After two unsuccessful tries with restaurant management software, Chris Chekouras and his team at Marion Restaurants South finally find a back-office system they consider irreplaceable.
Chekouras grew up in the restaurant industry. A franchise owner’s son, Chekouras worked in restaurants through high school and during summers. After college, he relocated to South Carolina before moving back to Indiana and taking over as district manager for Marion Restaurants South and its five Wendy’s restaurants.
Upon returning, Chekouras quickly discovered that Marion’s back-office system wasn’t getting the job done in multiple areas. One store in particular struggled with food cost, and after more than a year of trying to correct it, it still wasn’t right.
The turning point came when Chekouras found a receipt next to the register for more than 100 chilies with a total of less than a dollar. This started a series of efforts to right the ship, including finding a better back-office system. After an unsuccessful attempt with a local company, Chekouras heard about RTI from other Wendy’s franchisees in Dublin, Ohio, and decided to make the switch.
With RTIconnect Back-Office, Chekouras found what he was looking for. “It’s like you took the best parts out of all the systems and put them together into one,” he says. For one, labor and food costs are much more under control. “Scheduling is a breeze.” With manager’s schedules, Chekouras and his team create them individually and sync with the main schedule by selecting one button. Previously, they had to maintain a separate spreadsheet and manually update manager hours.
Accurate projections enable Chekouras to encourage his team to trust the numbers and even change old habits when needed, he explained. “Now we can dive into the details. If you need 10 people and it calls for nine, why do you need the extra person?”
For entering daily inventory counts, Chekouras and his team enjoy the flexibility to enter the afternoon inventory at a time that fits their workflow, not a set time that might be before they finish counting. Chekouras also appreciates the Task Lists—especially for new managers—and the ability to create and assign levels to shift managers. “I taught someone in 20 minutes how to open the store on RTIconnect. He just had it,” he says.
For inventory, previous systems required unit totals and resulted in a large learning curve for new managers. “I try to look at it like I’m the new guy. How am I going to know how many bags of chicken are in one thing or how much something weighs? With RTIconnect, you put in case, bag, and it totals it up for you.”
When it came time to place the truck order, Chekouras explains, with other systems the managers had to check every single inventory item to establish on-hand inventory before placing an order. With RTIconnect, managers don’t have to add up inventory before ordering and they use sales projections for reliable forecasting. He estimates they save a half hour for every order. “That adds up for us. It’s a big savings.”
With five restaurants spread out in a 100 mile circle, Chekouras is on the road often. So he uses RTIconnect’s Automated Reporting to get the reports he needs without pulling out his laptop. Or if he’s tied down in one restaurant, he can easily identify issues and find solutions without going to the restaurant and taking the manager’s time.
And if he needs to talk to RTI’s support desk, it doesn’t throw off his day. “Being able to pick up the phone and actually talk to somebody and get the answer quickly is very helpful. RTI has been phenomenal.”
With Marion’s recent changes, including a new POS system, Chekouras knew a lot depended on his back-office choice. “I don’t feel like we as a company could have gone through another change to another system. This is irreplaceable.”