July 27, 2016
Looking for a way to increase business for your restaurant(s)? If you accept takeout, phone in, or delivery orders and aren’t taking online orders, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. This is part one of a 3 part article where we will discuss online ordering in the restaurant market place. In this article we will cover 4 major benefits of general online ordering. In part 2 we will take a closer look at some of the different pricing models and options out there. Finally in part 3 we will look at fully integrated, semi integrated and non-integrated online ordering solutions and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Let’s dive into the nitty gritty then shall we? Here are 4 ways that online ordering can improve a restaurant’s revenue and profit. Receiving an online order in place of a phone order lessens the burden on restaurant staff. Order accuracy is significantly improved with online orders. A good online ordering experience can increase the frequency of guest orders. Finally, average orders are larger when placed online.
Keep your staff off the phone
I would consider myself fairly quick when it comes to placing an order on the phone. I research the menu ahead of time and write down what I am going to order (along with any modifications or choices) in the order I am going to order it. I know it’s odd… but it’s how I operate. Then when I call, I run through the list and typically provide the answers to any questions (such as what side I want) before the operator has to ask. Even so, when I call in for pizza delivery I still have to give my full name, address, place my full order, read off my credit card number (always hate doing that), wait for it to authorize and finally wait for the operator to look around and quote me an estimated delivery time. This whole process ties up a restaurant employee for a minimum of a few minutes and certainly much longer for a patron less prepared than I. But there’s no way around it (or is there?). Also, it’s distracting. That employee can’t just sit there and answer the phone so they must be assigned to another task at the same time. If that other task is making a pizza, well then that pizza is getting delayed by 3+ minutes every time an order comes through. If they are working the register then that person in line is going to have to wait a few minutes while the phone order is entered. If the person on the phone was out bussing tables then that 3+ minutes is now 5+ as they walk to the phone and walk back to pick up what they were doing.
When I place an order online that employee experiences much less of a distraction and has a lot less to do. The kitchen can start making the order and the cashier can wait until there are no customers in line to enter it into the POS. Better yet, if the online ordering solution is integrated it is already entered in the POS and just needs to be tendered when complete!
Improve order accuracy
So beyond the use of restaurant staff resources, there’s also the element of human error. Whether the patron placing the order words something incorrectly or the operator entering the order doesn’t hear something, the occasional mistake will inevitably be made.
When an order is placed via online ordering, the number these mistakes are significantly reduced. Things like language barrier, bad cell reception and poorly worded orders from the patron are completely eliminated. This results in happier customers and much less food waste.
Check out Jimmy Johns online ordering page for a great example (screenshot below).
Increase order frequency
A couple years ago a Jimmy Johns opened about 10 blocks from our office here in Eugene. A couple months later our office placed our first order from them. We had a conference call that day that the entire office was participating and of course it was scheduled right through lunch. During that call, I searched “delivery near me” on my phone and found Jimmy Johns. From there we were able to silently pass a note around the conference room table, all bring up JJ’s menu on our devices, place an online order and have it delivered without saying a word or interrupting the conference call in any way.
For me, this was when it really hit me how much online ordering (especially paired with delivery) can stick a customer. Sure I had done that with pizza many times, but why only pizza. I have pizza because of online ordering and delivery way more than I would otherwise. And now I have Jimmy Johns way more often for the same reason. Sure the sandwiches are fine, but it’s the convenience on the days when I just can’t leave my desk that gets me.
Increase average order
Online ordering can do wonders for increasing a restaurant’s average ticket for takeout and delivery orders.
Upselling is always a great tactic for increasing the average ticket but it’s proven significantly more effective through online ordering. This is for several reasons. When prompted for an up-sale over the phone, the customer is giving little time to ponder the decision and typically decline by default. When prompted via placing a web order there are no time constraints and that customer can really look and think about that additional item or upgrade. They can also be presented with images which as we all know can go a huge way toward selling to a hungry customer. Finally, some of the better solutions out there allow you to configure the user experience so certain complimentary items are upsold based on other items already ordered or customer history.
These 4 factors all combine to make online ordering a must have for any counter service or delivery restaurant in 2016. Check back next week when I will discuss some of the benefits of an online ordering solution that integrates with point of sale and the different levels of integration.
July 8, 2016
Replacing an old surveillance system can be a costly ordeal. When upgrading from an analog system to a modern, hi-def solution you have to replace the DVR unit / PC, run new cables, replace all the cameras, and pay for somebody to do all of the above. While there is no doubt in my mind it is worth the cost, a budget is a budget and if the money isn’t there it ain’t happenin’. Luckily, there are solutions out there for an affordable surveillance upgrade.
For the uninitiated, a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) takes a signal from analog cameras and converts them into a digital signal that can be recorded to a hard drive. A NVR (Network Video Recorder) takes input from digital cameras via a TCP/IP network and records it to a hard drive. While analog cameras have a definitive max resolution well below “hi definition,” the network video architecture allows for extremely high resolution cameras to be used. These hi-def cameras can produce video in resolutions as high as 4096 x 2160 (hi def television is 1024 x 768) allowing for crystal clear images and the ability to zoom while retaining visibility.
When installing a brand new hi-def camera systems just doesn’t fit into the budget though, a hybrid DVR/NVR solution might just be the perfect fit. A hybrid solution allows existing analog cameras to be used on a new NVR capable of utilizing the hi-def cameras. This prevents the need to run new cables to existing cameras and allows these existing cameras to be replaced over time. This spreads out the cost without cutting the number of cameras in the system. New hi-def cameras can be rolled out as replacements or in addition to existing analog cameras.
Shooters Pub purchased a analog DVR from us over 5 years ago. The system worked great and they loved it but when they were in our office purchasing supplies, they noticed some hi-def cameras on our demo floor. We worked with them to create a hybrid solution so they could utilize the hi-def cameras in a couple places where they needed better coverage. Choosing the hybrid solution kept the price down and helped them retain their existing coverage without replacing everything all at once. Our service technician Garry finished installing their hybrid system just last week!
June 30, 2016
For years, on premise point of sale with a server on-site has been the answer. For many concepts it still is. On-site point of sale systems like the Oracle Micros 3700 and ASI’s Restaurant Manager are extremely rich and stable. They’re also sold, configured and installed by a local office thereby providing better and more readily available support. Cloud based point of sale systems are improving though, and are definitely cementing their place in certain markets where they fit.
Mother’s Juice Cafe has been a fixture in Bend, Oregon for years. When they decided to open their 3rd location, they had a decision to make: Purchase another on-premise POS solution and run 3 disparate systems or move to something with central management in the cloud. I sat with the owner, Mike, back in late April to discuss the pros and cons of both options.
With on-premise point of sale, there’s no dependency on the internet which leads increased stability. The system is also purchased outright with no monthly fees for hosting. There’s also the increased functionality and stability that comes with a system that has been developed and built over 15+ years. But in this case, those things weren’t as important. Sure it’s nice to own the system with no monthly fees, but the additional up front cost counteracts that. And for Mike, those additional features and functions just weren’t the ones that he needed for his business.
That brought us to cloud based options. The option we settled on was MobileBytes tablet point of sale system. It solved several issues. First of all, the up front cost was much less of a barrier. MobileBytes runs on iPads which he purchased himself. We provided peripherals like printers, cash drawers, iPad enclosures, networking devices and mounts. They also saved a good amount on the up-front labor by having managers sit in on a training meeting and then programming the majority of their own menu. The second huge benefit of the cloud based point of sale for Mother’s is the ability to manage the enterprise from anywhere. They can add a menu item once, and push it down to any or all the stores with just a couple clicks. The reporting consolidates these to a single item so they can see enterprise wide sales of menu items etc. without having to add numbers from disparate point of sale systems.
We also helped Mike address some of the drawbacks of a cloud based point of sale solution. The offline capabilities offered by MobileBytes are unmatched in the cloud point of sale world. A loss of internet doesn’t cripple the system like it would with most other cloud solutions. The fragile nature of running on consumer grade hardware (iPads) was also a concern for Mike. Our iPad enclosures and stands are all heavy duty, metal, and offer a lifetime guarantee. The magnetic card reader (used for credit cards) for iPad systems uses the audio jack on the iPad. Anybody that uses headphones regularly will know how fragile these ports are, so our enclosures pin that card reader against the unit and keep it firmly bolted in place. Last, but certainly not least, is the local installation and support. Other cloud based offerings are just purchased via a website and not tailored specifically to each restaurant. Support is offered via email or phone only and is typically routed to a single call center somewhere in the US (at best). Mike has met my staff in person and we all know his system and his business. He knows he can count on us 24/7/365 for support, programming help, or on-site service.
All in all, I worked with Mike to make sure his decision to move to cloud based point of sale was the right one. From there, implementations specialist Andrew worked with Mike and his general manager to configure the system, train their staff, and make sure that the transition was a smooth one.
If you’re in Bend, be sure to check out Mothers Juice Cafe at either of their locations (location 3 coming soon!) for a great healthy breakfast or lunch!
June 22, 2016
They must be doing something right! Falling Sky opened their 3rd restaurant and public house this week in the basement of the EMU on the U of O campus. Almost a year ago, Rob Cohen with Falling Sky came to me and told me that they had won the bid to open another location in this space. He has the Oracle Micros e7 at the other two locations and loves the stability and simplicity of the product. The Pizzeria was a new concept though so we wanted to make sure to explore the options and make sure we found the right fit.
After looking at the requirements on the software side, we settled on the Oracle Micros 3700. The features that pushed us to that product were the pizza ordering module (and reporting) and the kitchen display capabilities. We spent a significant amount of time discussing how a pizza concept is such a challenge in Point of Sale because of the half and halves, different crusts, sizes, toppings, sauces and the amount of menu customization that the patrons expect.
Our implementation specialist Kevin Schulman handled the project. Fresh off the heels of his installation for the Stone Fire pizza concept at LCC, we thought he would be best suited. Kevin installed 3 workstations at the counter, where customers form a single line and go to whichever register is open next (like at Jerry’s Home Improvement). Another workstation serves as an order entry point for the bartender to add additional rounds to open tabs.
Two (soon to be 3) kitchen display systems (KDS) serve as the order output in the kitchen. This allows them to see reports of how long a ticket takes from being sent to the kitchen until completion. The KDS also allows them to color code their items, so a priced modification shows in red, salads show in green etc. The KDS monitors are wall mounted so they are up and out of the way, with a wireless keypad used to indicate when orders are complete.
Check out their menu here and go try one of Falling Sky’s delicious “farm to pie” pizzas!
June 17, 2016
Emerald Business Systems new informational website!
It’s been over 5 years since we last revamped the Emerald Business Systems website. Of course there has been the occasional update, but this time we’ve completely kicked the old layout and objective out the window. Before we focused marketing only. While we are still providing marketing and product information specific to EBS, we are also shifting toward providing information on the entire hospitality and retail technology spectrum. We hope you’ll bookmark us and check back regularly to find out about new technologies, solutions and requirements in the retail and hospitality industry. We will also provide you with plenty of information and examples of how others in your industry are using technology to improve and grow their businesses. So there it is, and here we go:
It’s amazing how much has changed in just the 5 years since the page was built. Technology years are like dog years in that way, where so much can change in so little time. Here’s what’s been going on at EBS in those five years:
Emerald Business Systems by the numbers since 2011:
New Customers: 265
New Installations: 161
New Restaurant Installations: 93
New Retail Installations: 43
New Surveillance Installations: 25
New Cash Registers: 123
Emerald Business Systems highlights since 2011:
Since we built the last iteration of our webpage we have grown our installation base, solution offerings, and product knowledge. We have added 2 additional implementation / programming specialists and an additional implementations consultant. We have added 2 new restaurant products, 1 of which is a mobile iPad solution and both offer integrated online ordering. We have added a new hi-resolution surveillance system and a new, more advanced retail product. We also have expanded our hardware offerings in both directions, now offering workstations with larger touchscreens and smaller mobile devices than we have ever carried before.
In that same time period, we have taken over all of the food service on the U of O campus (Housing and the EMU, including the new Falling Sky Pizzeria in the basement) with the Micros 3700 system. We installed a 80+ terminal system at the Matthew Knight Arena. We installed a retail solution at 11 stores for Goodwill of Lane & South Coast Counties (including their new stores in Brookings and Anchorage). We also installed 9 Micros 3700 systems for Howling Coyote Inc., a franchisee of Taco Time and Arby’s. Just last year we converted Seven Feathers Casino to the new Micros Simphony product, converting their 50 terminal system over with minimal down time.
Andrew Scheidl with Snowy Owl Design deserves a huge amount of credit for configuring the back end of the website and training us to add content and configure the pages going forward. There’s no way this project would have been completed without his help. I would strongly recommend his services to anybody else who is creating or redesigning their website for their business.