Unless you are a very small one or two person operation, you will need
at least two computers. One computer will be used for registration purposes.
The other will be used for accounting and other business purposes. Don't try to
combine the two uses because it will just cause problems.
For registration purposes, you will need a simple database system to
keep track of your clients. It doesn't have to be fancy, and any ordinary
contact management software should do most or all of what you need. It is also
possible to construct a perfectly workable system with ordinary databases, such
as Microsoft Access or Foxpro. In fact, if you look around you can probably
find a free template system that will do most or all of what you need.
You should also have a scanner at the registration desk so
recommendations and patient identification can be scanned into the computer. If
you have all that information in the computer, attached to the client record,
it will make it much easier to quickly approve them on future visits.
You will need a printer for your computer. Two things are important in
your printer. The first is reliability. The second is speed. You don't want
your clients or your employees waiting a long time while things get printed.
You should get a printer that will print color for printing of your product
labels. Printers are cheaper and better than ever so you can get decent
printers at very reasonable prices.
For accounting, you will need a simple and easy to use accounting program such as
The BUDdy System.
You will want your computers to be networked so that information can be shared
and you will still be able to perform basic functions if one computer is down.
Reliability and Backup
Remember that your business depends on your computer. If it is broken,
you are out of business. Therefore, build in backup and redundancy. A good
choice for backup is an external USB hard drive. You can get drives with
adequate capacity to back up your entire business for $100 or less. For many
businesses, it will be possible to back up the necessary records on a USB
thumb drive that you can slip in your pocket. Whatever choice you make, be
sure that you back up your information at the end of every day. Keep multiple
copies of the backups in case your primary backup goes bad. Check with your
chosen computer expert for methods of making the backup entirely automatic.
With every machine it is not a question of IF it will break, but
WHEN. Eventually, some component in every machine will fail. If your computer
fails, and leaves you unable to verify clients, then you are out of business.
The money you lose in a few hours will far exceed the cost of a spare computer.
You would be wise to consider buying a spare computer, networked to the rest
and configured the same as the registration computer, so that you will always
have a way to continue business, even if your primary system is dead.