I had the pleasure of working with FSTEC on their Talks from the Top series earlier this month and was lucky enough to be asked to host a session. I interviewed Tony De Salvo, COO at Fortney Hospitality who operates the family-run Brother’s Bar and Grill business, a long time Oracle customer. Tony's session focused on their recent move to the cloud and how they ensured their staff and guests came along for the ride. The session is available on-demand on the FSTEC Community, but here I wanted to share a snippet of my conversation with Tony and his top tips and lessons learned when moving your point of sale system to the cloud.
We currently have 22 operations in 10 states, and I like to think we run amazing sports bars; many are located in areas popular with college-aged students. Our philosophy is to offer a great time for our guests all the time. Our guests are at the core of everything we do. Our team members, like our guests, are predominantly college students. That, in turn, means they're very tech-savvy, and we wanted to make sure we could harness that in any move we made from a technology perspective.
I will start by saying we were pleased with our on-premises system, RES3700, but we knew that we wanted to grow fast. We decided rather than making a big change in our core technology platform when we were 35 or 40 bars; we'd rather make that investment and that change now while we were around 20. Of course, we’re interested in new technology and new sales channels, but when we started this process some 18 months ago, that was a nice to have rather than a necessity.
We knew it would take a while to pick the right platform, so we set out with three main criteria and then put all the possible options through an arduous process to ensure they really could deliver all of them. First, we needed it to be reliable. Next, we needed it to be scalable because of the growth that we not only want to do, but also the work we will be doing hopefully in 2021 and beyond. And finally, it needed to be user-friendly, relatable, and enhance the guest experience. Those are the three main factors that we shopped around with until we concluded Oracle MICROS Simphony was the right platform for us.
The goal of a point of sale system is for the guest not even to know that it exists. They want their ice-cold beer and their awesome fried cheese curds, and they want it as fast as possible when they want it. To make the whole process invisible to the guest, we decided we really needed feedback from those using the technology every day. We involved our team members right from the beginning. Rather than myself or the team setting things up from a design perspective in terms of the screens and the team member interface, we actually got the teams into the office to help us, including general managers, servers, and bartenders. We asked them to help us improve their ability to help their guest, and that started the design process. That alone has proven valuable, even before we launched the first workstation. That’s a key part of our culture: we want to listen. We wanted to listen to them and take feedback in terms of where to put buttons to make it faster to serve the guest. Oracle was involved in that process with us and as a result every subsequent rollout has been even better. We learned more about the system than we would have thought possible from the people who were using the system.
We chose Simphony to help us gather as much information as possible from the locations, the transactions and our guests in a simple and easy way that could be accessed from anywhere. During these times that data has really helped us maintain 22 operations in a pandemic where travel is totally out of the question. That intelligence from our restaurant analytics in turn helped us make really important decisions fast at a time when our business needed to pivot quickly. We are making better business decisions because of the system; we are also reacting much quicker to sales trends.
As a cloud solution, Simphony allowed us to the maximize the brilliant people we have in the support and IT teams. We didn’t need an army of people to run our operations, as changes could be made centrally without having to physically travel to a location.
Finally, Simphony’s ability to interface with third-party systems helped us quickly and easily enable new sales channels like online ordering and delivery. We were just dipping our proverbial big toe into delivery and collection before March of this year. As COVID-19 evolved we had to jump in with both feet and because of the flexibility and the extensibility of the platform, and not needing an army of programmers or support changes, we were able to very quickly react, test, implement and deploy various sales-building initiatives. That has been very important to us now and going into 2021 and I expect into the future.
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