A POS terminal in a store with customers in the background.

3 features a service based business needs in a POS

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A reliable point of sale (POS) system is essential for any business. Successful cash-only businesses are dwindling in popularity and more small businesses are accepting credit and debit payments, thereby requiring a POS system that can meet their growing needs. The ultimate POS system will help your business track payments securely, manage your administrative tasks, and be tailored to your business’s unique needs.

Let’s first look at what a service-based business is.

What is a service-based business?

Service-based businesses have individual needs that their POS system should support. But what is a service-based business? If you provide services rather than goods or merchandise, you have a service-based business. Unlike retail businesses, they have unique requirements to track customer needs. This industry includes aestheticians, dog groomers, massage therapists, personal trainers, and countless other professions. Generally speaking, service-based businesses usually rely heavily on people instead of machines or products to generate income.

The food service industry is another service-based business, and makes up a huge portion of all service-based businesses. Restaurants might require a POS system that can, among other things, handle split checks, while cafes might need a system capable of handling tips.

Whether you run a hair salon, restaurant, or any other service-based business, you’ll want to choose a POS solution that meets your business’s specific needs.

Unlike retail store owners who are primarily interested in tracking inventory, you’ll want to look for features that cater to the particular challenges service-based businesses face. For example, POS software with features such as appointment reminders, customer payment history, and appointment booking can make running a business that much easier. These automated components can make your business more customer-friendly and provide a streamlined experience for your consumers.

What is a POS system?

A POS system is a way for your business to accept payments. You can think of it as a high-tech cash register with several different components – hardware, software, and payments.

Let's look at these three components in more detail.


The hardware component of your POS system is the physical means by which you’ll accept payments. Hardware options include a card reader, screen or iPad, barcode scanners, receipt printer, and a cash drawer. Of course, the arrangement can vary, and not every POS system is designed equally.

POS kiosks are an option for a stationary, self-serve checkout option, while some businesses prefer to embrace mobile POS solutions. Mobile POS hardware can streamline the payment or booking process by eliminating long lines and making your business portable.

When choosing your POS hardware, make sure that it will accept the most common forms of payment, including credit cards, debit cards, contactless payments, and chips. In addition, be sure that your POS system can handle near-field communication (NFC) payments from Apple and Android devices, as mobile wallets have soared in popularity in recent years. With the increasingly ever-present nature of mobile devices, it’s easy to see why online ordering and mobile wallets are gaining traction. In fact, mobile payment methods such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Samsung Pay are expected to continue to grow in popularity.


The software piece of your POS system is the computer program you’ll run to perform tasks and ring up sales. This is also where you’ll want to look for the features that will help you keep your business running smoothly. For example, more powerful POS software will help you track customer history, appointments, and other aspects of your business.

Ideally, the software should be user-friendly, intuitive, and run at lightspeed, making checkout a quick and positive experience for everyone involved. You can build an engaging relationship with your customer base with software that can track customer loyalty programs and real-time fluctuations in pricing.


Lastly, your POS system will manage your funds and route the money to your bank account following each transaction. Your payment processing system should accept all forms of payment your business already accepts, including debit cards, credit cards, gift cards, and mobile payment methods.

You may have to pay transaction fees for credit card processing, which is something to consider when choosing your POS system. When compounded with monthly fees and other processing fees, these numbers can add up and are therefore essential to consider.

Now that we’ve established what a POS system is, let’s talk about which POS features will specifically benefit your service-based business and what you as a business owner should look for when choosing the right POS system.

3 Features your service-based business needs in a POS

Appointment reminders

Appointment booking - If you’re running a service-based business, the chances are that you’ll need a reliable method for booking and tracking appointments with your clients. Your ideal POS system should be able to seamlessly make and assign appointments for you and your staff members. The system should also be capable of managing repeat appointments for clients who have standing weekly or monthly appointments. For example, if you have a client who comes in for a bi-monthly beard trim, your software should be able to automatically generate future repeat appointments.

Online booking - Allowing customers to view your appointment availability in real-time online adds a level of convenience and accessibility to your business that customers desire. POS add-ons like this can save you time spent on the phone, and make booking appointments even easier for your clients.

Appointment reminders - It's easier than ever to forget appointments in the hustle and bustle of today's world. But missed appointments can mean lost income for you, so when shopping for a POS system, look for options that include automated appointment reminders for your clients. These appointment reminders should go to your client and any relevant employees.

Future appointment prompting - Scheduling future appointments with existing customers is handy for small business owners who want to build a client base who keep coming back for more. Your POS system should automatically prompt clients to book future appointments after you’ve provided a service to them.

Down payments and fees - One way to ensure that clients don’t make a habit of missing appointments with you is to charge a down payment at the time of booking. Levying fees for missed appointments is another approach to this problem. The right POS system will be able to manage these fees automatically for you.

Customer history

Customer details - The better you know your customers, the better suited you’ll be to provide services tailored to their needs. For example, if your POS system tracks customer birthdays, you’ll be able to send automatic birthday emails, giving your business a personal touch. Tracking customer information can also be vital if you run a massage business or hair salon. Keeping track of clients' hair treatment or employee preference is fundamental to these types of businesses.

Email marketing - Email marketing is still an effective and relevant method to keep in touch with your clients. Information is easily lost in the white noise of social media, but email marketing is an excellent way to speak directly to your customers. Some POS systems allow you to keep track of customer emails as part of the software, making it even easier to send discounts, appointment reminders, and newsletters to the right audience.

Loyalty programs - There are various ways to implement a customer loyalty program, from point systems to memberships, both of which motivate your clients to continue buying your services. Whichever program you implement, your POS system should be able to track this activity if it’s something your business utilizes.


Mobile POS system - Mobile POS systems are gaining popularity. Whether you want to manage your business remotely or streamline your customers’ experiences, a mobile POS system could meet your needs. These systems rely on a mobile device or tablet to process payments, making your payment processing as mobile as you and your business are.

Offline payments - If your business takes you somewhere without an internet connection, you’ll want to make sure that your mobile POS system can process payments both on and offline.

Your POS system can make or break your business

Your POS system is the heart of your business, so it’s crucial to pick the right one for your needs. Service-based businesses have unique POS system needs. Unlike a retail business POS system focused solely on inventory management, your business is customer-focused, and your POS needs to reflect that.

With such an important decision, it’s essential to do your research and consider multiple factors such as upfront costs, pricing, ease of use, and customer support features. Your small business deserves a user-friendly system and hardware options tailored to your specific needs.

Ready to work with a payment partner who can help you determine which POS system is best for your service-based business?

Heartland is the point of sale, payments and payroll solution of choice for entrepreneurs that need human-centered technology to sell more, keep customers coming back and spend less time in the back office. Nearly 1,000,000 businesses trust us to guide them through market changes and technology challenges, so they can stay competitive and focus on building remarkable businesses instead of managing the daily grind. Learn more at heartland.us.