Choosing the Right Application

If you have never worked with a system in the past, sourcing and selecting the right Meal Plan / Spending Plan Management and Point of Sale application can be a daunting task. Here are a few pointers to help you make the right decision:

Do you want to buy or lease / rent your software and hardware?
There are certain financial benefits to each option depending on several factors including cash flow, budgets, capital funding and tax benefits. Smaller communities typically have smaller budgets and less capital to “play” with. Rental options allow them to offset the costs of ownership with the cost savings realized from its use on a monthly basis. It also avoids the often heavy up-front licensing fees associated with the applications and their databases (such as Oracle) that often run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Options such as the CARDWATCH™ Suite of Applications (POS, Privilege and Rewards) are available to rent on a monthly basis with no up-front costs starting from as little as $116/month per terminal.

Is the application flexible and scalable?
Be sure that the software application you select can grow with your needs. If you presently only require meal plan management (eg. meal clicks) but may in future wish to add an a-la-carte dining venue with menu item tracking, be sure the application you choose has an integrated Point-of-Sale (POS) module that can be added on to your existing investment. There are enormous financial benefits to using a POS system and you will want to take advantage of those if not now, at some point in the future when you are ready. Also, look for other applications modules (such as web-enabled features, catering services, loyalty / rewards, etc.) that not only may be of interest to you in the future but indicate the vendors commitment to continuous enhancement of their product for your market.

Can the system handle Non-Food item purchases?
If your community has other retail or service venues such as a hair salon, gift shop or maintenance services (eg. painting or cleaning), does it make sense to use two separate systems or one integrated system? Simplify your operation by using a single application for all purchases in your community and you will not only save administrative time, but also training time for staff who will be able to “ring up” transactions at any venue. Reporting will also be simplified with a more global view of operations. In a typical retirement community setting, it is not uncommon for as much as 25% of all resident transactions to be non-food items. This represents too large a piece of your business to exclude!

 What is the total cost of ownership for the system?

Don’t forget that there are many costs associated with having a computerized system in place beyond the software application (license) itself. There is software support and maintenance (ie. upgrades and phone support), hardware support (onsite or depot), software installation and set-up, staff and management training, network set-up (if not already in place in your community) and resident ID cards. Know what is included and what is not.

With CARDWATCH™, the low cost monthly rental fee includes all software licenses (application and Progress database), software support and maintenance as well as 3 days of installation and training. Hardware and its related support can be acquired through Retail Systems Group or through any qualified hardware vendor. Since CARDWATCH™ is a PC based application, you can use existing desktop PC’s as a server or for running back office administration.

It is also important to understand your hardware requirements up front. Traditional proprietary cash register hardware is typically more expensive to purchase and support than PC based (non-proprietary) hardware and often limit your choices of vendors.

Was the application built for retirement communities and high volume throughput ?
Most systems on the market today were built for restaurants and do not address many of the unique needs of a retirement community. Be sure that the application will integrate with / export to your existing accounting applications to permit posting to the G/L and for client (resident) billing purposes. Look for features that have been specifically developed for retirement communities such as the CARDWATCH™ “No Show” report that can be used to notify nursing staff when a resident misses two consecutive meals.

What kind of track record does the vendor have?
Be sure that the application has a successful track record in environments such as yours. Ask for references and be sure to call them! Find out how long the vendor has been in business and for how long their application has been installed in retirement community settings.

Remember: An ounce of precaution can save you tons of disaster!


Call our Disaster Prevention hotline or simply email us for more information on how CARDWATCH™ will work wonders in your unique community.