Magazine Article | April 20, 2012

VAR Capitalizes On Fast-Food Industry's POS Needs

By Cindy Dubin, Business Solutions magazine

A VAR secures a multistore project by touting the advantages of an ECR/payment processing POS system.

In a tight economy, fast-food chains tend to experience an uptick in business. With money to spend, many fastfood establishments invest in POS devices. According to IHL Group’s The North American Hospitality POS Terminal Market Study, the fast-food sector holds the largest market potential for POS revenue.

However, for up-and-coming fast-food chains, saving money is a top priority. So, when one sandwich shop chain in the Twin Cities area moved out of its temporary location into three more permanent storefronts, it began searching for a POS payment processing system with the goal of investing minimally. The shop’s three stores were operating independently when it came to coordinating and consolidating sales data. “They wanted to integrate revenue and sales information from their three locations rather than having to enter each store’s paper receipts into a spreadsheet — a labor- and time-intensive process,” explains Tim Mueller, president of American Metro Point of Sale Solutions, a VAR and systems integrator specializing in general retail POS and selling electronic cash registers and PC-based touch screen solutions.

A $7,000+ Project With Minimal Training
The sandwich chain conducted an Internet search for POS distributors in the local area and found American Metro along with a few others. Competing systems were PC-based, using components such as a keyboard, mouse, thermal receipt printer, electronic cash drawer, and a 17-inch flat-panel touch monitor. “In addition to the cost being more than double for this type of system, there are many more pieces to fit on a counter where space is a premium,” says Mueller.

American Metro presented the chain with a less expensive solution — a small footprint (15 ¾” wide by 17 ¾” deep by 9 ¾” high) SAM4S electronic cash register (ECR) from Cash Register Sales and the BRIDGE Back Office Technology online payment processing system from Sterling Payment. American Metro installed the package in one of the sandwich shop’s locations for one month at no charge. “The store manager quickly saw that with the SAM4S, a lunch consisting of a sandwich, chips, and a soda requires just four keystrokes and approximately five seconds to process,” says Mueller. “With many PC-based solutions, there can easily be upwards of 12 keystrokes, and a sale can take four to five times longer.”

The system uses integrated credit/debit card processing and an onboard magnetic stripe reader, which Mueller says eliminates the potential for misentering data. “With authorization times at approximately 2½ seconds, a credit sale actually is faster than making change on a cash transaction,” he says.

In addition to speed, the sandwich shop was impressed by the system’s price. One complete installation costs $1,400, and BRIDGE can be purchased through either a one-time payment or monthly licensing fee. Two of the stores each installed two ECRs, and one ECR was installed at the third location. Training employees to use the ECR took one hour, while training corporate to use BRIDGE took two hours.

VAR Anticipates Future Sales
BRIDGE was developed exclusively for the SAM4S ECRs to provide online delivery of detailed reporting and management tools. When authorized users first connect to BRIDGE via a password, the initial upload consists of the entire price lookup (PLU) “product” code, which includes item number, price, and applicable tax. Subsequently, all sales data is uploaded to BRIDGE when the user initiates an end-of-day reporting function, which is done by pressing one button on the register.

“Having this data available for management enables them to make product additions or modifications, such as routine price changes,” says Mueller. And, the timeand labor-intensive process of entering individual store sales into a spreadsheet has been eliminated. Now, management can retrieve end-of-day sales reports for each location and consolidate the data to determine what product sold, to identify trends, and to print financial reports. In addition, the client views credit and debit transactions, deposits, and settlements.

Looking ahead, the sandwich shop’s expansion plans include opening outdoor kiosks and additional storefronts. American Metro expects to install additional SAM4S ECRs with a BRIDGE connection at those locations.