When you’ve got the technology, you also need to know how to use it. Dominique Antarakis looks at the training and support available from tech providers.
So you’ve invested in a shmick new point-of-sale (POS) system for your restaurant, and are looking forward to reaping the benefits of increased customer turnover, enhanced stock control and higher profit margins. Only trouble is, you’re not even sure how to turn it on.
Fear not. Most technology providers offer training and support along with the system as part of a package. As a rule, this includes several days of hands-on training, a 24-hour helpline and ongoing technical support for up to three months. After that, support, maintenance and ongoing training can be accessed as your staffing or business needs require.
Nicole Murphy, a support technician with technology provider PalmTEQ, says the company provides around three to four days of training at the restaurant, depending on the size of the site.
She says the two issues they come up against is lack of confidence or an unwillingness to accept new and unfamiliar technology. “If they haven’t used something before—especially when they are trying to use it in front of customers and they’re unsure of the technology—it can cause problems. The customers don’t slow down their ordering so you can catch up, they don’t care that you’ve just started using something, they just want to be served.
“Also, we find some staff are stuck in their ways and not very accepting in regards to new technology,” says Murphy.
This is something that Sam Davey, from H&L Australia, has also found. Before training begins, they sit down with the client to work out the levels of competency of the restaurant staff.
“One big issue is working with owners or staff who have been in the business a long time and are used to writing orders on paper pads and using cash registers,” he says. “We try to minimise any problems by simplifying our systems as much as possible.
“These days a lot of training institutions have the latest systems available for young people as part of their training program, so they are often already trained in POS before they are hired,” says Davey.
H&L offers a package, which includes a five-day training session (usually at their premises unless it suits the restaurant better to do it on-site), a 24-hour seven-day helpline and free support for the first three months after initial installation.
“We spend the majority of the time training owners and floor managers, then two to three days before we go live with the system we train all the floor staff in how to use it.
“The initial training covers what they need for day-to-day operations, and then we can offer other modules as they are needed—it’s simply too much to take in, in one hit. We offer three months support straight after that because that’s when things come up,” he adds.
Murphy says a PalmTEQ trainer will stay on-site for a couple of days after the system goes live, literally sitting in a corner of the restaurant to answer any questions as they arise.
For the first month customers have unlimited access to a 24/7 helpline number. After a month they can pay to be on a support plan which includes this same service, otherwise there’s a 1900 number which costs $3.85 per minute.
Jaimee Pickles, training and development manager for Wagamama, an international noodle restaurant chain with 10 restaurants around Australia, says the company has been working with a PalmTEQ system since their first restaurant opened nearly four years ago.
“With the initial set-up, PalmTEQ offered full training to all management and staff as well as ‘go-live’ support on the first few days of trade,” she says.
“Now we are pretty well versed on the ins and outs of the system. We do all our staff and management training ourselves, but still receive the go-live support and full system set-up with each restaurant opened.”
Because of the high turnover of staff in the industry, Davey says H&L tries to establish a ‘training champion’ within each restaurant.
“Once they have learned the system, they take ownership of the software and understand it’s not a toy—it’s a business tool, and they need to know how to use it. Most restaurateurs are very aware of the potential benefits to the business and are keen they learn how to use it properly.”
D&L also trains clients to do things like build their own databases, set up their own hand-helds, and create their own keyboards.
“This means that when there is a new menu item, or a special for the week, they can deal with it themselves rather than having to come to us,” adds Davey.
Pickles says PalmTEQ has offered them additional, ongoing training for more in-depth aspects of the program such as reformatting, changing the set-up, deleting and adding new menu items, and help tailoring the system to suit their restaurants.
“The support system for PalmTEQ is fantastic,” she says. “They are readily available to fix any problems, so we have minimal disruption to our business. The training they have provided means we need less support and have more freedom in the set-up, design and tailoring of our system.”