At Steam Whistle Brewing, their motto is “simplify.” They do one beer and they do it well.
But this adage goes far beyond just their famous brew – it also extends to the way in which they run their business. In need of a full-service point of sale solution that would enable them to serve their customers better and faster, Steam Whistle was looking for a system that not only offered speed and mobility, but could also streamline the many diverse operations within the business.
What they didn’t know was that nowadays all that’s needed to run any busy bar or restaurant is an iPad® loaded with a sleek restaurant POS software plus a modern payment solution.
Built with ease-of-use and affordability in mind, Alex Barotti developed TouchBistro – an iPad-based POS solution for the catering industry – in 2011, and since then it has grown to become a mature POS with complete front and back end capabilities as well as a fixture in more than 3,500 restaurants in over 30 countries. The highly innovative POS software is simple and intuitive for users, and comes with a Moneris mobile card swipe, cash drawer and printers.
We spoke to Josh Hillinger, Retail Manager at Steam Whistle, to find out how Steam Whistle came to choose TouchBistro as their point of sale solution provider, and how its integration with Moneris has helped the brewery.
With approximately 120,000 customers walking through its doors annually, Steam Whistle needed a dependable POS solution that could give their staff the tools they needed to increase sales, customer satisfaction levels, and pace of service. “We used to be on a manual system, and with that our biggest pain points were human error, lack of flexibility, and loss of time,”
Josh explains, adding that before implementing TouchBistro, end-of-day sales reports were created on spreadsheets. “I’d have staff sitting there for two hours at the end of the day trying to close the till out, and that’s not something our founders like to see.”Josh also found the limited functionality of the former system to be a problem, and moving forward, he was looking for a solution that enabled new product SKUs to be added on the fly – without hassle, and without the need to contact a system technician. “With the manual system we had in place before, we only had the ability to sell one product at the bar – a $4 bottle of beer.”
As well as being easy to use, Steam Whistle needed a solution that was both compact and mobile – size and portability were key requirements. “We go from selling t-shirts and tours to all of a sudden serving beer to 1500 people at a busy bar,” Josh explains, “For that reason, I can’t have my staff tripping over each other trying to reach one central unit that takes up a lot of space.”
After seeing the POS software in action at another venue, Steam Whistle contacted TouchBistro, whose clean user interface and uncomplicated functionality lent itself to Steam Whistle’s simplistic ideology.
If you can de-clutter your workspace and streamline your day-to-day operations, you can simplify your world. And that’s exactly what TouchBistro has done for us – it’s simplified our business.
In a high-paced work environment like Steam Whistle, there’s a limited amount of time set aside for staff training, so an intuitive POS system like TouchBistro was necessary to reduce the time required to instruct employees on the new software.
“I need people to be able to pick it up themselves,” Josh says, “and with TouchBistro, all I have to do is give new staff members a quick rundown. You can get them up-and running within an hour as long as they’re familiar with smartphones and tablets, which most people are these days.”
With Steam Whistle’s close proximity to an MLB stadium, customer lineups stretch as far as the eye can see on game days. It can be a difficult undertaking to ensure that all patrons are served quickly and efficiently.
Not so withTouchBistro.
While the majority of the time two stationary POS units run the front of house, when the bar is teeming with customers, Josh and his staff are able to simply unhook the units and process transactions by walking the line.
“Traditionally in the retail environment, customers are always making their way to the till. Now the till comes to them,” he says.
Moreover, shorter customer lineups and faster payment speeds mean more transactions processed, and with that comes a measurable increase in sales. “I’ve seen a 50% increase in counter sales in terms of prepackaged beer,” Josh explains, “Before, local customers in the area would want to come in and grab a 12-pack, but they wouldn’t want to stand in line with 50 people waiting to buy tours and t-shirts. Now with multiple POS terminals and the ability to unplug the unit and walk the line, my staff can pull out a 12-pack of canned beer and send customers on their way, where before they would have just gone to the liquor store to get it.”
The impact of a severe 2013 storm left Steam Whistle virtually unscathed thanks to TouchBistro’s versatility. “The storm fried our servers and they all went down, but, within minutes, I was able to program TouchBistro to do our tour sales [which, at the time, were processed using different software] and use it as a makeshift tour ticketing system,” Josh says, adding that the system took less than an hour for him to set up. “I was able to run the whole business for a full week with TouchBistro – merchandise, tours, ticketing,
beer sales, everything – just like that.”
For Steam Whistle, excellence is a byword. Their focus is always on creating a unique and memorable experience for those who visit the brewery. From the beginning, Josh’s priority was to simplify the technological side of serving customers so his staff could focus on what’s most important: delivering impeccable customer service. TouchBistro is fully integrated with Moneris payment technology, meaning that common concerns of staff members – such as selecting an incorrect tender type – are no longer a concern.
“I think that’s definitely one of my favourite features,” Josh says, “It’s easy to accidentally hit the wrong tender type; but with the Moneris integration, the system automatically knows what payment card was used and will tender it accordingly. Now employees know that their sales totals are all going to match up at the end of the day and they can concentrate on giving great customer service.” Steam Whistle’s commitment to modern, secure business practices is matched by TouchBistro and Moneris.
Steam Whistle’s great staff, quality of service, and world-class beer are all critical to the brewery’s success, but Josh is quick to credit progressive technology from TouchBistro and Moneris as an important element of the Steam Whistle experience.
“The fact that customers are able to sign right on the screen blows their mind; and right there, you’ve just created another experience.”
Josh explains, “They love it, and it shows that we’re staying up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of technology. It’s another opportunity for our staff to create a moment with that customer.”
Steam Whistle’s satisfaction with the system goes far beyond just the novelty factor. The results – in terms of sales and profits – also speak for themselves. Within the first year, overall sales increased 150% and they were able to introduce 95 new retail SKUs thanks to TouchBistro. Josh explains, “That’s over 11,000 litres extra we’ve put in customers’ hands.”
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