The kiosk game: What restaurants must be prepared to pay to play
Businesses, private and public, have started to see the many benefits of self-service solutions. From wayfinding services to self-payment, businesses are reaching their audiences through engaging content displayed on interactive kiosks and digital signage.
While self-service initiatives provide significant ROI opportunities, businesses should understand all of the necessary costs and how they plan to fit those costs in their current budget before moving forward.To that end, here are some commonly asked questions related to that investment along with answers.
Q: What percentage of the total costs of a self-service initiative investment should buyers prepare to pay upfront?
A: For new customers, first orders typically require a 50 percent deposit unless it’s a government entity or a higher education institution. The 50 percent deposit allows the manufacturer to be more responsive to a customer's specific needs.
Nearly every kiosk has some element of customization, so most manufacturers don’t hold large volumes of component inventory. Since every enclosure is built to order, the deposit allows manufacturers to buy the peripherals for each order. This lowers overall costs and allows the manufacturer to pass the savings to their customers. For smaller orders of approximately less than $5,000, it’s always better to pre-pay as it will make the process go much more quickly.
Q: Self-service solutions range dramatically in price based on a number of factors. Are there extra expenses that buyers should be prepared to pay?
Q: Shipping and installation are rarely included in an initial quote, and typically shipping is highly subject to change. That's why many will request a quote when the project is near close. Likewise, installation is not typically included in the quote unless specifically requested.
Another fee worth consideration is field support for the kiosk deployment, and it's recommended that customers ask about a service level agreement or SLA if field support is needed. Numerous options are available to support kiosks after they are deployed.
Additionally, software license renewals should always be considered since most software is either sold as a client-assigned license (CAL) requiring annual maintenance at a cost of about 20 percent of the licensing fee, or software as a service (SaaS), which must be renewed annually at its full amount.
Q: Since billing responsibilities are either assigned to an entire accounting department or a single finance officer depending on company size, what are the potential benefits of paying Net 30 instead of Net 60?
A:The benefit of paying net terms is that a company can defer payment for that amount of time, which frees up working capital, so companies can manage cash flow accordingly. But that might not be the best arrangement for the vendor, so keep in mind that terms are really a privilege and as such, are usually granted first to companies that consistently pay on time.
Q: If a restaurant brand wants to invest in a self-service solution but cannot pay the stipulated upfront amount, how can the company finance the initiative?
A:Restaurant brands can always bring a third-party to finance the project, and there are numerous capital finance companies willing to put up the money in return for earned interest. These programs include lease or finance purchase programs with multiple term options. But brands that go this route must keep in mind that background and credit inquiries will be made, along with possible collateral requests because every project is different, right down to the risks and potential benefits.
Chris Gilder, CEO and founder of Meridian Kiosks, brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial successes to the senior management team. Meridian has been recognized as a leader in the self-service kiosk industry and an innovator with the development of the Self Service Technology Center in partnership with Intel, HP, Microsoft, Zebra Technologies and Storm.www