The Ultimate Holiday Gift Card Check List

The holidays are almost here, and gift cards can give restaurants a huge sales boost at the end of the year.  Are you ready to cash in?

Integrate Gift Cards

Activating and using gift cards through your POS system saves servers time. Unlike gift certificates, a running balance is kept for each card so you can ensure the proper amount is used towards a guest’s bill.

Gift Card Supplies

Order now to ensure you have enough cards and envelops to make it through the busy holiday season. Custom holiday versions are also available from most printing companies.

Holiday Purchase Promo

Want to entice more gift card sales? Many restaurants will offer guests a perk such as a coupon or an additional gift card they could use for themselves. Plan out your promotion ahead of time so you can pre-activate gift cards or prepare other incentives for guests.

Employee Sales Contest

Get all of your team on board with selling more gift cards! Create a sales contest to track your top gift card sellers. Rewards can be for pride, traded shifts, no side work or some extra holiday cash.

 

Need to get gift cards setup or more supplies ordered? Give us a shout!

 

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.

5 Restaurant Trends You’ll See This Year

As we head into 2018 there are five restaurant trends that you can anticipate seeing as the focus of many business goals for the upcoming year for fast casual, quick service, table service, or bars and nightclubs.  Being in the trenches, talking with restaurant owners and operators every day, we can see the trends emerging in the hospitality industry before most. From mobile point of sale to accepting chip cards and new ways to connect with customers, you should take note of these five trends.

1 – Implementing Mobile Point of Sale

Letting your wait and bar staff loose from the chains of a stationary point of sale unit to provide faster, more efficient service to your customers can be a freeing experience and a restaurant trend we’re a big fan of. Putting mobile technology into your employees’ hands allows them to complete foundational functions like order taking, input and accepting payments on the fly, cutting out wasted steps and shaving off precious minutes. Think faster orders, faster turn times and happier customers. That is the very capabilities you can get from Focus Mobile Solutions.

2 – Offering Delivery Service Through Third-Party Integrations

Even fine dining establishments are jumping on the online order wagon in an effort to satisfy customer demands. Online ordering is going to explode in 2018, and thanks to innovative software like Chowly, which connects third-party online ordering platforms (Chow Now, Grubhub, delivery.com) directly to your point of sale, you can streamline your online order process and eliminate the need for a dedicated employee to enter orders manually into your POS.  It just so happens that Focus POS will integrate with Chowly in the very near future, taking your delivery service, no matter your type of restaurant, to the next level, adding to your revenue stream.

3 – Finding Ways to Cut Labor Costs

Number three on our list of restaurant trends for 2018: pretty much anything related to cutting labor costs in your restaurant or bar. Kitchen display systems are a key technology that has the potential to transform your back of the house (BOH) processes. These customizable interfaces give your kitchen the ability to visually organize orders and get rid of the clutter by banishing paper from the line forever.

4 – Building and Improving Customer Relationships

“It’s like they know me!” That’s what you want your restaurant customers saying about you in 2018. That happens through a deep knowledge of their eating habits and dining history and that happens through analytics and reporting. Think about the way that Amazon makes product suggestions to you based on your purchase history. Restaurants, no matter the size, can do the same thing. You can offer promotions and marketing strategically targeted to your patrons. A loyalty program like Focus Rewards is a perfect platform to gather that historical data and related demographic information that can drive your messaging and deliver the right message at the right time. This strategy will inspire your guests to either hop in the car to dine with you or jump online and order a meal from you.

5 – Accepting Alternative Payment Methods

Reducing credit card fraud. Limiting chargebacks.  Decreasing liability. Those are just a few of the benefits of accepting the new security-advanced payment methods like chip cards and mobile payments like Apple Pay. Not only that but you’ll be ready for the next generation of diners who are more tech savvy and are more comfortable waving than swiping. Installing software and hardware that can accommodate a wider variety of payment methods is definitely one of the restaurant trends you’ll see in 2018.

We’re excited about the shifting tide in the hospitality industry that is hyper-customer-focused and heavily favors tech. Focus POS California has the hardware, software and expertise to partner with you to take your restaurant or bar to the next level this year and really help you accomplish your business goals.