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Industry Q&A: Wendy's Franchise Dishes on its Complete POS Makeover

Ask any restaurant operator to rattle off their top five technologies and they will most likely rank the point of sale (POS) as one of the most important, if not king, among restaurant technologies. From hardware to software to peripherals and everything and anything POS related, restaurant operators constantly strive to find the best solutions that will fit their organizations to foster efficiency and ultimately drive bottom line profits. Rob Ireland, IT director for one of the largest Wendy's franchise owners, the North Carolina-based Tar Heel Capital, is coming to the end of a major POS overhaul that includes new POS hardware and software rollouts across more than 70 locations. In a Q&A with Hospitality Technology, Ireland dishes on the innovative solutions that are going into Tar Heel's locations.

Technology snapshot
A few years ago, Tar Heel's IT and operations departments evaluated their stores' POS environment, concluding that the software and hardware components were nearing the end of life. Tar Heel Capital ultimately settled on NCR's RealPOS 70XRT workstations with WAND's NextGenPOS point-of-sale software. The NCR RealPOS 70XRT units include 15-inch touchscreens with a remote mounting option, a feature that is expected to increase efficiency and speed of service specifically at the drive-thru. The screens also have the ability to tilt up to 90 degrees to allow employees of nearly any height to use it more effectively. The customizable consumer display system features graphical displays, multimedia and touch technologies to enhance the customer experience. Peripherals installed by Tar Heel Capital include fingerprint readers used for employee-facing applications from DigitalPersona.

The WAND NextGen POS application features a number of key components including upselling, reporting and more. Yet the marquee feature of the NextGenPOS is its ability to handle conversational ordering. This enables staff to enter and modify orders in a natural conversational manner, eliminating the need to interrupt customers as they place their orders. In addition to the NextGenPOS, Tar Heel also implemented WAND's Enterprise Manager, a Web-based application that enables management to remotely control information at the POS from anywhere with an Internet connection, such as prices, menu mixes, sales, reporting and more.

Tar Heel Capital also uses WAND's advanced KVS (kitchen video display system) technology, which is networked and able to work with new data every day.

Five questions
HT: Why did Tar Heel Capital deploy these POS technologies?

RI: We wanted to create a perfect Wendy's solution, in particular, something that lends itself to conversational ordering. We wanted to increase that conversation between employees and guests, but at the same time we didn't want the cashier to be restricted. That is how the whole thing came about. We were using WAND Classic and it was easy to make the transaction [to NextGenPOS]. It is also easy to train on, it is fast, and it is responsive.

NCR was the best bet [for hardware] and we went ahead and adopted them and then decided on their XRT product. We really like it because every single part in the hardware is user replaceable. It is modular, like Lego blocks.

HT: Let's talk about the drive-thru configurations of the NCR hardware. How it is more
convenient for the cashier?
RI: We saw NCR display a graphic of a touchscreen on a pedestal mount. We named it POS on a stick. We were interested in that because in our old drive-thru there was two registers. What this allows us to do is to mount them on a shelf and the touchscreen sits on a pivoting mount, this gives us a lot of working room. Before you were putting one of the registers above the drink station. If you realize it, when you are squeezing one of those registers right at the drink station they do not jive. We want to protect our pos asset and in doing that we've also opened up counter space. During a slow time you can have someone operating both of those registers. We only have one new store that has it, and now we are looking at expanding that to other stores.

HT: Let's talk about the software. What would you say is the most innovative feature?
RI: The capability to make changes to the order is the most innovative thing. I also have to admit that the user interface is pretty incredible. There are so many visual cures. When someone orders a Single it is going to show the default bill of the sandwich and it actually has all of those items highlighted as green on the register. If a guest doesn't want tomato, that green highlight goes away. It is a nice visual versus hitting the no tomato key.

The grouping of items is done in a more logical fashion. Sandwiches sit in one spot, desserts are all grouped together. If someone wants extra sauce a new cashier might have some problems finding it.
HT: What was the installation process like?
RI: There is some work that happens beforehand based upon configurations, but when we get it we place for a morning install we grab the old pos, drop the new ones, do the tests to make sure that the routing is correct for the kitchen menu. It can all take place in a little over an hour if you have two people. And then doing the POS on a stick is a little more involved. Depending upon when you want to place those you might have to put a shelf up.

HT: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
RI: We are really thinking of having a POS system that can work in a kiosk mode. What we are looking at is putting a register on the front counter that has a customer facing touchscreen with a mag strip reader which would serve a two fold function. We want our customers to have the option to keep their credit cards in their possession, but we don't want to alienate them from a person greeting them and responding to them. We don't want guests to get frustrated and we don't want someone to have to baby-sit a kiosk. Self-service is great and you have someone up there who can do things the old fashioned we. Think this is a no brainer for some of our locations that are at universities or colleges.
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