Extreme weather events like we’ve seen across the U.S. and Canada in the past few years are a threat to business in many ways. There are a lot of steps restaurateurs can take to protect their business in case of emergency. But while insurance protects against monetary loss, nothing your insurance provides can replace valuable records and data. Clearly if you keep paper records, floods and fires can easily destroy all of your documentation, but if your data is stored electronically is it safe? The answer is not always.
What can be lost?
Have you ever taken the time to think about how much data your POS system stores for you and how often you need it? It’s likely not something that’s top of mind. Here is a list of just some of the data your POS system stores and why you wouldn’t want to lose it:
Sales records- While you may not randomly look at sales from a day 3 months ago, there are a lot of vital uses for past sales data- filing taxes, comparing same day sales to last year, identifying cyclical trends- all these depend on intact and complete records of sales.
Specific transaction records- There are many reasons you may need to call up the receipt from a specific transaction. Customers with lost or stolen credit cards, for example, may need to request copies of receipts.
Gift cards – Losing records of the values of outstanding gift cards has a direct impact on you and your customers. Imagine depending on customers to tell you how much their gift cards are worth? This would be a source of frustration for them and potential source of loss for you.
Customer databases- Your customer database is probably your most valuable marketing tool; allowing you to reach out to repeat visitors with promotions, learn about spending habits, and more. A strong database can take years to build but moments to lose.
Your menu set up- This is the easiest thing on this list to replace. Your POS systems menu set up can be re-created, unlike your records of past sales transactions. However, replacement can be time consuming and expensive.
Types of back up
You can back up your data locally in a variety of ways. You can print paper records, copy your reports on to CD, use a secondary hard drive to store copies, or use a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) system. The advantage of backing up on-site is that you don’t need to have an internet connection to protect your information. The problem with any of these on-site options however, is that if something happens to your physical location, your back-ups can be lost along with the original data. A fire or flood that damages your computer could equally damage your secondary hard drive as well.
That’s why most businesses now opt for cloud based off-site backup options. This does require an internet connection but if you choose an automated solution your data is backed up continuously, thus even if your internet isn’t always reliable, the record is happening often enough to protect you.
Just as you have to make sure that your data is secure on-site, you also have to make sure that the copy of your data stored in the cloud is not easily compromised. Whoever stores your data backup needs to make sure that the information is encrypted. Thus, even though there are a lot of inexpensive data storage options out there, not all off-site back up is created equal.
What should you do?
Be proactive about ensuring you have data backups. Whether you use a cloud based POS system or have your own server, don’t take data redundancy for granted. Talk to your POS provider about automated offsite back up. There may be a monthly or annual fee but your irreplaceable data is priceless and many POS providers offer free data backup service as part of their annual maintenance plans.