A restaurant chain’s decision to extend its partnership with a solutions provider for the food services industry will ensure that most of its locations across North America will be moved onto a newer point-of-sale system.
Keg Restaurants Ltd., a steak house restaurants operator, has started
rolling out Squirrel Restaurant Management System’s latest suite of hardware and software, which includes Squirrel Version 1.3. The chain has also named Squirrel the preferred vendor for the The Keg Steakhouse & Bar restaurants.
“”The primary benefit of the roll out is the reduction of the learning curve at the stores for both using and maintaining the POS and our inventory management systems,”” said Ron Varley, director of planning and systems at Keg Restaurants’ corporate office in Richmond, B.C. “”We’re centrally managing way more of the functions.””
According to Varley, about half of the chain’s 80-plus locations across the continent are corporately owned while the remainder are franchises. And while the roll out phase should be completed by year-end 2006, he said some restaurants would likely maintain the status quo.
“”Within the next three years the majority will (use the system),”” he said.
“”There’s a couple that won’t because they’re integrated with their hotel management system — the POS system that they already had for the hotels. And there’s a couple of guys that will be reluctant to change.””
According to Barry Logan, president of Vancouver-based Squirrel Systems, The Keg has been a customer since 1988. He explained that in the late ’80s to early ’90s the chain rolled out his company’s first-generation product, and six or seven years ago, it upgraded its hardware.
“”Our latest product is a true real-time system,”” Logan said. The Squirrel solution runs on Microsoft architecture in the back office and on thin clients running on Linux in the front.
“”We actually used ergonomic sciences to help us design the interface to make it much easier to use, and so the human factors that have been built into the product are all geared around the mandate to make this product extremely easy to use.””
Managers from two of the chain’s franchises spoke positively about Squirrel tools, but said that their respective restaurants haven’t yet upgraded.
“”I’ve found it to be quite a beneficial tool, particularly with its pop-up screens,”” said Bruce Copp, a manager at a franchise in Victoria, adding that the pop-up screens basically guide the user through the entire process, significantly reducing the learning curve. The costs associated with upgrading and training staff, however, are a bit high, he said.
Darren Kirk, a manager at a franchise in Halifax, said one benefit of the Squirrel solution is that it simplifies organization.
“”Everything is categorized. You can look up receipts from the previous night or the previous months, and it’s easy to do. It’s a well organized system.””
The software includes features that manage the transfer of data from disparate sources. It can streamline inventory to facilitate purchasing and product movement. It can also enable the management of remote sites from head office locations in order to permit features such as menu changes. The hardware includes printers, network servers and flat screen terminals.
“”The biggest benefit is (the system’s) ability to customize the solution as we need it,”” Varley said, adding the upgrade was needed because the old solution lacked flexibility. “”They’re responsive to either perceived deficiencies or required customization.””