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Free upgrades for franchisees makes good sense to Goodcents

Free upgrades for franchisees makes good sense to Goodcents


DESOTO Kan. Seeking standardized technology that supports delivery and catering efforts, as well as customer data collection and analysis, the 120-unit Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pastas chain is paying to upgrade its franchisees' point-of-sale, or POS, systems.

"We want to double delivery and catering [sales]" and "establish a database for marketing and promotional opportunities," explained Bob Moreno, vice president of operations for DeSoto-based Mr. Goodcents Franchise Systems Inc.

Moreno declined to disclose the budget for the upgrade program that also aims to "increase our operational efficiencies." He remarked, "It is a pretty substantial commitment on our part," and added, "Mr. Goodcents Franchise Systems Inc. will offset the expense for this upgrade through reinvestment funds and marketing support from our strategic partners."

The MGFSI executive said the chain, which has two company-operated restaurants and 118 franchised units, includes 30 outlets running electronic cash registers, or ECRs. The remaining restaurants are using computer-based Sharp UP-700 systems for transaction processing and other in-store data duties.

Stores using the Sharp technology will be upgraded to two Posiflex Technologies touchscreen terminals running InfoSoft Inc.'s InfoPOS software, according toMoreno. He said the new configuration also incorporates 911 Software's CreditLine or Datacap Systems' NetEPay for support of high-speed, IP-network credit-card processing, along with Posiflex cash drawers and Epson TM-88 thermal printers.

Mr. Goodcents franchisees using electronic cash registers will be asked to share in the costs of the upgrade, chain officials said.

Mr. Goodcents leadership is working to get the upgrade program completed systemwide by the end of 2007. Moreno said upgrades were to begin in mid-April in St. Louis, where the chain has 10 stores, and then follow in Denver and Arizona before getting under way in Kansas City, where 60 units operate. Nebraska stores would be next in line for the tech facelift, followed by outlets in the chain's far outer markets, he relayed.

InfoPOS leverages Microsoft Corp.'s .NET platform to support a central, remotely hosted POS database. Sources at Fenton, Mo.-based InfoSoft said InfoPOS' architecture permits the use of thin client applications at the store level and the transfer of transaction and other data to the central database every 10 minutes via the Internet.

Those frequent data uploads improve analysis and reporting capabilities, Moreno indicated. He said restaurants that cannot get high-speed DSL or cable data connections are using wireless data networks.

Should a restaurant with the new configuration suffer an Internet-connection failure, in-store applications, data caching and other safeguards are designed to keep the system running until connectivity is restored, an InfoSoft representative said.

The InfoPOS software being used by Mr. Goodcents includes a delivery and catering module developed for the chain. That software supports customer data collection, as well as quick retrieval of previous orders and delivery addresses using the last four digits of a caller's phone number.

"The [new] delivery management system becomes a 'great' vehicle for database marketing and direct mail opportunities," Moreno said. "Our goal is to touch each customer four or five times a year with a birthday announcement, anniversary announcements, promotional offers, coupons and special offers during the holidays."

InfoPOS supports enterprise management of multiple units, transaction processing and menu-mix tracking, among other core functions, and features loyalty and gift card and kitchen display capabilities, according to Jennifer Hayden, InfoSoft's vice president of marketing.

Hayden said the annual InfoPOS per-store licensing fee runs $750 for the first terminal and $250 for each additional terminal on site. She said her company prefers to host InfoPOS installations but noted that licensees can manage the application in-house, if they wish. When InfoSoft provides the Posiflex hardware, the cost ranges from $1,850 to $2,200 per terminal, depending on the configuration, and covers a customer display, backup power supply and card reader, the technology company exec added.

Mr. Goodcents management believes the chain's pasta entrées and delivery and catering capabilities help differentiate it from its sub-style-sandwich competitors.

Moreno said the concept has an average ticket of from $7.50 to $8, generates, on average, about 170 transactions per day, and typically sees a 70/30 split of sales between subs and pasta dishes. "Most of our business comes from ... lunch," he said, but "we're starting to build dinner dine-in [business]" and through pasta options and delivery "reaching out to the mom or dad who doesn't want to cook."

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