As an experienced restaurateur, Pete Conte knew knows how important it is to start new ventures off on the right foot in the restaurant business. Leveraging his experience and success in managing the Nutley, N.J. Franklin Steakhouse & Tavern, he felt the time was right to strike out on his own with a new Franklin Steakhouse location less than 15 miles away in Fairfield, NJ. Supported by an established, successful concept and his own knowledge of efficient restaurant operations, he opened the new location in January 2012.
An experienced restaurateur, Conte believes that one imperative attribute a restaurant can possess is a full-featured, future-ready point of sale (POS) system that can grow with the business. When it came time to choose a POS for the launch of the new Franklin Steakhouse, Harbortouch Hospitality immediately came to mind. Having been thoroughly impressed with the Harbortouch Hospitality free POS system from his experience with it as the Nutley location, the Harbortouch system was a natural choice when Pete launched the new Franklin Steakhouse.
Aside from finding the right location and the best staff, Conte knew that finding an advanced POS system that would suit his needs now and into the future would be critical to the new restaurant’s success. Most standard POS systems are extremely expensive, involving long-term equipment leases that can make it difficult to upgrade, expand or change configurations as needs dictate. Plus, Conte knew first-hand that looks can be deceiving when it comes to POS systems. “Some systems look pretty fancy, but once you log on, they’re very difficult to navigate,” he explains. “We needed something that was both sleek and sophisticated, but very easy to use and that a new person could learn quickly.”
Complicated systems cause bottlenecks in service delivery that result in a poor customer experience, not to mention create big headaches when it comes to back-office management functions, like menu changes, accounting procedures and employee time tracking. A solution was needed that was easy and intuitive for both front- and back-of-house staff, yet offered the complete, powerful and flexible feature set of a sophisticated platform that would adapt quickly and easily to meet changing business needs.
Based on his previous experience with the Harbortouch free POS, the Harbortouch Hospitality system was a natural choice for the new Franklin Steakhouse. The restaurant currently has nine POS stations set up and 20 printers throughout the establishment. Installation took just a day or two, and Conte notes that inputting all of the menu items took the longest amount of time, but once the data is entered, the system is very intuitive and “self-explanatory.”
“Harbortouch stood out for its simplicity once you log on,” Conte notes. “It’s very easy to navigate — the server just walks up to the screen and enters the customer’s order from the touchscreen menu. Everything is organized by menu category to make it easy to find, including bar orders. Orders are sent instantly to the kitchen or bar, which streamlines that process to get food and drinks out to the customer faster.”
In addition to touchscreen order entry via state-of-the-art capacitive hardware, the Harbortouch POS offers exceptional ease of configuration, enabling Pete or his designated staff to make edits and adjustments to the menu. Management can even set permissions-based access to require management approval to void or correct erroneous order entries, providing an opportunity to turn mistakes into training opportunities as experienced staff come to the aid of those just learning the system.
Robust reporting capabilities help the staff track sales performance of menu items to see what is selling and what’s not on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, all from a single web-based management console called Lighthouse. With built-in card reader and optional payment processing services, the Harbortouch platform makes secure, PCI-compliant payments simple and affordable. Employee management and payroll are also included, with punch-in/punch-out time clock functionality to automatically track employees’ hours.
In addition to providing an advanced feature set, Pete says the Harbortouch system was a great bargain and not having to sign a long-term lease was a definite plus. “The flexible terms gave us the opportunity to see how well the system would perform for us without making a commitment that we couldn’t get out of,” Conte notes.
Another benefit is that because software upgrades are included as part of the low monthly service fee, Franklin Steakhouse will always have the latest, most advanced POS platform available with no additional investment and virtually no IT involvement required.
Thanks to the efficiency and visibility Harbortouch brings to Franklin Steakhouse operations, Conte notes that the restaurant has seen an increase in ticket sales and volume. An added bonus is that the management functions save him and his staff a tremendous amount of time. “The payroll functions especially are a real time-saver,” he says. “Now I can log in and see how many hours each staff member has logged, and we can track sales performance as well. We have plans to implement an incentive program to encourage servers to up-sell and offer additional purchase opportunities to guests.”