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Author Archive | Andrew Call

Conserve & Control: Portioning Out Your Precious Resources

Picture your next outing to a new restaurant or eatery. Mouths watering, you and your dinner companions order the same large entrees based on similar tastes and growling stomachs. As your succulent steaks make their way to the table, you notice your friend to the left has a small spoonful of potatoes overshadowed by an over-sized steak.  On the opposite side, your friend to the right sheds a tear when he sees his small piece of beef half hidden behind a heaping wall of potatoes. While you’re plate looks just right, you chuckle at how disproportionately different the three meals are, and how each of you paid the same price.

Now extend this imaginary dinner outing to the typical guest experience at your own establishment. Are the two uncannily similar? From an operational standpoint, how can you calculate margins and accurately tally expenses when each plate sent out is proportioned differently? The short answer is, you can’t.

Controlling the portions you provide your customers is an easily overlooked but extremely important way to cut costs and preserve your restaurant’s margin. Amid the hustle and bustle of today’s high-energy commercial kitchens it’s essential to have a tried-and-true method of keeping the portions your staff dishes out exact.

One place to weight watch when it comes to portions is proteins. Outfitting your kitchen with the right restaurant equipment is important, and a quality portion scale is a greatConserve & Control: Portioning Out Your Precious Resources way to keep an eye on what is probably the most expensive item on your entrée plates. Pop that protein onto a portion scale to quickly and easily stretch your product as far as it can go.

Starches, veggies, and soups are highly susceptible to varied portions.  What is shrugged off as an additional carrot or extra green may be adding up to cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue every year! The simplest way to take control of these portion sizes is to utilize a handful of portion measuring utensils. Using a specific disher, Spoodle, Loon, or ladle for certain food items, and always using that same sized utensil, will help you avoid over serving.

Water use is often undervalued and overlooked. Restaurants use a lot of water, it’s a fact. From washing dishes and tables to cooking and serving guests, water output eats up a nice chunk of your monthly budget whether you realize it or not. An excellent way to save, and also help your establishment be greener, is to watch your water. Here are 5 sensible tips to help you do just that: 

Fix leaky faucets – don’t let that drip drain your budget!

Wash full racks only – it’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often a member of your staff starts a half-filled rack through the washer.

Use a foot pedal for hand washing sinks – foot or knee pedals are a great way to avoid waste. They not only give your staff a sanitary way to operate the sink, but also shut off automatically to instantly help you save.

Landscape with conservation in mind – water outside can be as costly, if not more, than water inside. Keep that in mind when you’re adding a flower garden or line of decorative shrubs to the outside of your establishment.

Train employees – without the help of your employees your conservation plan is just a plan. Make sure each employee knows where your business stands when it comes to conserving.

Conserve & Control: Portioning Out Your Precious ResourcesBONUS: Spread the word –people love to hear when steps are taken to be more environmentally conscious. If you’ve made changes to how you do things, and these changes have a positive effect on the surrounding community, don’t be ashamed to toot your own horn and let people know!

So when it comes to portion control it’s time for you to be in control. As a basis for calculating your restaurant’s profitability, portioning out your product is essential to keeping your margins low and your plates consistent. Effective portion control is easier than you think and is a good way to accurately assume where your expenses will sit each month. Without a proper portion control method in place you end up gambling with these assumptions, and in the restaurant industry it’s often these kinds of gambles that can make or break you. Why not sway the odds in your favor as much as possible?

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Join the Conversation: Managing Your Restaurant’s Online Reputation

In the fast paced world of write-what-you-will-when-you-want internet blogging, reviewing, and all around tom-foolery, you’re able to find varying opinions on just about anything. From bashing faulty restaurant equipment to condemning an establishment’s service, it would seem that opinion makers particularly enjoy targeting the restaurant world. Inhabiting an industry that’s so inherently subjective, restaurant owners need to be in the know when it comes to how customers, and the public in general, view and talk about their eatery. Not monitoring your online reputation, or worse yet ignoring the opinions you do uncover, can lead to customers not coming through your doors and eventually those doors closing for good.

Join the Conversation: Managing Your Restaurant’s Online ReputationSocial media, review sites like Yelp, and literally any random person with a voice wanting to be heard, can be both an excellent way to spread positive feedback or negatively criticize a restaurant for poor quality. With 84% of American consumer’s decisions affected by online reviews being on top of the pulse in terms of watching what people say about you is crucial. Here are a few tips for staying ahead of the naysayers and building relationships with your optimistic fans.

Actively listen. All too often people are just waiting for their turn to speak rather than actively listening to what’s being said. If you take this approach when reading negative, or even positive, reviews you can really miss the message and come across as ignorant and inattentive. Open up those ears and take it all in, one disgruntled customer at a time, and realize that the opinion surrounding your restaurant can’t and isn’t molded by your hands alone.

Start with the social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and branch out to more specialized review sites like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, and the likes. Additionally, you can comb the entire internet with Google Alerts and have it scour the web for mentions of your restaurant’s name. The tools are out there, you just need to use them.

Interact. If you’re not responding to your critics and formally thanking your fans you should be. With an internet era that’s all about conversation it takes more than listening to truly understand where consumers are coming from and what they’re expecting in regards to your restaurant. Make sure to create a dialogue with both your critics and your regulars and let them know that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Just remember to follow a few common-courtesy rules during the conversation and you’ll be in good shape:

  • Don’t insult people
  • Avoid acting defensive
  • Don’t pat yourself on the back

Have a voice. Instead of letting those who talk negatively about your restaurant form your online reputation you need to take action and do more than simply notice the public. Saying Join the Conversation: Managing Your Restaurant’s Online Reputationthank you can go a long way, but offering an alternative viewpoint for people to weigh when making a decision is important. Rather than letting your potential customers believe a non-flattering review they come across, use discussion and interaction to provide an inside look into how your restaurant operates. Offer blog insights and helpful tips (Facebook & Twitter are invaluable when it comes to spreading information) and you’ll be surprised how many people will tune in.

Customer research. Knowing your customers is the key to providing them with the best service possible and exceeding expectations. In line with actively listening, once you’ve established a conversation it becomes easier to cater to needs and discover trends. If you see social media and active response as an opportunity to know customers better than they know themselves (in terms of what flavors suit their fancy) you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.

Monitoring feedback and staying in-the-know when you’re being talked about is easier than ever. Whether you’re trying to attract a new customer or attempting to turn a bad experience into a second chance prospect taking the initiative by managing your online reputation is step in the right direction. Granted, living up to a positive reputation requires dedication, but learning the habits of your customers is satisfying when you can take them from trying your food through having their expectations exceeded. Often satisfied customers are more than happy to help you spread a positive word!

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Flatware & Care: A Need-To-Know Guide

Flatware & Care: A Need To Know Guide Purchasing flatware for your kitchen, be it at home or for a restaurant, is often an expensive essential when you’re looking for quality. Whether you’re buying flatware for the first time, looking to re-stock after a move, or aiming to improve the atmosphere of your eatery with new utensils, it’s wise to know a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to combating wear and tear.

From picking out your pieces to running them through the wash, finding and keeping quality flatware in excellent condition is pretty simple and straightforward:

What makes quality flatware quality flatware?

Two factors that separate most forks, spoons, knives, and the likes when it comes to quality are composition and weight. The composition of your flatware’s stainless steel coupled with its weight class determines how durable each piece is and essentially how long it will last in your kitchen.

Composition – While all flatware is made of stainless steel, not all stainless steel is created equal. In fact, the “stainless” is unfortunately a misnomer, as most stainless steel does indeed rust over time, and most manufacturers add metals like chromium and nickel to help prolong the inevitable rusting. The difference in percentages of both metals is apparent in 18/0 stainless steel and 18/10 stainless steel.

  • 18/0 stainless steel has 18% chromium added and 0% nickel, making it the more economical, inexpensive choice of flatware. Great for homes or restaurants where flatware is abused or goes missing often, 18/0 stainless steel utensils lack the luster of their nickel-rich counterparts and are more susceptible to rust and staining.
  • 18/10 stainless steel also has the 18% chromium coating, strengthening the steel, but has an additional 10% nickel content for added brilliance and rust-resistance. 18/10 flatware sits on the more expensive end of the flatware spectrum, and the presentability of each piece makes it suitable for professional and formal occasions.

Weight – Weight classes, much like composition, ascend from the least expensive, most economical flatware to the pricier, flashier pieces. Determining which flatware will perform appropriately in your kitchen is a must.

  • Medium flatware, also known as “economy weight”, has a relatively short lifespan and is easily manipulated. Being the most affordable to replace, and the easiest to get over losing, medium duty flatware is ideal for home use or casual eateries.
  •  Heavy flatware is one step up and is the most common flatware in use. Much sturdier than medium weight, but still bendable by hand, heavy duty utensils last longer and are a little more expensive.
  • Extra Heavy flatware is yet another step up in weight class and is therefore more expensive and more durable. Extra Heavy utensils don’t break or bend as often or as easily.
  • European Style flatware is most commonly used in high-end establishments due to the size and added weight. About three times heavier and bigger than traditional weight class flatware, European Style flatware is perfect for formal serving or celebration.

Caring for your flatware

Flatware & Care: A Need To Know Guide

Depending on the quality of your flatware, and even if it’s 18/0 medium weight, you’ll want to keep it in attractive, usable shape for as long as you can. Failing to care for your flatware is a quick road to rust-speckled spoons and flaking forks. Luckily practicing a few simple care tactics when cleaning up after a meal can drastically extend the life of your flatware.

  • Pre-soak your utensils for approximately 10 minutes before running them through the dishwasher. Pre-soaking flatware helps break down the food remnants that cling to tines and nestle into crevices, and if you don’t let flatware soak before washing there’s a good chance your dishwasher could miss some spots. NOTE:  Pre-soaking for longer than 10 minutes is not recommended as it encourages rust to start forming. Also, do not soak in aluminum or metal pans as the pans react with chlorine in the water and speed up the oxidation (rusting) of stainless steel.
  • Remove food bits manually with a soapy sponge after a good pre-soak to ensure you get everything, but avoid using abrasive pads or steel wool. Rough pads tend to scratch and tarnish the surface of your flatware and create tiny grooves where rust likes to form.
  • Run your pre-soaked utensils through a high temperature dishwasher to properly wash them, but remember to avoid using chemicals that will damage your flatware like bleach or chlorine.
  • Once washed, don’t let your flatware sit before drying. Dry as soon as possible. Using a dishwasher’s drying cycle is a good start, but to be sure each piece is dried thoroughly wipe them down with a cloth or towel. Remember, the longer your flatware is wet the quicker rust will move in and take over.
  • Store your flatware somewhere it will stay dry.

With so much going on in the kitchen, especially in an ever-busy eatery, it’s easy to overlook the little things. Given that your forks, spoons, and knives are used and re-used on a daily basis (if not hourly) it’s important to not let caring for your flatware become one of those little things.

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Your Butcher Block & You: Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Relationship

Your Butcher Block & You: Tips For Maintaining a Healthy RelationshipElegant yet practical, the butcher block is an attractive kitchen addition that many culinary adventurers choose to install in their home or business. The appeal of a professional butcher block, for both its beauty and everyday convenience, often leads budding chefs and casual cooks alike to spend hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on the right style or quality guarantee. Unfortunately, professional butcher blocks require a professional dedication to cleanliness and care to stay their best, and if that new butcher block isn’t maintained and cared for properly it quickly becomes an expensive, unattractive chopping block.

Fortunately, forming a healthy, long-lasting relationship with your butcher block is relatively easy. By following a few simple guidelines while you’re working and during cleanup you can keep your block strong, beautiful, and working for you for years to come.

Before installation:

Butcher blocks are made from various woods, and the funny thing about wood is it has a tendency to play by its own rules as time progresses. Over the years, and as the seasons pass, your butcher block will respond to the changes in humidity and continually expand and contract. During those hot, humid months of summer many blocks will expand by as much as 1/8 of an inch, and when the heat retreats and the colder months of winter sweep in your block contracts and shrinks. Accounting for expansion when installing a brand new butcher block is a must, and failing to do so can cause your block to bow and crack when it expands.    

While you work:

  • First and foremost, never use razor-edged cutting tools on your block if you want to preserve its integrity for longer than a few months. Razor-Your Butcher Block & You: Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Relationshipedged tools are simply too sharp to use without chipping away at the wood’s surface. Punishing your butcher block by repeatedly chipping away at the surface creates soft spots and unwanted cracking that eventually affects performance. Make sure the edges of your utensils are dulled to keep your block in the best shape possible after each use.
  • Just like using razor-edged tools, cutting in the same spot on your butcher block leads to early aging and premature deterioration. Evenly distributing your cuts, chops, and preparation whatnots around the butcher block prevents any one area from wearing too quickly and developing soft spots. Periodically flip your block over and alternate between cutting surfaces to extend the block’s life and keep both sides wearing evenly.
  • When it comes to fish or fowl:  Never cut fish or fowl on your butcher block unless the block has been thoroughly cleaned. The safety stipulations surrounding seafood and popular fowl require a sanitary prep environment, and a poorly maintained butcher block is a quick way to customer complaints, sickness, and possible legal actions.

Cleaning up afterward:

  • Moisture is the enemy when it comes to keeping your butcher block solid and strong, and the worst thing you can do after you’re done on the block is let moisture stand for a long time. Sooner than you’d think that standing moisture (be it water, juices, brine, or blood) soaks into the surface of your butcher block and softens the wood, causing it to expand and for the glued joints to break down. As soon as possible remove any lingering moisture from the block’s surface.
  • A tried and true method of removing up to 75% of the moisture from a butcher block’s surface is scraping it with a steel scraper or spatula. Scraping many times a day helps keep everything clean, dry, and sanitary by removing the risk of harmful bacteria build up. To remove remaining moisture be sure to wipe the surface down with a soft, absorbent cloth.
  • Once you’ve scraped and wiped down your block it’s smart to give it a good wash to ensure you’ve removed all contaminants and food remnants, but NEVER PUT YOUR BUTCHER BLOCK IN THE DISHWASHER. Wash your block by hand, using regular dish soap and hot water, and avoid submerging it in water. The key to a good, thorough clean is keeping your block as dry as possible while washing (which sounds counter-intuitive since you’re washing the thing), but once again the longer your butcher block is exposed to water the more it will absorb that moisture and cause damage. If you don’t rush, and clean thoroughly and consistently, you’ll have an odorless, clean cutting surface for next time.

Your Butcher Block & You: Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Relationship*NOTE: Never use a steel brush to scrape. It’s too rough and will damage your butcher block.

Avoiding a rocky relationship with your brand new butcher block is a must if you expect the block to stick around for longer than a month or two. You’ve got to show it some love, treat it right, and care for it appropriately if you want the time you and your butcher block share to be long-lived and fruitful. Following a few simple guidelines is all it takes!

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Know-How from the Guys Who Know How

Tundra Restaurant Supply has been in the business of pleasing customers and sharing industry knowledge for almost 20 years. From the sales floor to your kitchen, our team of technicians and know-how gurus are here to make sure your restaurant equipment works properly, is installed correctly, and gets fixed when something fails.

Kevin Nakata, inside sales and technical support, has been with the company for nearly 3 years and frequently helps customers troubleshoot problems. Sharing some technician insight, Kevin has highlighted a handful of valuable products every restaurant can benefit from buying.

Know How from the Guys Who Know How

Kevin Nakata – Inside Sales and Technical Support

What are 5 products service technicians use regularly?

  1. Seat Washers (faucet part) – “Over time seat washers go bad, and this is the main reason for most faucet drips. Techs purchase seat washers because when you have a faucet that drips a seat washer usually takes care of the problem.”
  2. Silicone Sealant –“ Silicone Sealant is used to fill holes in walls or reseal around sinks and toilets. Techs also use silicone as filler in walls instead of spackle. Since silicone comes in a wide variety of colors and you can match it to walls easily techs don’t have to sand and paint the wall. You can use it on sinks to keep the mold from getting behind the sink and for keeping other debris from getting in to the cracks and causing bacteria growth. The reason they use it on toilets is to keep the sewer gases where they need to be. Nothing smells worse than the smell of sewer when you are trying to eat or use the bathroom.”
  3. Thermocouples – “This is the fix-all when a pilot light does not stay lit. Nine out of ten times when a pilot light does not stay lit the thermocouple is bad.”
  4. Faucet Parts – “Techs keep these on hand for the simple reason a faucet is easy to repair and it only takes 30 minutes or less to fix any faucet problem.”
  5. Pilots and Pilot Valves – “These parts are the most commonly used parts for gas range tops. Techs keep these on hand simply because pilot heads and valves go bad after time due to food debris getting to these pieces which causes them to clog. It’s easier to replace a bad pilot than trying to unclog one.”

Each of these technician go-to products can be purchased for less than $50, in some cases less than $1, and save you a ton of time and money. Calling in a technician to fix a small leak or a clogged valve automatically costs you big bucks, and you may be getting charged an hour’s wage for a 15 minute fix. Stock up on some technician essentials and be ready for that leak or clog. It’s smart to keep a tool kit on-site, and adding a few extras like faucet parts and seat washers help complete your kit.

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POS Systems & Scheduling Software: Where Do I Start?

POS Systems & Scheduling Software: Where Do I Start?Employee scheduling software, in its most ideal form, is meant to save you time while making schedules easy to implement and even easier to access and understand. The most intuitive software gives its user the ability to streamline scheduling, quickly summarize information in reports, and integrate with POS systems to correlate payroll data. When searching for the holy grail of scheduling systems it’s not uncommon to trip over those that are lacking in this respect or that, finding a handful of features you like in a system coupled with a handful more that are missing.

Well we’ve done the research for you and have found two quality scheduling software providers that we guarantee can make your life less complicated.

ShiftPlanning Easy to use, extremely versatile, and jam-packed with features that make the process not only intuitive, but fun, ShiftPlanning brings a little bit of everything to the employee scheduling table. From its cloud-based operation and free desktop platform to the extensive reporting and exporting capabilities this affordable software is the complete package. The combination of free 1-on-1 training and schedule integration make using the service and troubleshooting problems a breeze.

For a reasonable monthly fee (or an adjusted annual rate) you can create and manage schedules, print or analyze reports and trends, and process staff payroll from the comfort and convenience of a tablet device or desktop computer. No additional downloads or software required.

The mobile components of ShiftPlanning come at no additional cost and add value to the overall offering. From any mobile device employees can access a number of staff-centric features including viewing upcoming shifts and clocking in and out (time clock feature is IP-based to avoid employees clocking in and out while not on location). From the employer seat, and with the use of a tablet, all ShiftPlanning features are available which means you can be out of town or home sick and still manage your schedule on the fly.

When it comes to clocking in and out ShiftPlanning gives you the ability to get creative and have some fun with your employees. The biometric time clock feature, paired with any webcam, takes a picture each time someone clocks in or out. This not only helps employees enjoy clocking in with a funny face but also gives you proof that no one’s clocking in or out for anyone else. Plus, the time clock function of ShiftPlanning is completely online so there’s no need for expensive equipment.

One feature that helps ShiftPlanning stand out in the sea of scheduling software is the fact that the service is offered for free to non-profit business with volunteer employees (and 50% off annually for non-profits with paid employees) – just one way ShiftPlanning goes above and beyond when it comes to service and satisfaction.

Noteworthy Specs:
-   14 day free trial (full version)
-    Full mobile access
-    SMS text schedule reminders
-    Unlimited employees
-    Calendar sink
-    POS system integration

TimeForge Another contender for the title of strongest scheduling software on the market, TimeForge Scheduling secures its position by offering comprehensive setup and scheduling integration on top of around-the-clock help desk support.  With a $1 per employee pricing structure and the ability to customize which features you need and which you don’t this scheduling solution is perfect for restaurant’s small and large.

As co-founder Anthony Presley puts it, “TimeForge is awesome!” The company works with owners and managers to help solve and avoid real world issues that face restaurants all over the country. Ranging from human resources to scheduling, attendance, and daily logs, TimeForge has a specific product offering that easily takes care of the essentials. Not certain one of the products is right for you? The software’s free trial lasts 10 days and gives you full access to everything (TimeForge Max) so you can test drive some features and make a confident decision.

Keeping focus on TimeForge Scheduling, the service is ideal for the fast-paced, no-room-for-error world of the commercial restaurant. The service is fully hosted, meaning you don’t have to download a thing, and cloud-based data storage ensures you never lose your information.  Once you’ve got things set up and running smoothly, SMS text message reminders as well as e-mailed schedules let employees know about upcoming shifts and shift changes. The mobility of the application gives your staff the ability to log in from any computer or mobile device, which means no more “I didn’t know I was scheduled” excuses.

An outstanding feature that benefits smaller restaurants and businesses is that TimeForge Lite is completely free for up to 24 employees. That means as long as you’re staff consists of under 25 people you can use the Lite version of the service and it won’t cost you a penny. Granted, TimeForge Lite does not include the autoscheduler or text message notifications, but for many small eateries already struggling to find quality restaurant equipment and supplies for less the missing features aren’t necessary.

The system’s ability to integrate with web and POS systems, paired with a 24/7 help desk and free set up support, makes TimeForge easy to implement and even easier to manage.

Noteworthy Specs:
-    Fully hosted
-    Cloud based data storage
-    Video tutorials
-    Customizable pricing structure
-    TimeForge Max includes Scheduling, Attendance, HR, and Sales

Quality scheduling software goes hand in hand with a reliable point of sale (POS) system. Scheduling and managing your employees is one step in the escalator ride that is a successful restaurant, and another essential step is being able to confidently track your daily, monthly, and yearly sales. Investing in an excellent POS system is investing in the future of your eatery so it’s crucial to shop around and find the system that does what you need it to.

Here’s a quick look at some of the better systems on the market today:POS Systems & Scheduling Software: Where Do I Start?

Gotmerchant Easily the most impressive system with an extremely attractive pricing structure, Gotmerchant POS hardware is backed by lifetime technical support and is completely free. Yep, you read that right. From the touch screen monitor and micro computer to a cash drawer, barcode scanner, receipt printer, all the necessary software and a few extras you get everything for free. Where other companies charge upwards of a few thousand dollars for just the hardware, not to mention operation and transaction fees, Gotmerchant gives you the system and only charges you for the service.

At an exceptionally reasonable $59 a month, plus $59 a quarter, you get a complete POS station with a lifetime replacement warranty, professional on-site installation, and 24/7 technical support. Need two, five, or even ten full systems? Not a problem. Each complete system is 100% free, and all you need to pay is the separate operation fees each month and quarter. You simply can’t beat the value for the price.

On top of the standard features like debit and credit card processing and receipt printing you get a handful of additional features that enhance the system’s functionality. With your package Gotmerchant provides 50 free custom gift cards and lets you sample the gift card service for 60 days (after which it’s $9.95/month and $0.15 a swipe). Additionally, free menu programming, an internet-based back office component, and more than 75 built-in reporting options give you full control of your POS operations.

Keeping up with the times, Gotmerchant has also recently updated their system to include tableside ordering via iPads. For a monthly wireless charge and small fee for operation of each device (you supply the iPad) your servers can impress customers and streamline the ordering process.

Noteworthy Specs:
-    Free hardware & software
-    Lifetime replacement warranty
-    Overnight shipping of replacement parts
-    Live software demos

POS Nation The variety of individual components added to an easy-to-use “Build a System” website feature makes POS Nation like a buffet of quality equipment and software. Whether you’re looking to equip a salon, grocery store, quick service eatery, or a restaurant POS Nation has an assortment of system essentials that you can choose from.

Pole displays, fingerprint scanners, and mobile POS all bring an extra element of professionalism and sophistication to a bare-bones POS system. Ensure your system works for you rather than against you by combining the components you need while excluding the ones you don’t. Not looking to put your system together from scratch? POS Nation offers all-in-one options that are customized and streamlined for individual industries.

On the software side of things, POS Nation has a number of different packages, ranging from Quickbooks to Aldelo, Microsoft RMS, and much more, for you to choose from. Also easily shoppable by industry, the software options available have their own beneficial payroll and reporting functions. Just like your hardware, picking and choosing what software your system needs is essential.

Simply put, shopping POS Nation is like shopping a number of different POS suppliers in one place. The hardware offering alone is comparison shopping from the comfort of one website. A POS system is an investment, and it’s wise to not buy the first system you see. Luckily, POS Nation has a little something for everyone and makes the shopping process almost effortless.

Noteworthy Specs:
-    Custom programming
-    2 year manufacturer warranty
-    Comprehensive Build a System feature

The General Store If POS Nation were the large chain store of POS systems on the block then The General Store would be the tried-and-true Mom and Pop place on the corner that’s still going strong. With over 20 years of experience in retail software and POS evolution The General Store has been building and regularly perfecting their own system. Cost effective and reliable, the system that The General Store continues to improve, according to their website, “rivals major retail chains in its power and flexibility.”

Inventory management is simple and intuitive with The General Store software. An unlimited number of items can be entered into the system, and up to 10 price levels, multi-unit pricing, barcode printing capabilities, and stock status reporting all help make supervising your stock easy. Additionally, sales tracking for both cash and charge customers, as well as total system integration and a detailed ledger balance sheet let you map your finances from start to finish.

The General Store’s hardware is built to last and designed to perform. Barcode scanners and printers, cash drawers, the computer and monitor, data collectors, pole displays, and receipt printers have all been perfected to benefit the overall package of their POS system.

More than half of the extra features The General Store has incorporated into its system were based on suggestions from existing users. Plain and simple, The General Store listens to the needs of their customers. It’s this commitment to perfecting their product that makes the company one to consider when picking your POS system.

Noteworthy Specs:
-    Online demos
-    Affordable, competitive pricing
-    Industry flexibility
-    Full accounts receivable support (The General Store Plus)
-    Online knowledge base

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CheckWise Brings Food Safety to the Palm of Your Hand

Fast paced and often stress-inducing, a day in the life of a restaurant operator is never dull. From the morning’s breakfast and brunch regulars to the evening’s one-time eatery explorers you and your staff are constantly moving orders while trying to find ways to efficiently cut corners without jeopardizing quality. If that means installing top of the line restaurant equipment, integrating new technologies into your day-to-day, or simply tracking waste management it’s the little improvements that go a long way.

CheckWise Brings Food Safety to the Palm of Your Hand

Safe temperature zones help staff immediately recognize unsafe conditions

Luckily there are innovators out there like Jon Christensen who have your establishment’s needs in mind. Taking everyday routines and adding a digital ingredient to the mix, Christensen has developed an app that makes food safety easy. The app is called CheckWise and it replaces the pen and paper method of tracking your food safety procedures with an everything-in-your-hand alternative.

Currently in the pilot program stage, CheckWise is designed to outline and initiate food safety checklists that managers would regularly assign to their staff via paper instructions and a clipboard. Unlike a clipboard and paper instructions though CheckWise has a treasure trove of features meant to enhance your food safety program.

Tracking food safety throughout the day couldn’t be easier using CheckWise. From a separate web application management can:

•    create checklists for staff members & push those checklists down to mobile devices
•    set food “safe zone” temperatures
•    assign corrective action prompts like “call manager” or “dispose of item”
•    schedule checklist to be completed once or multiple times a day
•    monitor completion of checklists in real-time
•    print daily and customized summary reports

“With the pilot program we are looking to get CheckWise to one or two participants in each of the markets we want to enter,” Christensen says. “Our pilot customers have the opportunity to influence some of the upcoming features of the product by giving us feedback on what they need most. It’s a chance for [participants] to use the product for free for a couple months to make sure it is something that helps them.”

Christensen hopes to see CheckWise used in the QSR, table service, grocery, hospital, university, and K-12 markets. The service is optimized for the iPod touch, the company’s choice for the least expensive, most reliable device of its kind, but can be used on other Apple products with IOS 5 like the iPhone, and iPad. Slated to be released as a free app with a charge for services, CheckWise is set to revolutionize the in-house approach to food safety.

CheckWise Brings Food Safety to the Palm of Your Hand

Food safety should be at the top of your list in regards to importance

“Right now we’re looking at $25 per device per month,” Christensen explains. “We definitely want some feedback from potential customers to make sure this pricing will work for everyone, but we don’t believe in being secretive about pricing. If the service isn’t worth what we’re asking for then we have some looking in the mirror to do.”

The in-the-works pricing structure also takes into account businesses that might need multiple devices. Whereas a small restaurant may only need one, a large grocery store may need a handful of handhelds to accommodate more staff.

The technology looks promising, and the possibilities for individual industry use uncover a number of inherent benefits. By putting the opportunity to test and contribute to the evolution of CheckWise on the table for free Christensen is letting potential customers weigh in on what a digitally optimized food safety program could look like.

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