you are using it and are comfortable with it you will wonder how you got along so long without it.

Good luck.
 

wpfay

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Item 3. Can only speak to that which I know. SpecialtySoft can design directly to the Wizard.

There is a learning curve and some setup time for specialty items, and you do have to tweak your inventories to keep them accurate (each mat regardless of size takes a whole sheet....that kind of thing). You also have to set your mark-ups on each of the catagories of materials.

It speeds up the pricing process and I think helps to limit inaccuracies in pricing.

The reports lists that are generated help in ordering and maintaining inventory.

There is much more that the POS can do that I don't use, but that which I do use saves me more than enough time to justify the expense. SpecialtySoft, and perhaps the others as well, has a section for merchandise.

Each of the different POS systems has its own supporters in the field. I would, and did, get the trial versions of several of them and see which fits you best. I picked the one I did because it was more intuitive for me, not that it was any better or worse.

One plug for SpecialtySoft...they have annual symposiums with advanced teaching by their team, and other guest lecturers with top notch classes from the framing world. These are held in beautiful resort areas, which makes the whole experience complete.
 

Paul N

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Sherry:

Tru-Vue is giving (even after the Atlanta show) a free LifeSaver copy, including one year of tech support and updates (it is a Tru-Vue branded copy though, but otherwise exactly the same functionality).

Give it a try, it is free for one year after all. But do try the demos from other vendors as well and see which one meets your needs.

Mike:

That comparison link is excellent!!
 

wpfay

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In the interest of full disclosure, my understanding is:
The Lifesaver is only free for the first year of a 3 year agreement you must sign to receive it. The second and third year's maintenance fees total $700.00, and the free software only includes the basic POS functions. Any peripheral software upgrades have to be purchased separately.

This does not mean that it is a good or bad deal, just that you should be sure to balance long and short term costs in the considerations of which POS to use.
 

Mike LeCompte CPF

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and when Ms Customer comes in after being away for three years and wants this piece to match the other piece she did, you got the info right there.

That's the part they really love. No more fumbling thru paperwork.

O and you can update your pricing in about 30 seconds=OK so maybe closer to two minutes. Still, it's dead easy
 

Bob Carter

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Here is what I would do (after having POS for 20 yrs):

Make a list of ten things that I felt were really important. Not "does it" lists, but "I want it to..." lists

Then see which system will do the most of that Top Ten

Understand that if you get 6 or 7, that may be a lot

List the here, if you wish,and let's see if your needs are practical. It might be fun to see what your needs/expectations really are
 

JohnR

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A lot of this can be done by creating your own database. Anyone try this? It takes some knowhow and effort, but you can create exactly what you want. You can create queries to pull out just about any information you want. Most common database manager software is Microsoft Access, but OpenOffice.org ver 2, which is free and now includes a database app may be something to consider.

If you like spreadsheets, you can use them and port your data into a true DB later.

John
 

Ron Eggers

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John, I am one of those wackos that developed my own POS.

It started out as a BASIC program that I ran on little Radio Shack hand-held computers. Over time it grew into an overblown, resource-sucking monster that requires a reasonably fast machine to run at all. I have spent unimaginable hours on this thing over a 20 year period and I won't ever get those hours back.

It does almost everything I'd like it to and it's infinitely adaptable but it has one really big flaw. When I get price updates from vendors, I have to key in the new prices. A new L-J price list can take 8-12 hours to key in.

Sure some, maybe most, vendors will make price lists available in a file format that can be, in theory, imported into my POS but it rarely works as planned.

The other problem is that it is the antithesis of user-friendly. It is, in fact, user-hostile and sometimes it turns on me. I have never found an employee that can use it. If I take two days off, I need a refresher course myself to run it.
 

Baer Charlton

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Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
A new L-J price list can take 8-12 hours to key in.
Gee Ron, just think of all that time you now save.... :D [see, there is an up side to being home based.]
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by JohnR:
A lot of this can be done by creating your own database...you can create exactly what you want...
Quite a few framers have developed their own software, but that seems to me like a driver building his own car. With so many progams to choose from, which have been refined over a decade or more of usage by many framers, why in the world would a picture framer want to spend at least half a year to "recreate the wheel", so to speak?

"Exactly what you want" in my case was fast, accurate, and frequent updating. In my early years of framing I got tired of spending two weeks twice a year to recalculate and rewrite my own price lists, knowing that on any given day, about half of my retail prices were out of date.

If you care to develop a perfect home-made POS system that can match that benefit, then come up with a snappy name, put it on the market, and compete with all the less-than-perfect others vying for our POS dollars.

I considered making my own program in 1994, but then I discovered the adaptability and other virtues of POS systems already available, professionally developed. I adapted one. End of story.
 

Paul N

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I wouldn't want to create my own POS. I am fully capable, but why re-invent the wheel?

Somebody did all the work for you already and is selling it at a reasonable $1000 - $1500.

I doubt that the time spent on creating and supporting this home-grown POS (plus importing and updating all the vendor data weekly) is not worth $1500!
 

Dave

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I would advise anyone not on one of the leading framing POS systems to not start the new year without one.

The fact that price updates are nearly automatic is worth ten times the price of the software unless you have a full time data entry person on staff.

I use FrameReady and QuickBooks 2003 and yes, you do need to have sepaprate accounting software.

What is amazing to me is the low cost of support...with FrameReady I pay $ 175.00 yearly and I've found I don't need support for QuickBooks. In my old art material business our software support ran $ 800.00 a MONTH!

I started using FrameReady last January and echo all the sentiments of everyone who's posted.

When I have to refer to manual work orders from pre-POS days it takes forever to locate an order and there is not the uniformity that I trust with FrameReady's workorders. I have a fileroom of manual workorders going back into the 1930's...even if I find a workorder quickly the information is not nearly as concise and clear as the computerized work orders.

Dave Makielski
 

Rick Granick

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Dave- You've been framing since the 1930's ? Hope no one comes in wanting to match that gold leaf frame and french mat they had done back then, expecing to pay $2.75 for the whole thing!
:eek: Rick
P.S. Paul Frederick must feel like a little punk compared to you!
 

Meghan MacMillan

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I want to comment on the POS/CMC relationship. By having the Wizard software working in Specialty soft I can design a mat quickly in front of a customer and it's virtually impossible for me to charge incorrectly for a multiple openign multiple mat.

The number one reason that I love (yes, I said it LOVE!) POS software is that I will never again have to scrape prices off the back of moulding with a razor blade and rewrite them (or relive the great unsticking sticker fiasco of 1989).

Baer's point about the price coming from a computer is an excellent one. In my pencil and carbon paper days people really did seem to think I was just pulling the price out of a hat and could therefore change it according to their whims.
 

JPete

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You can have the cmc software on the computer with the pos and transfer the design with a disk if you do not want to network the computers.

The pricing up date is a winner with the exception of suppliers who do not keep up.
 

Dave

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Hey Rick,

My grandfather started custom framing in 1911...same year "Big Blue" started as National Cash Register Co. I started in the business a mere 44 years ago as a six year old kid sweeping floors and runni9ng errands.

I do still have some mouldings that were hot trends in the '50's and are just now starting to look trendy again!

Dave Makielski
 

Sherry Lee

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You have all been an immense help!! I will watch for a few more days to see if there are any additional comments, then I will digest this wealth of information while I digest my turkey!!
faintthud.gif


Mike - your compiled list of "neutral comparisons" is THE BEST!! That must have taken you weeks to formulate.....most impressive and truly helpful. I sure hope everyone looks at you site because it's worth its weight in gold!

Is this a great forum, or what????
 

Mike Labbe

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Once you're done with the review process, let us know how you make out!

Have a great holiday
Mike
 

BILL WARD

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questions for any/all users----

1) what process is necessary to enter past history as "history"??? I know a couple of these packages(probably all?) require going thru the complete entry process(there 'were' no shortcuts)---but doesnt that really really screwup the $$$$ figures on the CURRENT financials ???? could be interesting as an intellectual exercise , but this is PAST HISTORY...what care I about the financials from 1-2 yrs ago---I've already had to deal with those and they certainly shouldnt feed current data base.....any thoughts/comments/tails of how tos???

2) was mention of getting cust data OUT of the POS DB & into something else useable---is there a way to discover which vendor uses what DB and how we non-techy folk could go about extracting & utilizing this info for non-POS purposes????

Bill
 

Mike Labbe

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Hi Bill,

I'm not sure that I fully understand your question, but i'll answer anyways.

Most POS systems will do daily reports, monthly reports, and yearly reports. With most, you can go back and re-print a report from a period in the past. Most will keep your forever to date history on file, which is handy when you need to refer back to an old order. I don't see any advantage to purging this info, but I could be wrong.

As far as importing the data into something else (Access, Excel, etc), this is almost always possible with most pos systems. I'm not aware of any that encrypt the data. In most cases the database type is noted on the POS list I compiled, when I could figure it out. In the special case of mailing lists, most programs will have a special option to export these to a standard file.

Does this answer your question?

Mike
 

Jay H

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2) Is a good question. Just ask them. I can't speak for any other than the one I use but it stores everything in a .txt file. That is easily converted to excel. When I send out postcards, I go get "cust.txt" and cram that into excel. Then I sort through the list and remove who I want and then email the list to the mailing house.

Like Mike said, I expect this from POS software. I wouldn't ever use a POS that tried to hold my information from me by encrypting the data.
 

Judi

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Originally posted by BILL WARD:
questions for any/all users----

1) what process is necessary to enter past history as "history"???
Good Question. Having built my own database at a time when all these readmade options were not so readily available, I have a large database of Past History that I use on a daily basis. I'm with Ron on all the work of updating prices Not worth it. The user friendly aspect is also an issue. It is the most time-consuming part of training a new employee and some never do get it.

Which is why I too would like at this point to purchase one of the available softwares.

I know that for a fee, most companies will import my mailing list. But can anyone answer to the ability or perhaps willingness of any of the existing vendors to import my order history as well?

Also, my little system includes a customer loyalty system based on points. Can any of them do that also? I'd hate to lose that up also.
 

Mike Labbe

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Importing a customer database is something most will do for you.

Importing old order history is much more of a challenge due to the complexity and differences between your pricing formula and that of the pos vendor. It's unlikely that they would both have the same variables to determine price, or come out the same. What they usually recommend is to convert the customer list but to leave a copy of the old system still installed on the PC, just for reference purposes. Running totals of what your customer spent from the old system will also come along, if your old system has a field for that.

Mike
 

David Waldmann

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Bill,

Just to clarify, these POS systems do not replace accounting packages such as Quick Books, Peachtree, MYOB etc, so there are no "financials", if I understand the word the way you mean it.
 
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