The technology you rely on to help you operate your business has a significant impact on your ability to grow, scale, maximize efficiencies, improve productivity, operate more profitably, and deliver exceptional employee and customer experience.

It is also a key financial investment and one that should produce meaningful and measurable returns.

In this blog, we share recommendations for how to effectively evaluate a software company and its products so that you can feel confident in your choice of technology partner.  

Key Takeaways

  • Four critical considerations to guide how you evaluate and decide on various pawn platforms
  • Specific questions you should ask of each company you’re considering (including your current vendor)
  • Simple yet effective ways you can quickly research the answers to important questions
  • Red flags – the types of answers and experiences that cause a red flag

(Scroll down past the article for a handy, shareable checklist!)

Step 1 - Research the Company

When you purchase software, you’re not only buying products and services--you’re also entering a partnership with a company. This is a company you're leaning on to provide vital business services, and should be comprised of people you can trust to advocate for you, do right by you and act with integrity.  

Understanding the people and values behind the software products and services is a critical component to making an informed decision about who you should sign a contract with.

Ask these three company-related questions during your evaluation phase:

1. Who are the company's leaders?  

Specifically, what is their background; what experience do they have that is relevant to your industry and Software-as-a-Service operations; are they transparent and trustworthy?  

Leaders of an organization are accountable for inspiring and empowering employees to carry out the vision and mission. Their posture towards employees is a strong indicator of how they view and value customers.  

If leaders lack relevant expertise or experience, it can lead to poor internal operations which inevitably you, the customer, will end up paying for.

2. What are the company's core values?

When a company has core values it demonstrates a commitment to living by an internal and external philosophy – one that drives behavior and influences decisions. In short, it’s a sign of a healthy internal culture which results in healthy external culture with customers, partners, etc.  

Are the values of the company something that aligns with your own values? You can find values on websites or simply by asking the company employees you’re interacting with for product demos.

3. What are company employees saying?

Hands down, employee reviews and employee satisfaction scores are the strongest indicator of how you will be treated as a customer.

Happy employees = happy customers.

In fact, companies that excel at customer experience, have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies with poor customer experience.

Check out employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor to see what employees think and feel about the company you’re considering working with.

RED FLAG: If employee ratings are low and comments are disparaging, it is a strong possibility company leadership is lacking, values are not being lived by, and customer experience is poor.  Read our other article that explains how to train and retain rockstar employees.  

Step 2. Learn About the Product

This seems obvious... of course you need to learn about the product when you’re considering a new platform. But learning about the product goes beyond participating in a demo once or twice.  

It’s critical you take the time to go beyond just seeing what a sales representative chooses to show you during a product demo.  

3 product-related questions you should be asking during your product demos:

1. What was released or created in the last 12 months? What is on your short- and long-term product roadmaps?

You’re looking for answers that prove continual innovation. If a company hasn’t released any upgrades or new products/services in the last 12 months, it means they are behind the curve and that customers aren’t equipped to overcome challenges or meet shifting consumer/market demands.

If a software company isn’t constantly innovating, it’s dying.  

2. What products are natively integrated?  

Natively integrated products mean that each new feature is built to work within the existing framework. This allows seamless communication between, for example, your point-of-sale and your online shop. The answer to this question helps you assess how well the point-of-sale is engineered and whether or not a software vendor can support your business at every level.

The alternative to native integration is "bolt-on" products and features which are usually advertised as "plug and play" or "add-on" features. The risk of using bolt-on features includes glitchy communication between the different parts of your point-of-sale, which can contribute to downtime and loss of data.

3. How do you stack up against competitors?  

Ask for direct comparisons to other vendors. The key to a solid platform evaluation is being honest about who else you’re considering. Be transparent about the companies you’re vetting, what you like about each of them, or where you think they are lacking.

Allow each vendor the opportunity to answer your questions and address your concerns. It’s one of the most effective ways to see who has the capability to meet your specific needs and who is being honest about their software/service capabilities.  

RED FLAG: A roadmap is a company’s plan for future improvements or developments. If there’s no roadmap, you should expect that you’re going to be stuck using an outdated system that limits your ability to get your desired results. It’s also an indicator that the company has done little to no innovation in recent years and that they have lagging technology.

Step 3. Read Customer Reviews

This recommendation is fairly obvious. After all, if current or past customers haven’t had great experiences, it’s safe to assume you won’t either.

Much of what you’re doing during the evaluation stage is performing your own research or speaking with representatives of a company. Reading about actual customer stories and, in some cases, speaking directly with real customers is a way of gathering unbiased information and perspectives.

3 ways you can better understand the experiences of real customers:

1. Read customer reviews & testimonials

Look for testimonials and case studies on the company website. Browse social media channels to see what customers are saying and check out sites like Trustpilot to see objective customer reviews. Click here to learn more about the key benefits of customer reviews.

2. Ask for the company’s Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a business, purchase, or interaction. Customers anonymously answer questions such as, "How satisfied were you with your experience?"

It's an easy way for businesses to determine whether or not they are effective in keeping their customers happy. Participating in CSAT surveys means a company cares about its customers. If for some reason the score isn't satisfactory, CSAT surveys can help a business pinpoint and remedy gaps in customer service or experience.

Industry-standard for CSAT for software companies is 79. Bravo’s CSAT is 97.

3. Ask for a company's references

Because companies want to be respectful of how often their customers are being asked to take time to be a reference, this is typically only done if you are in the final stages of working with a company and if you plan to move forward with a contract. You would have likely received and reviewed a proposal and verbally agreed on terms.  

If you are in the final stages with a company, speaking to a reference is an appropriate ‘ask’ and is a great final check to validate the information you’ve received through the sales process.  

RED FLAG: If a company does not measure CSAT, won’t share their CSAT score, or can’t produce any documentation about their CSAT, beware. This essentially means the company has no objective way of assessing how well they are meeting customer needs (or worse yet, they don’t care).  

Step 4. Ask About Customer Support & Services

What happens once you sign on the dotted line and pay any up-front service fees?  

Believe it or not, this is as important to know like anything else you learn during your evaluation process.

Too often, tech vendors sell a company a product and then provide little or no support to help a new customer go live. It’s like handing over the keys to a new car with a manual transmission when the buyer has only ever driven an automatic . . . they own it, technically they can run it, but they don’t know how to use it effectively.

3 questions you should ask about post-sale support:

1. What does the implementation process entail?

Implementation includes everything from converting data to onboarding and training to your actual go-live date when you start to use the new software.

Ask specific questions about the steps involved during implementation. A mature company with a solid infrastructure will be able to walk you through each step of the implementation process, including who will be involved, the time commitment, and what they need from you during each stage.  

2. What is the average “go-live” timeframe for a company like mine?

The average go-live timeframe will tell you how quickly a company can get you up and running on your new software.

The average timeframe can vary depending on the (1) complexity of your conversion, (2) number of stores and workstations, and (3) amount of custom work you might be requesting. Regardless of the variations in timeframes based on these factors, a company should be able to tell you what to expect.    

For non-enterprise pawnshops, it’s reasonable to expect a go-live timeframe of fewer than 75 days with Bravo.

3. What ongoing support will I receive as a customer?

Beyond initial implementation training and support, it’s important to know what other resources are available to help you throughout the life of your partnership.

Great partners have knowledgeable customer service and support reps who can troubleshoot issues and resolve problems quickly.  

They offer self-guided training and how-to materials that you can access 24/7. They also keep you updated proactively with webinars, newsletters, and product release communications.  

It’s appropriate to ask about average answer time and average-case resolution time – these are objective numbers that measure the speed and accuracy of Service and Support teams.  

RED FLAG: If there is no documented implementation process, you might be working with a vendor that is “shooting from the hip.” The complete end-to-end process should be clear and repeatable. And there should be an expectation that the process is collaborative, with both parties making time investments.

Step 5. Re-Evaluate Your Pawn Software Regularly

Technology is constantly changing. As we said before, tech companies that don't continually innovate are dying. It's a good idea to keep your eye out on other companies to make sure you have the pawn software that will consistently meet your needs and support your business. Don't let your point-of-sale partner become complacent!

At Bravo, we believe that there should be transparency before, during, and after a demo. It allows us to start on the right foot and establish a relationship. We invite you to ask us these questions and more - so don't hesitate to schedule a free demo today!

To make things easier, we've put this important information into a handy checklist. Save it to your computer for easy reference later!

About the Author:

Photo of Tally Mack Bravo CEO
Tally Mack | CEO of Bravo Systems

Tally Mack is a fifth-generation pawnbroker and eCommerce enthusiast. She loves traveling, being outside, and working out.

Before taking the reins as CEO, Tally served as Bravo's Vice President of Business Development, leading the company's sales and marketing organization. She's been instrumental in leading and executing many of the company's strategic shifts, including the acquisition of CompuPawn and the recent launch of

Tally earned her Doctorate of Law (J.D.) from DePaul University College of Law in 2013 after attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her B.A. in Communication Studies. She also completed the Key Executives Program from Harvard Business School in 2013.

Tally is a pawnshop lover and eCommerce enthusiast—dedicated to the success of both her employees and customers!