Enterprise POS

Taking A "Garden Fresh" Approach to Enterprise POS

When it came to information technology, San Diego California based Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. had looked for a number of years for a point of sale system that was as unique and individualized as their concept.

Wanting to move beyond basic cash registers interfaced to a back office computer, the company had struggled to find a reliable enterprise point of sale system that went beyond the traditional functions of POS.

Garden Fresh found that individuality and flexibility with Volanté Systems Enterprise POS.

Garden Fresh is a company with 119 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants operating in 15 states, offering fresh produce and salads, made-from-scratch soups, hot-tossed pastas, freshly baked breads and more. Since 1978, Garden Fresh has kept a commitment to delicious and healthy dining.

The very first Souplantation restaurant was the first casual eatery brand to serve fresh, wholesome menu options, and the concept continues to resonate with customers. Each restaurant offers an all you can eat dining experience, where guests can create a meal tailored to their individual needs. Patrons can always count on fresh, high-quality ingredients and daily made-from-scratch menu items. The secret to Garden Fresh's success lies in their approach to food and their ability to keep costs down.

When it came to information technology, Garden Fresh had looked for a number of years for a point of sale system that was as unique and individualized as their concept. Wanting to move beyond basic cash registers interfaced to a back office computer, the company had struggled to find a reliable enterprise point of sale system that went beyond the traditional functions of POS. Garden Fresh felt it already had a firm grasp on cost control, and opted instead to take an aggressive marketing approach to help grow revenues.

What Garden Fresh was seeking was transaction level detail, not simply aggregate totals on lunch and dinner periods, but the ability to instantly study patterns of guest behavior and purchasing to enable further marketing analysis. What was needed was a technology partner that could not only help them do that, but help them do it more intelligently. The POS vendor also needed to be able to adapt to Garden Fresh's ever evolving needs and goals, both quickly and easily.

Garden Fresh found that individuality and flexibility with Volanté Systems Enterprise POS.

"Because our ultimate needs for functionality would be in a state of development for quite some time, we wanted to partner with a company that had a demonstrated ability to help us meet developing needs," states Rich Thomson, VP for Information Technology for the San Diego California based chain.

"We didn't want to be a small fish in the big POS pond. Volanté showed a continued interest in delivering workable innovation. In the final POS 'bake off', we saw Volanté demonstrate features that we expressed an interest in just a week before."

For instance, Garden Fresh had a strong desire to influence targeted guest behavior. One way the company hoped to achieve this goal was by issuing a bounce back coupon based on certain decision criteria in the sale, with the hope of providing guests an incentive to do something they might not otherwise have done.

After looking at 13 different companies, all with some kind of frequency program, getting the POS terminal to come up with something "on the fly" was something several companies said was possible to do.

However, Volanté already offered incentive based marketing, and according to Thomson, only Volanté was actually able to show us how it was done. Volanté had a credibility factor that was unusual."

Having demonstrated an ability to step up to the plate quickly in response to Garden Fresh's marketing needs, Volanté has also been a breath of fresh air with regard to reliability.


Peer-to-peer boosts reliability & flexibility

Volanté offers system reliability and on-demand, real time access to data through a network of peer-to-peer terminals. Peer-to-peer topology is a feature that is unique in the point of sale industry. The technology is designed to allow each terminal to run independently and reliably, and do so transparently to the user. In the case of system down time, each terminal will continue to operate without any loss of data or system degradation. Peer-to-peer provides users with peace of mind, along with the opportunity to keep IT departments lean.

"Volanté has really helped us in that regard by making a system that is just incredibly robust, reliable and simple to use," says Thomson. "Training is minimal, and the system is easy to support. We haven't needed any additional help on the support level yet. With Volanté, there are no disasters at the store level when the hardware fails.

The reliability of the enterprise database backbone means a great deal to us."


Data management on demand & improved reporting functions

In addition, Volanté also offers a full data-reporting suite to aid management in decision-making. The suite is designed to provide a clear insight into all aspects of operations, with filtered data reported whenever necessary, all accessed quickly and easily. Tailored summary reports have provided Garden Fresh with the ability to view only information they want to see, on demand, allowing store owners and managers more time to focus on operations and guest service.

"We're a low cost operator," admits Thomson. "Our fundamental interest was to automate everything. From the point in time that we put in electronic registers and electronic time clocks, it was so the cashiers and managers wouldn't have to enter information more than once.

So we really like things that are batch oriented, behind the scenes. With Volanté, we not only have been able to automate both POS and time & attendance for all staff, but to continue that automation in a reliable way that is still manageable."

Garden Fresh's needs when it came to an enterprise POS system were also complex. Each of the company's one hundred plus stores are unique onto themselves.

"With respect to Enterprise POS, we did not want simply the ability to remotely log in and make changes, which most of the companies we examined did quite well. We also didn't want our store managers to have to touch anything related to programming, and with lean staff we couldn't afford time-consuming data entry at Corporate.

We wanted the ability to make universal and exception based changes to an expanding array of more than a hundred locations, almost all of them with their own issues. Volanté has performed flawlessly in this regard."

Volanté is currently installed in 44 of the 119 Garden Fresh stores in a corporate rollout. The installation process itself has proved to be remarkably easy and seamless.

"The training and installation has been extremely simple," Thomson adds. "Staff reaction from the field has been great, both from managers and cashiers.

Volanté is a simple POS system to pick up, and the training requirements were significantly less than what we were anticipating, given the magnitude of the logistics involved."

According to Rich Thomson, Volanté has changed how Garden Fresh looks at a point of sale transaction.

"In the past, the transaction was something that was there, and that was it," he says. "With Volanté, we can not only look at and analyze the transaction, we can now also try and influence the next transaction."

Not surprisingly, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. is indeed taking a 'fresh' approach to enterprise point of sale.

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