Marketing materials and salespeople can be valuable contributors to the search for a new point of sale (POS) system. But only restaurant operators themselves can offer testimony about their day-in, day-out experiences with a particular POS software application and how it helps them to achieve their business goals. In this annual feature, Hospitality Technology talks to a cross-section of restaurant operators who offer their own reviews of what their POS systems have done for them. Each review outlines the property's core need, chosen POS solution and results so far. Hot technologies in 2010 range from Web-based to hand held; with integrated loyalty, PCI prowess and more.
Name: Hard Rock Cafe
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Total Units with this POS: 75 corporate stores
Core Needs: PCI compliance, efficiency, centralized reporting
Vendor: Micros Systems
Looking to get out ahead of PCI deadlines, in 2007 Hard Rock (www.hardrock.com) considered upgrading its Micros 8700 (www.micros.com) system in its corporate stores, but instead agreed to beta test the company's first Software as a Service (SaaS) enterprise POS solution, Simphony. "It was important for us to maintain the features that our staff was accustomed to, as well as provide advanced features that would help them gain efficiencies," including integrated, centralized reporting and improved staff efficiencies, says Joe Tenczar, CIO and senior director of technology for Hard Rock International. "The kitchen display system was new to Hard Rock and the field was a bit skeptical about its benefits. Those fears were quelled after the first few installations."
Because of the geographic spread of Hard Rock's restaurants, Simphony is hosted on two server environments to enable longer maintenance windows.
According to Tenczar, Simphony delivers intangible cost savings through the increased efficiencies achieved with a properly architected, centrally hosted and deployed system. The company also saves time because they no longer need to set a separate database and then perform software upgrades and menu maintenance by site; it's all done once, centrally. The biggest challenge is ensuring network access in areas with unreliable telecom, which Hard Rock addresses through the use of multiple carriers and by tapping Simphony's ability to function offline.
Name: Pure Management Group
Location: Las Vegas, Nev.
Total Units: 10
Core Needs: More control, Web-based POS
As the operator of nightclubs and restaurants inside several different casino brands, Pure Management Group's (PMG) (www.purelv.com) locations were often set up as a store within that casino's POS system. "We are reliant on their timing for upgrades, and their ability to report," says Mary Alice Maloney, IT director. As PMG prepared to open Social House, a new sushi lounge inside of CityCenter's (www.citycenter.com) Crystals retail and entertainment venue, Maloney says they were looking for "more control over the reporting aspect and the ability to make changes."
PMG considered its options and decided that a Web-based POS would be the ideal way to address these needs. "The key with a Web-based product is having accessibility," as well as avoiding the capital outlay and IT support necessary for a purchased solution, Maloney says.
Many of PMG's casino landlords were running Agilysys' (www.agilysys.com) Infogenesis, easing the transition for employees. "Agilysys/Infogenesis has a proven track record and our management teams were quite familiar with it," she explains.
PMG began using the hosted solution with the June 2010 opening of Social House. "We have more flexibility in reporting, the configuration is more precise, and we like having the ability to configure menus from any location," says Maloney. "We have on-time reports and can make changes on the fly." The only drawback, says Maloney, is having to call staff changes in to tech support rather than implementing them on their own.
Once PMG has fully adjusted to the hosted solution, they will consider moving other nightclubs to the platform. Another possible modification is the addition of Agilysys' Eatec to manage inventory.
Name: The Beer Hunter
Location: La Quinta, Calif.
Total Units: 2
Core Needs: Hand-helds, integrated loyalty program
Vendor: Digital Dining
The Beer Hunter (www.laquintabeerhunter.com) has managed to grow its busy 7,000-square-foot sports bar in LaQuinta, Calif., into a $5 million business. The company expects its brand new Menifee, Calif., restaurant to reach similar numbers, with just 5,000 square feet. The difference will come in part from the increased efficiency of using handheld terminals to speed table turns and boost revenue, according to Dan Held, general manager of the Menifee location.ãâ¬â¬
As Beer Hunter prepared to open its second restaurant, management decided a new POS system was in order, ultimately retrofitting its original location, then its new store, with a solution from Digital Dining (www.digitaldining.com). Getting drinks to the table even before ordering is complete, keeping credit cards in patrons' sight, and selling more coffee and dessert to time-pressed lunch customers are just some of the benefits Held sees to using handhelds. "There is a bit of a wow factor," he says. "People are pretty impressed with the use of technology."
Hand-held units are also used to process the company's new MVP loyalty program, linked via Digital Dining to Constant Contact, which enables unique promotions, such as allowing groups to select a favorite charity to receive 5% of their check value on certain days.
Name: SIP Coffee House
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Total Units: 1
Core Needs: Cash control
After seven years an electronic cash register system was no longer enough for SIP Coffee House. "It was holding us back growth-wise, and we needed to have a tighter rein on product loss and more control over our cash," says Lauren Stanley, partner. Stanley quickly saw a fit in PAR's services oriented architecture (SOA)-based EverServ QSR POS software (www.partech.com) for the sophisticated features it put in reach.
"We're able to get scheduling, inventory control, and visibility into profitability," says Stanley. "These are things large corporations have set up." SIP attained its goal of cash control, and reporting is providing brand new insights into the business, such as matching schedules to actual demand. Order speed and accuracy are improved, and SIP uses QSR Automations' ePic Kitchen Display Software to send orders to baristas without having to call them out loud. Upsell features have helped boost revenues.
SIP decided to wait a bit before using remote access, but at a month into install is satisfied: "I feel very comfortable knowing I can leave the team leaders there and the end of day reports will be accurate," Stanley says.
Name: Mrs. K's Toll House
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Total Units: 1
Core Needs: Tableside ordering / payment, remote management
Vendor: ASI Restaurant Manager
Spiro Gioldasis fell in love with using hand-held terminals as a server at Mrs. K's Toll House (www.mrsks.com), an eighty-year-old restaurant and banquet center in Silver Spring, MD. When the now-general-manager saw the chance to upgrade from use of industrial terminals to lower-cost, lighter-weight iTouches or iPhones running ASI/Restaurant Manager's (www.rmpos.com) Write-On Handheld software for both ordering and payment, he jumped on it.
"My employees are more productive and they sell more because they're right at the tables; just how I want them to be," says Gioldasis. "Servers see it like a game, and if you have fun with it, you do very well." Mrs. K's average time of open check is down 20%, upsells have added 8-10% to the bottom line, and costs are down due to fewer mistakes and the lower power costs of iTouches versus full terminals.
Mrs. K's also adopted RM Monitor, enabling remote access to KPIs such as summary data on sales, customers, checks, averages and labor/cost ratios; back-office reporting via PDFs, and real-time alerts. "I go to Greece every summer, and I can be at the beach and be watching my sales, who clocked in, what the average check is, who is approaching overtime," says Gioldasis.