You would never want your point of sale system to be down because you ran out of paper. The same is true with regard to not have a supply of ribbons to use when your existing ribbon gets too light to read.
We are not suggesting that you have a warehouse full of backup printers, but we are suggesting that you can almost eliminate your downtime by having a single backup printer for your business.
Receipt and remote printers are the parts of your point of sale system most prone to failure. They get the most use and have the most wear and tear of any part of your system. If a part of your point of sale system is going to break it will most likely be one of your printers.
The Reality of Service and Repairs
Point of sale dealers today are passing the manufacturer warranty directly to the business owner. In more and more situations, this means that the dealer that you bought the equipment from is not the person who is repairing the broken hardware. In most cases, they send the printer off for repair and never get beyond the simple repairs that can be done locally.
What this means for you is less cost of repairs but a longer down time. In many cases the local dealer will offer you a loaner program. Sometimes, this loaner program is in the form of a maintenance plan. Most maintenance plans call for you, the business owner to prepay for a quarterly or annual contract that covers repairs and a loaner. Look closely at the cost of this contract to fully understand what you are paying for. You might be shocked at the cost when compared to owning your own backup equipment.
Even in the best of situations you should expect to have hours of downtime if a replacement printer is needed. Even with your prepaid service agreement the technician has drive time to your place of business or there is shipping time if you are more than a day of travel from the service provider's office.
In most businesses this is totally unacceptable and can cause significant loss of customer service. If you are a customer oriented company, this is totally unacceptable. If you want to have your customers return for future visits then must avoid this situation at all costs.
You Have Backup Ribbons Don't You?
The price of printers are coming down along with the cost of other computer peripherals. There really is not need for your customers to suffer through the down time caused by a faulty printer. You keep backup supplies such as ribbons and paper for your printers. You keep other supplies in your operation and you should consider keeping a backup printer as well.
Even if you have a mixture of thermal printers and dot matrix printers in your point of sale system, you should consider having a simple dot matrix printer as a backup.
Printers today are almost all "plug and play" with identical printer drivers. This makes many of them interchangeable with other makes and models. In most cases you can exchange a dot matrix printer for a thermal printer without any difficulties.
The only real difference you might encounter is a speed difference between a thermal and dot matrix printer. Other than that you should not have any major problems exchanging a dot matrix for thermal at the point of sale.
For restaurants, you would not want to put a thermal printer in a kitchen environment simply because the receipt would turn black from the heat in the kitchen. For this reason, if you only bought a single backup printer for a point of sale system that had both thermal and dot matrix printers it would probably be a dot matrix printer.
What Printer to Buy?
Look at your point of sale printer to determine what type of interface it is. Many point of sale systems will use serial printers at all locations. This makes buying a replacement printer extremely simple. You need only buy a serial printer to backup all printers in your system.
In systems where a parallel printer is used as the point of sale receipt printer and a serial or Ethernet printer is used for the remote printer you will need to buy 2 different printers as most printers do not have multiple interfaces.
Note that I said most, as there are some printers that do have multiple interfaces. Please be sure before you buy that the printer truly will work with multiple interfaces.
The Benefits to You
This is easy. Downtime is reduced from hours or days to a matter of minutes. In the time it takes to call your service provider you could have already exchanged the broken printer and be back up servicing your customers. Now the situation is not as critical and your service provider can either dispatch a technician to gather your broken printer and send it off for service.
You are not as stressed by having your point of sale system be crippled by a down printer.
Your customers are not inconvenienced by not receiving a receipt, guest check or by having their food come out of the kitchen slow because the kitchen printer is down.
In a matter of minutes you are back up and running where before you could have been down for days by a low-cost part of your point of sale system that you could have exchanged yourself.
Don't be caught without a backup printer for your operation.