Squirrel POS may be best known as one of the leading table-service solutions on the market, but it’s also an incredibly versatile and flexible platform, capable of providing a foundation for Universities, Stadiums, Cafeterias, Casinos, Institutions, and many other hospitality operations. In this article we look at two very different types of Food & Beverage service challenges that were met by the Squirrel POS.
Squirrel Solution for the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia.
The Alma Mater Society of UBC is the student society of University of British Columbia, recently ranked as one of the world’s top 50 universities. AMS serves more nearly 48,000 students at the Vancouver, BC campus and operates several student services, including food and hospitality within a sprawling 250,000 sq ft student union building. The building features eight outlets, including a full-service restaurant, pub, coffee house and variety of counter service outlets.
In 2017, AMS kicked off an effort to replace an aging point-of-sale system installed in 2011. Their point-of-sale hardware had reached end-of-life, spare parts were difficult to come by, and the service costs continued to rise. The previous vendor experienced a restructuring as a result of a corporate acquisition and resulted in AMS losing access to local support and repair depot. Support calls went through an overseas call center, and there were lengthy delays in getting on-site support.
The old POS and software limited AMS ability to enhance the customer experience and add online ordering, and expand payment options, including gift and meal cards. Another challenge unique to campus operations is that most of the 250-300 employees are part-time students working short shifts with steady turnover– which means onboarding and training new staff can require a significant amount of time and resources from management.
Speed of support & service and reliability was a critical factor in looking at a replacement point-of-sale. Having a local support contact and service options was a must-have, considering the unnecessary downtime dealing with overseas technical support. By choosing Squirrel, AMS had 24/7 access to remote technical support within the same time zone. Spare parts, on-site support could be dispatched within 24-48 hours, if not the same day.
From an installation perspective, Squirrel’s on-premise server and terminal architecture was the same as the older system, which meant they could retain the old wiring and save on rewiring costs. Local regulations required that student data reside on servers in Canada. This requirement disqualified many cloud-based POS systems since data was stored on US servers.
Squirrel POS was a perfect fit to handle the mix of required styles, including Table Service, Bar and Counter. Squirrel also integrated with Eigen for chip and contactless payment processing and is in the process of migrating to Squirrel’s CRM Gift Card module to offer students more flexible payment options. Another critical requirement for the new POS was integration with the UBC student meal card that is mandatory for all on-campus residents and compatibility with online ordering to let students order and pay for their food orders directly from their phone and schedule pick-up.
One of the most immediate benefits with the new Point of sale was the ease of use and programming. Programming or making menu changes with the previous POS could take up to 1 ½ days for an entire menu build. With Squirrel, a new menu could be completed in 30 min. The Squirrel system was easy to learn with its tablet-style graphical user interface which meant new staff could quickly learn the system with minimal training.
As a result of the operational and functional improvements gained with the new POS, AMS has seen sales growth of up to 18% over the last couple of years. Profits from operations ultimately goes back into a student endowment fund that helps finance new services for students. Most recently, AMS has introduced online ordering with Eigen xDine, and while it won’t take over dine-in anytime soon, it will be a convenient ordering channel for students and staff. Early experience shows that many students are taking advantage of online ordering from their favorite outlet to save time in lines. With the Squirrel-xDine integration, students can order their menu in advance and schedule a time for pick-up. Submitted orders don’t get sent to the kitchen until 15min before scheduled pick-up time.
Squirrel Solution for the City of Oshawa’s Largest Sports & Live Entertainment Complex
The Tribute Communities Centre is the premier sports and live entertainment facility in the City of Oshawa, just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Tribute Communities Centre is owned by the city and managed by Spectra, who are experts in hosting and entertainment. Spectra has over 300 clients with over 400 global properties across the US, Canada, and overseas. The Tribute Communities Centre features a 6,500 seat arena, six concession outlets, one 220-seat restaurant that spans two floors, 23 private and four group suites as well as a secondary ice surface.
For nearly three years, Spectra had been using an aging cloud-based Point-of-Sale system that struggled to operate in a busy arena environment. They frequently experienced a variety of issues with reporting, order entry, and basic functions that were missing. During peak times, orders would not go through or get delayed – resulting in frustrated customers, staff, and loss of revenue.
When Spectra set out to replace its point-of-sale system at the Tribute Communities Centre, one of the key challenges was to manage a transition while staying within a tight budget. As a city taxpayer-funded operation, there was limited capital and resources to do a complete replacement of the entire point-of-sale solution. It was essential to find a solution that could run alongside their existing point of sale to minimize upfront capital costs, as well as keep operating expenses to a minimum without recurring subscription fees.
With Squirrel, the Tribute Communities Centre owns the point-of-sale and does not have to pay expensive recurring subscription fees to use the system. Squirrel Professional POS runs on multiple devices, from Windows terminals to iOS and Android tablets. This allowed Spectra to replace the old point-of-sale in the concession outlets gradually and add new capabilities such as iPad mobile ordering in the suites area.
Finally, it was vitally important to find a POS vendor who could provide immediate technical support when they need it most – such as during events at night, weekends and holidays. With Squirrel and their local POS solutions partner MatrixPOS, Spectra had the support they needed to navigate the transition and provide the immediate 24/7 technical support they needed once they were up and running.
Once the Squirrel solution was up and running, the impact was immediate. Servers and managers were most impressed with the simple and friendly interface. They were able to pick up using the Point-of-Sale with little to no training. Servers enjoyed using the new WS140 point of sale workstations, with their large easy-to-read 14” tablet-style touchscreen display, and responsive performance.
The Tribute Communities Centre also implemented a semi-integrated EMV payment solution with the Squirrel Point-of-Sale. Guests could finally take advantage of debit chip and pin and contactless credit and debit payment forms, and servers no longer had to enter amounts into standalone payment terminals manually. Both staff and guests felt an immediate improvement in the speed of service. The Tribute Communities Centre also integrated Optimum Control, a new inventory management system integrated with Squirrel POS, which will help streamline and reduce inventory costs.
When asked what he would say about Squirrel to other arenas, stadiums or Spectra venues considering replacing their point of sale, Ofir Perelman said:
“Best decision ever. It will save you lots of time and money in the future. That’s the biggest compliment.”