Friday, November 13, 2009

Take To-Go Orders Online!

Over the last few years, I've been approached by several restaurant chains to design an online To-Go ordering system. Each restaurant chain had it's own set of complex problems that needed to be over come to facilitate taking on-line To-Go orders.

These problems included: multiple locations, multiple tax rates, different menus at different locations, Employee access, easy management at both local level and a corporate level. Sadly, the cost of designing a custom solution for these problems were always more than the budget allowed.

Each time I would meet with a Chain and listen to their set of issues I would draw up a project scope and work out a theory on how I would over come these obstacles.

After talking to several chains, I did begin to notice that most of the issues that the restaurant chains thought was proprietary to them were actually common problems for most restaurant chains. I then decided to design a solution for the most common problems.

So I began to put together all the project scope documents that I had done over the years.I then put together a project scope that included the most common obstacles.

One of the main issues was how to alert the restaurant of the new order and how to process that order in a timely fashion. To me this is the most important part of the Program and here's the solution and process that I designed.

New Order Is placed by the Customer

  • An alert is sent via SMS Text and email to the customer alerting them that their order was sent to the restaurant location.

  • At the same time, an SMS message, Email, alert is sent to location.

  • A local printer at the location will also print a new order

  • The Location will then process the order using the Back end website.

  • A SMS text Message is sent the customer alerting them of the status of the order

This process is tracked in the back end and allows the Restaurant chain to monitor the To-Go production of each location. This includes: What items are sold the most and what locations are selling the most.

The Next issue was how to design a menu system that would allow corporate to control what menu items each location could sell and still allow each location to design their own menu. The solution was a Menu Library.

The Menu Library works as follows:

Administrative users have the ability to upload menu items. This is the details of the actual menu item. The system allows for the Administrative users upload pictures and build combos. Each item has several fields ranging from price to side dishes.

Once the menu item is added to the menu library the Location Manager can then add the item to their location Library. The Location manager has the ability to make the item appear or not at anytime by changing it's status. The Manager also has the ability to set the price of the item (put it on sale). The system allows for the manager to setup Lunch menus, dinner menus and all day menus.

The next issue was how to get each location paid. To solve this problem we have setup a system that allows each location to have their own payment gateway. Each payment gateway is setup to deposit the money collected directly into the operations account of the Restaurant Location.

The reporting for the site is based on the location. Each location has their own reports. This includes transaction reports, item reports, and sale tax report.

Unlimited Locations
The next issue was how to handle multiple location, multiple tax rates and of course users. The system is setup to allow an Administrator to add locations and location users. Each Manager also has the ability to edit their location information.

How much does it cost the Restaurant To take orders?
Nothing!!! Actually using our system creates a new revenue stream for each location. We charge a Convenience fee at the time of each transaction to your customer for the ease and use of placing the order online.This is just Like an ATM would charge for the use of an ATM. This is also the same way that movie theaters and Ticketmaster charges for purchasing on line.

The convenience fee is then split 50 / 50 between NewTechLabs and the Restaurant. So there is no Charge to sign up for the service and the convenience fee becomes a new source of revenue for the location.

If you would like a Demo of the TOGOPORTAL please call 713.269.6413.