Hospitality Software: No Strings (Or Server) Attached
One POS (point of sale) VAR turned a two-day hospitality software installation into a multisite offer. A scalable, fault-tolerant system with wireless capabilities was the key.
Until August of 2002, Ruckus Pizza & Bar (Raleigh, NC) didn't have the capabilities to service as many patrons as they wanted to because of a lack of an automated POS (point of sale) system. When the owner of the restaurant discovered this technology roadblock put limits on Ruckus' business opportunities and overall profits, Retail Management Systems (RMS) (Raleigh, NC) was called in. RMS installed fault-tolerant hospitality software that not only eased the burden of downtime, but led to future business opportunities with Ruckus.
Wireless, Fault-Tolerant, Scalable
No hospitality software was previously installed at the restaurant, and the hardware consisted of two cash registers. Service lacked expediency because Ruckus' wait staff took handwritten orders and physically ran between the kitchen, the bar, the deck, and the customers. Any VAR who has worked with restaurant owners knows the typical requirements of hospitality software: tracking inventory and sales, building menus, and routing food and drink orders to the appropriate person. Ruckus was no different. But, the restaurant required wireless capabilities for the wait staff, a fault-tolerant system, and software that could scale in accordance with future expansion plans.
VAR Robert Royster, president of RMS, had done business with Ruckus in the past. When the restaurant realized it was possibly losing money because of a lack of technology, RMS was called in to provide the exact POS solution Ruckus craved. As Royster noted: "Ruckus needed restaurant management software to track everything they do. Training had to be easy, because of high turnover rates that are typical in restaurants. The software also needed a built-in fault tolerance for data management and data integrity. Last but not least, handhelds would speed up drink service in the bar and deck areas."
Hospitality Software Running Without The Server
After Ruckus evaluated other packages over the course of a year, Royster installed Volanté Systems (Toronto) Volanté Suite along with the Volanté Go Wireless Software package. Volanté offered the restaurant the fault-tolerant dependability they were not willing to go without. Volanté software is a peer-to-peer architecture that allows all of Ruckus' terminals to be connected yet work independently.
"The server in this system is simply the host to the databases in the terminals throughout the network. As you ring a transaction locally, it goes into that terminal's database and then gets pushed out between databases. If something catastrophic happened to the server or network router, the system could still operate because of the syncing between databases," Royster explained. This gave RMS an edge over the competition. Other packages Ruckus evaluated had to have a server or backup server. With these options, if a server or router went down, the only alternative was handwritten tickets.
Because of the database connectivity, as the restaurant grows into a multisite operation, there will be no need for polling. With this system, data flows from a store to the enterprise through a data synchronization model with no polling software required.
With this software, Ruckus was able to run both Windows 2000 and Linux. The restaurant wanted Windows capabilities for the office and Linux for the restaurant floor.
Through the wireless package, Ruckus' wait staff is able to ring orders from the restaurant's bar and deck locations using a handheld. If an employee is out of the coverage area, the order will be placed as soon as they step back into the service area.
Total cost of the two-day installation was $10,000. Royster installed a 15-inch ELO touch monitor with a computer running Windows 2000 at the front register, and a touch screen terminal, CRS IT-2000, running Linux at the bar. A Windows 2000 PC was installed in the restaurant's back office. To complete the wireless component, a Compaq iPAQ handheld running Linux was implemented. "Although there was no integration involved in this installation, the ability exists," Royster said. "Volanté uses a SQL database that is ODBC [open database connectivity] compliant. With this functionality Ruckus can move data to any other ODBC-compliant software. For future endeavors this component will be important because it allows third-party systems integration."
VAR Earns Multisite Installations
Since the installation, inventory management is accurate, which is helping cut costs related to overestimation of food and drink stock. Training of the wait staff on the software can be done in 15 minutes, while managers can set up menus and options within 30 minutes. The system has particularly helped business in the restaurant's bar. Using the handhelds at its busiest times means Ruckus has been able to double throughput on customers because of the time this system is saving the wait staff and kitchen. Faster service has led to a 15% increase of business at the bar. Using handhelds for orders has cut 40% off of the time a customer waits for a drink from the bar. The relationship between Ruckus and Royster has led to future business plans since the installation. When the restaurant expands to a multisite operation, RMS will be installing Volanté software to connect the sites on an enterprise level. Beyond Ruckus, Royster has installed Volanté software at three other area restaurants.