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Burdens or Blessings

Burdens or Blessings


April 14, 2008
By Diana Coutu

Topics

I feel that some technology is paramount to running a
successful high-volume pizzeria, like a good POS system, a phone system
with call display and ‘on hold’ automated call queue options, while
other gadgets, like personal cell phones, can be both a great time
saver or a parasite in your business. 

I feel that some technology is paramount to running a successful high-volume pizzeria, like a good POS system, a phone system with call display and ‘on hold’ automated call queue options, while other gadgets, like personal cell phones, can be both a great time saver or a parasite in your business. 

Most of my staff are high school and university students and have their own cell phones. On one hand, if the customer doesn’t answer the door, or the driver gets lost, they can simply call – instead of driving around looking for a payphone.

But on the other hand, like Pavlov’s dogs, whenever the phones ring, most can’t help but answer.  So in the middle of a rush, a cell phone rings and you would hear the dimwit answer it and say, “Oh nothing, I’m just at work.”

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Fridays were the worst … everybody calling everybody else to see where the party is, or what bar to go to. Then they would all show off their new ring tones and the pictures they took at last week’s party with their camera phones. Needless to say, cell phones quickly became a nuisance and wore out their welcome in my establishment.

We implemented a ‘no cell phones’ policy in the shop; in-store staff are to leave their phones in their bags or purses in the back and drivers are to leave their phones in their cars – or pretend they did (that is if they’re in-store and their phone rings, they had better ignore it).  

Another powerful technology that has a major impact in the 21st century pizzeria is a POS system. Potentially great, or possibly disastrous – choose wisely – because all the POS systems out there promise huge savings in time and money, but in reality many end up costing you both – big time.

All I can say is: do the research before you buy.

This is one area where you can’t ask too many questions. Ask for references, and call them.

Some systems are archaic; the code was written back in the 1990s and hasn’t been upgraded since. But those systems are still selling today – to poor, unassuming pizzeria operators who don’t know the difference and simply buy based on the lowest price.

More often, POS systems are designed for restaurants, which in a pinch, can be modified for a pizza menu, but face it, most likely was never intended for the complexities unique to our industry. 

A good pizza POS system will take several tasks off the independent operator’s plate by automating many aspects of daily operations. It should be easy to use and easy to train new staff. A good POS system will facilitate order taking, keep customer accounts, charge customers accordingly and consistently, keep driver accounts, validate addresses, map out deliveries for drivers, keep employee files, track hours, scheduling, inventory and track everything – accurately. You’re also likely to discover and prevent employee theft.

A good POS system will end up saving you time and money over and over, and will also integrate with accounting software, thereby reducing monthly bookkeeping costs. A bad POS system will mainly focus on order taking, and sometimes not even do that very well. 

For years, my husband and I said we couldn’t afford it. We did everything by hand – handwritten tickets, handwritten paperwork. The trouble with that is everyone has their own chicken scratch (is that a 5 or an 8?), and if a driver loses a slip, or if the slips don’t balance, then you’re playing bingo until the wee hours of the morning. Besides, you or your bookkeeper will still have to enter that information into some kind of spreadsheet or accounting software, essentially doing the work twice. And unless you took the order, and have a perfect memory all of the time (never going to happen), forget being able to answer a customer when they say “What did I have last time? It was so good.”

A bad POS system will need a full time position to manage and program it, plus need support techies on site or on the phone every other day. Just like cheese, if you have a bad POS system, you’re better off ditching it and starting fresh, unless you want more of the same. 

A good POS system will generate reports in seconds and on demand; everything from who your best customers are, your quickest driver, your most popular pizza combination, your busiest hour, week, month, or the best promotion or coupon and much more.

Our POS system has been the single most important piece of technology that we’ve adopted in the pizzeria, which has resulted in the biggest change in how we run our store. A good POS system easily integrates with your operations, and is periodically updated with clients’ requests (your input), and has tech support with reasonable response times.

Since we invested in a POS system, we no longer try to rely solely on our memories, and it consistently pays for itself every month. As a company and as individuals, we are much more effective.  We do more sales in less time and for the most part, with fewer mistakes.•


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