Cloud-based systems simplify life for restaurant leaders, particularly across chains.

Perhaps because cloud-based systems are unfamiliar, many restaurant operators still rely on clunky, outdated legacy POS systems. Coupled with the day-to-day demands of trying to staff a restaurant and meet sales goals, installing a new, cloud-based POS system might be the last thing on a typical restaurant leader’s mind. 

But older systems are inflexible, particularly when it comes to newer ease-of-ordering technologies that customers are demanding. Chris Lybeer, chief strategy and marketing officer at Revel Systems, likes to use a metaphor to compare the two types of systems. He says legacy POS systems are like the Model T Ford: Impressive and functional in its time, you couldn’t drive one 70 miles per hour on the interstate. “And that’s the speed things are going these days,” Lybeer says. “Customers want online ordering and delivery now, and they want it to be easy. These older legacy systems have trouble supporting newer programs.” 

Brands making the switch have seen immediate impacts that go beyond ease in adding newer ordering methods. Garrett Fadden, senior director of retail IT systems for Focus Brands—owner of Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, and several other large quick-service chains—partnered with Revel Systems in order to lay groundwork that primed Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon for expansion. He says Focus Brands has found that cloud-based systems are more generally intuitive, and the interfaces more familiar to the younger employees that tend to inhabit the front of house space. 

When Lybeer helped a fast-casual brand transition to Revel’s cloud-based POS in a similarly sized rollout, their help desk was prepared to field a spike in calls as employees adjusted to the new system. Instead, calls actually went down by 30 percent. 

“We used to have customers who said it would take two to six hours to teach a new employee how to use a legacy POS, whereas now it’s an Apple interface, which the average employee is already familiar with,” Lybeer says. “There is basically no training required now since employees already use so many devices that are similar or the same.” 

The speed of a brand-wide rollout impressed Fadden, who has been working with POS systems for over two decades. He estimates that Revel was installed in over 1,000 sites in less than six months. “This was the most sites in the shortest period of time that I’ve ever been involved in,” Fadden says.

Not only has the new system led to streamlined training and the ability to host efficient off-premises ordering apps, but it’s a sleeker look that also happens to be more space efficient. “That was another desire, to have a system in place that didn’t appear from an aesthetic perspective to be old and clunky,” Fadden says. “We wanted something a bit sexier from a tech perspective.” 

With tablets running the cloud-based POS system, installation and maintenance are cheaper, too. That’s the kicker for Lybeer and Fadden, who both agree that in addition to all of the other advantages, cloud-based POS systems are simply more cost-efficient. 

“Flexibility is one thing, but the general cost of ownership is lower, too,” Lybeer says. “With legacy systems you have to go through every site and upgrade labor, upgrade and deploy at new sites with old solutions. The cost of ownership and ease of upgrade is poor on old systems, and in newer cloud solutions, your systems are upgraded as quickly as your phone.” 

By Charlie Pogacar 

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