Company: Cirra Systems
2016 sales growth rate: 150%
2017 projected sales growth rate: 100%
Vendors: Amazon AWS, APG Cash Drawer, Apple, Elo Touch Solutions, Epson, Heartland Payment Systems
Distributor: Metropolitan Sales
Phone: (435) 565-1444
Cloud based point of sale (POS) and managed services have both been around for several years now, but it’s surprising how infrequently the two concepts are combined, especially considering how well they fit together. Jim Ngo, founder and president of Cirra Systems had this idea when he founded his company three years ago. However, trying to break into a market that’s well established in legacy software licensing and on-prem POS systems was a challenge. Sometimes the best way to convince a prospect of the viability of a managed POS solution is to show them firsthand, says Ngo.
Turn a Prospect in Need into a Customer For Life
A case in point is a quick serve restaurant Cirra Systems had been prospecting for a while with little success – until the restaurant owner called Ngo out of the blue one day. “Their POS system had crashed that morning, and they were unsuccessful getting it up and running,” he recalls. “What made the owner really mad was that he was paying a lot of money for a service contract, but the VAR wasn’t able to come onsite until the next day. His first question to me wasn’t about the cloud or pricing, it was simply, ‘How quickly can you get your system up and running?’ I told him we could be there by 3 o’clock and have it running the same day. Shortly upon arriving, we replaced their terminals with Tavlo, our cloud-based POS and restaurant management system (RMS). By the time they opened at 7:30 the next morning, their staff was trained and we stayed there to help with any questions or problems.”
In addition to earning a lot of goodwill with the client for the quick turnaround, Ngo was able to show the owner the real value of his managed services offering. “With his previous POS system, much of the burden was on the restaurant owner to keep the system updated and perform basic troubleshooting steps,” he says. “Our cloud-based offering is completely managed and more than 90% of the time we’re automatically alerted about any problems with the system and we can troubleshoot it remotely – even before the customer is aware that there was a problem.
Two additional benefits of our cloud model is that we don’t need a large staff of technicians to support our customers, which allows us to scale more quickly and offer a very competitive support rate compared to a VAR that’s supporting a traditional on premise POS system.”
Overcoming the Biggest Cloud Objection: Internet Downtime
Demonstrating his POS system and explaining his managed services offering eliminates a lot of reservations, but Ngo says there’s one more objection he has to overcome before closing some deals. “I’m often asked, ‘What happens if my Internet connection goes down?’ Internet outages are pretty rare, but we created a simple workaround if that should ever happen. Within a couple of minutes, our POS system can be redirected to an alternative internet connection, including a 4G cellular connection via the restaurant owner’s smartphone or 4G tablet. Even when operating on the cellular network, the system is connected to our cloud environment, all connections are secure, and the client can operate without any noticeable drop in performance.”
As Cirra Systems continues to amass more satisfied clients, and its cloud-based platform, which is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), is approaching three years with no downtime, the ISV is overcoming objections more easily and continuing to build momentum. As he looks to what’s next for his company, Ngo says he’s constantly reminded of his target audience’s big challenges. “Restaurant owners are not IT people, and they’re not able to pay $50k+ for full-time IT person. The more we can remove those responsibilities at a reasonable price and enable them to focus on running their businesses, the more successful we will be.”