Point of Sale and the Cloud

The biggest trends everyone seems to be talking about are Big Data and The Cloud.

Both concepts are not new in the technology world, however, the buzzwords are getting thrown around a lot recently by companies offering web-based reporting and point of sale to restaurants and bars.

Still a little fuzzy on what these two terms mean? Check out our other posts on The Cloud and Big Data to learn more.

If a POS system was 100% cloud-based, you would not be able to utilize it when your internet goes down. So instead, most point of sale companies that market themselves as cloud-based have built solutions that allow you to operate offline. In most cases, data is always stored somewhere locally before being sent across the internet to a remote data storage facility.

Most major point of sale systems currently have the capabilities for their data to be accessed in one way or another from the web. FOCUS, for instance, has MyFocus Central that provides real-time web reporting, manager log, and a mobile application for quick access from your phone. The newest addition to the MyFocus Suite is MyFocus Office, which allows you to manage your menu and employees directly from a web portal.

So then, what are the major differences between systems marketed as cloud-based and those typically thought of as “legacy”? The biggest difference is the pricing model.

Subscription-based services make sense for start-ups that don’t have a lot of capital, however, over time the cost adds up meaning you end up putting more of an investment into technology than if you outright purchased the whole system up front (and you never own it, you literally pay for it forever).

Our team introduced FOCUSCloud this year so businesses could have the best of both worlds. This monthly subscription service gets you a stable on-premises point of sale system along with cloud-based services such as reporting, online ordering, gift cards, loyalty rewards, remote management and 24/7 helpdesk support. We even have options for subscription hardware to dramatically reduce your upfront cost.

What can Big Data do for restaurants and bars?

For years businesses have been able to pull reporting to analyze sales, inventory, financials and labor. The benefit to this data being in the cloud is not just the quick access to this reporting, it is the ability to use all of the data together for broader trend watching using AI and advanced analysis. This reporting on steroids will allow business owners and operators to make faster and more informed decisions.

The cloud, big data, and all other subscription-based services help augment point of sale to take your business to the next level.

Reach out to a FOCUS Solution Consultant to take advantage of these solutions.

Visiting the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo? Meet with our team in booth 1121 to talk about all things cloud.

Big Data and Restaurants

Big Data sounds like something complicated and expensive, but really, what it means is data being stored in a manner that is easy to access and manipulate for reporting.

Data is pooled and analyzed to be able to provide a broader trend analysis than what you would normally get from traditional reporting. Your data may also be anonymized and combined with other restaurants data to provide industry-wide analytics.

Yes, it’s just reporting. But it can be a little more complex than that, and that’s where things get a little hazy for most people.

It used to be if you wanted to see a report, you had to rely on the software applications running on your local computers to provide the data and analysis. This made it so you really only had access to canned or generic reports that everyone else using the same software saw. For most businesses, this works perfectly fine. You get the data and reports you need to run your business, simply and easily.

What happens if you want a report that is not available in the software and what about comparing it with data from another location? This is where the terms like Big Data and Above Store Reporting come into play. Data can be stored in the cloud from each business location so that reporting can be offered and customized based on your business needs. Since this data would be stored in the cloud, it could be accessed from anywhere.

The majority of POS systems on the market today, including FOCUS, have Above Store Reporting solutions and integrations that allow you to have your business data at your fingertips. You do not need to necessarily have business systems that are 100% web-based to take advantage of cloud solutions and big data analytics.

While restaurants and bars are no strangers to doing data analysis, the growing ease of use and access to these web-based tools is making it a no-brainer investment. The hours spent in the office pulling reports and plugging numbers into spreadsheets is quickly being replaced by web pages that can be accessed anywhere that do the heavy lifting for you. Having reports at a click up a button or automatically emailed can save precious time

Learn more about how Point of Sale, Big Data, and the Cloud work together!

What is the “The Cloud”?

Everyone is talking about cloud this and cloud that, but what is The Cloud?

“The Cloud” is a blanket term for data or applications stored on Internet-based servers instead of on local computers. While the technology itself is nothing new, it has become more accessible and affordable for small businesses.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways cloud-based solutions are benefiting businesses.

Accessibility

The benefit to apps that are cloud-based is the ease of access from anywhere with an internet connection. Information can be moved back and forth or accessed on computers, tablets and phones. This, of course, introduces the necessity for stable internet and network connectivity to access the cloud if being used for critical operations tasks.

Redundancy

When using the cloud, you no longer have to worry about data loss on your system at the store due to technical failure or catastrophic events since everything is stored across the Internet. Most services also offer data backup to ensure you never lose anything.

Updates

Most cloud-based apps give you access to regular updates of their services automatically. This means you always have access to the latest and greatest features without doing anything.

What are the downsides of using cloud-based solutions?

Internet

That same accessibility that is a benefit can also be an issue if you have unstable or slow internet connectivity. If you do not have access to the internet, some apps will either not work or work in a reduced function mode.

Security

All of that data you have quick access to can also be accessed by hackers if not stored securely. It is important to understand the security procedures for any web-based services you utilize.

Data Ownership

When your data is on a local computer you own, you control it. If that data is in the cloud you don’t really have full control of who can see or access it. If you stop using their services you most likely lose access to the data you had.

Learn more about the role “The Cloud” plays with Big Data and Point of Sale.

Increase Take Out Business With Online Ordering

Focus Online Ordering Increases Take Out BusinessAt this point, you cannot escape it even if you try.

With Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, and various other online ordering/delivery services, your restaurant will be available at everyone’s fingertips, whether you like it or not. So then, what is the point of rolling out your own online ordering?

Control

Most third party applications don’t give you many options for customizing, controlling the aesthetics, workflow, or for ordering. Meaning you don’t really get to dictate the customer experience.

POS Integration

Take out can extend your business and add revenue, but it also increases costs. Adding additional labor to deal with increased orders eats into the added profits you thought you would be making. That’s why having orders directly feed into your POS system and in turn go directly to your kitchen saves precious time and money.

Mobile App

Many online ordering providers also can help you build your own mobile application which further allows you to control your guests’ experience and even send them notifications on their phone.

Data, data, and more data

If your customers are not ordering from you directly, you may not be getting the full picture on their purchase habits. Online ordering companies can offer reporting to see trends and also collect marketing information.

FOCUS partners with ToGo Technologies to provide customized POS integrated online and mobile ordering for restaurants.

Learn more about Online Ordering.

Featured Customer: Coach House

Coach House Concert & Dinner VenueAround since the 80’s, Coach House has been able to see multiple generations of acts come through Southern Orange County. Ask any visitor and they will tell you there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Its small size offers an intimacy that is not available in most other venues.

Event venues require systems in place for super high volume since business comes all at once in short waves. FOCUS easily handles this by building out navigation and menus in a simple streamlined fashion. The goal is to be able to make every bartender and server as efficient as possible. Tab lists allow for quick access to open transactions that can be filtered by tab name or bartender for easy retrieval.

When the owners of Coach House approached us to build a solution, their biggest concern was credit card security. Each POS station is equipped with an EMV reader to utilize chip card technology. This ensures each transaction is unique and secure to protect their guest’s cardholder data.

Don’t miss your chance to catch some great musicians this summer at Coach House! Their event schedule can be found on their website at https://thecoachhouse.com/.

Photo by Nicole Priest Photography.

Featured Customer: Congregation Ale House

At Congregation Ale House beer is religion.

Focus Featured Customer Congregation Ale HouseThe staff is eager to spread the word, not just about their own creations but also those of fellow brewers. They speak with the passion that only a true believer could. This is just one of the things separating Congregation Ale House from the many other beer bars in LA and Orange County, they are truly excited to talk hops with you and that feeling is contagious.

With three locations in Azusa, Pasadena and Long Beach the team at Congregation Ale House was looking to upgrade their POS so they could increase efficiency, unify menus, and implement new tech like online ordering before setting their attention to expanding in Orange County.

Partnering with our friends at ToGo Technologies, Congregation Ale House has rolled out online ordering at all their locations. This has allowed them to extend their take-out business with a simple ordering flow that made sense for their menu.

Check out what they have on tap by visiting their website at http://congregationalehouse.com/.

Are you ready for summer?!

You can already feel the warm California sun ready to soak us in its glory.

Summer is here. Coming with it the hoards of people… the staycationers, the adventurous locals and visitors to our great state come to bathe in the summer glow of California.

For local restaurants and bars, especially those in beach towns, the summer season can be incredibly busy. We have put together a checklist of items to plan for a successful summer.

Social Media

Put your social media on auto-pilot. Find a platform such as Buffer to manage and schedule your social posts so you can take less time executing timely marketing.

Hire Staff

Extra guests mean a need for more staff. You can always turn to Craigslist or instead check out services like Seasoned to find local talent.

Summer Specials

Plan out your summer specials to take advantage of seasonal favorites. Melissa’s Produce has a great list of seasonal items on their website. Fine-tuning your menu for the summer is best done before you get too busy. Not sure you can get the setup done in a timely manner? Our team can handle any FOCUS menu changes or workflow changes for you.

Extra Hardware

Having backup hardware that can be swapped in place when needed can reduce any downtime during a busy rush. Need additional devices to increase speed and efficiency? Hardware can be purchased and installed as a permanent device or temporary loaner. We even have options for mobile devices that can be used at festivals or other off-site events.

Plenty of Supplies

Running out of paper or ribbon should never happen. Our office keeps supplies stocked so you can get quick shipments locally. Take advantage of our supplies subscriptions so don’t forget to place an order.

Going Paperless in Your Restaurant or Bar

In a world of high tech everything, there is still a constant struggle between maintaining current habits and adapting to the new technology trends. Restaurants and bars are no exception to this ongoing dilemma. We hear from many of our clients who still continue to debate on whether it makes sense to go paperless or stick with printing guest receipts and orders. No matter the size of your operation, there are options that can help you either reduce printing on paper or eliminate it all together.

Let’s start off with taking a look at the kitchen, bar or other prep areas. Kitchen video has long been a staple for any high volume fast paced environment. Orders pop onto a screen that can show either full order details or simple item views depending on the needs of the person reviewing that order. Routing to each station is just as simple as it is in FOCUS, however, you also have more complicated workflow options based on modifiers or load balancing options. Besides not having paper copies of orders that can be lost, since the order data is being tracked at each step of the way you are able to see additional analytical data such as average ticket time and details of the cook times on each item.

Focus POS Rear Display Quick ServiceFor a Quick Service operation, printing at the POS station can be eliminated by utilizing FOCUS’ Signature Capture option. When processing a credit card transaction, the guest can input a digital signature on the point of sale touch screen. This can be achieved with either a station on a swivel base that can be turned and presented to the guest or our favorite option is a rear touch LCD display. The rear display can also be used for up-selling and order confirmation during the ordering process.

In a Table Service or Bar environment, getting a guest to a POS station is not really feasible. However other options such as using pay at the table devices, tablets or accepting payments through third-party applications can allow the payment to be processed with the guest so the signature can either be captured a the time of payment or possibly not even required.

New changes instituted by the credit card brands will also make signature obsolete for anyone processing with EMV. A recent article on Creditcards.com (https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/signatures-soon-may-not-be-required.php) explains that Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express all dropped the signature requirements.

But what does that mean for tips? The consensus so far has been even with getting rid of signatures most restaurants and bars will still present a check in some form to be able to collect a tip from the guest.

In the end, there are multiple options that each operation will need to evaluate to see what makes the most sense for each business. Our team is always here to review those options with you. Click here to schedule time with a Solution Engineer.

Featured Customer: Board & Brew

Focus POS at Board & Brew Tustin Quick ServiceAnyone who has been to Board & Brew at their San Diego or Orange County locations will tell you about the Secret Sauce, and yes it is one of the things that makes their sandwiches highly addicting but its not the only thing. Its also the bread, the fresh ingredients, and the ever rotating list of craft beers being tapped. But look beyond that and you will see a dedicated team committed to pumping out high quality nosh to their community.

When opening their newest location late last year in Tustin they chose to roll out technology the group had previously not used. The goal for them is to move more locations to be paperless saving both time and supplies. The FOCUS Signature Capture option allows a digital signature to be captured using either a station that swivels or has an additional rear touch display. At the Tustin Board & Brew location they are utilizing rear displays for Order Confirmation and Signature Capture. For the kitchen they are utilizing a kitchen video screen at their Expo area allowing expediters a clear view of all current orders. When orders are completed they are bumped from the KDS and a pager that was provided to the guest goes off so they know to pickup the order. This streamlining has allowed for both better service and increased efficiency.

You can find the closest Board & Brew location by visiting their website, http://www.boardandbrew.com/. Stop by see FOCUS in action, but more importantly enjoy a tasty sandwich with some Secret Sauce and cold beer. We highly recommend the Turkado and Tom’s Choice!

3 Obvious Reasons to Focus on Customer Retention and Loyalty

Repeat customers are a good thing, obviously. That’s why many restaurants invest time and resources into cultivating customer retention and loyalty as a part of their larger business strategy. Methods vary from offering a loyalty card program where diners earn points or rewards to using social media to connect with fans and acknowledge brand champions. There are three main, and probably obvious, reasons why you should be incorporating this strategy too.

Obvious Reason #1 — Regulars are Your Best Brand Advocates

Customer retention and loyalty are worthwhile focus areas whether you are just getting ready to open your doors or if you’ve been cooking up good eats in your neighborhood for 50 years.

This is where a comprehensive loyalty program comes in. Customers are highly motivated to return to restaurants where they have a vested interest, that is, in addition to a delicious meal or your great atmosphere. Loyalty rewards, carefully  selected to be irresistible to your customers, can bring guests back and make their dining experiences more delightful. These happy patrons are the ones that are in the trenches, talking to their friends and family and becoming your biggest brand advocates. Their reach is exponential and their recommendations matter.

Obvious Reason #2 — Your Marketing will be More Effective

Another obvious reason to focus on customer retention and loyalty is because it will make your advertising, social media and promotional efforts infinitely more effective. The audience demographic information alone like, address, email, birth dates, and dining history alone is worth its weight in gold, allowing you to tailor messaging and promotions at the right time to the right people. A good loyalty program solution will offer integrated marketing services and give you the ability to push promotions directly to your most loyal customers through email, social media or text message.

Obvious Reason #3 — Loyalty Programs are Low Maintenance and Low CosteMarketer Loyalty Program

Exceptional customer service and consistently great food are the foundation for inspiring repeat visits to your establishment. However, a little recognition and reward, like a loyalty program, goes a long way in building customer retention and loyalty. That’s why loyalty programs are popping up everywhere…and why they are working.

eMarketer featured research from Lab42 that focused on Gen Z and millennial motivators. They found 73% of millennials factored in loyalty programs when it came to choosing where to spend their money.

Compared to traditional advertising venues like radio or television, loyalty programs are on the low end of the spectrum for cost and they are very low maintenance. Most integrate directly into your point of sale system and are essentially hands off once they are implemented and your staff is trained on how to handle the cards.

Don’t Miss the Loyalty Reward Program Boat

It should be obvious that you need to step up your game to stay competitive.  If  you are looking to revamp the customer retention and loyalty strategy at your quick or table service restaurant, bar or nightclub, then it is a good time to talk with us about our FOCUS loyalty program.