F & B Software

Improve your pub's performance

High-tech bar management software can do everything from tracking food and labour costs to monitoring real-time performance remotely.  For those looking for a new pub operations platform, it can take time to wade through the pros and cons of the array of new technology on the market. Alternatively, it can help to rely on the expertise and experiences of others, including reliable third parties conducting market research on the best available systems.

Research Unbiased Third Party Sources

For many pubs and bars, the POS system is the most important technology under their roof. In March, BusinessNewsDaily.com published its top picks for “Best POS Systems 2017.” The e-zine’s editorial staff reviewed programs that could do more than just process sales and payments. They looked for “additional time-saving features such as inventory management, staff management, marketing tools, customer data gathering, [and] task automation.” High scores went to POS systems that were cloud-based, iPad- and Android-friendly, offered 24/7 support, could be specifically tailored to individual business needs, or were cost-effective for small operations. Top-rated systems offered a range of features, from setting automatic discounts during happy hour to pre-authorizing credit cards and managing a music playlist.


Online software research firm, Capterra.com provides personalized software-to-business matches, industry-specific blog posts, and a score list of bar and restaurant management software based on customer reviews. The site allows users to search their industry and use filters to look for desirable features, such as split checks, gift card management, online ordering, and loyalty program support.


Software advisors at Softwareadvice.com offer free telephone consultations and data-driven assessments that can also help managers choose the best operating solutions for their pub or bar.


Shop Face-To-Face with Multiple Vendors

At the Nightclub & Bar Trade Show in Las Vegas last year, Dave Lindsay, a partner at Kelowna’s Train Station Pub, was impressed with a demonstration of BevSpot’s bar management software. It tracks orders, takes inventory, makes sales data accessible on any device, and backs up information on the cloud. Within a few months, the new software program was up and running at his pub.

Lindsay’s pleased with his choice: “We looked for a system to help us better manage our overall beverage program. Others out there are draft-specific. These guys can work off our smart phones or tablets. Each person can dial in.”


Lindsay confirms the system has had a positive impact on the pub’s bottom line, cutting back on labour costs for conducting weekly inventories. “It imports data from our POS to give us our variances, ounces to bottles. It can break down which items rank higher in sales, can remove an item, or come up with something different.” He adds, “We can build drink recipes right within the system using different spirits and see how it costs out.”


The set-up process for the new software took about five weeks. Lindsay advises there were weekly procedures that had to be completed to get the system ready to go. During the transition, BevSpot “made it almost painless,” he says, noting, “They gave us great feedback and held us accountable to keep us on track with reminders ‘You need to check on this.’”


Consider Technology that Suits End-Users

Two years ago, the Mark James Group (MJG) was on the search for a new operating platform. Fraser Boyer, director of operations recalls, “We knew we had to move, but didn’t know who to go with. TouchBistro ticked off the most boxes for us.”


Boyer favours the system for its flexibility. “It’s cloud-based and not tied to any office. I can see how many cheeseburgers we sold in Whistler, at what time, from a beach in Vancouver. Other systems we use complement it.”

The system has had a positive impact on the pub’s bottom line, cutting back on labour costs for conducting weekly inventories.

MJG uses the software at three of its pubs and restaurants, including  Brewhouse in Whistler, which now has about 20 iPads linked to the POS, allowing staff to conduct transactions with guests inside and outside on the patio. The system suits the end-users, servers who are mostly in their 20s. Boyer stresses, “The millennials understand it. It’s forward-thinking. It’s cloud-based, and Wi-Fi-based. It makes their lives easier.”


Boyer also likes the system’s ability to download data into spreadsheets using any of his devices. Working on his laptop, he says, “Right now, I’m sitting in Yaletown doing month end at one of our other locations, and I’m doing Whistler next.”


Seek Advice from Industry Peers

Peers, influencers from within and outside a given sphere, and even competitors can provide valuable perspectives gleaned from their own experiences.


Carl McCreath, president of restaurant operations for Steamworks Brewing Company, shares his past experience with a software vendor, where cultural differences in product descriptions were just one issue. “We heard a great sales pitch and switched to a new provider. The way it handled taxes, [had] weird inventory descriptions, and the stability of the system was a nightmare. It was problem after problem.” After that, McCreath concluded, “If it’s not a reputable brand and a proven system with historical results, I’m not interested.”

He uses Optimum Control to price menu items, maintain a costing score card, and for inventory control of commodities.

Four years ago, McCreath chose Optimum Control to manage costing and inventory control at the 754-seat Steamworks Brew Pub in Vancouver’s Gastown. “I’ve saved a lot of money because of it,” he notes, but concedes that the program is labour-intensive. Only McCreath, a couple of managers, the chef, and sous-chefs are trained on the program.  He doesn’t recommend it for smaller pubs or restaurants. “You can spend too much time counting your costs and if you don’t spend so much on labour, it’s not worth it.”


He explains, “Optimum Control is suitable if you have a 50-item menu using a lot of ingredients.” He uses it to price menu items, maintain a costing score card, and for inventory control of commodities. “It can tell you how much chicken you should have used, how much you did use, and then you have to go figure it out.”


When looking for a new platform, McCreath advises, “Get references and be incredibly thorough. Talk to people who are using the software and truly understand what it can do.” When talking to sales people, he cautions, “If it’s too good to be true, it is.”