The options for point-of-sale technology solutions in the quick-service restaurant arena are as varied as the number of vendors. Selecting the perfect solution depends on the core needs of each QSR and often the details of its nichÃƒ© within the industry. Pizzerias have different ordering and delivery needs than a smoothie shop, for example, while a store with more locations might place higher priority on robust reporting capabilities.
To help quick-service operators make their point-of-sale software selections, HT asked a group of QSR operators from across the industry to share what solutions they use and why. This informal review is based on the experience of your peers operating right down in the trenches.
Core needs: Touch screens, remote access, robust reporting
Vendor: FireFly Technologies (www.fireflypos.com)
Product: Phoenix POS
The Michigan-based QSR chain Mr. Pita made a significant transition in 2008 moving from cash registers to a touch screen POS system.
"This is a huge change for us," says Jeremy Jacobs, corporate supervisor at Mr. Pita. "We didn't really know what we were looking for but the main thing was ease of use."
Mr. Pita selected FireFly after completing an online demonstration. Jacobs says the organization took a risk, but it has paid off so far. Back-office reporting and remote access into restaurant locations were some of the features important to Mr. Pita, especially as the chain moves out of state. Jacobs says the back-office capabilities are amazing to change pricing and add new menus. The reporting capabilities are also an important feature. In the past the locations ran nightly reports, but the previous system didn't provide the type of analysis (like labor-to-sales ratios) that the new POS does. Training employees on the POS system is a piece of cake, Jacobs says. Even some of its older-aged personnel who weren't computer savvy jumped right in with this technology. FireFly provided a POS training station at Mr. Pita's Sterling Heights location to train new staff on the system before they get in the store.
The delivery feature offers another nice function, says Jacobs. All delivery orders are located on MapQuest and the route shows the quickest way to complete all the orders. It not only tracks how long the delivery takes but also provides a red flag when a delivery is late.
"This is a great system," Jacobs says. "We don't even fully utilize all of its capabilities."
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Core needs: Robust system with cash management, labor scheduling, and remote tickets
Locations: 262 franchise, 1 corporate
Vendor: MICROS (www.micros.com)
Product: MICROS RES 3000 and mymicros.net
Tropical Smoothie wanted new POS software to offer its franchisees a more robust solution that would better run their business and maximize profitability. Functions such as cash management, labor scheduling and remote tickets were important features in their POS vendor search.
The company runs Micros RES 3000 series POS software, and has decided to couple it with mymicros.net, an Internet portal with access to POS, back office, business intelligence and data warehousing applications. The application of my micros.net offers the ability to physically log in and see what is happening in the store regarding product mix, lunch sales, void reports, etc. The organization added the MICROS solution two years ago. The touch screen system proves to be intuitive, says Jim Valentino, COO at Tropical Smoothie, which makes training crew members easy.
This POS solution enables franchisees to set up alerts when they are out-of-town in different areas, which helps them to focus on potential problem areas. MICROS has multiple modules that can be added to its already robust system.
"This solution is a powerful system, and we haven't had to do much custom work," Valentino relates. "As we roll out mymicros.net and the myinventory application, we've asked for a couple of things tailored to us, and they are very supportive."
Core needs: Integrated web-based credit card processing, delivery tracking, simplicity and affordability
Vendor: Aldelo (www.aldelo.com)
Product: Aldelo for Restaurants
Westshore Pizza, a mom-n-pop pizza chain in the Florida area, moved to a new POS solution several years ago because it wanted to expand its capabilities. Frank Mooney, president of Westshore Pizza 26 in St. Petersburg, Florida, was especially interested in integrating its POS solution with a credit card solution that goes through the POS terminal and the Internet versus the phone line. The Aldelo solution allowed Westshore to accomplish its day-to-day running of the pizza business but also grow into new capabilities.
Mooney says one of his favorite features of the solution is the delivery system function that records and completes deliveries through the system. "This is a huge time-saver because we don't have to physically do the math subtracting delivery charges at the end of the night, which used to take about 30 minutes," Mooney says.
This solution also is easy for training new staff members, according to Mooney. He was comfortable in about a day-and-a-half and new employees are usually efficient in about five shifts, he says.
"If restaurants are going to do a POS solution, this is the way to go," Mooney says. "It's affordable, user-friendly and simple. Sometimes simple is the best. You don't need a Rolls-Royce if the Chevy works as perfectly."
Aldelo designed Westshore's solution to handle online ordering for whenever locations were ready. About eight months ago, Mooney added online ordering to his franchise location, and it's been growing every day.
"For mom-n-pop pizza places, customers don't expect you to have online ordering as a feature," Mooney says. "It puts us on the same playing field as the big chains. It doesn't get any easier than this!"
Core needs: Pizza-specific modules, web-based back office system
Locations: approx. 70 franchise locations
Vendor: FireFly Technologies (www.fireflypos.com)
Product: Phoenix POS
Zpizza, a California-based pizza chain with locations from coast to coast, wanted to move to a new POS solution that was more tailored to its needs versus those of a full-service restaurant.
Amir Sabetian, VP, operations, especially likes the web-based back-office system with this solution that enables managers to dial in to the store and see how the location is doing in real time without being on site. Sabetian also likes how this solution is user-friendly for delivery. When calls come in, the caller ID searches the customer database and brings up the customer's name and last order. This form of customer service is impressive when employees use the customer's name and remind them of their last order. Zpizza's POS solution also integrates easily with an online ordering system offered through a third party.
"This solution is a lot easier for staff: it's faster to learn and easier to fix if they mess up without having to void the check," Sabetian says. Sabetian believes the new solution saves about 30 seconds on each transaction.
Zpizza is in the process of moving to the solution with four stores complete to date. All new stores will be starting with Firefly, while other locations will switch when their current contract is up.
Core needs: Low maintenance costs, remote access, local representation
Locations: 4 franchises in Houston, Texas
Vendor: Menusoft (www.digitaldining.com)
Product: Digital Dining
K.J. Green, a Church's Chicken franchise owner in Houston, Texas, moved to a new Digital Dining POS solution two years ago, and has been adding a new store location every six months. He searched for a new POS solution because maintenance costs were high with his previous vendor.
Digital Dining proved attractive to Green because the POS vendor not only offered a local sales representative in Houston but also provides remote access. This capability allows Green to change promotions and access reports online from any location. This solution also keeps track of items sold rather than having to manually count inventory at the end of the shift.
The Digital Dining solution is highly customizable into 10 unique register types, giving restaurants control over which features they want, and which features are unnecessary for their environment.
The solution makes training much easier and faster, says Green. In the past, it took longer and people were making mistakes. The rep showed Green how to use the system one time, and he was comfortable doing it. In fact, it's so simple he calls it "idiot" proof.
"A good POS is very important," says Green. "Any little step we can do to speed up the transaction process is important because we are fast food."
Core needs: Touch screens, integration with credit cards, customization
Locations: 30 franchises from Arizona to Florida
Vendor: SoftTouch (www.softtouchpos.com)
Product: SoftTouch POS
The SoftTouch POS solution came as a part of the Froots Smoothie franchise for Leonard Aquino, in Wheeling, Illinois. The features he likes best are the touch screen menus and integration with the credit card processor. Many other systems, he says, have the POS separate from the credit card process.
"This solution is highly customizable and requires minimal training," Aquino says. An intuitive design and consistent controls make the system easy to navigate, even for new users.
Aquino also appreciates the "on-the-fly" output for the kitchen, which allows the kitchen to see what is on the check order before it's actually committed to the system. Each time the customer adds an item to the order, it is immediately visible to the kitchen.
"The kitchen knows the order before the customer pays for the transaction," he says.