When officials from Wichita, Kansas-based Restaurant Management Co. want to know what's happening in each of their 136 Pizza Hut locations, they don't need to drive to each store.
 
Data from the restaurants are automatically fed from point-of-sale systems to the company's corporate headquarters via a proprietary above-store solution designed to collect and report on data received from their restaurants' point-of-sale systems.
 
"You name it, we gather it," said Mark Roberson, information technology director at Restaurant Management Co. "We pull data from our telephone system, we pull all the sales data, delivery data, schedule data, clock-in clock-out, anything we can, and use it to try to better understand what is going on in our stores."
 
Restaurant Management Co. uses POS systems supplied by Lynden, Wash.-based Speedline Solutions Inc.
 
Restaurant Management Co. officials use the information in conjunction with their SpeedLine point-of-sale system to make decisions on everything—from how to better schedule employees to what type of promotions to offer, Roberson said.
 
The data also can give the company a clear picture of who their customers are, each restaurant's product mix and sales and promo trends across all regions.
 
"We can tell what customers are buying in certain areas so we can make decisions on what coupons to use," Roberson said. "If you have a lot of stores, you really need that information."
 
The company has been so pleased with the results obtained via their above-store reporting system that they are marketing the solution to other Pizza Hut franchise groups.
 
Finding the norm
 
Restaurant operators using Speedline POS systems can integrate their existing above-store system, including reporting tools, accounting and payroll systems directly with the POS systems at the restaurants.
 
Speedline also has developed its own above-store reporting tool, known as SpeedLink Enterprise.
 
Operators can use SpeedLink Enterprise at the corporate office to schedule and distribute reports automatically, said Speedline marketing manager Jennifer Wiebe. That can help eliminate communication breakdowns and lags in productivity that arise from missing important information or finding out too late about something that's happening at a particular location.
 
For instance, operators can see the impact of price adjustments and campaigns as they roll out – not a week or a month later, she said. 
 
"They have they ability to manage promotions and database marketing from the head office to increase order frequency and revenues," Wiebe said. "They also have the information to analyze buying trends by region, and across all locations, and to enforce and track upselling to boost ticket averages chain-wide."
 
Having quick access to store data also can help operators quickly compare results at different locations and spot trends. That becomes increasingly useful as a company adds locations, Roberson said.
 
"When you are in a store doing it, you may think you are doing OK, but if you don't have anything to compare it with you don't know," he said. "Having that information gives you a clear picture what is the norm and of things that are outside the norm."
 
Comparing scheduling reports with sales figures also can help store managers maximize their business, Roberson said.
 
"You would be surprised how many times a store manager says, 'I think I need to add drivers on Friday night because I'm not hitting my numbers,' or something similar," he said. "Once you start looking at the graphs, however, you realize that Friday night may not be the problem. It may be Thursday night between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m."

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