Last month, Will English presented QuickBooks Point-of-sale powered by Revel Systems, which is an iPad driven, cloud-based point-of-sale system fairly new to the Intuit line-up. But just as important in Will’s presentation as the ‘software’, he made a couple of statements that got me thinking…he said, ‘this new system opens up an entire realm of business which my company has avoided in the past’, he was of course referring to the ‘food service’ industry. Traditionally, those of us who have stuck with Intuit in the marketplace have focused on QuickBooks, and when needed, QuickBooks Point-of-sale (desktop) for retailers. I have about 60 Point-of-sale (desktop) users, and my only attempt to implement a QB-POS powered by Revel installation resulted in the client returning the product when they could not get adequate support from either Revel or Intuit, after Intuit advised me that ‘I wasn’t qualified’ to install or support the product.
Well this isn’t an article about QuickBooks, QuickBooks Point-of-sale, Revel or even the Fishbowl (inventory solution) that most of you are thinking about. This is a story about another, a different, Fishbowl. But this Fishbowl is definitely one you may want to consider getting to know if you are thinking about using QB-POS powered by Revel to get into the Restaurant sector. As a ‘trusted advisor’ to Restaurant Owners, Restaurant Managers, and in fact entire chains (small and large) of Restaurants, you will be expected to know something about analytics related to the restaurant industry.
More and more, just like many other industries, the restaurant business is relying on metrics to create actionable insights into their operations in order to maximize profitability. As a ‘Trusted Restaurant Advisor' you will be expected to handle more than their point-of-sale system, or pull reports from POS and QuickBooks, you will need to know how to deal with questions like, “Is our menu driving or hindering our profits?” How on earth would you pull that information from QBPOS or QB? What resource would you rely on to measure and predict dining behavior and preferences? How could you begin to compute the necessary pricing adjustments to address the impact of potential increases in wages (such as mandated higher minimum wages) or benefit costs (like Obamacare phase in for smaller employers and lower-hour earners)?
Today’s businesses are looking to professional advisors to help them with ‘all their needs’ related to operations, not just a specialist for this, and a practitioner for that. If you can’t provide all these operational requirements, either yourself, or by teaming-up with other Epic practitioners, then you can bet that a business will pass you by in favor of someone who can. In today’s society, price is a relatively minimal consideration, information is knowledge, and they are seeking the most knowledgeable consultant they can afford.
Take Jon Taffer (aka: Taffer) for example, when he took on the Spirits on Bourbon bar (aka: Spirits) in New Orleans that was featured in his ‘Bar Rescue’ television series. He is in the business of turning bar's around from top to bottom. If you notice the credits of Taffer's shows, they routinely include POS systems from some provider; he doesn’t have to worry about the actual set-up, or workings of the POS installation, he knows from experience that he has qualified resources to get the job done. Taffer focuses on the 'Big Picture', he pulls together resources to meet the needs down to the last detail, using all the resources in his arsenal, that is a key role of a 'trusted advisor'.
In steps the Woodard Company with a “Tech Makeover” for the bar's Point-of-sale needs using Intuit’s QuickBooks Point-of-sale Powered by Revel, it fit the bill and Woodard and Intuit meet that piece-of-the-puzzle. But there is so much more to a business of this nature than just a Point-of-sale system, and that is where it takes a well-rounded advisor, to put it all together.
My point is that the ‘trusted advisor’ is a point man, who can assess and identify the needs, and serve as their ‘brain trust’ knowledgeable of all the resources to get the job done. But just as important, trusted advisors must understand ‘ALL’ the numbers, not just the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet as they currently are, but what they should, and could, be. Well when it comes to Restaurants, this is where ‘the other Fishbowl’ comes in.
Chances are you have heard of Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee’s, Texas Roadhouse and Planet Hollywood. These are but a few of Fishbowl’s clients that want and need the operational metrics that Fishbowl’s Analytics can provide.
Fishbowl’s ‘Guest Analytics’ provide the ability to measure and predict actual dining behavior and preferences based on engagement activity. Not only is it important for a Restaurant (without Jon Taffer in their house) to know who their guests are, but to know how often they dine with them, and what they trend (that is right I used ‘trend’ not tend) to order, and what kinds of menu driven changes might cause diners to spend more. Point-of-sale data is but one source of ‘the numbers’ Fishbowl uses in addition to guest transactions, member databases, and social media survey based responses. Does your favorite restaurant rely on Open Table like-sites for some percentage of their reservations, if so they maybe measuring diner decisions that impact their potential future revenues. The results are demographic and psychographic views of diners and their desires.
When it comes to menu planning and changes, are the decisions at your favorite (or not so favorite) restaurant driven solely by the Chef’s desire to try something new or ‘experiment’? Why not be ready to support your restaurant clients with menu driven support based upon sales and profit, traffic frequency and reach and diner preferences. Fishbowl’s ‘Menu Analytics and Management’ is designed to help your restaurant client optimize their product mix and item pricing so as to drive traffic into their restaurant, not away from it. It can even help them prevent losses in sales solely the result of changing the price of one item on the menu, something far too many restaurants fail to recognize.
If your restaurant client asked you, “which should I offer, a 5, 6 or 8-ounce filet”, how would you respond? Well, if it were me I would probably say, “personally I would rather eat a 10 ounce filet”, but that would be based solely on my own preference, not market science or the clientele. Fishbowl’s menu metrics can not only drive product mix and pricing, but facilitate menu layout and optimization as well as product marketing.
In today’s ‘mobile society’ and social media rich environment, where any particular business resides in social channels, among the millenniums, as well as their sheer presence on the web is critical to profitability. That could not be truer than in the restaurant business. Yesterday’s ‘old faithful best place in town’ can be out of business solely because they were ignored by the mobile generation who grew up going there, but also grew up and developed other tastes. Countless ‘new kid on the block’ restaurants, no matter how ‘good’, come and go because the word of their presence flows via ‘the old ways’ rather than the new and they simply find themselves overlooked by the millenniums.
Today’s restaurants must rely on the impact of their media mix and promotional efforts to not only bring in the business, but to keep the business coming in. But in this mixed marketing environment how is a restaurant to judge which promotional and advertising efforts are doing the job. If you pick only one avenue and then try to evaluate it, you may find yourself out of business before the analysis is complete. Fishbowl’s ‘Media/Promotional Analytics’ can determine the effects of mixed media investments and guide your restaurant clients into making every investment dollar more effective. A wealth of statistical patterns applied against not only a restaurants’ media expenditures, and promotional costs, but transactional patterns and guest data can demonstrate the effectiveness of any media campaign.
If you really are interested in expanding your ‘trusted advisor’ practice into the restaurant business I suggest you do more than simply look at QuickBooks Point-of-Sale powered by Revel as the way to ‘get your foot in the door.’ I suggest that you take the Jon Taffer approach; become the knowledgeable and trusted ‘front man’ for a wealth of restaurant-business related products not just a new POS. One way you can begin that journey is to visit the Fishbowl website, review their impressive list of ‘case studies’, study their Recipe for Success for smaller independent restaurants, watch one (or several) of their recorded webinars, and contact Fishbowl for more information on how you might partner with them for the benefits of your restaurant clients. Who knows, your emerging trusted restaurant advisor practice might just turn into ‘Restaurant Rescue.’