POS Delivery Service
Like most VARs, you probably pride yourself on service. But, how far are you willing to go to deliver?
Integrated POS (IPOS), (Rockford, IL) Vice President Andy Bamberg recently spent a month in his motor home. He's not practicing for retirement, and he wasn't touring the country with his family. He was parked in a lot behind Aurelio's Pizza in Joliet, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Bamberg was there to do business, installing a 19-station POS (point of sale) system at the pizza shop. For a month he was at Aurelio's beck and call, 24/7. If not in the restaurant, he was out back in his home on wheels.
After scrutinizing the restaurant POS market, IPOS found a niche opportunity in carryout and delivery software for restaurants. The company was selling Aloha products to customers in Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southern Wisconsin. Its territory through Aloha excluded Chicago however, which posed a barrier to the lucrative carryout/delivery market, positioned a scant 75 miles away from the company's Rockford, Il headquarters. At the NRA (National Restaurant Association) show in 2000, IPOS met software developer System 3 POS. An ensuing partnership allowed IPOS to blow into the Windy City with a custom software package that lends itself to carryout/delivery applications. With more than 8,000 restaurants in Chicagoland, the market was ripe. Bamberg established a Chicago team early in 2001, complete with sales and support staff. By the time he met Aurelio's at the NRA show last May, his Chicago operation was up and running.
While System 3 wasn't seeing excessive national demand for carryout/delivery software, IPOS' research findings in the Chicago market were enough to fuel the software company's interest and the two worked together to tailor a solution. The package integrates POS, CRM (customer relationship management), GIS (geographic information services), and SCM (supply chain management) technologies.
When the phone rings at Aurelio's, caller ID identifies the caller by name, and the System 3 database pulls up information such as address, last and most frequent orders, and average purchase amount. A running tally of the customer's annual purchases is also displayed. Aurelio's uses this information to determine its most popular meals and to execute loyalty reward programs. The order taker can also identify problem accounts - customers who never pay or complain to finagle free food - before answering the call. Special alerts, such as "side door delivery," or "beware of dog," appear on the screen.
The program identifies callers by predetermined quadrants within the delivery zone, allowing the shop to charge a premium for deliveries to far-reaching areas of the zone. When an order is taken, the dispatcher switches screens to a custom version of Microsoft's MapPoint and enters a batch of delivery addresses. MapPoint determines the best route for the deliveries, and directions are printed using an Epson receipt printer. Drivers get paid based on delivery statistics, which are tracked by the System 3 program as well.
All of the restaurant's POS stations run an inventory management program. System 3 tracks the depletion of stock by the quantity of items sold. If the restaurant keeps sauce in stock for 10,000 pizzas, for example, the system automatically orders more sauce at the sale of the 7,000th pizza.
Preparing For Take-Out
Aurelio's had been using FlashPoint for the carryout and delivery side of its business and ECR (an old version of NCR) for dine-in. Running System 3 across the board has led to a reduction in the amount of time the company spends calculating reports. For training, Bamberg used a banquet hall in the restaurant to install a mock set-up using all 19 terminals that were being prepared for the actual installation. The room was divided into three sections - phone order takers, table service stations, and dispatch/delivery stations. For three weeks the employees practiced on the new system, ringing through mock sales. Then Bamberg and his team went to work on a Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. after the restaurant closed for the evening, ripped out the old system, and installed the new one in time for a 10:00 a.m. opening the next day. During the training, installation, and initial go-live period, Bamberg stayed on-site in his parking lot home. "The motor home idea is great for the customer, and it makes business sense for us," Bamberg claims. "We were spending eight or nine hundred dollars per month on hotel bills anyway. Now if we have someone going to Iowa and someone going to Chicago, we fight over who's going to get the motor home."