Work Tips

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Work Tips

To do list

POS SOFTWARE

Do it now

Our point of sale software can talk to two TO-DO planners. 

1) I use Todoist all the time. Using it, I note what needs to be done and when. What I particularly like is that I can plan on my computer and smartphone. It has a lot of options and excellent support.  

2) Wunderlist which I briefly used which I do not think its quite as good as Todoist, but it was excellent too. 

Unfortunately today Wunderlist stopped if you are one of our client using it consider switching to the new Microsoft To-do software. We have not yet done the integration into this Microsoft product, but we should be able to do it soon, and the lack of integration will not stop you from proceeding now.

As someone who knows the hustle and bustle of retail today with so many things required to stay on top of it, e.g. customers, staff, stock, supplier, etc., I know how difficult it can be organised. That is why having killer time management skills is critical to retail success.

Below are some handy pointers to help you do just that.

 

If you have not tried a computerised to-do list, either of those two above is an excellent place to start. I think you as many of my clients a significant improvement on a handwritten list with your time. 

Here are some advantages that I found in using a computerised to-do list.

Memory:

Unlike before I do not forget much any more! I can be anywhere when I realise that there is something that I have to do. Then I grab my phone, open my to-do app and write that task down. 

It creates order

My to-do list gives me every day is a list of things that I need to do. 

Prioritise

I can manage my tasks effectively according to time available, required date, time taken to do the job and its importance.

Rescheduling 

If you finish something quickly, a meeting gets reschedule, which is happening a lot now. I can reschedule.

Organise my time.

If something comes up unexpectedly and takes precedence in importance, I can quickly replan.

And if somehow I have some time, I can look for what can be done quickly in my spare time. 

Feeling Productive

I get a score about how well I am getting on with my task

Helps you to Delegate

To-do lists help you to delegate work. If you see the list is too long, you can find others to help you get things done, whether it is asking family members for a hand or hiring a job out.

Relieves Stress

Even I cannot do a task now. It is a great relief to note it down with a proposed plan of doing it.

I strongly suggest that you look into such software.

 

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Remember to backup

POS SOFTWARE

 

Just because of this, pandemic does not mean that backup should not be done.

A store yesterday discovered that their main computer was dead.

When I heard about it, I thought that this would be an easy fix.  We set up a computer with a system, load on their backup and off they go until their computer can be fixed.

However, soon I was told that they had no backup for weeks. With everything happening, no-one had been doing backups. All the book ups, payment history, etc. over the past few weeks is lost. So everything has been lost since then. Beside costing them time and money, plus I am sure a lot of grief and frustration to get this data to a reasonable state. 

It should never have happened. Today everyone should have an automatic data backup service in place and you should take backups every day.

Ultimately a computer is a mechanical device and it will fail, its only a matter of time.

 

 

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Now is not the time to experiment

POS SOFTWARE

 

People now often have time, a guy is not working has plenty of spare time, goes into his brother's shop to help out. Sees the computer has something that he thinks could be better, changes a few things in the system and now it no longer works. Despite our best efforts, we could not fix it over the phone, and they need a technician to fix it.

However, it is not so easy to get someone to help them out now.

Every computer today is set up individually, and your systems are incredibly complex. Any changes that effects the setting can be trouble. So if you are going to try something like this, try it first on computers that you can afford to go down for a while. Remember, there is always an element of risk.

 

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What is trending now in retail?

POS SOFTWARE

If you need some ideas on what is selling now, this procedure can be used.

Click on Amazon website here. 

This gives you a list of the top-selling items on the Amazon platform broken down by department

Click on the appropriate department for you e.g. stationery or pet supplies

Now out will pop the top-selling items in that department updated hourly.

Look for something that looks interesting for your shop. I would suggest if you do not know the product to read the reviews, so you will have some ideas of what people thought about it and what exactly they are looking for in those products.

I selected stationery and then saw the top-selling product there was whiteboard markers something that I would never have expected.

Now since I was a bit stunned, I decided to check what Australia thinks about it in general, so I check out google trends. In google trends, I put in whiteboard markers and found this.

Look in the red just how much interest there is in that product now since March 22. 

 

If you want you can do it with eBay here, but I think you will find it easier to research on Amazon.

Have a go and as always let me know what you think?

 

 

 

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Lowering labour requirements

POS SOFTWARE

 

Our POS System is great for lowering labour costs, but now in our current crisis, it has proven brilliant in reducing labour requirements.

Here are some points people have told me.

- Try working from home as much as possible, we do have a remote model that most of our users can switch too.

- I would really suggest that now you use its automatic ordering. One point that cannot be stressed too much, in a crisis situation gut feel and experience can actually work against you.

- Switch if possible to cashless model as besides avoiding the problems with handling cash now, it is faster and less labour intensive. There are other benefits too

 

- Integrate your accounting system into your point of sale software. It uses less labour. 

- Run your POS reports in particular stock, debtors and creditors on a timely basis.

 

 

 

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Speed up Windows 10

POS SOFTWARE

On most POS computers, Cortana is not required. Cortana is a virtual assistant created by Microsoft for Windows 10 Few use it, most in my experience that use a  virtual assistant prefer Google assistant or Amazon Alex. 

The big problem is that part of Cortana is SearchUI.exe. This piece of software will use a lot of your system resources and so can cause a significant speed loss on your computer. As such as a rule we turn it off but many other vendors leave it on. 

If you do not use Microsoft Cortana search assistant, I would suggest that you try turning it off too. Instructions are here.

 

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Some Energy Saving Tips

POS SOFTWARE

In these days where electricity is seen by the government as a great source of tax collection, so resulting in price rises, it is worthwhile looking at the power your computers are consuming.

As a first-level approximation assuming a reasonably typical cost of about 34.5 cents for 1 kWh as a computer typically uses about 250 Watts an hour, about  10 hours a day Mon to Sat and 4 hours on Sunday say 64 hours over a year,  we are looking at about $300/year just in electricity. Have a monitor, a few other devices and a printer, $1,000 a year is a reasonable estimate per computer per year.

To reduce the costs, you can turn off devices if possible that are not in use. If you are not using much the printer, ask yourself, why is it on?

Older computer equipment uses a lot more power than modern ones; for example, the old CRT monitors use several times as much energy as the modern flat-panel displays.

There are many energy setting on the computer which are worth looking into, one in particular I recommend is to stop people accidentally forgetting to turn off a computer at night change the setting so that the computer shuts down automatically say at 11 pm each night. 

Make a switch off button that turns everything off; it is much easier for someone to remember to turn off all the unrequired computer equipment.

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Some tips to save costs on a computer repairs

POS SOFTWARE

Point of sale systems is excellent, till something goes wrong. Then for some reason, people seem to lose all sense of reason and proportion. The fact is that they are all mechanical devices and all of the parts will sooner or later fail and everything will be replaced. I know we run a comparatively big computer repair business.

If your computer or one its components are not working or acting very strange. Here is a simple checklist you should try before doing anything.

1) The first question to ask yourself, is it used to work, what has changed now? If you can think of that something, check that. 

2) Make sure that nothing is stuck down, and it looks like it should work, is the computer keyboard keys stuck, is the paper free on the printer if the printer is the problem, etc. Try to isolate the problem to find *the problem*.

3) Switch off the part and wait a minute, use the time to take some deep breaths. Now switch it on and test it. 

If that does not fix it, try switching off everything the computer and the part, wait a minute and then switch them on again and test it.  

4) If that does not fix it, check the cables from the part to the computer, check the cables to the part/computer, often the problem is a cable is not incorrectly. They are loose and then came out a bit.

Check the connections of the wires, if they are not firmly in, that may be the problem. Give them a push.

5) Even if you have not found anything here, I would suggest that you turn everything off and wait for a minute and try again, sometimes a miracle happens, and it works.

By now, I would say about 3/4 of all problems are solved but if you are now and it is still a problem, well the reality is that there are numerous ways that your system can break down and malfunction and it depends on your level of computer skill on how much you can fix.

If you have the time and you want to get hands dirty you can put the problem into Google, and ask for some troubleshooting assistance be careful even with an experienced technician, the challenge and expenses can quickly snowball. 

If the problem is still there, then its time to give us a call or your hardware supporter. If so note:

What exactly is the error
If possible write down the errors or take a photo of the error.

How do you get the error
The hardware engineer first instincts will be to try to reproduce the error in his mind. So how did it happen? Was there anything happening when the error appeared, does it come and go, etc 

Make sure you have a backup
 

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Auditing if something goes wrong

POS SOFTWARE

 

While doing your reports, a figure may appear that looks wrong, and you need to investigate. 

This happened to me, a while ago while investigating our GST on purchases.

The way, I recommend you approach it is to isolate the problem to as small an amount and time as possible.

So what I did was break the period of the purchases into months and investigate each month, then in a month that was wrong investigated each week and then I went day by day till I found the error in the day.

Then I looked through all the transactions for that day till I found it, an insurance claim that had no GST.  

This method always in my experience works.

Note the toughest errors to find in my experience are those that look right.

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Gap Analysis

POS SOFTWARE

Gap Analysis in easy steps

This is a formal process of comparing what you got with your budget and is designed to determine *why* it was right or wrong.

What you do is compare your budgeted figures to your actual numbers. You do not have to have a budget as such what you could use in a pinch, is a rough measure of what you think you should have had in this period, e.g. 5% up.

This gives you the answer to where are we now and what were we supposed to be at now. 

We now have measurable results.

Now one of the best and simplest methods to proceed is to use the “5 Whys.” approach, which was invented by Toyota. It is easy to do, grab a big sheet of paper and a couple of people together.

Now ask why our actual and projected figures are different?  

> Write the answers down. Draw pictures too.

> Put a star near the ones that you think are good.

Now look at your answers and say again, why are these answers.

> Again write the answers down. 

Now keep going with your whys until your answers become pointless. Generally, this takes about five attempts. 

For example 

Why did not sell much XYZ product?

Answer because we displayed prominently products that were not good sellers.

Why did we display these products that were not good sellers?

Answer because we went for the price rather than....

etc

 

Now use what you have learned.

 

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