Abacus Says 'Aloha' To POS Efficiency

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"Aloha" means "hello" in Hawaiian, and at Ker's WingHouse Bar and Grill, a restaurant chain in Florida, it also has meant big savings in POS expenditures. Thanks to a comprehensive solution of products and services provided by Abacus Business Solutions, Clearwater, Fla., the chain is seeing efficiencies in everything from ringing up orders to processing and transmitting credit-card transaction information.

The WingHouse, a chain of 14 restaurants, recently switched from a POS solution from POSitouch to one provided by Abacus with products from Aloha, a division of vendor Radiant Systems.

"The new solution makes all the difference in the world," said Jason Dukes, IT manager at Ker Inc., the company that owns the WingHouse restaurants. "It's like we've got an entirely new approach."

>> Company: Abacus Business Solutions, Clearwater, Fla.
>>  Focus: POS implementations
>>  Problem and Solution: Install a lighter and more responsive POS computing platform at Ker's WingHouse Bar and Grill restaurants across Florida.
>>  Products and Services Used: Aloha's QuickService, TableService, Enterprise.com products
>>  Lessons Learned:
> Services make a big difference in POS
> POS systems that operate over IP are better than those over phone lines.


The transformation began back in August 2001, when Ker IT administrators contacted Abacus CEO Rich Peterson with a cry for help. Ker executives complained that POSitouch wasn't helping to troubleshoot problems with its technology and said they were tired of having restaurants use faxes and phone calls to report end-of-day sales figures back to the company's headquarters in Orlando, Fla.

Abacus, which made a name for itself through
its specialization in Aloha's QuickService and TableService solutions, responded immediately. In the first 30 days, Abacus installed the QuickService software on the hardware left behind from the POSitouch implementations.

As Ker opened new WingHouse restaurants, Abacus outfitted each facility with new hardware, software and services for roughly $25,000 a pop. By this summer, when the 14th WingHouse was opened in Jacksonville, Fla., every restaurant was up and running on the technology.

"The implementation is still going on as they are continuing to grow," Peterson said. "When they open a new store, they order a system, we install it, and their IT people oversee it and schedule training."

One of the keys to the relationship has been Abacus' quick responsiveness when technical problems arise, all but eliminating the need for a technical support crew for the POS technology, Dukes said.

At Radiant corporate headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga., Steve Daves, director of sales for the Aloha hospitality division, echoed these sentiments, praising Abacus for its comprehensive solutions.

"[Abacus] isn't just selling POS technology, they're selling their own solutions as well," he said. "When [Peterson] goes into a presentation, he doesn't just show up and throw up a demo, he tries to determine a real business problem and come up with a tailored way to solve it."

In the past few months, Abacus has taken the
project one step further and transitioned all of the WingHouse restaurants onto Aloha's new Enterprise.com POS system, an ASP model that transmits information over IP.

While most POS systems send out credit and gift card information one at a time over analog phone lines, this new system enables each terminal to submit transactions simultaneously. The new system is quicker than ever, and transaction approval time has dropped from an average of 30 seconds to no more than five, Dukes said.

What's more, Peterson has expanded the new system to incorporate retail items such as WingHouse T-shirts, hats and mugs. With the help of scanning technology from Metrologic Instruments, WingHouse employees can scan the bar code of a piece of merchandise and add it to a bill just as they would an entre or dessert.

"In the past, we have struggled with how to track these items as part of POS," said Dukes. "With Abacus and Aloha, it's now all just part of the same efficient system."

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