Jeremy Julian

The Restaurant Technology Guys

The Benefits of Using Biometrics in Your Restaurant

April 8, 2015
The Benefits of Biometrics in Your Restaurant

Remember these?

In the hospitality industry, particularly the restaurant biz, loss prevention is a pretty big deal. And it goes beyond just money. Inventory, recipes, food, time – many things are at risk if you have sneaky employees – and those things can add up to big bucks.

Successful and conscientious restaurateurs are very selective with what (and whom) they choose to bring into their establishments. But if you have experienced theft or a security breach in your store, loss prevention is top of mind. Biometrics may be just the thing to eliminate loss due to theft, mistake, or misuse, and provide a quick ROI.

The Benefits of Using Biometrics in Your Restaurant

Biometrics has been around since the 1990s, and like most technology, the longer it’s around, the more 1) it advances and and 2) costs decrease, making it a less-risky-more-affordable option.

With overall advances in restaurant technology (as well as how it streamlines processes, promotes efficiency, increases customer satisfaction, and virtually eliminates server error), biometrics is being introduced into more and more restaurants and makes a perfect compliment to your POS system.

How do biometric devices work?

As opposed to the old key, swipe card, or passcode methods of clocking in and using the register, biometrics uses human characteristics to authenticate users who wish to gain access into computers and security systems. The users’ activity can then be tracked and verified, and mistakes or misuse documented.

The most popular biometric devices used by restaurants are fingerprint readers and hand geometry readers. “Every time an employee clocks in or performs functions on the point-of-sale system, the biometric reader detects and compares it with the stored data, making it impossible for employees to share access.” (source: QSR Magazine)

Restaurateurs cannot deny the benefits of strict record-keeping, employee accountability, and more efficiency in their restaurants. Biometrics also:

  • eliminate the need for manager and shift leader keys – to override a transaction, all that’s needed is their fingerprint
  • eliminate the need for employee swipe cards/usernames and passwords to log in
  • cut down on employees issuing improper discounts and refunds
  • eliminate “buddy punching”; i.e., employees cannot clock in other employees, which has the potential to substantially reduce payroll – some estimate by 10%, all the way up to 30-40%, depending on how much “buddy punching” is done in your restaurant
  • by doing away with “buddy punching”, employees are held accountable to their designated shift hours, and irresponsible employees can be weeded out
  • employees can get credit for the transactions they perform, providing incentives and preventing others from taking credit for someone else’s job well done

The Benefits of Using Biometrics in Your RestaurantAre there any downsides to biometrics in your restaurant?

Short answer: not that we can find. Biometrics are now super affordable and really all they do is benefit you and your company.

Every restaurant owner we’ve heard of who has made this investment has called it a complete no-brainer and wondered how they ever lived without it. See for yourself – install a biometrics system as an add-on to your POS system and see how your business changes. We recommend Crossmatch. (And if you need a POS system as well, we recommend POSitouch.)

Have you experienced the benefits of biometrics? Tell us about it in the Comments section below!

Tips for Expediting Your Service Call

April 6, 2015

Tips for Expediting Your Service CallAre you a client of CBS Northstar? We thank you for your support and loyalty! We know it can be a stressful time integrating new technology into your restaurant, and a costly investment to boot.

Our goal is to build customers for life, and to that end we pride ourselves on providing superior customer support. So if you have questions or run into some trouble with your POSitouch, Northstar Order Entry, Northstar Recipe Viewer, or any of our other awesome products, we invite you to take advantage of our 24/7 Customer Support.

Our technicians are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. We’ll make sure you get everything you need to fix the problem without delaying or shutting down operations, because we know time is money, and in the hospitality industry, keeping customers happy is crucial!

So whether the problem can be solved over the phone, or we need to send a field technician to your restaurant, we’ll do it with a smile on our faces. We promise you’ll always speak to a live person and receive efficient, helpful assistance.

We know you’re busy and you’d prefer not to be calling us. So here are some tips for expediting your service call, so we can help get you up and running in no time.

Have the following information ready for us:

Answer the who, what, when, why, and how of the problem.

  • When did it start?
  • When was the last time it was working?
  • How did it happen?
  • Who was working on it, and what were they doing?
  • For software-related issues, can you recreate the problem and/or provide examples?
  • If the problem involves hardware, have the location and serial number handy.
  • If any error codes show up, write those down as well.
  • Have some days/times in mind if a field technician needs to come out to your location.
  • Finally, don’t forget to try the obvious “resetting the equipment” before you call. We all know how finicky computers can get – sometimes a restart is all they need.

Anything else you think could be relevant or helpful, let us know! The more information we have, the better we can solve the problem quickly.

In addition to calling our toll free number (800) 551-7674, you can fill out a support request form and CBS customer support will call you back.

Have you used CBS Northstar’s Customer Support? If so, let us know how your experience was and how we can improve!

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.



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.

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