5 essential spring cleaning tips for your small business fintech

Monday, May 16, 2022

Snow is melting, flowers are blooming, allergies are spiking, pastels are making their annual comeback … you know what that means: Spring has sprung and it’s time to get cleaning.

But as a small business owner, spring cleaning is more than dusting ceiling fans, wiping down baseboards and posting photos of your sparkling new display on social media. It’s also about reflecting on how to refresh aspects of your business you don’t normally get to spend time on. Things that keep your business running smoothly in the background, like your point of sale (POS), payments and payroll solutions.

Chances are your financial technology (fintech) doesn’t get much attention unless it breaks down. But your fintech works hard for you all year long, empowering you to make and move money day in and day out.

To put it plainly, your fintech is essential — and it’s worth setting aside a little time for.

This spring, give your POS, payments and payroll systems a top to bottom spring clean by auditing your software and hardware, identifying pain points and finding the right solutions to freshen up your fintech.

It’s time to cue your favorite cleaning playlist and get started on your fintech spring cleaning checklist:

  • Update your fintech software

  • Give your fintech software security a sweep

  • Declutter your operations

  • Dust off your fintech hardware

  • Refresh your solutions with professional help

Freshen up your fintech in five steps

Working at desk

1. Update your fintech software

No matter what fintech solutions you have in your shop or restaurant, the nature of technology is ever-changing — and it will always require updates and upgrades if you don’t want to fall behind.

Now is the perfect opportunity to make time to run those pesky software updates you’ve been putting off. Clean up your system’s desktop and put all those files you downloaded into folders or the trash. Delete old files and unused applications. Take stock of your subscriptions and unsubscribe from those you’re not actively using.

With systems running at optimal levels, minus all the electronic clutter, you’ll have a better time assessing the state of your software and whether it’s capable of meeting your businesses’ needs for the coming year.

So, how do you know when it’s time to update your fintech software with the latest version, integrations or features? One of your best indicators is user experience.

If your fintech software is outdated or ineffective, look no further than the people who have to interact with it for evidence.

For your staff, poor user experience could reduce their productivity and job satisfaction. For your convenience-seeking customers, it could mean they’re not getting a satisfying experience and might take their business elsewhere next time.

Don’t worry, you can avoid that. Here’s an overview of a few tell-tale signs that user experience is suffering and your software might be in need of a polish:

Simplicity

Is your software enabling you to save time and labor? Does it allow you to integrate with other systems or core functions? If your answer to either of those questions is no, then your software might be forcing you and your staff to deal with an over-complicated, out-of-date interface that requires too many incompatible systems. You likely need a solution with stronger application programming interfaces (APIs), or the tools that help your technologies talk to each other, so you can better connect your data, apps and devices.

Functionality

All too familiar with software that’s slow, bugging, freezing or lagging? Getting regular errors or mistakes? If you’ve already run all the preliminary software updates and your answer is still yes, it’s time to upgrade to something new. Continuing to work with poorly functioning or inaccurate software could lead to dissatisfaction and distrust for your employees and customers.

Scalability

Is your software still meeting your growing business’ needs for both the short and long term? Is it supporting all your verticals and all the places you need to sell? If you answered no, well, you know what to do: Time to update! Having your staff and customers continue to use a system that wasn’t built to grow with your business isn’t sustainable. Consider investing in software that can scale with you.

Now that you know what to look out for, make a plan to tackle your software assessments room by room, or rather, one fintech system at a time.

Security chat

2. Give your fintech software security a sweep

You can’t complete any software audit worth its salt without taking a good look at your software and ensuring it’s meeting data security compliance standards.

Data security and compliance go hand in hand. And while they might not be anyone’s favorite dynamic duo, they aren’t to be skipped if you want to keep your business safe.

After all, spring cleaning is all about getting after those hard-to-clean spots.

As technology continues to evolve, so do the security requirements. Staying vigilant about your data privacy and protection is a must. Even if it’s not your area of expertise, it’s your responsibility. You can’t rely on financial institutions to protect your business the way they help protect consumers.

Compliance

If you accept credit cards or debit cards, you’ve agreed to follow PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) — a set of regulatory requirements created to ensure businesses safeguard cardholder data and customers’ financial information. Maybe the last time you checked you were PCI compliant … but when was the last time you checked?

PCI compliance isn’t a one and done deal. It requires upkeep — and now is the perfect time to add a check-in to your spring cleaning to-do’s.

Security

So how do you stay PCI-compliant? By making sure your operations and technology systems follow the rules for keeping your customers’ sensitive card data secure. Out-of-date security measures aren’t just an inconvenience, they’re dangerous — especially when you’re dealing with technology that delivers financial services.

Data breaches pose a serious threat to your small business, and your customers’ bank accounts, so it’s important to keep your security protections up to date. You can find a list of common cyber attacks to look out for on the Small Business Association’s (SBA) website.

Data privacy is complex. That’s why security technologies have been built to protect you. During your security audit, make sure you have these safeguards in place at your business:

  • Up-to-date Self Assessment Questionnaire: A set of questions designed to help businesses verify their PCI compliance and ensure all security requirements have been met.

  • Antivirus software: While this tech that detects and deletes viruses might seem like an obvious one, it isn’t something you set up once and forget about. If you’ve been ignoring those little notices telling you to update (we’re all guilty of it), now is the time.

  • Firewalls: An extra layer of protection that can stop malicious software from infecting your network.

  • EMV chip card acceptance: Equipment for securely processing chipped credit and debit cards that helps protect you from costly counterfeit card fraud. (We’ll cover this in more depth in the hardware section below.)

Even though it’s on your spring cleaning checklist, you don’t have to tackle security alone: The fintech company or provider you’re working with should help. At Heartland, we’ve created security solutions to keep you and your customers safe. Explore which data security tools might be right for protecting your business.

Updating computer

3. Declutter your operations

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: Studies have shown that clutter can actually increase your stress. As an entrepreneur, more stress is the last thing you need. Thankfully, spring cleaning is all about decluttering — and no matter how spotless you try to keep your shop or restaurant, no small business is exempt. So, let’s get started.

One of the easiest ways to minimize your business’ physical clutter where fintech is concerned? Go paperless. For starters, are you still receiving paper copies of your billing and invoicing documents? With modern electronic solutions available, going paperless can unblock your cash flow and help you get paid faster — all while staying online, saving time and minimizing errors.

We get it. It’s easy to get attached to your paper copies. But if you’re being honest with yourself, do they really add value to your business? Or is it just one more thing to keep track of and organize?

Here’s another small business clutter hot spot to watch out for: manual processes.

Decluttering doesn’t just mean physically throwing things out. It can also include decluttering your business operations with fintech automations.

If you’re relying too much on cumbersome and costly manual labor or patch-worked, out-dated processes, this one’s for you. Analyze what features your fintech solutions offer and look at where you could automate processes to get rid of the time vacuums in your business and get back valuable hours.

Here’s one example: When it comes to your hiring process, are you manually keeping track of your applicants? What about employee onboarding? Adding features like Heartland Hire to your payroll software can provide automated, streamlined solutions that help you track the status of your applicants online in real-time and automate employee onboarding so the paperwork is completed before a new hire even walks in the door.

Where’s the clutter in your business? Find out and get to work on eliminating all that unnecessary stress!

Making a purchase

4. Dust off your fintech hardware

At this point, you’ve made great progress on your fintech spring cleaning. But we can’t leave hardware maintenance in the dust!

Even if you’ve updated your software, that’s only half the equation: Outdated hardware can still hold your business back.

Here are a few metrics to think about when auditing your hardware:

How does your customer-facing hardware look?

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover ... but people still do. If you’re working off an old, bulky POS that (if truth be told) is a bit of an eyesore, it might be time to give your front of house a facelift. Free up precious real estate and take back control of your check-out counter aesthetic by updating to a sleek, space-saving hardware solution.

Do you have enough stations?

Keeping guests waiting because you lack the hardware to keep up with your long lines is an easy fix. Depending on the volume of your foot traffic and your business model, it might be worth it to invest in a few more stations through your provider. Or, perhaps a mobile terminal could be a great, line-busting addition to your technology stack.

Do you have the right type of hardware?

If you’re still working off a mobile phone with a card reader attachment when it’s becoming evident that what you really need is a full-fledged POS terminal, it might be time for a change. Take the extra pressure off your staff and stop trying to keep guests happy while using a system that’s working against them. Give them a solution that will work for them.

Is your hardware malfunctioning?

When new software is installed on an old system, it often requires more processing power and memory than the aging hardware can support — leading to slow run times for basic tasks and embarrassing freezing or loading delays at all the worst times. If this sounds like your hardware, stop wasting time on reboots and start considering an upgrade.

Does your hardware accept EMV chip card transactions?

There’s one big reason to make sure your card readers are EMV compliant: if they’re not, you may be liable for any counterfeit fraud charges and the associated fines. EMV chip cards are much more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards. So, if your card reader isn’t equipped to support chip technology and fraud occurs, the blame shifts to your business — not the card issuer. Don’t forget to ensure your payment terminals, new and old, are all EMV certified, or tested and approved by the EMVCo card brands.

Part two of spring cleaning your hardware? Actually cleaning it! One of the many lessons COVID-19 taught us is that guests value — and expect — cleanliness. Your hardware applications are some of the highest-touch surfaces in your business. Add some safe sanitizing to your list with this step-by-step POS cleaning guide, and consider establishing regular hardware cleaning habits to work into your daily routine if you haven’t already.

Customer service call

5. Refresh your solutions with professional help

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You’ve completed the audit portion of your spring cleaning checklist.

But you’ve got one more box to check off.

Thanks to your thorough software and hardware audit, you should have a pretty good idea of the current state of your fintech and where the gaps are when it comes to staying up to date with customer demands, evolving trends in new technology and your business’ needs. Now it’s time to refresh your fintech solutions with the help of your dealer or product specialist.

Despite what you may be thinking, this process doesn’t have to be painful! A partnership with the right service provider can help you pinpoint exactly which improvements need to be made to meet your business goals, whether it’s an entirely new system, a small upgrade or just a few new integrations.

Maybe you’ve been dragging your feet on updating your systems because of the cost or the hassle. But what will the bigger hit to your business’ finances be if you don’t get ahead of it? Just think how much stronger you’ll make your business by taking the time to give your fintech a refresh this year.

Not sure who to call? At Heartland, we have an entire team of dedicated customer service professionals ready to help.

Mobile POS purchase

What’s next?

Put your feet up, you earned it.

Nothing feels better than completing a to-do list. You’re officially ready to breathe new life into your business and say goodbye to anything that’s been holding you back.

Remember: Your POS, payments and payroll tech can make a big difference in easing the day-to-day tasks of running a business.

The point of this spring cleaning exercise was to make sure you’re tapping into your fintech’s full potential by assessing the gap between how it’s currently working for you and how it could be working for you.

Even when the seasons change, these spring cleaning practices are something you can and should take with you throughout the rest of the year. Establish a regular check-in routine with your fintech and watch as you recharge and reenergize your business all year long.