From July, 2011

3 Ways to Systemize Upselling at the Point of Sale


POS Touch screen

Touchscreen on counter

Upselling drives profits—not just through higher ticket averages, but by offering guests more choices. Happy customers visit more often…and tell their friends.

But most of your staff aren’t natural sales people. Every restaurant operator struggles with the right training and incentives to get staff selling more. Your POS can make it easier.

Here are three ways:

Building a script

Building automatic suggestive selling prompts right into the POS system’s order screens helps staff upsell effectively—and consistently. SpeedLine provides a great deal of flexibility in how you can script suggestive selling prompts to pop up during the ordering process.

The best prompts are item-specific nudges based on the current order: “Extra cheese on that?” or “Make it a large for just $1 more?” In SpeedLine, that kind of prompt is easy to set up using an enforced modifier—the same tool you use to make sure staff don’t forget to ask what kind of dressing or dipping sauce the customer wants.

If you’re a SpeedLine user, check out this online tutorial: Upselling with SpeedLine.

Packaging for profit

By offering meal deals, you give guests an incentive to order more. You can use meal deals to cater to discount-seekers without lowering your regular prices. Meal deals typically don’t cut as deep into profits as other discounts, and have the added benefit of driving up ticket size. In fact, some restaurants promote package deals at up to full price. The savings may not be significant, but guests perceive package promotions as deals.

For best results, use the sales and food cost numbers in your POS to identify your higher margin menu items and promote them in meal deals.

Download this free guide: 5 Keys to Crafting a Successful Value Meal.

And if you use SpeedLine POS, view the online tutorial for Creating a Value Meal.

Selling with visual aids

Adding order confirmation displays at the point of sale can go a long way to increase customer satisfaction. Used effectively, these displays can boost add-on sales with mouth-watering photos of desserts, sides, and specials on one side of the screen and order details on the other.

View a demo to learn more about upselling with customer order confirmation displays.

I read a blog post from Jan-Eric Anderson at QSR Insights recently about a creative way McDonalds handled an upsell. Read that story here.

Are using a unique and profitable upselling technique in your restaurant? Tell us about it.

Pizza Hut Franchisee Implements Fingerprint Biometrics in 118 Locations

Pizza Hut franchise implements fingerprint biometricsPizza Hut franchise company Rage, Inc., uses fingerprint security to control access to the company’s SpeedLine point of sale systems for more than 1800 employees at 118 restaurant locations.

The benefits are clear: “Prior to installing DigitalPersona U.are.U Fingerprint Readers, Rage’s Pizza Hut store managers used simple ID numbers to authorize discounts, overrides and voids. Employees also had their own ID numbers to clock in and out of the payroll system. Because managers are often required to handle multiple requests at the same time, they would share authorization credentials with employees to prevent delays in customer service. Unfortunately, this practice frequently led to fraudulent discounts, causing cash register shrink.”

“Furthermore, some employees were also buddy-punching, clocking in co-workers who weren’t actually working. To address these issues, Rage deployed DigitalPersona fingerprint biometrics at their Pizza Hut locations, eliminating the use of ID codes and accurately tying managers and cashiers to their actions.”

In a nutshell, fingerprint scanners drastically limit the potential for fraudulent discounts, cash register shrink, and time-theft. If I want to void a ticket and sneak the cash for myself, I’d need to have my manager’s warm finger handy. If I wanted a friend to punch me in when I’m running late I’d need to take some very painful, drastic measures to get my finger to him.

David Logsdon, director of MIS at Rage, Inc., confirms: “Fingerprint readers have provided us with a fast and simple way to reduce inventory shrink and eliminate payroll fraud… this has led to improved revenues across all of our locations.”

Your Customers, Your Community: Involvement Strategies to Increase Sales and Reduce Employee Turnover

Your customers, your communityYou may find benefits to community involvement in areas you didn’t expect.

The community in your marketing.

You probably recognize the value of getting out in the community as a marketing approach.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, SpeedLine lead trainer Wiley Borg once owned a pizzeria.
Wiley believes community involvement should be the number one marketing strategy for any restaurant. As a restaurant owner, he made a priority of sponsoring local teams, and having a presence at any local events. Whether it’s hanging a banner for your pizza place above the ball diamond or giving out free pizza and coupons at a local charity event, he insists that you want your name everywhere in the community.

I also asked Wiley how social media marketing tied into his strategy. His answer and plan of action was still the same. Email, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and newsletters should be tools that complement the restaurant’s involvement in the community.

Weave community activities into your blog or Facebook posts, or newsletter articles. Take pictures and video of staff preparing for and attending local events, and broadcast them to people via Twitter, Facebook, and your email list! Though your contribution may not always be free, the returns can be huge.

Your employees in the community.

In general, people tend to give less thought to the value of involvement and charity to the giver. Involving staff in your community efforts can pay long-term dividends back at the shop.

Community involvement is an amazing way to give your employees a sense of purpose and a chance to make a difference. In the Pointblank blog the other day, Dave Choate explained why this is true.

“If your employees are tethered to their desks {or the make line} all day, they may feel like they’re not making a difference, even if their work is important. Bring them out to clean up a local community center, read to kids and work at a local soup kitchen and they almost can’t help but feel they’re making that difference.”

This really rings true to me. I used to work for a massive consumer electronics retailer. Literally every day in my job was the same: go to work, sell computers to people, clean up the department, stock the department, sell computers to people, clean up the department, stock the department…

The zombie factor set in, as the work became routine and monotonous. And, when you’ve sold as many computers as I have, every conversation seemed to be the same as the last. Kind of like taking a pizza order, I imagine.

Eventually, word spread that our company was going to donate five or six full computer packages to a local school. This donation wasn’t a random occurrence. The school’s special education center had recently been broken into and every computer stolen.

So, not only were we donating all these computers, but staff were also given the opportunity to go to the school and help set up the new computers for the kids. I signed up right away. What a positive experience!

I returned to work energized, happy, and excited. If you think your employees will feel half as good as I did from helping out in my community, find ways to get involved as a team.


Wi-Fi, PCI, and Your Business

Wi-Fi, PCI and your businessDo you have Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi can be a draw for new types of customers, and a good way to bring in business at times that are generally slow.

Even so, some businesses are hesitant to incorporate free Wi-Fi , fearing that it will bring in customers who linger for hours over a cup of coffee. While that can happen, in my experience, it’s the exception. A restaurant where I often go at lunch recently added free Wi-Fi. I find myself heading there after lunch or dinner to grab a snack and get some work done. I was a regular before. But now I’m a regular lunch customer who also spends money there during off-hours—as a direct result of free Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi can also be a great way to promote business lunches; an easy connection for an iPad or laptop makes a lunchtime presentation a whole lot easier. And personal experience aside, other businesses are clearly seeing the benefit, as many are taking the free Wi-Fi plunge.

Is your Wi-Fi secure?

If you’ve decided to add Wi-Fi at your restaurant, or already have it, proceed with caution.

  • Be very sure your Wi-Fi network is secure, and has ZERO access to the POS network.
  • Change your network password regularly, and keep it to yourself.

You’d never think of closing up and leaving the doors unlocked…but an unsecured wireless network is like an open door into your point of sale system that hackers could exploit—a PCI security red flag.

PCI compliance is a major concern for restaurant owners today. As the merchant-owner, you are liable for any breach of customer payment data at your restaurant, and the consequences of a breach can be devastating for any business.

Restaurants that have been breached face fines, fees, and loss of business that can add up to five- and six-figure losses.

In a whitepaper on wireless PCI compliance, Cisco Wireless Systems quoted the cost of a breach at $50,000 for a small business or $500,000 for a franchise chain.

So take advantage of all the benefits of Wi-Fi in your restaurant—but be sure your Wi-Fi is secure. If you’re not, call a network technician for help.

Mobile Orders to the Point of Sale

Mobile orders to the POSEasy sells.

A high-volume restaurant running Brygid online ordering with SpeedLine POS handles 400–500 web orders each week. To drive online sales, they lead with the menu—making it easy for customers to order popular items right from the home page. They also direct customers to order online through Facebook posts and promotions. Read more

Interactive Menus and Tablets: Mobile Sales in Your Restaurant’s Future?

Mobile sales in your restaurants future?Back in the day (not that many days ago, actually), I worked in a giant electronics store as a computer salesperson. I sold laptop computers, desktops, mice, keyboards, monitors, you name it. Then came the iPad, the Blackberry Playbook, and other tablets.

Maybe it was the throngs of customers calling and coming in daily to check if the new iPad was in stock, but I despised tablets. Oversized and overpriced iPods is what I thought they were. But as I spent more and more time around them, I started to see benefits of tablets from both a business and personal perspective.

One of the moments that solidified the value of the iPad as a business tool for me was when my fiancée and I met with our wedding photographer. After discussing rates and ideas, our photographer showed us his portfolio – on an iPad.

The high definition screen made his pictures look beautiful, as I easily flicked from one picture to the next, interacting effortlessly with his body of work.

Wait a second. How does this tie into restaurant technology? Well, today I was browsing the BurkeCorp blog, and read a post about the recent NRA show that discussed new ideas and trends in the restaurant industry. The notion of evolving ordering with technology and apps stuck out to me. Taking tablet technology and giving it to the customer to interact with a restaurant’s menu is such an amazing thought that just makes sense.

The BurkeCorp blog mentioned a company called Hospitality Social in their post, and I checked out the website. Hospitality Social sells what they call Hospitality Pads—essentially an iPad kitted out with an interactive menu—in this case, set up with a focus on wine pairings and recommendations. If, for example, I select a classic Pizza Margherita on the iPad, it will show me a variety of recommended wine and appetizer pairings. Not only that, but I can jump into a detailed and visual description of the wine I am interested in, instead of the 5–10 word description I would find on most menus.

It turns out many of SpeedLine’s web ordering partners have built mobile interfaces for iPad, Android, and Blackberry tablets. Some of our restaurant customers are already using them to drive more sales through the Internet. How cool is that?

After seeing how well tablet technology integrates with the restaurant industry, I can’t wait to see how tablets will be used in the future. Maybe it’s just my obsession with screens, and pictures that do cool things when I touch them, but I’m excited.

Customer Service: Do’s and Don’ts

Customer Service Do's and Don'tsCustomer Service is the foundation on which loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising is built. It always has been, and always will be. But nowadays, it’s almost as if being rude is the rule instead of the exception.

When I was 15 (and this goes back too many years for me to mention in fear of aging myself!), great customer service was the focus of any new employee training in the fast food sector. I remember sitting through hours of videos designed specifically to teach new employees how to enhance the customer’s experience.

Why does it seem like today, this is no longer a common practice? Countless times, I have walked away from a retail or quick-service establishment unhappy with my experience because the staff member ‘helping’ me has shown little interest, or a complete disregard for my business. I’ve read multiple studies that showed the average person who has a bad-service experience tells at least nine others about it, and 13% of complainers relate their experience to more than 20 other people. In comparison, people who receive excellent service only tell three or four others about it.

Good customer service is about bringing customers back by sending them away happy. It’s an easy concept, but one so easily forgotten or overlooked. Keeping customers is actually a lot easier than soliciting new ones, so let’s focus on that. Below I have put together a few ( probably obvious) customer service do’s and don’ts that helped me as a young rep, and might help you when training staff:

DON’T argue with a customer. Winning an argument gets you nowhere if you lose a customer in the process. Involve a manager if you are unsure of how to proceed with an angry customer.

DON’T hold a side conversation with a friend or another employee while talking to customers on the phone or in person. It’s frustrating to anyone, let alone your customer, to feel as though they are not being listened to.

DON’T let a bad mood carry over to your conversations with customers. You can’t fake good customer service; they’ll see it and feel it.

DON’T eat or chew gum when talking to a customer on the phone or in person. It’s disrespectful and shows a lack of professionalism.

DO make eye contact and smile. A pleasant and friendly attitude is contagious.

DO say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘you’re welcome.’ Being polite is remembered, and reciprocated.

DO reward regular customers and frequent buyers. A small discount or a little extra or faster service can go a long way towards keeping them.

DO contact customers you haven’t heard from for a while. They may have misplaced your menu and need a nudge in the right direction. Don’t let your competitors snatch them up.

Worth printing and posting on an employee board as a daily reminder? I hope it helps!

5 Ways Restaurants are Using QR Codes to Drive Sales

5 ways restaurants are using QR codesQR (Quick Response) codes are showing up everywhere. But what are these barcode-like boxes? A QR code can be scanned with a smart phone, pulling up a block of text or immediately bringing up a web page. Consumers want immediate access to what’s relevant and QR codes give them that.

Traditional bar codes can only hold up to 20 numerical digits; QR codes can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. Their ease of use, ability to hold more information, and capability to connect people with each other and link your print ads and signage with your website makes them a practical tool for small businesses.

Today, people who use them appreciate the instant gratification. And those who don’t will be curious about how they work—which can open the door for conversation. You can use QR codes in a multitude of ways. Use them on your website for product information. Add QR codes to your print advertising to connect guests instantly with your online ordering site, and on your business cards to make it easy for people to add you to their contacts. QR codes can deliver offers, product details, event information, coupons, Twitter, Facebook, and blog IDs, and more.

So, what can YOU do? Here are a few ways restaurants are already using QR codes:

Daily Specials. Creating a mobile friendly website displaying your specials for the day can drive traffic—and take a load off from your staff having to explain them repeatedly. It’s a unique way to display photos of your delicious menu items and bring back repeat customers with upcoming specials. Meet the Staff. Why not create a YouTube video introducing your staff to customers? It’s a great way to establish a family atmosphere with current and new customers.

Take-Out and Delivery. A QR code on your print ads and menus makes ordering on-the-fly easy and convenient. With a click of a button on their phone, a customer can add your contact information to their phone or place a call. Add a mobile friendly link to your take out menu or web ordering site too. Point-and-order!

Reservations. A new Smart Phone App, WalkIN, lets guests to scan a code before entering the restaurant with their name and party size and then be notified by their phone when they’re next on the list, and when their table is ready.

Menu Nutrition Information. I am often looking for nutrition information when I eat out, and very rarely find it. By providing these codes on your menu, diners can easily review each item and decide whether they want to splurge a little on calories, or play it safe. Simply set up the code that directs them to a mobile-friendly site displaying all the nutrition information for your menu.

While QR codes have been slow to take-off in the restaurant industry, they are gaining momentum in 2011. Jump in and test the waters. Be one of the first to try these unique ideas, and watch your business grow!

Are you already using QR codes? Tell us how they’re working for you…


Listening to What Customers Aren’t Saying

Listening to what customers aren't sayingHow and when do you decide to listen to your customers? Sometimes what your customers do speaks louder than what they may say. Are you “listening” when they choose not to talk to you?

Pointblank has an interesting post on their blog asking, “how often do you take the time to listen to your customers – even if they’re not talking to you?”

This got me thinking.

A friend and I decided to try out a new restaurant that had just opened in the area. I ended up choosing a salad. When our entrees arrived, it was pretty clear that the majority of the tomatoes had snuck past their expiry date.

I’m not much of a complainer, and really prefer to choose my battles carefully when I do. In this situation, to salvage my salad, I picked out all the tainted tomatoes and put them on the side of my plate.

Soon after, the manager on duty walked over and did the classic checkup on us. She introduced herself, asked us how the service was, and inquired about our meals. Unfortunately, before we could finish answering her questions, she was on her way to the next table.

It’s great that she stopped to talk to us, yet she lacked a definite perception. If she’d looked closer, she would have seen the massive pile of wilted tomatoes at the side of my plate and maybe asked about them. She would have had a chance to salvage my dinner, and improve my overall dining experience. But she was so caught up in her routine that she forgot to take the time to listen.

Kristen Morey, from the Pointblank blog, explains this situation perfectly:

“If your customers are talking about you or your company in a hallway or public forum online, they want to be heard. And if something needs to be changed or fixed, they want you to do something about it.”

What is important to take away from this quote is that wherever the conversation is happening, whoever it is directed to, and whether it is positive or negative, don’t feel afraid to chime in.

Listening does not just have to happen in person and in your restaurant. Social media like Twitter and Facebook can give you new insight into what people are saying about your business online. Try searching your company name and see what comes up. Don’t be afraid to reply to any naysayers and skeptics. Instead, see them as opportunities to show off your excellent customer service.

Check out the full post which breaks this idea down further.

POS Field Guide: Locking Down Security, Part III

Locking down securityTake a look at part three of the guide to learn how to monitor, protect, and manage your hard-earned cash every day.

Secure your cash drawers:

With pen and paper order entry, it isn’t hard for a server to “lose” a few tickets and take the cash out of the till when no one is looking. POS systems increase security and help end brazen theft like this: orders do not reach the make line unless they’re entered in the system, ensuring a thorough tracking of each transaction.

With SpeedLine POS, you can set up cash drawers and bank floats to match your restaurant banking procedures. Do you know what should be in your cash drawers at any given time? Throughout the day, the POS keeps track of all sales activity, accurately tracking how much money should be in a drawer at any time.

Have you set limits on how much cash drivers or servers can carry before they are required to make a drop at the register? With SpeedLine, you can even set your registers to drop to the safe periodically throughout the day and print a deposit slip.

In addition, every time a manager opens or closes a bank, issues a cash float, or cashes out a driver or server, the POS can print a receipt that requires your manager’s and employee’s signatures. This setting ensures that you always have two people who double-check cash counts. Also consider restricting who can open cash drawers, so you can make employees accountable for the money in their till. Granting access only to managers or senior staff can further help limit opportunities for theft.

Be sure to check out part one and two of the series if you haven’t already.