a Laundry List of Technology To Do’s for Restaurants and Retailers

If your business has experienced either significant or minimal damage after Sandy and you are likely overwhelmed about the necessary steps to take to get back to normal.

If you’re a restaurateur, bar, grocery or retail business owner and your business and your location sustained physical damage during the hurricane, your technology equipment may not be functioning properly or could be completely destroyed.

Businesses are often hardest hit financially, after a disaster, and the luxury of purchasing new equipment to get systems back up and running again may not be in the cards. Before throwing in the towel and spending what’s left of your precious capital or taking out loans to purchase new equipment there are some steps you can take to evaluate the extent of the damage and hopefully, save some dough.

Below are some technology tips for recovering your electronic devices. In all cases, be sure to consult an expert when electronic devices have been submerged in water or damaged by fire and take all safety precautions necessary.

First things first!

Make sure all your devices have power — Check routers, network switches, modems, etc. Check each cable thoroughly to rule out extensive water or fire damage, severed cables etc.

Check phone lines – Make sure you can get a dial tone by switching out phone handsets. It’s possible one handset was damaged and another was not. Check with your neighbors and call your local phone company to rule out system-wide outages in your area.

It’s important to remember if you have existing warranties on your devices. They may be covered in the event of a disaster. Now is the time the minimal payment you made up front for the warranty pays off!

Triage for Computers & POS Systems

The good news is if your computer doesn’t have power, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s completely dead. Check the power supply of your computer first, by removing it and installing it in another computer. If the test computer doesn’t power up, you may have quickly determined the problem. The cost of a new power supply pales in comparison to buying a new computer, so you may have just saved hundreds performing this test.

If you feel confident in your ability to diagnose further issues, you can also test the computer’s motherboard.

Finally, if your computer has power but it’s not turning on or your operating system doesn’t start, the problem may be more difficult to diagnose. Contact your I.T. company for service.

POS Software

Sometimes sudden power loss can cause your database to become corrupt and cause problems during operation. After checking all your network devices, if your POS system is still not operating properly, it could mean database corruption. In this case, contact your POS provider. There are simple diagnostic tests a POS software provider can perform to restore your software to working capacity.

Backup your database

Backing up your database is crucial even when there’s no threat of natural disaster. If you hadn’t setup an automatic backup schedule before there is no better time than now! Depending on your software package, you should be able to set the system to prompt you to take automatic backups at times when it won’t interfere with your peak business hours. If you’re not sure if the backup system you’ve set up is covering all business crucial information, consult an I.T. professional for help.

If you’ve managed to power up your computers and POS systems after a disaster and they are working properly. Now is the time to backup all systems immediately to prevent any future database loss. Intermittent power loss after a disaster can still cause problems for your electronic devices, so seize the opportunity to preserve data now. For databases bigger than 50MB, you will likely need an external hard drive. This is an added cost but still more cost effective than having to start from scratch. If your database size is smaller than 50MB a backup can be done online through free cloud-based storage services.

Credit Card Processing

Perhaps the most important consideration after a disruption to your electronic devices, being able to process credit cards again will have a direct impact on your business’ bottom line.

If your credit card machine is not working, make sure your devices have power and your phone lines are working. If power has been restored but transactions are not being processed, contact your credit card machine manufacturer or I.T. vendor.

If you were processing credit cards through your point of sale software it may be a simple adjustment of settings to process transactions again. As an alternative, your merchant services provider may be able to provide you with a temporary external machine until the software glitches have been resolved.

Surveillance Systems

To make sure all your cameras are working, check each one to confirm they didn’t get disconnected from their respective power supply. Following this, if some of your cameras are not showing on your main screen, there may have been damage to the camera itself. You can easily interchange working cameras in the positions of the non-working ones to rule out damage to the cables themselves and confirm there is, in fact, a problem with the camera itself.

If your DVR is not showing all of your cameras, there could be physical damage to the DVR’s hard drive, in which case you may need to replace your hard drive or contact your manufacturer for support.

Overwhelmed with the Laundry List?

A restaurant, bar, supermarket or retail store often uses multiple electronic devices, hardware and software to run a smooth and cost-efficient business operation. In times following disaster one disruption to your systems can make or break your efforts to getting back to business, literally. It’s difficult at times like these to coordinate calls and on-site visits with various service providers between while conducting daily operations.

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