Lee Hussein, owner of Rascal House Pizza in the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, Ohio, knew he was having a problem with chicken wings. A report produced by his point-of-sale system showed the sales of chicken wings didn't match his actual usage. More wings were flying out of the store than were being paid for by customers.
"I had a meeting with my staff and told them this is what the report is showing me and this is what the actual usage is," Hussein said. "I told them, 'Basically, either we are not doing our jobs or somebody really loves our wings.'"
Once he pointed out the issue to his staff, the problem stopped.
"It gave everybody more awareness of what was going on and they started watching it a little more," he said.
While the main function of a POS is to ring up sales, today's systems can provide dozens of reports that can help operators make good operational and marketing decisions. Hussein has been using a POS system from Lynden, Wash.-based SpeedLine Solutions Inc. for more than five years.
Along with using POS reports to spot-check his inventory, Hussein tracks items ranging from how many voids are performed each day to how long it's been since a particular customer placed an order.
"It's very detailed and gives you just about any report you are looking for," he said. "It's the best system I've ever worked with."
Bringing back lazy customers
Much of the value of a point-of-sale system is the insight it gives an operator into their business, said Jennifer Wiebe, marketing manager for SpeedLine. The system offers reports and tools that can easily answer questions about the cost of labor, where waste is happening, and the effect of a price change or a new size on sales.
Labor reports give managers the tools to ensure that they're hitting labor targets throughout the day, while inventory reports give restaurant operators a clear picture of what they're losing every day to over-portioning, waste, theft or spoilage. A daily review of one or two key reports can keep costs in check, Wiebe said.
By comparing item sales with food cost, operators can quickly identify which items they might want to promote more, re-price — or consider dropping from the menu.
"The most successful operators use that information regularly to evaluate and fine-tune their menu mix and pricing," she said. "What margins do they need to make the profits they want? What do their customers order most? Are they carrying unnecessary inventory, or items that steal sales from their higher-margin items?"
Along with controlling costs, POS systems can help build sales by tracking customer information and order history. POS reports can be used to run sales contests by tracking which employees are doing a good job suggesting add-on items.
"It's kind of nice to see, especially with our repeat customers, if they are ordering the same thing all the time, and whether or not the employees are doing a good job upselling," said Kevin Gordon, owner of Pizza Chef Gourmet Pizza in Billings, Mont. "It quickly becomes apparent from looking at those reports. When there is a problem, it makes it easy to solve."
Gordon is able to pull POS reports on "lazy customers," or those who haven't ordered for a certain length of time. Those customers are targeted with coupons or e-mail offers to encourage them to come back.
Along with assisting him in making good business decisions, Gordon's POS provided an additional benefit.
"When I originally started as an owner, we were still doing all the paperwork by hand," he said. "After putting the SpeedLine system in place, I went from spending 20 to 25 hours a week on paperwork to spending three to four hours a week."