Customer Stories

How TouchBistro Helps 7 Hills Brewing Co. Maintain a 30% Labor Cost Percentage

By Katherine Pendrill

The beer tanks at 7 Hills Brewing Company, including hanging lights designed to look like the hops used to brew beer.

RESULTS AT A GLANCE

  • 17 seconds: Time saved sending each order to the POS
  • 8-10 more tables served each day
  • 30% labor cost percentage achieved
  • 3+ locations managed on one platform

THE CHALLENGE

To achieve its restaurant and brewery expansion goals, the team at 7 Hills Brewing Company needed to increase sales and run the business like a well-oiled machine.

THE SOLUTION

TouchBistro POS’ real-time reporting helps 7 Hills Brewing Company keep labor costs low, while its mobile hardware allows the brewery to serve more customers, faster. With beer flowing into more glasses and delicious meals being served to more guests, the brewery business is on track to open its fourth venue.

THE STORY

7 Hills Brewing Company isn’t your average brewery. The Iowa-based business makes everything from craft pilsners to Cheetos-inspired flamin’ hot beer. And the creativity doesn’t stop at the draft list. 7 Hills’ food menu is known for delicious dishes with punny names like “Curd Your Enthusiasm” cheese curds and the bacon-loaded “A-Porkalypse” burger.

7 Hills’ inventiveness also extends to its concepts. While some breweries default to creating carbon copies of the original concept when opening new locations, 7 Hills’ three venues are all wildly different from each other – save for the delicious drafts and eats. The Dubuque flagship resembles a German beer hall, the Dyersville location is a family-friendly space with a bowling alley and arcade games, and the Platteville, Wisconsin venue offers fine dining.

A wide-angle shot of the bar at 7 Hills Brewery, including a view of the beer tanks in the background.

An Outdated POS System Brewing Trouble Instead of Sales

Of course, with very different concepts comes very different operational and technology needs. It was ultimately these needs and the desire for further brewery expansion that led 7 Hills Brewing Company’s Front of House Director, Jeremy Hall, to reconsider the company’s current POS – a system that he says was getting in the way of their sales goals and the operational efficiency needed to grow. In short, 7 Hills needed brewery software that would metaphorically unclog its taps and let beer (and revenue) flow freely.

“We started off with the Revel POS system, and it just didn’t work very well for us. We had some issues with most of the background features and the reporting,” Jeremy says.

With this system, the brewery business couldn’t automatically assign party sizes to tables, which skewed check averages. And, staff couldn’t see how long a party had been at their table, which led to slower turnover.

The POS system’s short, vague reports also held 7 Hills Brewing Company back by failing to provide insights the business needed to grow. How could 7 Hills decide which limited-edition beers should become menu fixtures or be retired without the right data?

TouchBistro to the Rescue

Fortunately, the 7 Hills team discovered TouchBistro’s restaurant and brewery POS, and were blown away by its capabilities, as well as TouchBistro’s friendly team. It was this fateful discovery that ultimately prompted 7 Hills to switch to TouchBistro’s all-in-one POS and restaurant management system. And, since TouchBistro runs on iPads, just like 7 Hills’ old POS, migrating to the new restaurant management system was a no-brainer (and no hassle).

After switching to TouchBistro’s Multi-Unit POS System, the 7 Hills Brewing Company team has been able to serve more beer and food faster, keep their labor costs in check, and work smarter, not harder. Here’s how.

More Customers, More Beer, More Sales

With a mobile POS enabling tableside ordering, 7 Hills has sped up service and is selling more beer and food each day.

“The overall speed of sending an order is way faster with TouchBistro. [With the old brewery software], it took about 20 seconds, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re doing many orders in a day, all of that time adds up,” Jeremy says.

With TouchBistro’s restaurant and brewery POS system, servers can place orders in as little as three seconds. 

Jeremy says that reducing order times “has definitely increased revenue and decreased how long it takes to turn tables. I’m able to squeeze approximately eight to 10 more tables in just thanks to the ease of being able to put in the orders all at once right there at the table.”

Additionally, servers can now see how long each party has been at a table. 7 Hills loves it when customers are having a good time, but lingering means the brewery is missing out on serving more thirsty and hungry guests. 

“With our old POS system, we didn’t have the ability to see how long the table was there. Now we can go to the tables in TouchBistro and see, ‘Oh, they’ve been there for an hour and five minutes,’” Jeremy says.

Having this data at their fingertips has helped 7 Hills’ staff reduce table turnover by about five to 10 minutes, while pouring more beers and serving more food to more customers.

“When you add it all up, that five to 10 minutes stretched over the course of a week is definitely extra revenue for us,” Jeremy explains.

Tableside ordering hasn’t just helped 7 Hills Brewing Company make more money by speeding up service, it’s led to the sale of more profitable specials, too.

“The ease of being able to take an iPad to the table and use it to show off our menu is a big thing for us. We offer specials, so we take photos of them and upload them into TouchBistro using the menu feature. Servers read the specials and show pictures of the items. That helps us sell a lot of extra specials. We do increase a lot of our sales by showing the guests pictures of the food and drinks,” Jeremy says.

An overhead shot of several dishes from 7 Hills Brewery, including a serving board with chicken and coleslaw, plates of mac n' cheese, plates of fries, a platter of tacos, and a platter of chicken tenders and fries.

Resolved Mysteries With Robust Reporting

Beyond helping 7 Hills serve more customers, TouchBistro has also unlocked unprecedented visibility into the restaurant’s profitability. Equipped with TouchBistro’s multi-location reporting, both operations managers like Jeremy and location managers can now make real-time decisions on labor, sales, the menu, and more. 

“The amount of data available on TouchBistro was a big surprise to me because usually you get your report from another POS system and it’s pretty short,” Jeremy says.

With a wealth of information available through TouchBistro, Jeremy uses this data to create and send a spreadsheet to location managers every morning so they know their exact numbers. He says these figures have helped him “solve a lot of problems I didn’t realize would be that easy to solve,” including maintaining a low labor cost percentage, accurately tracking guest check averages, and making sure sales grow year over year. 

Jeremy says that with TouchBistro he can see performance for specific times of the day and use this information to “pivot on the fly. It’s the greatest tool ever invented!”

It’s so great that 7 Hills Brewing Company references this report to keep the labor cost percentage at all of its locations below 30%. 

“Knowing our labor costs is essential to helping us protect our bottom line. The reporting enables us to see our labor cost percentage at each of our locations so our managers can adjust accordingly – it kind of creates a little friendly competition between them. The sales are different for every location, but at the end of the day, the labor percentage should be the same; it should all be under 30% and TouchBistro helps us keep it that way.” 

Jeremy also uses reports to easily keep an eye on the guest check average.

“With TouchBistro, when you set up a table, you can add a guest count. A lot of times if it’s four people. If there are four chairs at a table, when you do the floor mapping, you say, four guests. So, when servers go in, instead of having them type in four guests, four is the default amount of guests. That helps keep our guest check averages accurate because people get busy and they sometimes have a 10-top marked as one person,” Jeremy says.

Another reporting feature that Jeremy references time and again is the sales year over year chart.

“The reports show me this year’s sales compared to last year. I use that a lot and it’s nice to have it all in one place where I can view it super easily,” he says.

All of these reports ensure 7 Hills is selling enough beer and bites – and saving enough cash – to realize its brewery business plan of opening a new location.

An interior shot of the 7 Hills brewery tap room.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Switching to TouchBistro’s restaurant and brewery POS has empowered 7 Hills to run more efficiently. From day one, getting the 7 Hills team set up on TouchBistro has been fast and intuitive. 

“It’s just easy to train people with the system. Because the platform runs on an iOS system, if you’re familiar with an iPhone, you can literally train for two days and be good to go,” Jeremy says.

He also says that setting up menu courses in TouchBistro was faster than with Revel. And when it comes to updating prices for promotions such as happy hour, TouchBistro’s automations are a big time saver.

“We have a happy hour every day. Instead of having to make a separate menu group or menu item for it, we just attach those menu items to the happy hour. So every day from two to five, the prices for those items change automatically. And then they change back at five,” Jeremy says.

Beyond time savings, 7 Hills Brewing Company is saving money thanks to TouchBistro’s commission-free online ordering solution.

“TouchBistro Online Ordering is huge for us because we don’t have to go through third-party apps. We don’t have to give a percentage out to them, which saves us a 20 to 30% commission,” Jeremy says.

As for the integrations the restaurant and brewery business does use, all of them can be easily controlled through the TouchBistro platform.

“There’s a lot of integrations with TouchBistro that have benefited us. Its compatibility with 7shifts, which is our staff scheduling program, means we can get non-stop numbers all day from everything. There’s no excuse for us to overspend on labor. With other POS systems, I would have had to spend a lot of time accumulating all these numbers. But with 7shifts and TouchBistro in one place, it’s super easy to use,” Jeremy says.

Equipped with TouchBistro, 7 Hills Brewing Company is running like a well-oiled machine and has generated enough revenue to acquire an additional space: an event center that can host up to 450 guests. 

“Living in Iowa, there is no wedding below 250 people because everybody knows everybody. So we were losing a lot of clientele from our other small event space. So we’re excited to be opening a big new event space very soon,” Jeremy says. 

And when the new venue opens, Jeremy is confident that TouchBistro’s restaurant and brewery POS system will be instrumental in helping make it profitable and serving guests efficiently.

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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