A Cash Management System (“CMS”) tracks, manages, and secures physical cash (banknotes and coins) at a retail location. Two components of a CMS are fairly well known: the hardware itself, which takes in the cash, checks for counterfeiting, divides the notes by currency, and then puts it into a safe for either use in the store or pickup for deposit into a financial institution; and the software, which controls user permissions, passwords, provides data and reporting on your cash position, and establishes an audit trail for any cash deposited or withdrawn.
There is a third component, equally as vital, but less appreciated and understood. That’s Service – maintaining the hardware on a regular basis and repairing it when operations go down, and also supporting the software. Without strong service, a CMS will fall apart. Let’s take a quick look at what quality CMS service means and what retailers should be looking for when they invest in a CMS or decide to replace or upgrade an existing system.
Money is Dirty – preventative maintenance is the answer
That’s right – money is dirty – very dirty. A CMS is only as good as its optical readers. The money must be “read” by scanners, before it can be sorted, counted, and tracked. Belts must be clean in order to move the money along to a safe. As you can imagine, the dirt on money begins to build up inside the hardware, and before long you begin to get a few reading errors and jams. At first, this may seem innocuous, maybe one or two bills are rejected for every hundred you put in. Imagine if you’re the one doing it every day, though. That will get irritating fairly quickly, and that irritation will turn into frustration and lost productivity when the rejection rate rises to ten or twenty per hundred and you’re getting a couple of jams a day.
A CMS must be regularly maintained, minimum twice a year, with all the parts cleaned, lubricated, and checked for wear-and-tear. Suspect parts must be replaced before they break. Otherwise, you risk the worst possible scenario – Downtime! We talk about that next.
Mission Critical – you need rapid response times
Cash Management Systems are an integral part of your retail operation – or they will be once you implement one. Downtime disrupts your entire store operation. Tills can’t be skimmed quickly, cash must be manually counted and sorted, and then you have to find a place to secure cash for pickup or to arrange for someone to deliver it to the bank. Tensions rise as more and more cash remains in the store, and people are not happy when they have to put their regular duties aside to take care of that cash.
Preventative maintenance is important, but no amount of maintenance can prevent components from failing at some point. That’s a fact, and that means you need a service provider with quick response times. At a minimum, we recommend same day service. For larger operations, you might be better off with a smaller window. Ask your service provider what options are available to determine the response time that works best for you.
As well, you need to know that your service provider has the infrastructure to get parts fast and to do the repairs themselves. Too many service providers gloss over this issue, and in the end, they have to send away for parts and that can take days, weeks, or even months, or they ship the hardware to a third party, which again means more delay. As well, your service provider should have a ready stock of parts for the hardware you have, and they should have repair facilities available to do repairs that cannot be done in the store.
CMS Software is like any other software system – you need support
Cash Management Systems need software to work – that's just reality. Otherwise, you have an outdated, inefficient dumb safe system. In fact, most CMS hardware simply can't operate without software. To that end, no CMS should be implemented without having great software support, either from the software company itself or from your service provider.
And software support must be same day – at the very least you need access to a person, a real person, who can at a minimum triage the issue. Virtually all issues can be resolved easily by an expert, so make sure you have access to that expertise, and on a timely basis. Google and manuals are not the answer to all your questions.
Downtime is Expensive and Disruptive
Managing cash is expensive – costs can reach up to 10 percent if you’re not careful. Those costs escalate dramatically when your hardware goes down. Managers and staff have to step in, manually counting and sorting, figuring out where to store the cash, and arranging for armored vehicles to come more often for pickups. All that translates into higher costs, either in overtime, lost productivity, mistakes, pickup fees and bank processing fees - and we hate to say it, sometimes money goes missing. This only highlights the need to do everything in your power to ensure downtime is kept to an absolute minimum
Get a National Service Provider
CMS hardware changes all the time. Software is also constantly evolving. The pace of work never slows either - not to mention locations change, operations are optimized, and retailers expand. In order to keep up, you are best to work with a service provider with a substantial presence in your state or province, and if you’re a multi-state or multi-provincial retailer, then you should opt for a service provider with a national reach. You cannot get the requisite service levels and needed skills from a single resource in your city or town. You’re risking too much.
Your service provider must have OEM-certified technicians, with trunk-level inventory at the ready, and repair facilities not too far away. They must have relationships with the OEMs to ensure parts can be ordered and delivered quickly. They have to be immersed in CMS to keep up with changes, new types of hardware, and new software systems.
Service should be thought of just like CMS hardware and software. You need to ask tough questions to your service provider to make sure you are getting the level of service you need. Nothing worse than investing in a CMS, and then losing value because the service is not up to the task. That’s like throwing your cash away – and you got a CMS to do the opposite.