A Truck Collides with our Building and a Major Earthquake

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 5, 2018 1:10:44 PM

It was quite a month for many Alaskans - like surviving a major earthquake, just to name one thing. 

(Click here for the  link to see Jesse "saving" his coffee during the quake).

We have had over 1,800 aftershocks as of yesterday, roads are being repaired, schools are still closed, but no one suffered serious injury - amazing.

At Skurla's, we also started the month with a "jolt" - literally. On November 19th, a truck careened into the front wall of our office.  It destroyed the conference room wall, many of the contents, and part of Jeff's office. We are so grateful that this happened before we opened - the outcome could have been much different.  See pictures below!

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Visa Purchase Return Authorization Mandate

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Nov 20, 2018 1:04:00 PM

From TSYS and VISA:

Visa is introducing an authorization requirement for return (cardholder refund) transactions. Authorizing a return enables the card issuer to validate the cardholder account, decline potentially fraudulent cards, and minimize chargebacks if the account does not exist or is closed. The return authorization message is intended to improve the return process by enabling cardholders to view a credit/return on their online banking statement in real time, as well as support other issuer services such as text alerts, in order to improve the cardholder experience and minimize return inquiries.

Important Dates:

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4 Reasons Why This Tool Will Transform Your Restaurant

By Thomas Greenman | Oct 30, 2018 6:01:53 PM

Do you feel like you barely have enough time to run your restaurant? Could you use another employee to help you manage your social media presence but don’t have the budget for one? Do you want more reviews for your restaurant but aren’t sure how to get there? If you’re like most restaurateurs, the answer to all these are likely - yes!

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New Oracle MICROS Help Desk Information

By Thomas Greenman | Oct 30, 2018 11:24:58 AM

Skurla’s Point of Sale Solutions  is changing over to a new Oracle MICROS Help Desk partner effective October 31st, 2018. 

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'Tis the Season for Gift Cards!

By Thomas Greenman | Oct 10, 2018 3:56:32 PM

The holidays are fast approaching, and your customers will be looking for gift cards to give to their family and friends – do you have enough to meet their demand? Typical turn around times takes around 2-4 weeks from time of order, but the closer it gets to the holidays, these lead times can double.

If you don’t take gift cards, keep reading below or click here to learn a few reasons on why you should!

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Should Restaurants and Hotels Invest in Mobile Apps?

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Sep 26, 2018 10:21:05 AM
  • Do consumers around the world use branded mobile apps from restaurants and hotels?
  • How frequently do they use them?
  • How does branded app use compare to that of third party booking and other hospitality apps?

 Oracle Food and Beverage surveyed 15,000 global consumers to assess their appetite for restaurant and hotel branded apps.

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Thomas is Attending the Alaska CHARR Convention This Week

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Sep 24, 2018 2:07:46 PM

Thomas is in Sitka, Alaska this week, attending the Annual CHARR Convention. (For those of you that aren't familiar with this organization, it is the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailers Association - a non-profit corporation, dedicated to serving the needs of the hospitality industry in the state of Alaska.)

Here is a preview of one of the featured speakers:

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Understanding Your Risk - Use Strong Passwords and Change Default Ones

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Sep 12, 2018 1:09:52 PM

Over the next several months, we will be sharing the PCI Council's advice on How to Protect Your Business With These Security Basics.

This month's topic:  Use Strong Passwords and Change Default Ones

According to  the Council's Guide - About 80% of breaches involved guessed or stolen passwords!

Here is what they recommend:

CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS REGULARLY. Treat your passwords like a toothbrush. Don’t let anyone else use them and get new ones every three months.

SEEK HELP. Ask your vendors or service providers about default passwords and how to change them. Then do it!

For more information on managing passwords, click here.

MAKE THEM HARD TO GUESS. The most common passwords are “password” and “123456.” Hackers try easily-guessed passwords because they’re used by half of all people. A strong password has seven or more characters and a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols (like !@#$&*). A phrase can also be a strong password (and may be easier to remember), like “B1gMac&frieS.”

To see how fast it takes to crack a password, click here.

DON’T SHARE. Insist on each employee having their own login IDs and passwords – never share!

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Alaskan Restaurant and Retail Technology Trends - September 2018

By Thomas Greenman | Aug 22, 2018 1:41:51 PM

Once a year, we travel to the Lower 48 to a conference called RetailNOW.  We meet with point of sale companies just like Skurla’s and with the nation's leading vendors.  It’s an amazing event that helps us find out what the future holds for the hospitality/retail industries, but it also provides us with a wealth of information on how we can better serve you. This year’s event was in Nashville and for us Alaskan’s, 90+ degree days are way too hot. But the knowledge we bring back makes it all worth while.

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Understanding Your Risk - Exploring the PCI Council's Small Merchant Guide

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Aug 20, 2018 11:50:01 AM

“Small businesses are particularly at risk from the costs and opportunity loss associated with a data breach. Implementing the guidance published by the PCI SSC Small Merchant Taskforce will help a small business improve its data security practices and reduce the risk of data theft.“ - Michael Christodoulides, Barclaycard, PCI Small Merchant Taskforce Co-Chair

Security risks are everywhere these days - everyone up and down the chain is affected.  At Skurla's Point of Sale Solutions, we take security very seriously - and wanted to share some resources from the PCI Security Council.  

But first, here are some frightening data points shared by the PCI Security Council:   

  • 71% of hackers attack businesses with under 100 employees (Verizon 2012)
  • 60% of small businesses experienced a cyber breach (HM Government)
  • $20,752 is the average cost to small businesses due to hacking (NSBA)

If this scares you too, keep reading below to learn more about how to protect your business - 

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Why You Need A Password Manager

By Thomas Greenman | Jul 19, 2018 7:39:15 AM

If you are like most folks, you have a handful of passwords that you reuse for all your online accounts. You may change a number or two when it’s expired, for example: Password1 gets changed to Password2, and so on. It’s very likely that some family and friends know some of your passwords too, like your WIFI and Netflix password. In a world full of hackers and breaches, you really are making their job all too easy.

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Oracle Hospitality - Now Oracle Food & Beverage

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jul 16, 2018 1:10:50 PM

On Monday, July 16, 2018, Oracle officially launched Oracle Food & Beverage, their new business unit dedicated to serving their customers and partners in the food service sector.

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Updated Phone Tree

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jun 28, 2018 10:19:37 AM

You know the drill -  

Please listen carefully as our options have changed.

Call 907-243-2683 during our normal business hours, M-F 8-5 p.m. (Alaska Time)

  • For support, press 3
  • For the office, press 4

(You can also now dial your party’s extension at any time.)

For after hours:

  • If you need emergency MICROS support, please hang up and dial 855-412-2838.
  • If you need emergency support on all other systems, press 3 to be connected.  Or call 907-444-0559.
  • To leave a message for the office for a call back on the next business day, press 4.
  • If you need support for a call back on the next business day, press 5.
  • To repeat these options, press 0.

If you don't love phone trees, you can also fill out the form below, and we can contact you!

Please Contact Me!

 

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Good News! Update to the Global Thermal Paper Roll Shortage

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jun 28, 2018 9:12:46 AM

Update to the post earlier this month (see below).

Good news!  We will be receiving 11 pallets of paper on July 3rd!

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through this issue.  Next time you come by our office, you will probably see stacks of paper lining our hallways!  

Earlier this year, we shared information about the global thermal paper shortage. Up to this point, we haven't seen many changes in the industry that affected pricing or availability of paper rolls. However, that has now changed. 

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TLS Updates - Thank You!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jun 28, 2018 8:37:08 AM

We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all the hard  work (and your patience) in the effort to get the TLS updates applied to your point of sale system and equipment. 

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Global Thermal Paper Roll Shortage

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jun 8, 2018 10:57:34 AM

Earlier this year, we shared information about the global thermal paper shortage. Up to this point, we haven't seen many changes in the industry that affected pricing or availability of paper rolls. However, that has now changed. Paper vendors are warning of impending price increases and shortages. We have seen some prices quoted as much as $120 for a case of thermal paper and 2-3 weeks delay in receiving paper orders.  Being Alaskans, we have the added difficulty of freight charges and long shipping times on heavy items, such as paper.

We know how critical it is for you to have a reliable supply of credit card paper and receipt paper at a reasonable price, and we are doing our best to work through this (hopefully) short term shortage.

The reality is that there will be price increases, and paper will need to be allocated and rationed at times.  To help with the shortage, here are a few ideas to consider:

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Using Your Restaurant Point of Sale System For More Than a Cash Drawer

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | May 30, 2018 2:28:34 PM

Traditionally, restaurant point of sale (POS) systems were primarily used to control cash and record sales.   

Today's point of sale systems use data in ways never possible before - and savvy restaurant owners are learning what to do with that data to increase revenues, capture market share, become more competitive, while still controlling their costs and capturing vital sales information.  Find out if you are able to answer some of the questions below:

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Reminder: Protect Your Point of Sale or Cash Drawer from Theft

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | May 30, 2018 10:07:00 AM

Tips and Tricks from the Point of Sale World:

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Warning - You May Not Be Able to Accept Credit Cards Next Month!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | May 29, 2018 11:21:17 AM

In reference to last month's article about the TLS issue, we just want to remind everyone again that if you have not updated your point of sale system, most likely your integrated credit cards* will stop working in June.  While the official deadline is June 30th, many gateways are proactively switching over before then.

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Understanding the TLS Issue & Why Your Credit Cards May Stop Working!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Apr 30, 2018 12:00:00 AM

Yes, credit cards may stop working on your point of sale system this summer!  We are providing you with more information on this important issue - please take a moment to read.

First some definitions and background on this topic:

TLS: Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol used to establish a secure communications channel between two systems.

SSL: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private.

On Feb. 13, 2015, the PCI Security Standards Council announced that SSL, a protocol designed to ensure that data provided between a web server and a web browser, such as credit card information, remains secure - is no longer an acceptable way to provide strong cryptography, due to a number of known fundamental vulnerabilities. The deadline is June 30, 2018. 

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PCI Council Announces Changes to Qualified Integrators & Resellers Program

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Mar 25, 2018 7:13:20 PM

In March, the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) announced new changes to the PCI Qualified Integrators and Resellers (QIR) Program in response to industry feedback and data breach report findings. The program changes are designed to increase the number of QIRs and equip them to help merchants reduce risk by mitigating the leading causes of payment data breaches. 

The PCI SSC QIR program offers specialized data security training and certification to individuals that install, configure and/or support payment systems. PCI SSC maintains a listing of PCI QIRs on its website for merchants to use in identifying and selecting trusted partners. Since the program was established in 2012, breach reports highlight that smaller merchants are increasingly under attack, and that the majority of merchant payment data breaches could be prevented by addressing three critical issues: insecure remote access, weak password practices and outdated and unpatched software.

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TLS Reminder and Update

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Mar 25, 2018 5:59:02 PM

We don't want to sound like a broken record, but please remember these important notices regarding your system and the TLS update.  As of today, the new date for updating has changed to June 30th - but we don't recommend waiting.

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Reminder - Time Critical Action Required for MICROS e7 Customers!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Feb 27, 2018 5:14:22 PM

As communicated back in last year, Oracle is not longer actively supporting e7, and particularly e7 with WS4's. On April 15th of this year, the encryption protocol that your credit card processing gateway uses will no longer accept any inbound communications (i.e. accept credit cards) that are not TLS 1.2 or higher.   

If you have all Workstation 5s, just a software update is required.

If you have any Workstation 4's - they must be replaced!

Click this link to see if you have any Workstation 4's in your system!

FAQ: - Read Below

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Reminder - Time Critical Action Required for MICROS 3700 Customers!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Feb 27, 2018 5:13:02 PM

We have an identified an issue with your MICROS 3700 Point of Sale system that will prevent you from accepting credit cards unless you take corrective action.   

Note if you are using the Merchant Link Gateway - on April 15th of this year, the encryption protocol that your credit card processing gateway uses will no longer accept any inbound communications that are not TLS 1.2 or higher.  You MUST update your system before then. 

For other gateways, please contact your processor for deadlines/upgrade requirements.

FAQ: - Read Below

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Take 5 Minutes to Read About PCI & Security - It Could Save Your Business

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Feb 20, 2018 7:18:00 AM

Data Breaches, ID Theft, Credit Card Breaches - we hear this all the time in the news.  And this is the last thing you as an owner or manager want to experience for your business!

Please take time to read this!  It could save your business!

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A Must Read for All Business Owners - How To Avoid Charge Backs

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jan 24, 2018 11:07:17 AM

If you accept credit cards in your business and want to avoid charge backs and/or reduce credit card fraud,  we strongly encourage you to read this article from TSYS, one of our favorite preferred credit card processors:

" Charge Backs, Why They Happen, How to Prevent Them"

Credit-Card-Security-000049484164_XXXLarge.jpg

See the list of the questions about charge backs answered in this article:

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Time Critical Action Required for MICROS 3700 Customers!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jan 16, 2018 11:40:24 AM

We have an identified an issue with your MICROS 3700 Point of Sale system that will prevent you from accepting credit cards unless you take corrective action.   

Note if you are using the Merchant Link Gateway - on April 15th of this year, the encryption protocol that your credit card processing gateway uses will no longer accept any inbound communications that are not TLS 1.2 or higher.  You MUST update your system before then. 

For other gateways, please contact your processor for deadlines/upgrade requirements.

FAQ: - Read Below

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Time Critical Action Required for MICROS e7 Customers!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jan 8, 2018 11:29:18 AM

As communicated back in last year, Oracle is not longer actively supporting e7, and particularly e7 with WS4's. On April 15th of this year, the encryption protocol that your credit card processing gateway uses will no longer accept any inbound communications (i.e. accept credit cards) that are not TLS 1.2 or higher.   

If you have all Workstation 5s, just a software update is required.

If you have any Workstation 4's - they must be replaced!

Click this link to see if you have any Workstation 4's in your system!

FAQ: - Read Below

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Update from the Paper Industry - January 5, 2018

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jan 5, 2018 11:14:00 AM

Thermal Paper Roll.jpg

Update from one of our major paper suppliers:

January 5, 2018 – Thermal paper supply continues to be allocated by the mills due to the on-going leuco dye shortage.  Mills continue to search for alternative sources of supply to meet customer demand.  These sources often come at a price premium driving up prices for thermal paper.  A thermal paper surcharge was just passed to the market and will be in effect at least through the first quarter of 2018.  

As of today, neither Chinese leuco dye plant has restarted production.  The exact date for the restart of the Chinese leuco dye plants is still unknown.  When they resume manufacturing, the supply chain is expected to take months to fill.  As such, we currently project supply will remain allocated through the first half of 2018.

Our strategy with respect to thermal paper supply continues to keep Iconex in the best possible position for paper availability. 

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From All of Us at Skurla's - Happy New Year!

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 26, 2017 9:39:45 PM

We want to thank you for your continued support and business this past year - and wishing you the best for the New Year.

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Enhance Your Investment in Your MICROS (Oracle) System

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 21, 2017 2:48:52 PM

Expand and enhance your investment in your MICROS (Oracle) system, by taking advantage of these online training resources - for only $297/year per user.

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Paper Industry - Good News and Not So Great News

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 14, 2017 4:42:41 PM

So the good news first - the pricing of bond paper (non-thermal paper often used in kitchen printers) has gone down, and we have lowered our prices accordingly.   We like lowering our costs, and passing the savings on to our customers!

And now, for the not so great news from the thermal paper industry:

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Good to Know If You Use a Scanner At Your Restaurant's Retail Outlet

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 7, 2017 10:47:42 AM

If you use a scanner at your retail outlet in your restaurant, the State of Alaska has reminded us of the following:

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Discover Also Says "No More Signing on the Dotted Line"

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Dec 6, 2017 11:11:39 AM

From a press release today:

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Striving for Better Communications - With Our New Phone System!

By Thomas Greenman | Nov 29, 2017 4:44:53 PM

Like most businesses, we are constantly looking for ways to improve. We have a flyer we have pinned up on the walls here that lists some of the key points we are looking to focus on for the year and one of these is: “Better communications with our customers.” 

As a technology provider, our phones are our life line to just about everything we do, whether it be assisting customers, working with vendors or communicating internally. We decided that it was time to invest in a new phone system, and we reached out to GCI for assistance in getting there.

Starting this month, our new CISCO 8800 series IP phones will be changing the way you hear from us. This new system features:

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Oracle Hospitality Advisory for MICROS e7 Customers

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Nov 13, 2017 12:47:13 PM

Since Oracle’s purchase of MICROS and the completion of the existing MICROS Dealer program to the Oracle Partner Network, the e7 Point of Sale system has seen challenges in maintaining existing installations.

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MICROS Workstation 5 Terminals and Parts Discontinued

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Nov 9, 2017 5:16:58 PM

Important Notice!  While the Workstation 5 has been a great work horse for many, many years - we wanted to remind everyone that Oracle has discontinued parts and support for this product.  We have limited access to used workstations and used parts.  If you are a 3700 customer, please read about the new Workstation 6 product line.  

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Don't Forget to "Fall Back" on Sunday - Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Oct 31, 2017 9:18:43 AM

Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday, November 5th.  Don't forget to set your clocks back so that you can get that extra hour of sleep!

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Mastercard Says "No More Signing on the Dotted Line"

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Oct 26, 2017 8:23:27 AM

I just read an article by Linda Kirkpatrick - Executive Vice President, U.S. Market Development at Mastercard - "No More Signing on the Dotted Line".

According to the article, Mastercard will no longer require signatures at checkout for any credit or debit purchases in Canada and the U.S. starting April 2018.  Right now the card brands (VISA, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) have thresholds for transactions that don't require a signature, typically $50.  But starting next April, Mastercard won't require a signature for any retail transactions at checkout.  I imagine that the other card brands will follow suit at some point.

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He Answers to Many Names, Just Not Tom

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Oct 23, 2017 4:37:11 PM

Thomas Greenman came to Skurla's 9 years ago from Alabama.   (How weird is it that we have two employees from Alabama - yes, Jesse hails from that state, too.)  Thomas was originally hired as our Service Coordinator, moved up to Service Manager, then Operations and Sales.  

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Oracle (MICROS) Hospitality - Oracle Support Services Renewal

By Thomas Greenman | Oct 16, 2017 12:25:31 PM

 It is that time of year again already - Oracle is sending out the renewal notices for their Support Services.   You should be seeing a copy of your renewal contract from us by the end of this month.  Deadline for payment/renewal is December 15th.  Below is information we sent out last year for information on the Oracle Support Services program:

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Eye Opening Article - Anatomy of a Data Breach

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Oct 4, 2017 1:53:27 PM

 

Data breach - those two words can (and should) scare the heck out of business owners.  It is everywhere in the news.  I think on some level, people are just throwing their hands up in the air at this point.  However, we don't want our customers to go through this experience - no one wants the CIA showing up at their back door or having their funds frozen because of a suspected breach.

 

To help you understand the impacts, we wanted to share this article by Justin Zeigler, the director of product development and marketing at Datacap Systems.  (Datacap Systems develops integrated payment interfaces for any type Point of Sale Application - so they are very in tune with security for point of sale systems.)  In this article, he discusses:

As a business owner, it is vital to understand the effects of a breach on your business, your customers and your employees.

Read this eye opening article below:

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Tourist Season - Yes, It is a Thing in Alaska

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Sep 14, 2017 9:39:58 AM

It's September. What does that mean to many Alaskans? (Besides the fact that termination dust was sighted on the Chugach Mountains this morning.)

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What the Future Holds for Restaurants and Retail

By Thomas Greenman | Aug 29, 2017 4:07:35 PM

Our world is changing, quicker than some of us would like and for others, not quick enough.  All this change affects restaurants and retail like no other because your customers are on the forefront of these changes.  As your trusted Point of Sale (POS) provider, we find ourselves changing too.  We can’t just be a company that provides for you today, we also have to be able to provide for your future.  To help us do this, Skurla’s has been a member of RSPA (Retail Solutions Providers Association) for the better part of 40 years.  RSPA isn’t just for retail though.  At its heart are hundreds of POS providers and vendors, working together for a common cause: to help you.

Every year, RSPA members, vendors and partners meet at an event called RetailNOW.  I was fortunate to be able to attend and see what the future holds for restaurants and retail.  There were too many things to cover here but there were a few that stood out as key areas for merchants to take note of.

Customer engagement was one of the most popular areas that other POS dealers such as us were interested in.  A lot of this revolved around things like customer loyalty, data analytics (using it) and mobility.  These three things are fast becoming inseparable to the modern merchant.  They don’t have to exist together but when they do, it’s a big win for the customer and the merchant. 

  • Customer loyalty is a system that rewards the customer for coming back to a merchant and giving them repeat business. It’s usually offered up in the way of points that are redeemed for good and/or services.  The big change here is making it as easy as possible for not only the customers to participate but having the merchants staff understand the process and help the customers engage.  Your staff are the “face” of the business and if they are engaged in the process, they will sell it like no other.  But to make it easy, you need to make another change: mobility.
  • Mobility is a two-way street and your customers are already experts. If you don’t have the right mobility options to engage them, you’re falling behind.  New POS options have beacon technology, which enable merchants to know who is in the store or if they are close.  Utilizing this, smart merchants can know what a particular customer likes and market or sell to them direct and the customer will cheer you on for it!  But in-depth knowledge of your customer preferences takes more than just data.
  • Data analytics isn’t enough – utilizing it is key. There are plenty of companies out there who will gather data for you but what do you do with it?  Using that data in a meaningful way is the third piece of customer engagement.  Have you ever been to a store or restaurant and filled out a comment card and never received a follow up call or email?  Or maybe not seen the changes that you would have expected?  Sadly, customers see this all too often and the result is that they don’t patronize that merchant again or are dissatisfied and share their experiences with other potential or existing customers.  Having tools and systems in place to act on your data will help you better serve your customers and turn them into raving fans.
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New Tablet for MICROS 3700 (RES)!

By Thomas Greenman | Aug 28, 2017 11:50:48 AM

Summer may have come and gone but mobility and tablets are still hot.  Having the ability to interface with your customers when and where you need to is what customers expect now.  MICROS has had limited options with tablets but now Skurla’s is proud to announce a new third party option for MICROS 3700 (RES):  the Touch Dynamic Quest II Tablet.

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What Can You Say About Jesse.....

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Aug 23, 2017 2:51:07 PM

Words that come to mind when we think about Jesse Dison, our Senior Implementation Specialist:

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From Oracle Hospitality - How can you streamline day-to-day functions?

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jul 23, 2017 1:32:05 PM

Here are some great resources from Oracle Hospitality (MICROS) to help improve your restaurant operations:

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The Importance of Checking Your Credit Card Batches

By Lynn Skurla Perkins | Jul 23, 2017 11:43:18 AM

In some businesses, credit sales account for over 80% of their daily sales.  If this is your business, you are depositing very little cash every day.  And while most of us count for and reconcile the cash, are you reconciling your daily credit card deposit to the credit card batches that actually go into the bank?  It seems easy and automatic, but here are a few tips and tricks we have learned over the last couple of decades installing integrated credit card systems.

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