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Control and Mobility

Hello – or should we say Aloha – to the first issue of Aloha Update. As a restaurateur, bar owner or manager, you already know how Aloha Point of Sale software optimises restaurant and bar management, offering seamless integration between stock control, labour management, loyalty and gift cards, head office management, table reservations, guest management, tableside ordering and mobile payment systems.

But, as important as those things are, there’s even more to Aloha than you might have considered.

Control and Mobility: those are the keywords for this issue. Control in the way Aloha helps you increase revenue and deter scams. Mobility in the way it helps turn customer orders round faster and eliminates mistakes between waiters and kitchen.

The power of Restaurant Guard

According to the National Restaurant Association, a typical restaurant suffers from 3% of sales lost to staff scams. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Installing Restaurant Guard as part of your Aloha suite of software, it’s possible to identify potential scam events in a restaurant or bar and deter future theft.

Does it Really Work?

Ask the 20,000 active users worldwide. We think that figure speaks for itself.

So How Does It Work?

Restaurant Guard imports data from point of sale to learn what is normal behaviour for a specific restaurant. Then it monitors employee activity through transaction patterns and statistical variances to generate a weekly report detailing identified scam patterns and the employees involved.

Okay, so much for the theory. How are restaurateurs putting that theory into practice? Meet the owner of London’s largest South African restaurant and nightclub.

How Restaurant Guard Saved Shaka Zulu Thousands of Pounds per Week

Set over a ground-breaking 27,000 square feet in The Stables Market at Camden, Shaka Zulu is the largest venue of its kind in Europe. Roger Payne is the founder and owner.

In November 2011, Roger added Restaurant Guard to his already successful Aloha installation. Restaurant Guard began gathering data in December 2011 and the system went live in January 2012. Immediately it started throwing up around ten notifications of suspect transactions per week.

The chief problem identified and eradicated by Restaurant Guard was the transfer scam. Roger explains how that works:

“Supposing you come into the restaurant as the guest of some friends. You have drinks in the lounge, which you then take down to the restaurant. Because your friends are paying for dinner, you use cash to pay for that round in the lounge. The staff member then pockets the cash and dumps the cost onto a false table that doesn’t exist – then keeps doing the same thing, inventing more false tables for the rest of the evening.”

“Later, an unsuspecting table where a bill is about to be paid is identified, and the cost of the scammed drinks transferred to that table’s bill. If the customer notices, he complains and the manager legitimately voids the transaction.”

To combat that kind of behaviour, Restaurant Guard assigns every item a unique reference number, so that it can be followed wherever it is in the venue. Working this way at Shaka Zulu, the system identified two members of staff who were operating the fraud, and needless to say they no longer work for the restaurant.

“Restaurant Guard has eradicated our fraud problems, so that they are down to a trickle – most of which are explainable,” says Roger. “The fact that staff know it’s there deters them from getting into further scams. It’s almost like we don’t need it any more. However, I am aware that we will employ new staff in future who are not aware of its powers, while current staff might become complacent and start scamming again.”

“It’s good to know that Restaurant Guard is always there, working in the background and keeping an electronic eye on everything that’s going on.”

That’s One Way the Aloha Suite of Software so Easily Takes Control. But There Are Other Ways Too. Over to Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucestershire, Home of Gloucester Rugby Club.

Flexibility and Faster Transactions Mean Increased Revenue

At Gloucester Rugby Club, 41 tills are run over eight bars, all linked back to one server, where Aloha silently exerts its control. Patrick Morris is the club’s Head of Events.

“Aloha gives us great flexibility,” says Patrick. “We programme it for the pre-match happy hour and it takes care of everything, automatically, changing prices at 2pm and then reverting to normal prices when the match starts.”

“Our eight bars each cater for different tastes. For example, one bar just sells real ale, another sells five specific beer products. Then there is a VIP area, where the bar might major more on cocktails. Aloha allows us to put the best sellers for different bars onto the home pages of individual tills.”

“That helps us turn round transactions faster, which means we increase revenue.”

Speedy transactions also come from the fact that Aloha is so much faster than the club’s old cash registers – and faster turnround at the bar again means more revenue.

Gloucester Rugby hasn’t yet installed Restaurant Guard, but even without it, Aloha has helped prevent scams, as Patrick explains:

“On the first match after we installed Aloha, it picked up on staff who had scammed £800. It did this by showing us that there was a shortfall in what we expected to be in one till – and that prompted us to do our own investigation. It allowed us to go back through the reporting procedure, linked to CCTV, and to produce information for police, with all the reporting evidence we needed to present a case in court.”

“Around 40 till servers are employed on a match day, and temporary staff are not always the same. Because they often had a difficulty in memorising product prices, we used to see an element of prices being rounded down. Aloha allowed us to see what should be the correct amount of cash in a till, rather than what was actually ending up in there.”

“Staff are now very aware that there is a reporting system in operation, and it makes them think twice about scamming or rounding down drinks prices.”

“Since installing Aloha, our average spend in bars is up by 15%.”

At the moment, Gloucester Rugby uses Aloha only in its bars, but consideration is being given to extending its use into the software’s table service element, and that’s an area where other restaurant owners are already seeing the advantages of the system’s mobility.

How Mobile Technology Is Changing the Restaurant Industry

The old ways of restaurant management are no longer intuitive to a new generation of iPod and iPhone users. Today’s younger waiters know and understand the latest technology.

They want something that is easy to use, intuitive and wireless.

And now, with Aloha Point of Sale software used with a unique TIM (Time is Money) app, they are getting all that and more. The TIM app means that Aloha can now be used with the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad, releasing its restriction to Windows-based hardware and making the solution truly mobile.

The TIM app means that orders can be taken at the table and relayed wirelessly to the kitchen, handling payment right at the table and even giving waiters access to recipes for the food being ordered. These days, a waiter can work a whole shift without once visiting the kitchen or a point of sale terminal.

The solution is conventionally used on an iPod Touch, but is supported by other devices too. It is equally at home running on an iPhone and, if a larger screen is required, can just as easily be run on an iPad.

The TIM user interface is designed to work single-handed with intuitive runner screens, while easy swipe gestures offer a multi-touch interface for increasing and decreasing ordering quantities. The device can even be tilted towards the customer, using the iPod’s built-in accelerometer to display the bill with the restaurant’s logo.

It’s more cost effective too. The hardware needed, in the shape of the iPod Touch, is inexpensive in comparison to around £1,000 for a conventional hand-held device. It has an intuitive user interface and, as it uses wi-fi, the infrastructure is cheap to implement.

One restaurant keen to embrace the Aloha way of service is The Quilon, which specialises in south-west coastal Indian cuisine. Recently refurbished, the new design reflects Quilon’s cultural origins as well as its position as one of the leading Michelin starred restaurants in London.

“We have just installed Aloha Point of Sale software, which came highly recommended by a business colleague,” says Quilon Executive Chef Sriram Aylur. “Once we are up and running, the next step will be to use it for table-side ordering, and we already have the required tablets.”

“We can see the strong advantages of waiters taking orders at the table and having them automatically transferred to the kitchen. The way the system handles billing and helps to avoid errors will be a strong advantage for us.”

Mobility in Action

So the Tim App with Aloha Brings New, Smart Ways to Take Orders, Relay Them Wirelessly to the Kitchen and Accept Payment. What Else Can It Do? Quite a Lot Actually.

  • If guests have allergies to certain foods, their waiter can look up the ingredients through the recipe function. Information is also on hand about allergens, nutritional values and even advice on which wines go best with an ordered meal.
  • When speed is of the essence, ordering time can be reduced by hitting the ‘express’ button. A handy search box also makes it easy to find any food or wine available as fast as possible.
  • Food orders can easily be modified at the customer’s request.
  • The system prompts the waiter to ask questions about the way food is prepared (is that steak rare, medium or well done, sir?) or offers recommended additions to a particular order.
  • When it comes to paying, multiple bills can be issued, current promotions applied and tips taken into account. Bills can be presented on screen to show customers, or if they want a more permanent bill, it can be printed or emailed.
  • When interfaced with the Aloha Guest Manager, OpenTable, or ProHost table management and restaurant reservations systems, the table status can be entered to tell staff when to clear a table and when it is ready for the next customer.

Ten Tips for Getting the Best from Aloha

1. Make It Pay for Itself: Sell advertising on customer-facing screens at tills and point of sale terminals.

2. Eliminate Scams: Add Restaurant Guard to your Aloha software suite to identify scams and their perpetrators. By letting your staff know that there is reporting software in action, you will deter the temptation to scam.

3. Manage Your Labour: Use the Basic Aloha Scheduler, Time and Attendance Reporting, and the Punctuality feature to minimise labour costs.

4. Automate Promotions: Pre-programme Aloha to introduce automated happy hours, buy-one-get-one-frees, combos, and a variety of other promotion types using the System Events scheduling tool.

5. Automate Report Generation and Delivery: Use Aloha Insight to build custom reports, automatically generate reports and email reports in the required formats to a schedule.

6. Set up a Loyalty Scheme: Use Aloha’s powerful capabilities to set up the best loyalty scheme for your business, based on items bought, visits made or points acquired.

7. Get Mobile: Add the TIM app and a mobile device for a more economic and error-free method of tableside ordering.

8. Give Customers More Information: Incorporate details of recipes, ingredients, possible allergy information and recommended wines into meal details, displayed on the waiter’s mobile device.

9. Plan for the Future: If you are planning on expanding your business, examine how Aloha can operate over multiple outlets.

And Finally

Did You Know…

  • Aloha in Hawaiian means affection, peace, compassion and mercy.
  • Since the middle of the 19th century, it has been used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello.
  • In modern Hawaii, numerous businesses have aloha in their names, with more than three pages of listings in the island of Ohau’s phone book alone.
  • One of Hawaii’s most famous songs, Aloha Oe, was written by the last queen of Hawaii, Lili’uokalani.
  • The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse, built in 1926, 184 feet high and the tallest building in Hawaii until 1960

Now Let’s Hear from You

  • How are you using Aloha/Restaurant Guard?
  • How can your experiences help other users?
  • How can the experience of others help you?
  • What would you like to know more about?
  • Do you have any useful hints and tips on the use of Aloha Point of Sale software?

Let us have your feedback, and we’ll feature your stories and comments in future issues of this newsletter.

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