Number crunchers

Sept. 19, 2004

Jeff Ward envies the "numbers freaks," pizza operators who can use POS systems to deliver up-to-the-minute data on their businesses.

When he ran his own pizzeria, he didn't have one.

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Point of Success

"No question, that would have made life easier back then," said Ward, now CEO of Inborne Technology Corporation, a POS software maker. "Numbers freaks are the guys that love to look at which marketing offers really are working well, see which hour of the day is busiest and know how their labor's doing at any moment. Those are the guys who really maximize that investment."

Their businesses likely are some of the most profitable, too, said Premier Accounting's Tom Kohler, who runs the numbers for multiple pizza operations. Such operators want comprehensive financial statements that tell them not only what's happening today, but what happened in the past.

"Whether I'm operating one unit or 100 units, I need to have that type of internal reporting," said Kohler, whose company is in Louisville, Ky. "When you track that on a daily basis ... you can see whether you're on plan."

John Kozik, a former operations director for a Pizza Hut franchisee in Australia, knows you don't need a POS to help digest the digits. In the 1970s, when his company was opening new Red Roofs throughout Australia, daily long-distance calls and accounting ledgers were used to track operator numbers.

But while the old way still works, Kozik says modern operators are silly to do business without a POS.

"They're too convenient and too helpful not to," said Kozik, who retired from operations 25 years ago and now serves as board chairman for Eagle Boys Pizza in Brisbane. "They're great tools, so why not make it easy?"

Timely and immediate

Numbers don't lie, and the truths they tell about a business are at least as valuable as customer input. The more current that information is, the better, said Ward.

"I used to get financial statements each quarter — nowhere nearly as instantaneous as you can get the numbers now," he said. "It was enormously frustrating when problems came up, because when the stimulus is so far from the reaction, there's no connection made."

Such a disconnect can hide problems and allow costs to get out of line, he said.

"Say your pizza makers are over-cheesing your pizzas. Not knowing that quickly can hurt food cost in a hurry," he said. "But when you can get the right information instantly, you can make better decisions."

Dale Hoyer, owner of Franchise Services Company, an accounting outsourcing company, said a good POS system is necessary for any pizza company's growth. The ability to move valuable data quickly is a must.

"Because we can poll (an operator's) POS system, we can get whatever information they want us to, be it guest check average, product mix, food cost, whatever," said Hoyer, whose company manages the books for 2,600 restaurants. "This kind of reporting is especially helpful to someone who wants detailed reporting on multiple units."

Topics: Financial Management , Operations Management , POS

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