At the close of 2008, Hospitality Technology spoke with restaurant operators and point of sale (POS) vendors to offer readers a glimpse at the top POS systems trends for 2009. Key among those discussions were the enhanced POS system functions that operators are leveraging to fight a downturned economy. The November/ December cover story, POS System Trends 2009, explored how operators are levering forecasting, financials, marketing and customer loyalty to fight their profit margins battle. However, these features only scratch the surface of POS functionalities. Operators also cite a multitude of additional functions including instant remote system access, theft determent abilities, menu analysis, and labor management.
1. Instant access
Directly related to store financials and reporting is the ability to access that information from virtually anywhere. Instant POS access from remote locations allows restaurateurs to efficiently manage store performances of multiple retail locations, a function that translates into less leg work and the ability to redirect precious man hours to more important tasks. Ultimately, efficiency equals time, and time always equals money.
With over 340 locations throughout the United States, this is one key function that management for Pizza Inn is taking advantage of in order to get a better hold on store performances. Pizza Inn, who uses the SpeedLine POS system, utilizes its SpeedWeb tool to access store performances from any PC or iPhone.
"That tool has saved me so much money. I can look at payroll sales, open tickets, anything that I want to see can be viewed from any PC. I can even access it from a phone and be on the road looking at it." says franchisee Viren Patel. "When I see an open ticket I can tune into it and tell my managers immediately what is going on."
2. Theft determent
The ability to instantly access store information is also a feature that helps to deter internal theft. For example, if a cashier were to ring up a togo order, with the customer paying cash, an employee can easily void the transaction and pocket the money, an act that would take away from a store's bottom line. Patel notes that the ability to quickly access POS store history and identify irregularities, is an additional way that operators can save money. "You can deter a lot of employee theft that way," says Patel.
Biometrics is another feature that operators are taking advantage of to in order to preserve system security. Dennis O'Keefe, VP of operations and business development for Goldco Inc., operator of 61 Burger King locations across the southeastern United States, notes that this is one key feature to their Aloha POS and MenuLink platform. "The security is all built around the finger print," says O'Keefe. "The integrated biofeedback scanner is built into the side of the register. You cannot unplug it, there are no additional cords and the software allows us to lock it down. It has very much helped us to enforce our efficiencies."
An added security feature that Goldco is looking into is the integration of their POS with the company's camera surveillance system. "If you have a solid POS system with all of those security controls, a good security system will let you look at video that is logged into the POS system," says O'Keefe. "Security is becoming more and more important and it seems to me that theft is on the rise in our industry as things get tighter."
3. Menu analysis
With food costs on the rise, another POS function that operators are utilizing is the ability to effectively analyze menu selections. When it comes to designing the most profitable menu, operators can turn to their POS to determine which items are best sellers and which fall flat, a tactic that Mary's Pizza Shack closely follows through their POSitouch POS system.
"With menu analysis we can look at all of the menu items and determine the best and slowest item. Often we do a menu change when we are looking to have a menu price increase. That is very powerful," says Bruce Lane, Mary's IT director. "We can make a small markup on a larger volume item to increase profits, and it really helped us pick and choose menu items. We have been around for 50 years and we have a lot of favorites; it is hard to think by the seat of your pants otherwise."
4. Labor management
When operators think of POS systems and labor management, the first function that comes to mind is scheduling employees against store sales. Although this is a huge money saver, this is not the only labor management function that helps operators curb their bottom line. Operators will agree that a key labor management tool is the ability to track employee training. From cooks to servers, and cashiers to hosts, ever position in a restaurant requires a certain level of training that will breed both efficiency and increased guest satisfaction when executed correctly. "We have an employee task function that lists all of the training and tests that an employee needs to complete," says Patel. It also lists all of the required forms and documents that an employee needs to fill out prior to starting work. "It has all of the information that we need from this employee and it identifies each person and the jobs that they can do."
Like Pizza Inn, Goldco Inc. is also able to track employee information, such as pay rates and labor costs for managers and part-time employees by shift. They are also curbing the occurrence of employees clocking in when they are not scheduled to, a common problem that can add up to big overages in employee wages and lost money. "We can turn on the rules about employees cloaking in early or employees who come into work when they are not scheduled," says O'Keefe. "You eliminate the occurrence of buddy punching. Employees cannot clock in when they are not supposed to and that is really saving some money there."