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Author Topic: Gen Con extras  (Read 8556 times)
Valamir
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« on: July 13, 2004, 03:19:32 PM »

I was thinking of purchasing a digital cash register.  There's a pretty sweet Casio for $200 at office depot that we could actually program in all of the product prices for and just enter a quick 2 digit code when ringing up purchases.  It would print out a receipt and calculate change and all that stuff.  It keeps track of clerks and departments and we could set each company up as a department so that would make end of day pay out pretty easy.

I think it would add a touch of professional appearance to the booth and avoid alot of headaches.

Only problem is, I don't think it runs off of batteries (I have a query in to be sure, but I'm betting no).


Greg, as I recall last year you had a Car battery rig to run your lap top.  Do you plan on having that with you this year, and would it put out enough power to run the register and your laptop both?

If not, how much extra is getting power to the booth?
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alchemist
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2004, 06:27:20 AM »

Valamir,

Ive read a few other posts over the past couple months of other needs for electric too... IF the power needs become too much for gregs battery perhaps those who need/want electric could chip in on it.  I know its cheaper to buy early than at the con, and would be willing to chip in.

The cash register would likely simplify the end of the day, and help prevent mis-charging people.  The question on that end is if you plan to do enough cons to make it useful to you in the long run.
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Cartoforge
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2004, 06:43:12 AM »

I have no problem with the cost of the register.  This will be my 3rd trip to GenCon, and I see no reason to expect that there won't be several more for me to get my money's worth out of it.  The headache savings alone I think will be worth while.

I just don't want to get it, get it all set up, and then not be able to actually use it.
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btrc
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2004, 03:35:22 AM »

Yep, I'm bringing the battery and inverter again. If you can tell me what kind of power draw the register has, I can tell you if its a viable proposition. If it runs off of one of those wall wart power supplies, no problem.

Greg Porter
BTRC
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jrs
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Posts: 373


« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2004, 07:36:30 AM »

Ralph,

Such a device would be a godsend for money management at the booth.  I was thinking about bringing a more low-end adding machine with paper roll, but I'm also concerned about juice for it.  It is *not* battery operated or rechargeable; I'm not sure how it would work with Greg's set-up.

One thing I hope folks will think about a little in advance is discounted pricing or special deals, and making sure that information is clearly recorded for the end of the day cash-out.

Julie
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Valamir
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2004, 08:23:48 AM »

Yeah, especially this year where we've taken a much more "professional" (for lack of a better word) approach to organization and actually charging other booth members I think that we need to have a much better system of handling the financial end.

Last year it worked (although at times just barely) largely because of some really stellar volunteer work by Julie and Danielle.  Part of the reason it worked is because most of the folks in the booth knew each other, had done the GenCon thing before, and because of the social atmosphere took a pretty laid back and easy going approach to the money issue.  As it was it all worked out in the end but it was a lot more stressful than it needed to be.

This year there are alot of different companies joining us in the booth.  New faces, and new people I haven't yet met.  I'm not real comfortable tempting fate a second year with our slightly haphazard money handling technique (although last year was better then the year before's envelope-in-Jake's-hip-pocket method).


I'm pretty certain that the unit I'm looking at uses a standard wall plug, so Greg, if you're pretty certain you'll have the juice to make it go, I'll go ahead and pick it up and figure out how to program it.

What I'll need then is a list of every product that is to be sold at the booth with price and company including any companies that will have stuff sold at the booth but may not actually be present themselves.  

"Company" here should be interpreted as any individual entity that expects to get paid seperately; and "product" here is anything that has or may have a non zero price tag on it.

If someone is already compiling such a list, fantastic.  If not, we'll need to figure out the easiest way to do that.
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btrc
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2004, 03:17:05 AM »

If the register uses more juice than expected, you can always turn it off when it isn't in use, and I can drag the batter back to the room each night to recharge it. One, the other or both should ensure a constant supply of juice for it.

Greg
BTRC
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2004, 06:22:35 AM »

Hello,

I'm keeping a pretty tight list of people, companies, and products already. I plan to have it nicely printed out for use at the booth, both at the register and for general reference.

I'm also (slowly) getting the specs together for the handouts. Right now, I have two in mind: an overall booth listing with very brief information as well as a "what is going on here" statement; and a special/spiff listing for the high-end buy-ins and sponsors, with logos and so on.

As for the battery - Ralph, since you're an official GenCon exhibitor for the booth, feel free to look into the costs of getting the place wired, and I'll leave it up to you to decide whether to do it or not.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2004, 10:37:33 AM »

Ok, ye olde cash register has been purchased.  

It comes with software that allows you to program it on your PC and then upload it to the register which is vastly easier than trying to program it using the arcane key stroke combinations.  This also allows download of the sales data rather than relying on a sales journal printed on register tape.

Its a little squirrley getting it to talk to my PC, it uses a serial cable and isn't particularly plug and play, but I will bring the software and cable to the Con in the hopes that we can get it to work with someones lap top and make capturing the sales data easier.

1) Its a little complicated to use.  I was unaware that being a cashier required some sort of advanced degree in button pushing, but apparently remembering what order to hit the buttons in is pretty crucial.  The fact that this model has beau coup features means there are lots of buttons.

2) I think operation can be boiled down pretty simply to the handful of key functions that little 'ole us actually needs so actual operation should go pretty smoothly, but it will definitely require a training period longer than 5 minutes.  If there are some booth monkey types with retail cashier experience then I imagine it will be a piece of cake for you and feel free to volunteer for the job of head cashier.

3) The register can be programmed with both Departments and Prices (PLUs).  The journal reports can provide subtotals by Department (as soon as I figure out how to get them), so I will be assigning each company a Department number.  There are far more departments than we need, although the higher numbers require additional arcane key strokes to get to.  But I think the basic (easy) ones will be enough.  One of the nicer features of the register is that it can be programmed to replace the Department number with a name so Dept. 1 can be "Adept Press" and Dept. 2 can be "Ramshead Pub", etc.

4) The PLUs can also be programmed with names and linked to a Department.  My intention is, for ease of operator use, to assign each product a number whose first digit is the company number.  So if Adept Press is Dept 1, then Sorcerer will be 101, &Sword will be 102, Soul 103, Sex& 104, Elfs 105, and Trollbabe 106.  Similarly Universalis will be 201 etc.  The PLUs can also be programmed with fixed prices so that hitting "101", <PLU>, <CA> will automatically add 1 unit of Sorcerer at the preprogrammed price.  There is a way to then do %age and $ discounts if necessary though I discourage such activity.

For products such as BTRC's CD-o'rama (which I presume they'll be offering again) and which has a variable price based on content, the price will have to be entered using the Dept # only (or a non fixed PLU) instead.

5) There is also the possibility of assigning Clerk Numbers with names that will print on the receipt.  This is possibly useful to track down who made what sale if there is a problem.

6) I have not toyed with it yet, but the register also is supposed to have the capability of putting a customized graphic logo at the top of the receipts along with text.  We'll see if I can monkey around with figuring out what format and dimensions it wants

7) Yes the register does have a locking cash drawer, which supposedly is removeable but I haven't figured that out yet.

8) At the end of the day then it should be possible to pull a sales journal sorted by Department that will make day end reconciliation if not a breeze at least much easier.


***OK, WHAT I NEED***


1) I need a complete list of all actual companies who will be selling product at the Con with the name they are doing business under (as this may get printed out on the receipt if I can figure it out).  If its a long name give me your preferred abbreviation because I think you only get 12 letters or so.

2) I need a complete list of EVERY SINGLE product that will have or may have a price associated with it by company.  If you think there's an off chance you might sell a signed autographed pair of your old gymshorts I want it listed as a product so that EVERYTHING gets programmed into the register BEFORE I go to Indy and we don't have to figure out how to futz with it on site.

3) I need a complete list of prices that will go with these products because it is my intention to program the prices into the register.  If you have a product that will have a variable cost indicate that.  If you have a product that may be sold individually or as a set (with a different price)...for example TROS Core, TROS Beasts & Men, and TROS Core + Beasts & Men; or all 4 Sorcerer books for 1 low price and if you buy Troll babe we'll throw in Elfs for free...they MUST be listed as seperate products.

***failure to comply with any of these items will make me most wroth and ye shall be sore afraid***

Ron had indicated he was compiling a list but I don't know if his list is as complete in the particulars as I need it to be.  If it is great.  Make sure you get your info to Ron and I'll get it from him.  If its not going to have all of that, then I need to get a list of the companies from Ron and then you will need to supply the above information directly to me

---Ron?


4) Cashiers.  It is almost certainly best to limit the actual people allowed to operate the cash register to a select few.  That will make training easier and limit the possibility of catastrophic mishap.  Lets discuss

a) who wants to volunteer to be a cashier and is willing to swear an oath to the eldritch gods of banking and finance to not screw it up.

b) do we want to program the cashiers first name / initials into machine so it prints on the tape

c) the register requires a key to operate.  I have 2 Manager level keys (required for doing manager type stuff like voiding transactions) and 2 Operator level keys (which don't allow access to the more dangerous functions like programming and erasing all the days data).  Obviously, I will have 1 of the Manager keys.  Some other soul who gets to have the fabulous and completely uncompensated title of Head Cashier should have the other one.  Someone with a Manager Key (who knows how to use it) should be in the booth at all times uncase transactions go awry and need to be cleared.  At other times one of the operator keys should be used to prevent inadvertant disastor


5) Stocking the register in advance.  I guess that since its my register I'll have to take the initiative to stock it with bills and coins for change.  How much do we think we need in that regard.  Any of last years cashiers get a feel for it?


Talk amongst yourselves, I'll be back when I've figured out more feature type stuff.
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jrs
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« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2004, 11:08:24 AM »

Hi Ralph,

I'll volunteer to perform cash register duties.  The only formal register experience I have is from memorizing a price list and adding totals in my head with an open cash drawer while working at a coffee shop in graduate school.  Hmmm.  Sounds like what I did at GenCon last summer.  I'll even be head cashier if no one else with better experience raises their hand.

I have no opinion about the name or initials issue (Julie/jrs)

Advance stocking.  We surprisingly managed to get away with minimal up front cash for stocking the drawer last year.  I wasn't there Thursday morning, but I think there was only about $20 odd to start each subsequent morning.  I do remember asking for small bills and exact change a few times.  And at least once had to get someone else to change out a $20.  Off the top of my head, I'd consider $40 in small bills a safe amount.  

Everyone will price their games in round numbers, right?  I'd really prefer not to deal with coins.

I have a few questions about the new cashier setup:

1.  Is it possible for you to share the operation instructions in advance?  

2.  Are receipt books needed for any reason?

3.  Does the cashier allow input regarding credit card purchases?  I'm thinking of two issues:  identifying which products can be purchased by credit card, and the ability to keep a separate tally of purchases that are not associated with cash on hand.

4.  Should we consider any backup plans in case there is a problem with the cashier and there is an imminent sale?

Julie
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Valamir
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« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2004, 12:22:33 PM »

Quote
Everyone will price their games in round numbers, right? I'd really prefer not to deal with coins.


Gods I hope so.

In fact, if the other primary sponsors grant me the authority to do so I shall hereby make that a requirement.  No $14.95 sillyness.

Which reminds me of a point I forgot above

We will NOT be collecting sales tax at the register.  I have no intention of trying to figure out the nonsense of programming in tax tables etc.  If you are in the habit of charging a cover price and then adding sales tax to it, I recommend upping your cover price to include the tax (that's how Ramshead does it).



Quote
I have a few questions about the new cashier setup:

1. Is it possible for you to share the operation instructions in advance?


My hope is to make both a list of key strokes and a scan of the key pad and have that available to be emailed in advance to cashiers, yes.


Quote
2. Are receipt books needed for any reason?


Good point I meant to include above.  Yes, I think Receipt books are a Good Idea (tm) as backup.  Someone (read someone other than me) should pick some up (the kind that do carbons).

Quote
3. Does the cashier allow input regarding credit card purchases? I'm thinking of two issues: identifying which products can be purchased by credit card, and the ability to keep a separate tally of purchases that are not associated with cash on hand.


Yes, there is a different total key to press depending on whether the transaction was in cash, check, or credit card designed no doubt for just that purpose.  There is also some arcane key strokes for split transaction between the two.  I had not intended to include that in the standard training, but I will have the manual handy if necessary.  I suspect it would be easier to just ring up the two parts seperately.

Quote
4. Should we consider any backup plans in case there is a problem with the cashier and there is an imminent sale?


Well, my preferred solution would be:
Take money, don't write anything down, split cash with Ralph on the sly.

But since that isn't likely to go over well, I think we should be stocked with some receipt books and maybe one of the cash boxes we used last time as a back up.

Which reminds me, I need to double check to make sure the register drawer can be manually opened by key.  It can be locked with a key, but I'll confirm that it can be actually opened (I suspect it should be).
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Luke
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« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2004, 01:46:00 PM »

Ralph,

First off, you rock and rule. This is a great idea. I didn't see it mentioned anywhere in the recent posts, but is power for said wunder-machine confirmed?

Here's my company data and price list:

BURNINGWHEEL (BW) Dept 5. (I'm a bit superstitious, if it's not a problem I'd like to specifically request dept 5.)

BW set, 501, $15
Monster Burner (Monbu), 502, $20
Character Burner only (CBO), 503, $10
BW Monbu Combo (BWMonbu), 504, $30
BW Tshirt, 505, $20

Also, if it's not a problem, for ease of accounting, the No Press Anthology should be a separate department from BW. Let me know if it's a problem.

No Press RPG Anthology (NPA), Dept 6.
NPA, 601, $20.

hope that helps, let me know if you need anything else.
-L
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btrc
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2004, 06:01:19 AM »

Just a thought. I was planning on offering a discount coupon at some point in the show. If anyone else was going to do this, you might want to specify it as an item specific to your company, like:

$1 off discount coupon for BTRC, price of "-$1.00"

That way, it shows up as a negative in -your- sales, not something that has to be figured out afterwards. And of course, you'll be able to see how many coupons were redeemed and on what days.

And it looks like power from me and the car battery is a definite yes.

Greg Porter
BTRC
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btrc
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2004, 06:15:56 AM »

Valamir,
I've sent you a copy of the BTRC sales list via the Forge mailer.

Greg
BTRC
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Keith Senkowski
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On A Downward Spiral...


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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2004, 07:22:23 AM »

Ralph,

Here is my list for Bob Goat Press (BGP):

Conspiracy of Shadows: $20
Coupon: - $2

Nice and simple....

Keith
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