Even if you prefer cash and checks, a POS system is a useful payments tool.
A POS system can help your small construction business provide professional digital receipts to customers and accurately record the payments you receive on the job.
Even if you prefer that your customers pay with cash or check, having a basic point-of-sale (POS) system on your phone or tablet helps you keep track of payments accepted on the job more accurately – and professionally – than handwritten notes jotted on paper. It also allows you to provide customers with digital receipts immediately, and if needed, you can accept credit and debit card payments.
Although most POS systems are designed for retail and restaurant businesses, skilled professionals in the construction industry who work directly with customers, such as landscapers, plumbers, painters and carpenters, can benefit from this technology as well.
There are several inexpensive systems available that come with all the basics, and many allow you to add related features that can help you run your business more efficiently.
Here's what you can do with a basic POS system.
- Accept payments. You can record cash and check payments you accept on the job in your mobile POS system, email or text receipts to customers on the spot, and your sales data is recorded in the system so you can transfer it to your accounting software at your convenience. You can also accept credit and debit card payments, and, depending on your card reader, mobile wallets as well. Although you'll have to pay a processing fee for these transactions, customers often prefer to pay by card, and accepting this type of payment makes it easier for you to get paid on time.
- Gather and store customer contact information. Most POS systems include a customer database to help you manage your customer contacts. Some have additional features that allow you to communicate with and market to your customers. For example, if you use Square and send email or text receipts to customers, they can click on the digital receipts to leave you feedback on their experience with your business.
- View sales data. Even the most basic POS systems generate sales reports to help you analyze your business's performance over time.
- Share payment data with your accounting software. POS systems often integrate with popular accounting programs like QuickBooks and Xero, allowing you to share payment details and customer contact information between systems. This saves you the time it would take to manually enter information into your accounting system and reduces errors. If your accounting software doesn't integrate with your POS system, you can export your data as a CSV spreadsheet and then upload it to your accounting software.
Get started with a basic POS system
If you're not yet accepting credit card payments, a good place to start is with a basic POS system that is included at no additional cost as part of a mobile credit card processing service. For example, PayPal Here and Square include free, basic POS systems in the apps that you install on your phone or tablet as part of their credit card processing services. These companies make their money from credit card processing fees and charge a flat percentage of each credit or debit payment you accept. They don't charge any other fees, making them affordable choices for businesses that primarily accept cash and check payments.
If you're already accepting credit card payments, you can check with your processor to see which systems are compatible and which simple POS systems they recommend for your specific business.
Clover and Shopify are good options to consider because they're compatible with many processors, they offer subscription plan choices with inexpensive basic tiers, and they have app stores so you can easily customize the system with additional features.
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Add more features to your POS system
If you choose a POS system that has an app store, you can add features that help you run your business better with just a few clicks. Each system supports different apps, so if there are specific features you know you want, check the company's website to make sure that they're available, and whether they're built-in, add-ons or apps. Features that are add-ons and apps may be free, carry a one-time fee or a monthly subscription fee.
Here are some common features you can add to most POS systems that may be useful to your construction business:
- Online invoicing. If you invoice customers, sending online invoices through your POS system can help you get paid faster. Instead of writing and mailing a check, your customers can click on a link in the invoice and pay it online so you receive your money minutes after they pay, rather than days. Keep in mind that because the transaction is facilitated by the credit card processing company, you'll pay a processing fee, usually a small percentage of the invoice amount.
- Time tracking. Whether you need to keep a record of the time you spend on a job for billing purposes or you have employees that you pay by the hour, a timeclock feature is a useful addition to your POS system.
- Appointment scheduling. If seeing when you have time available to add jobs to your calendar would be useful, or if you need a tool that makes it easier to assign employees to different jobs on specific days and times, look for an appointment-scheduling app. Some include an online booking webpage or website, which may be a worthwhile addition to your business if your customers want to schedule a project with you online or if you require prepayment or a deposit before starting a job.
POS systems help you accept payments, generate digital receipts and accurately record payment data. Many are available as apps for smartphones and tablets, and come with credit card readers that connect via Bluetooth or plug into the headphone jack, so you can easily accomplish these tasks and access payment and customer data when you're at a job site.
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