Ryan Williams
Jeremy Julian

The Restaurant Technology Guys

Interfacing with Payroll Systems

March 16, 2015

Interfacing with Payroll SystemsIn our recent post, The Perfect POS System – What to Look For, we discussed many must-haves for this all-important investment in your restaurant.

In this post, we will specifically discuss interfacing your POS (point of sale) with your payroll systems.

Payroll is no doubt a huge part of successfully running your restaurant. In an industry with so many moving parts, we want to make your job as easy, efficient, and error-free as possible and allow you to get the most out of the technology you employ in your place of business. After all, it is designed to serve YOU, not the other way around. Underutilizing your POS system is like only using ten percent of your brain. (Relax, that’s actually a myth.)

We know the last thing you want to do is implement a POS system into your restaurant, only to have it double your work load (and compound your stress levels).

Imagine having four remote controls in your living room, each controlling a different function on your TV and DVD player – with a universal remote sitting right there on the table, unused. (Of course you don’t know anyone who’s that technologically challenged, do you?)

Take advantage of the benefits of a POS system and streamline all processes in the front of the house, back of the house, and kitchen – across one, a few, or all locations.

Need help understanding your system? We provide incredible training to help you and your staff navigate our already intuitive and easy-to-use POS systems, and our 24/7 Support Center is always standing by to assist you.

One important feature of the perfect POS system (we recommend POSitouch, by the way) is the ability to easily interface with your payroll system. Then you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Saves you time and money on multiple entries
  • Source system provides transparency so users can see precisely what they are getting paid for
  • No human intervention transposing the information eliminates errors
  • Added security of having the data in multiple systems
  • Easily process multiple restaurants into one payroll system

Interfacing with Payroll Systems

Performing the interface is very simple.

1. Each user has to be mapped by their payroll ID into the POS.

2. Every payroll cycle, the user performs his or her adjustments in the POS system, produces the payroll output file, and uploads it into the payroll system.

3. The paychecks are then paid from the payroll system.

It’s as simple as that!

Have you experienced synchronizing your POS system with your payroll system? Tell us about it in the comments below!

How to Deal with Intoxicated Patrons on St. Patrick’s Day

February 25, 2015
How to Deal with Intoxicated Patrons on St. Patrick's Day

Even our President can enjoy the festivities while keeping it classy.

St. Paddy’s Day is approaching! Is your restaurant or bar breaking out the plastic leprechaun hats and prepping the green beer and shamrock-shaped cookies? How about that faithful tradition, corned beef and cabbage? (Side note: it’s not really Irish.)

Most of all, are you preparing yourself and your staff for the potentially rowdy St. Patrick’s Day crowd? Lucky you!

Let’s be honest: drunk people can be entertaining…in other people’s establishments. They can invite trouble that you don’t want any part of – fights, property damage, and legal liability for over-serving, to name a few of the risks associated with not properly handling your intoxicated patrons.

So protect yourself and your restaurant or bar this St. Patrick’s Day, and let’s keep it classy while ensuring all have a grand ole’ time celebrating dear Mr. St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle.

Here are some tips on how to deal with intoxicated patrons on St. Patrick’s Day:

How to Deal with Intoxicated Patrons on St. Patrick's DayYour front of house (FOH) staff are not just hosts, servers, bartenders, bussers, and valet – they are also law followers, enforcers, and (for lack of a better term) babysitters.

Train your FOH Staff

Train your staff regarding responsible service standards. For examples of training and certification programs, check out ServSafe Alcohol, Tips, or contact your state’s beverage license association.

Always check ID (no exceptions) and ensure your staff knows the signs of intoxication to look for, how to handle difficult situations with drunk patrons, and how take action to prevent patrons from driving drunk.

Signs of Intoxication

This list is by no means exhaustive – many factors can contribute to a person’s level of intoxication. But a few things to look for are:

  • ordering drinks rapidly
  • loud and/or slurred speech
  • spilling drinks or missing mouth
  • staggering or stumbling
  • aggressive/belligerent behavior

Do NOT serve someone who is showing signs of intoxication. Period. You could be held financially and even criminally responsible if someone is harmed by a drunk patron whom you over-served, so err on the side of caution and vigilance.

How to Cut Someone Off

Start by slowing down your service to them. (Let your manager and fellow servers know you’re doing this, so they too can keep an eye on the patron and intervene if necessary.)

  • Place a large glass of water in front of the person and suggest they order some food
  • Take an empty glass or bottle away before coming back with a new one
  • Make yourself a little less available (take your time preparing other drinks, cleaning the bar, changing the keg, restocking the cooler, etc.). If necessary, make up excuses for why you need to be elsewhere.
  • Say something like “Let’s slow down a bit.”

Let them know when it’s their last call, giving them time to nurse their last drink and putting them on notice that they’re being cut off. You can also try placing the check in front of the patron, thanking them for coming and asking them to come again another time.

If they’re not getting the hint, cut them off privately to avoid embarrassment. Pull them aside and say something firm but non-accusatory like, “I think you should call it a night” or “Your last call has come early.” Enlist the help of a sober (or less intoxicated) friend to break the news – it may be better received that way.

If they don’t have a sober person to ride home with, call a driving service such as a taxi cab, Uber, Lyft, or Drunk Rescue and watch them get into the car. If the patron is argumentative, consider offering to pay for their drinks as long as they take the ride home. If necessary, call the police and escort the patron outside so as not to disturb other customers.

sources:
jobs.net
dummies.com
openingabarguide.com
businessknowhow.com

 

Implementing Automated Kitchen Management Systems

February 24, 2015

Ah, the kitchen. The heart of the restaurant. It’s truly where the magic happens, isn’t it? Where ordinary morsels of food are transformed into works of art, engaging the senses and delighting the palette.

Implementing Automated Kitchen Management Systems

Customers envision that behind those double doors are brilliant chefs (usually European – why is that?) in clean white coats and tall hats, hard at work creating their culinary masterpieces, floating about the kitchen with inspiring classical music playing in the background, a glistening of sweat on their brow. It’s a fantastic mystery, like the inner workings of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

We’ll just let them carry on with that fantasy…but we know the truth. While the kitchen is indeed the heart of a restaurant, often it ends up being more of a chaotic madhouse than a well-oiled machine. It’s hot, greasy, noisy, and (hopefully) incredibly busy in there. People are yelling orders, bumping into one another, and scurrying from station to station to get orders out on time.

Streamlining Service to Focus on Food

Any restaurateur knows that in order to create customer loyalty, the customers have to be happy. And to keep them happy, you have to provide great food and great service. We can’t help with the food (though we are more than happy to eat it and provide our feedback), but we CAN help with the service. Obviously your wait staff is key to creating a positive customer experience, but another very important component of great service happens in the kitchen.

The right kitchen management program will keep your kitchen organized and running smoothly, with specific (and correct!) orders coming in for all the kitchen staff to see. You’ll be able to keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold, arrange it beautifully on the plate, and place it in front of the guest in a timely manner. This entire process can be streamlined with an automated kitchen management system.

Related Post: 5 Tips for Adding Touchscreen Technology to Your Kitchen

Implementing Automated Kitchen Management Systems

Here are just a few of the benefits of an automated kitchen management system:

  • secure your recipes and easily modify them across all locations (or select ones)
  • improve food quality
  • make the process more efficient, saving on labor
  • shorten table turns
  • get food to customers quickly
  • keep reports of important data, such as speed of service and popular menu items
  • customize with colors, fonts, and graphics to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and training

A well-constructed kitchen management system will come with a terminal that is built to withstand the heat and humidity common to the kitchen environment.

Products such as Northstar Order Entry, Northstar Recipe Viewer, QSR Automations ConnectSmart Kitchen, and Bematech KDS Manager v3.1 are all valuable software that can provide your business with more metrics and provide your staff with the information they need to do their jobs correctly and efficiently.

These softwares will allow you to view, edit, and keep secure your beloved recipes; plan ahead for rush periods; transfer orders to other (less busy) kitchen stations in a rush; move a rush order to the top of the queue; view statistical reports for each station; and more. Pretty much anything that’s been necessary but difficult to keep track of manually can now be automated, making your life easier and the information much more accurate, and helping your business stick around for the long haul. Whew!

What successes or challenges have you experienced with implementing an automated kitchen management system? Tell us in the Comments section below!

10 Steps to Create a Critical Inventory System

February 11, 2015

10 Steps to Create a Critical Inventory SystemRestaurant managers know that after labor, food costs are the largest expense on your balance sheet.

This means that monitoring inventory is extremely important for controlling costs and keeping your business in the black. Managers are choosing inventory systems that can be updated constantly and even anticipate when new supplies need to be ordered.

These 10 steps to create a critical inventory system are a guide for restaurant managers to keeping your shelves stocked and your restaurant running smoothly. After all, if your cooks run out of eggs, the ‘yolk’ is on you!

10 Steps to Create a Critical Inventory System

1) Start From Scratch.

If you are a new restaurant manager, taking over a new restaurant, or instituting new inventory policies, it’s a good idea to do the dirty work and count the inventory yourself – at least the first time. It is important to establish a baseline of knowledge, and get to know your supplies in the real world.

Even if you plan to turn the job over to an inventory manager, physically overseeing your products will make it easier to maintain appropriate levels of supplies when you’re stuck staring at a spreadsheet. Firsthand knowledge of inventory also makes it easy to keep an eye on how and where everything is stored.

2) Pick Your System.

Just because the 21st century hasn’t brought us flying cars or jetpacks doesn’t give you an excuse to live in the past. Modern restaurants need an easy-to-use inventory control system that makes your job simpler, so you can focus on the rest of your never-ending to-do list.

Today’s restaurant management systems can automatically generate inventory purchase orders based on par levels and minimum order points, streamline the receiving process and easily track backordered items. And that’s just one segment of the larger system.

Don’t believe us? Check out this program and start working smarter, not harder.

3) Tidy Up.

If your stock room or walk-in is a mess, taking an accurate inventory is going to be all but impossible. Before you count everything up, put everything in its place. Shelves, floors and everything in between should be organized and clean.

Hopefully you and your staff are doing this already. The benefits of a clean and organized kitchen are painfully obvious, so if your back of the house needs attention, see to that first. We’ll wait here.

4) Make a Plan.

Employees tasked with inventory should be able to follow a clear and consistent company policy. Usually one person or team is responsible for managing inventory, on a daily or weekly basis.

Make sure that these wonderful folks know exactly what is expected of them, how they are supposed to go about tracking levels, and why your procedure works the way it does. (Explaining ‘why’ makes it easier to stick to your established policy when doing inventory starts to become tedious.)

5) Stick to a Schedule.

As a rule of thumb, most restaurants that are open seven days a week do inventory on Sundays. It’s the logical end to the week, and supplies are usually low since new deliveries will arrive the next day.

Now, the Sunday schedule might not work for you. Maybe your restaurant is closed one day a week, and that is when you count your inventory. Or Sundays are your busiest days, because of sports or other events, and no one wants to do extra work at the end of the day.

If Sundays aren’t a good day for you, don’t worry. The important thing is having a regular schedule for inventory – always on the same day, preferably at the end of business or before the day begins. This makes it easier to identify and track trends, spot irregularities, and plan for the days to come.

6) Divide and Conquer.

While in storage, your products should be grouped logically – meat, seafood, produce, etc. – and labeled as necessary. Not only does this help immeasurably with inventory, your cooks and back of the house staff will appreciate knowing where everything is, and where to find it.

7) Team Up.

Inventory is easiest when two people work together – one for counting, one for writing down the numbers. Dividing up the labor will cut your time spent on inventory considerably, and create redundancy – each person can watch and make sure the other is getting everything right.

8) Follow a Path.

Start your inventory in one area of the restaurant, and move methodically from one section to another to get an accurate count. Zig-zagging from place to place is a great way to waste time and forget where you have been.

If possible, set up your inventory sheet to match your order guide, or to the flow of your movements throughout the supply areas. But if you have to decide between flipping through pages or running around the room like a headless chicken, just flip the pages. It will get easier as you get comfortable with the inventory list, and save time with a bit of practice.

9) Lock it Down.

Once an area’s inventory has been counted, make a note or indicate that those products are not to be touched until the final list has been logged in. This will prevent any double-counting or otherwise inaccurate reports that can throw your inventory levels off.

10) Check Your Work.

Once your inventory system is in place and everything has been counted properly, continually go back and check that your data matches with the items in storage. This will allow you to confirm expected usage levels and track any variances against sales records.

Obviously there will always be fluctuations – when a server has to “comp” a check or a cook drops a bag of produce, for example – but watching out for significant discrepancies will help in preventing theft and ultimately ease the management process.

Thanks to these 10 steps, you’ll be able to cut inventory efforts down from a days-long, all-consuming project to an easy task that should only take a couple of hours. Just remember this simple acronym from the list above: S.P.T.M.S.D.T.F.L.C.

Easy, right?

…okay, yes, that acronym is terrible. But setting up a functional and efficient inventory procedure is not. In fact, these 10 steps to create a critical inventory system could be the best internal improvement you make for your restaurant this year.

And if you’re ready to invest in an inventory system that will help with all of the above, and has countless additional features besides, check out POSitouch from CBS Northstar. This system has everything you will need to improve your inventory control, and can help with labor management, payment methods, delivery, reporting and more.

The Perfect POS System – What to Look For

February 6, 2015

The Perfect POS System - What to Look ForUnless you run a restaurant chain out of Antarctica, you’ve likely heard us harping on the value of a Point of Sale (POS) system for your restaurant (and if not us, then someone else, because pretty much everyone in the restaurant world is talking about it).

In this tech-driven age, savvy restauranteurs understand the importance of “getting on board and getting with the times” in order to reach their customers where they are. (Hint: they’re online via smartphones, tablets, and laptops.)

BUT a POS system is a huge investment, so we understand it can be a pretty daunting and overwhelming task to 1) decide to integrate it into your restaurant, and then 2) determine which one is right for you. You have lots of options, so your pals The Restaurant Technology Guys are here to simplify it a bit. Consider these important factors and how they relate to your unique business needs.

The Perfect POS System – What to Look for

1. User-friendly

This is always a big concern with technology. Too complex, and you open yourself up to employee frustration and errors. Too lax and you can become vulnerable to employee theft. Your POS System should provide the same easy to use, stress-free and pleasant experience for your employees that a table side ordering system provides for your customers.

It needs to accommodate a range of learning capabilities and be easy to use, even for someone who considers themselves “technically challenged”. A good rule of thumb is this: a POS system worth its salt should take the average employee 30 minutes or less to learn.

2. Secure

Speaking of employee theft, your POS system is a piece of technology that requires sensitive and personal information to function. To prevent theft and fraud both internally and externally (by hackers), choose a POS system that is easily equipped with several security features. And don’t forget to follow these simple measures to find out if someone is scamming you and to keep your POS system secure.

Related post: What to do if You’ve Been Breached

3. Meets your business needs

The Perfect POS System - What to Look ForThis may seem obvious, but there will be POS systems out there that simply aren’t a good fit for your restaurant. Carefully consider the functionality you need, and do your research to determine which one is best for you. This is a big expenditure for your company, so save yourself some heartache by doing your homework at the front end to ensure you make a good choice.

For instance, is your restaurant super busy? Look for a POS system that can be integrated with peripherals that expedite orders, such as kitchen display systems and bump bars. These will also need receipt printing and payment processing solutions that allow customers to be checked out in a matter of seconds.

Would your restaurant benefit from these features?

Management Needs

Labor Management 

  • Tracks time and attendance
  • Employee scheduling
  • Employee training – Does the provider offer on-site training?
  • Generate payroll reports

Inventory 

  • Do you sell alcohol or retail items?
  • Do you experience a lot of theft or shrinkage?

Find a POS system that allows access to detailed inventory reports and transaction history to mitigate risks.

Above Store Reporting

This will allow you to identify trends, address problem areas, and pinpoint winning strategies.

  • Track sales trends for day, week, month or any period
  • Sales and customer count reports
  • Category reports
  • Item sales trend reports
  • Product mix reports
  • Sales history reports

Custom, Easy-to-Use Database 

  • Add or remove menu items, seasonal items, specials, etc.
  • Across multiple locations

Payment Needs

Delivery & Carry-Out

You need to be able to integrate delivery and takeout orders into your POS system, as well as track driver dispatch and cash accountability, order timing, order history, and more.

Credit Cards & Gift Cards

Choose a POS system that will enable you to offer gift cards and implement a personalized loyalty program to drive repeat visits and sales.

This will enable management to make changes easily and quickly, and make finding new items easy on the employees.

Shameless Plug Alert: We invite you to take a look at the POSitouch POS system by CBS Northstar. 

4. Provider and Support

Do some research on the POS provider.

  • Do they allow for regular upgrades to the system?
  • Do they provide on-site training and ongoing support?
  • Look at the number and quality of their tech partners.

These are just a few of the things to consider when choosing a POS system for your restaurant.

What other factors do you find important? Leave us a comment below!

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your Business

January 30, 2015

Do you have a smartphone?6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your Business

Of course you do. The power of these personal pocket computers continues to percolate through our everyday lives, and people who live without these mobile devices are becoming hard to find.

In fact, the Global Web Index recently found that four out of five of American adults who use the Internet own a smartphone.

And according to a ComScore report released in August 2014, 60% of digital media consumption now happens on smartphones and tablets, while the remainder still occurs on desktop-based systems.

Finally, an eMarketer report predicts that the global smartphone audience will surpass 2 billion in 2015, and shows no signs of slowing.

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your BusinessAs the Restaurant Technology Guys, we couldn’t be happier about these developments. And you should be happy too, because the smartphone platform is your next significant opportunity for growth.

By setting up a mobile ordering platform for your business, your guests will be able to access your menu instantly, and personalize their orders for pickup or delivery.

Secure credit card payments make the process easy and inviting, for you and your customers alike.

And that’s just the beginning. These 6 ways mobile ordering will change your business will rewrite the way your company functions online, and open paths to your products that you never knew existed.

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your Business

1) Increase Sales

Adding a mobile ordering platform for your business is like opening a door for your customers where a wall used to keep them out.

As the data above shows, more and more people are relying on their smartphones for Internet and digital media access. By adding a mobile platform for orders, your business can meet this growing group of individuals where they are. You can increase sales by encouraging customers, and potential customers, to enjoy your products through the personal device that many Americans can no longer live without.

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your Business2) Accelerate Mobile Payment Use

Offering a secure payment method for your clientele’s mobile devices makes purchasing easier.

The customer’s comfort level with your platform and products will increase with every purchase, so that pretty soon, ordering from your business will become as routine as checking for Facebook updates.

3) Improve Data Capture

Mobile ordering is an excellent way to not only boost sales, but grow your customer base through email and data capture.

Every time a customer uses your website or application to place an order, you’ll gain valuable information – their email address, ordering preferences and more, depending on the analytics available through your system.

A variety of methods are available to convert these one-time orders into long-term customers: email newsletters, online-only discounts, referrals, social media offers, etc. This form of direct customer connection can be a powerful tool that pays off significant dividends as your mobile and online presence grows.

4) Build Loyalty & Customer Connections

Easy-to-recognize brands from Apple to Zappos persuade customers to come back over and over again.

How?

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your BusinessBy building a culture around their products and services. Choosing a pair of shoes from Zappos or an iPhone often goes beyond convenience, or even cost. Customers keep coming back because they believe in the company’s purpose, even if they can’t define it beyond a basic feeling.

Making your business accessible on a mobile platform is an important step toward this same kind of brand loyalty.

Customers who can order from you through their smartphones – literally holding your business in the palm of their hand – will be able to make a personal connection that can grow and last for years.

5) Personalize Future Orders

Your growing connections and data collection can work together to customize a mobile-ordering customer’s experience when they return.

From acknowledging them by name when they log in to pre-loading personalized orders based on previous purchases, you’ll be able to create an virtual version of the “Cheers” experience – at this (online) restaurant, everybody knows your name.

6) Stay Ahead of the Curve

Maybe the reasons above haven’t convinced you that mobile ordering will change your business for the better. Our clients are happy enough, you might think. We don’t need to invest in this new technology that disrupts the comfortable, familiar way we have been doing things.

You might be right… for a little while.

6 Ways Mobile Ordering Will Change Your BusinessBut the fact is, the mobile ordering space is going to become more and more crowded as businesses optimize their systems for smartphone orders.

Your competitors are going to figure out how to make this work for them, and start building the connections – and personalized client database – we have been talking about.

Since you are here, you have the opportunity to get a mobile ordering system up and running sooner than those who don’t yet know about these possibilities.

These 6 ways mobile ordering will change your business by giving you the chance to be a leader in your industry, instead of playing catch-up as your potential market share shrinks.

Don’t get left behind. Your mobile ordering future starts today!

Have you added a mobile ordering system to your business? Are you considering one? Let us know in the comments below.

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