Hospitality Technology: Tell us a little bit about Fazoli's.
Floyd Goldberg: We are a premium fast Italian chain. We have about 226 franchised and 150 company-owned locations across the United States. We led the quick-casual trend, but our drive thru really places us in the quick-service format.
HT: Is your VSAT (very small aperture terminal) wide-area network only for company owned locations?
FG: Actually, in addition to our corporate locations, we have eight franchised restaurants that are currently using our wide-area network (WAN) that they access via the ConnexStar VSAT system from Spacenet (spacenet.com). We expect that to grow this year
HT: What was the impetus for the WAN at Fazoli's?
FG: What started this process was when we first began rolling out our back-office system from MenuLink (menulinkinc.com) to our corporate locations. From day one our vision was to offer it as a service to our franchised restaurants so they would have a true back-office system they could take advantage of and we could easily provide recipes and other help. Today we have more than 60 of our franchised restaurants--soon to be 70--on that program. Already eight franchises have elected to access the MenuLink system via the WAN and more have it under consideration.
HT: It sounds like you really pay close attention to your franchisee's technology needs.
FG: Absolutely. From the inception of Fazoli's we've been a franchisor that catered to the needs of franchisees. When the company made the decision to implement the back-office system, we were working to migrate from legacy systems and legacy business practices for food-cost management and labor management. It is not as though you can turn a light switch and take full advantage of everything.
HT: What was the driving force for the Spacenet VSAT?
FG: To be honest, we managed a very robust and stable dial-up environment. We were consistently in the 98 percent to 99 percent range for polling success. Instead, we wanted to be able to consolidate our credit card and gift card authorization traffic and save with our transaction processors.
In addition we wanted to be able to leverage our intranet to our locations and expand our offerings. Right now we are moving to online manuals for policies and procedures. We want to be nimble so that when we update procedures we can deliver that in a timely manner.
We also wanted to speed up credit card transaction processing. We were an early adopter of credit and we've seen it increasing in the sales mix, but we were concerned to see every transaction taking 20 to 30 seconds. Now we average two to three seconds--that's tremendous for throughput and speed of service.
HT: What was the ROI?
FG: For our model, it was less than a year. We had a lot of projects already in the pipeline, like moving to a new Micros (micros.com) POS and Paymentech (paymentech.com) for our transaction processing. All these things fell into place and we saw the satellite as a building block as we convert our company restaurants to these new systems. There was a tremendous amount of synergy for us.
HT: What is next?
FG: We really want to launch our intranet portal. We bought Lawson's (lawson.com) enterprise and portal solution so that we can push reporting to a self-service model. Restaurant operators will be able to see how they are doing much more quickly making us much more nimble as a company.