Frequently Asked Questions
Which FAS system is best for me?
FAS offers systems that are affordable for even the smallest of shops,
and we offer systems that are capable of handling the automation needs
of the largest, multi-location shops. After discussing a shop's specific
needs, i.e. number of workstations, number of locations, wire order network
requirements, floral accounting software requirements, etc., with the shop
owner or manager, FAS can propose a system that will best meet those needs.
Do I have to purchase my hardware from FAS?
While FAS normally provides complete "turnkey" systems, including hardware
and software, we do not require a shop to purchase all of its hardware
from FAS. FAS will use hardware that a shop already has, provided that
equipment is compatible with FAS products. Virtually all FAS customers
however, purchase their servers--the main "brain" of the systems--from FAS.
I've noticed that on-site installation and training is optional with FAS's
smaller systems. Should I consider purchasing this service?
FAS provides on-site installation and training services as a standard service
with its larger systems. This service is optional, though recommended,
with FAS's smaller entry-level systems. The benefit of on-site assistance
increases substantially with and in direct proportion to the size and complexity
of the system. A shop using a FAS system only for invoice entry and billing
can get the assistance it needs by calling FAS's support staff.
A shop with multiple workstations and/or multiple locations interfacing their
systems to Mercury, Dove, FASnet, and/or a credit card processor will find that
the on-site assistance is worth every cent. With any software application,
it's much easier to learn a system while being taught by an experienced instructor
than it is to read a manual and hunt for the features you desire to use.
Should I choose a system with a Windows (graphical) user interface or a text
(non-graphical) user interface?
With FAS you do not have to make a choice between the two environments. You
can have BOTH within the same system. Users who prefer the Windows interface
will be perfectly comfortable and familiar with FASwin-FAS's graphical
software-while users who may not be so computer-savvy may be more at ease with
FAS's simple, text interface. FAS is the only floral technology vendor
who offers this level of flexibility within the same system. Some vendors
offer either only a graphical or only a text system. Other vendors may offer
multiple systems, some of which are graphical and some of which are text-based,
but each of those systems uses exclusively either one type of interface or
The type of interface used by a shop is ultimately a matter of personal
preference. Most major retailers do not use graphical systems for their
point-of-sale (POS) workstations. Think about any of the large stores you'
ve been in recently. Chances are that few of these stores, if any,
had clerks rolling a mouse around on the sales counter as they checked out
the items you were purchasing. These companies must use systems that are
extremely stable, reliable, and secure. However, with FAS you have the
option of using the "point-and-click" environment of Windows to enter
transactions, or you can just as easily and efficiently enter transactions by
making simple, one-key selections on the POS station. Why consider any system
that restricts your choices?
Why does FAS use a Linux server instead of a Windows server?
As discussed above, the FAS system fully supports Windows applications and a
Windows graphical interface for the FAS software at the workstation level.
At the server level however, FAS uses Linux (and Unix with older systems)
instead of Windows. The primary reasons for this choice are reliability and
security. In general, a Linux/Unix server-and consequently a business
management system built around a Linux/Unix server--will be more reliable and
more secure than a Windows-based server and network. FAS users routinely go
weeks, months, or even years without having to reboot their servers, which
run 24 hours a day, often for as long as 8, 10, 15 years or longer. Most web
servers, which have extremely high requirements for performance and reliability,
are also based upon the Linux operating system.
Companies doing large volumes of transactions simply can't afford to experience
repeated system crashes that frustrate customers who would be forced to wait
while sales clerks "reboot" their POS networks. Users of some floral technology
products frequently experience these very situations. Windows is notorious
for having issues related to stability and security. From the fatal
"blue screen" to the "Out of memory" message to the "Illegal operation" message
you often receive just before the system freezes up. Windows workstations
and Windows servers are also routinely shut down by viruses, adware, or
spyware that is acquired over the Internet. Linux does not share this level
FAS offers the best of both worlds-the power and stability of Linux at the
server level, along with the flexibility and ease of use of Windows at the
workstation level. FASwin allows a PC to access the data and functionality
that reside on the Linux server, just as a PC can access a web application
running on a Linux server on the Internet. And that same PC can also run FAS
in the non-graphical mode.
See the related links below.
Symantec Security Response.
Linux vs. Windows Viruses.
Linux and Windows security compared.
10 Reasons to Switch to Linux in 2012
Does FAS offer financing?
Yes, many florists take advantage of the financing programs offered by FAS.
The simple credit application requests a bank reference, a couple of trade
references, and owner information. Applications are normally processed within
an hour or so. Most shops choose the 60-month finance option, although shorter
terms are available. While the programs are known as "lease/purchase" programs,
after the term of the agreement, you own the system without having to make
additional monthly payments.
Wouldn't I be safer buying a system from a larger company, such as a wire service?
Not necessarily. A few short years ago, there were six "larger companies", i.e.
wire services. Today, only two of the original Big Six are still with us.
Two disappeared in bankruptcy. A third was forced to sell out to a competitor
because the owner found his company suffering from a "cash shortage", and the
fourth also found it attractive to sell out to a competitor. The wire service
industry will continue to decline as consumers' buying habits change and as
wire service membership and traditional wire orders continue to decline.
Teleflora's Eagle™, RTI™, and Daisy™ are all products that have been through at
least one change in ownership, including a couple of previous wire services.
Many RTI™ users have actually experienced three owners of that product, including
A&T Express™ and Redbook™. FTD's Advantage™ was originally the privately-owned
Data Rose™ system, and FTD™ itself has gone from a member-owned co-op to an
investor-owned company to a publicly-traded company and back to a private
investor-owned company, and back to a public company, all since 1994.
Both FTD™ and Teleflora™ experienced
significant changes in senior management in 2004 and FTD™ was sold yet again in 2008.
Obviously, size does not guarantee success or stability.
On the other hand, buying from a company too small to meet the needs of its
customers can be risky. I've heard from users of other systems who were
unable to get support from their vendor when the programmer or support rep
went on vacation. You also have to question the long-term viability of a
company that has only a couple of dozen users, with almost half as many
employees, after years in business.
FAS has a 33-year track record of success. FAS has turned down numerous very
attractive offers to sell out to its primary competitors and to go to work for
these companies. However, FAS believes remaining independent has always
served the best interests of its customers and its employees. FAS has
achieved a critical mass of customers that will sustain the company for many years to come. Unlike FAS's primary competitors, the programmers
who wrote the original FAS system 33 years ago are still the programmers who
write FAS programs today. In fact, they are the owners of FAS. Large corporations
owned by "hands-off" investors tend not to have the personal vested interest
in making certain their customers' needs are being met. You are far more
concerned about making sure your flowers get to a wedding or funeral on time
than a clerk working for a corporate chain store whose headquarters are a
thousand miles away. Similarly, FAS's owners work closely with FAS's customers
to provide a quality product and a high level of customer service.
Does FAS offer a technical support program?
Yes, FAS offers whatever level of support a florist chooses. FAS's
comprehensive program provides for unlimited technical support,
software upgrades, wire service directory updates, payroll updates, FASnet's
monthly access, and membership in IFA. However, FAS does not mandate
participation in these programs. If you don't want any of these services,
you pay absolutely nothing. Or, you can selectively choose which items
you want to purchase.
I've heard and read that FAS has been around for 33 years. Does that mean your
products are old and outdated?
Absolutely not! This makes no more sense
than a new flower shop suggesting that a shop that has been around for 33 years
is selling old, wilted 33-year-old flowers. In most other industries, a
company's long successful track record is considered an asset, rather than
the liability our competitors try to suggest. FAS has consistently released
new software upgrades each and every year during its entire history. Our
hardware represents the absolute latest and most advanced technology that
manufacturers have to offer. Our systems allow you to use PCs, flat-screen
terminals, or low-cost CRT terminals as workstations. They allow you to
send email confirmations to your customers and to automate the receipt of
orders from your own web site. FAS's software includes marketing and delivery
management software that is unsurpassed by any of its competitors.
Is FAS or FASnet a wire service?
No, not at all. FAS is strictly a technology company. FAS has never charged
a cent in "membership" fees or clearinghouse fees. FAS's floral accounting
software does support florists' use of wire services though. For example,
with a FAS system, you can process Teleflora orders over Dove; you can
process FTD™ orders over Mercury™ and you can process FTD™, Teleflora™, FSI™,
and IFA's™ Florist Direct orders over FASnet--all with a single
FAS system. Similarly, with FAS you can process credit cards through
Teleflora™, FTD™, or through our independent FAScash program that routes your
funds directly to your local bank. FASnet is the only independent network
that provides universal coverage through all major wire services. However,
orders sent over FASnet are cleared through the respective wire services,
not through FAS.
Other vendors have promised me rebates and more incoming wire orders if I
purchase their technology. What do I get with FAS?
First, you have to carefully
evaluate some of the "too-good-to-be-true" offers being made to some shops.
Shops that send 100 outbound wire orders a month or less find that their rebates
are quickly eaten up in membership fees, network access fees, low-sending fees,
reciprocity surcharges, directory fees, magazine fees, etc. In most cases,
shops find that the high monthly fees far exceed the rebates they receive.
As far as increasing the number of wire orders you receive, that would be
questionable at best. After all, who determines which shops fill your orders?
You do, of course. As a filling shop, you must rely on the sending shops to
select you, not a technology provider. It is entirely possible that a technology
vendor who is also competing against retail florists through its "order gathering"
practices could route more orders to you, but how many "preferred" shops can
there be in your town? Then, you should be very cautious about relying too
heavily on incoming orders, particularly orders from competitors, as the basis
of your business. Costs of goods sold and labor can each run about 30%-35% of
gross sales. When you consider that incoming wire orders are discounted at
least 40%-45% after factoring in the costs of wire service membership, network fees,
transmission fees, etc., how much profitability can these orders contribute
to your bottom line? Unless your operating expenses--advertising, utilities,
insurance, gasoline, supplies, taxes, etc.--are less than 5% of gross sales--a
virtual impossibility, incoming orders filled to full value contribute very
little to additional net profit. In fact, processing these orders could actually
be making you lose money.
What you do get with FAS is a company that is committed to the success of its
customers. FAS has successfully provided its customers with the tools they
need to flourish and prosper in increasingly difficult and competitive times.
You get a system that is as solid as the company standing behind the product.
You get a great product at a fair and reasonable price. You get a company that
has never competed against its customers and that will never compete against
its customers. And most important, you get your own independence. Some technology
companies use their systems to restrict or control the way shops do business.
The shops sometimes find themselves working for the technology provider,
rather than the technology provider working for the shops. Technology should
expand your business options, not restrict them.
Do I have to use third-party software for payroll, accounts payable, general
ledger, checkbook, or inventory functions?
No. FAS offers a comprehensive, integrated floral accounting software system.
Some systems require you to use generic, off-the-shelf software for these critical
management functions. Since FAS has developed these programs itself, its support
staff and programmers can provide a much higher level of general and technical
support and can more effectively address requests for software modifications
and enhancements. Companies that are "resellers" of third-party products can
usually provide only a superficial level of basic user support and most often
are prohibited from modifying the software.
Of course, if you prefer to use third-party, off-the-shelf accounting software
with your FAS system you can certainly do so.
I already have a system in my shop.
If I convert to FAS, can my data be automatically converted?
Yes, FAS has formal agreements with FTD and Teleflora that allow users of FTD
or Teleflora technology to have their data exported by those companies and
imported into FAS. FAS has also cooperated with other companies under informal
relationships in exchanging data, and FAS can import data from virtually any
system that can export data in text (ASCII) format. Due to the different file
structures, data field lengths, data types, etc. used by the various floral
technology systems, there can be limitations to the scope of data that may be
converted. However, at the very least, you could expect your entire customer
database, along with outstanding account balances, to be automatically loaded
into your new FAS system.
Some companies charge a monthly user fee instead of a one-time, up-front
purchase price like FAS. Why should I pay more for FAS when I can get one
of the other systems for little out-of-pocket money?
Some floral technology companies do provide their software on a "subscription"
basis, i.e. you don't really buy a license to use their product as you do with
most software, but you pay a monthly subscription fee for as long as you use the
software. Our competitors present this feature as a competitive advantage over
FAS and other floral technology companies, when in fact, this type of program
can present a huge financial disadvantage to a florist. If a business, floral
or otherwise, changed computer systems every few months or even every year or
so, the subscription-based program might make sense, but that's simply not the
way things work in the real world. It's not easy or cheap to continually train
your employees to use new systems, and the value of critical business data that
is usually lost when converting from one system to another is significant.
The reality of the matter is that businesses don't jump around from system to
system every few months or every year or so. Instead, they usually commit to
a management system for the long term. Sure, these subscriptions may require
a smaller initial investment, but over the long term, the subscription-based
programs can cost far more. For example, one floral software company's web
site states that its single-user software can be essentially rented for $100
a month. In five years, you would pay that company $6,000 and still not own
anything! And remember, this doesn't include the cost of hardware.
In 10 years, the software fee would double to $12,000, and you still own nothing.
The subscription fees are considerably higher for multi-user versions of the
software. In contrast, you can purchase from FAS and own a high-powered,
multi-user computer system, laser printer, and our 3-user software for $5,695
and use the software forever without paying another dime, if you so choose!
FAS's approach provides far greater value to a florist.
Is FAS's software web-based or would I have a local server in my shop?
Each FAS user has a server in his shop. All data and programs needed by the shop reside on that server.
This approach provides numerous advantages in performance and reliability, compared to a web-based
application, i.e. a system that requires you to retrieve your programs and data from a remote server
over the Internet. You can access and process data stored on a local, in-house server much faster
than you can access and process data over the Internet, even though you have high-speed Internet service.
With a web-based application, when your local Internet service goes down, YOU go down.
You can't access customers, invoices, account balances, or any other shop data.
With a web-based application, when your host's Internet service goes down, then the ENTIRE GROUP OF
USERS WHO RELY ON THAT HOST is down. In fact, web-based floral systems have gone down, preventing
all users of those systems from continuing normal operation of their businesses. Losing access to your
shop data and software functionality at any time of the year would be terribly disruptive and costly,
but losing access to shop data and software at any of the floral holidays would be catastrophic to the
entire group of users who depend on that system. A "distributed" environment in which each shop has its
own server greatly reduces these vulnerabilities. Furthermore, having your data stored on a server in
your shop, instead of being stored on a server owned by someone else at another location, helps you
protect the privacy and integrity of sensitive business and personal data.