POS Peer Review 2009

Next-Gen point of service systems tap the power of today's technology to go beyond controlling cash. The latest systems view the POS as a conduit for many applications and functions, from food costing to customer relationship management to enterprise reporting. Hospitality Technology asked a cross-section of restaurant operators using Next-Gen POS solutions to share the impact these features have had on their businesses.

Name: Smith Dairy Queens Ltd.
Core Needs: Cash, Business Controls
Location: Bryan, Texas
Total Units: 37
Total Units with this POS: 37
Simple cash registers and lax processes were negatively impacting profit at Smith Dairy Queens Ltd (www.smithdq.com), a 61-year-old, family run franchisee. The franchisor's endorsement of Custom Business Solutions' Positouch (www.cbs-posi.com) solution was the impetus the company needed to replace these, ultimately transforming every aspect of the business. While sales dropped 1 percent over the past year, profits rose 300 percent in January and 100 percent year-to-date, thanks to a 75 percent drop in over-rings. There was a 7 percent labor dollar decrease and an 18 percent decline in over/shortages. Drive-thru prep time was reduced from 9 to 4 minutes, and food costs went down 3 to 10 percentage points. Average monthly complaints per store dropped from 19 to 3.

The radical change wasn't easy; in the 6-month implementation Smith lost all its district supervisors, half its managers and some tech-resistant employees. "It turned our business upside down," says Sean Power, director of IT, but "the way it's helped our stores is phenomenal."

Enterprise reporting and every-15-minute updates of sales and labor to a central portal provide district supervisors with near-real-time insights, speeding decisions and heading off overtime costs. A recipe viewer function currently being implemented will replace cumbersome paper books with interactive online recipes to offer consistency, further streamlining a now paperless kitchen. Central menu and pricing control eliminates manual errors. "It's changed the way we operate," says Power.

Name: Memsbury Ltd./Wendy's
Core Needs: Cutting edge POS for competitive advantage, improved accuracy
Location: St. Catherine's, Ontario
Total Units: 3
Total Units with this POS:
"What the customer sees is the POS system and the individual taking the order," says Stephen Memme, a Canadian Wendy's franchisee. "It's imperative that the system runs very smoothly." So when his company, Memsbury, opened a third restaurant, Memme sought technology that would deliver on those goals, and chose Wand's NextGen POS (www.wandcorp.com).

 "It offers conversational ordering, so as the guest orders food you're able to go back and easily change, say, a single into a single combo," Memme says. That eliminates three to four keystrokes and cuts transaction time by five to ten seconds. While the speed is great, "accuracy to me is, more so than speed, the number-one focus. That brings the customer back." Customer displays at the POS and the drive-thru enable customers to correct mistakes. These features plus the elimination of memorization and hidden menus has reduced training time from 12 hours to 3, a huge benefit in an industry with 100 percent turnover, Memme says.

Use of digital menu boards "puts us a step above the competition," he adds, and allows him to control his own promotions. "If something is slipping I'm able to bring up the sales."  For example, a moving image of a Frosty-Cino shake with a cool mist spraying off of it has doubled the product's sales.  Memme plans to implement Wand NextGen POS in his other stores within the next year.

Name: Club Myst
Core Needs: Automated reporting, alerts
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Total Units: 3
Total Units with this POS: 1
"In the nightclub business in Myrtle Beach, it's very competitive," says Moti Kobi, managing partner of three clubs in the area including Club Myst (www.clubmystmb.com). "People are not always loyal. Whatever club is new is the one they go to for a while. So we have to do stuff for the VIPs to make them come back."

Those priorities drove Kobi and his partner Erez Shukarchito to install the newest version of ASI Restaurant Manager (www.rmpos.com), drawn by its automated reporting and alerts. "The alerts are very good," says Kobi. "We decided that even if [another application] was a lot cheaper, we would probably not look at it because of this." The owners and floor manager receive alerts to their cell phones and email whenever an employee approaches overtime, and when voids and deletions occur. That has saved $9,000 in overtime over five months, and sales are up 14 percent over the prior year.

They are also alerted when a tab exceeds $200, and respond by personally greeting the patron and offering VIP club membership. "If you make them feel special, they will come back," Kobi says. The application's CRM capabilities also enable Kobi and Shukarchito to cross-promote the other restaurants, which will be upgraded to this software version.

Automated reporting has eliminated faxing and provided much faster insights into the business, as well as details like who had the most tables, or deletions. "We don't have to wait until we run reports to know what we did," making decisions faster.

Name: Catalina Restaurant Group
Core Needs: Enterprise-based POS, Open Platform
Location: Carlsbad, Calif.
Total Units: 173
Total Units with this POS: 173
Catalina (www.catalinarestaurantgroup.com) never again wanted to be hemmed in by its systems, which included nearly ten-year-old POS hardware and DOS-based software. A desire for enterprise POS and an open, service-oriented architecture-based platform led the casual operator of Carrows and Coco's casual dining chain to install PAR Technology's (www.partech.com) iSiva POS software for its central management approach and use of SQL on the back end, and Java at the front. "We want best of breed," says Mike Repetti, senior director of IT. "We want to move away from the concept of flat files," and do direct integration via SQL. "Having a system like iSiva allows us to utilize cutting edge technology."

Catalina's integration of iSiva with a third party SQL-based back office system has enhanced decision-making and lowered labor costs; executives are alerted when staffing doesn't match demand, menus and pricing are controlled centrally, and the corporate office gets near real-time reporting. "We can get breakfast meal counts five minutes after breakfast ends," and drill down to individual tickets, Repetti says. "We're more agile now."

Catalina is also in the midst of integration with a .Net Web-based ordering system that is integrating well with its POS system and kitchen video system, and has piloted tableside ordering integration with upgraded payment processing. "iSiva has the right technology play so we're able to catch up much faster" as needs emerge, Repetti says, while taking technical tasks away from restaurant staff so they can focus on customers.
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