John’s Pizza Cafe in Saint Paul, Minnesota opened in 1987 as a take and bake business – which didn’t work so well in the summers with warmer weather. So what did John Weatherston do? Added an oven, of course! From there they started delivering, and the rest is pizza history. An innovator in “fast casual” before that was an industry standard, delivery is now at the heart of John’s Pizza Cafe.
As a pizza shop owner, John experienced two milestones that changed his pizza life. First, attending Pizza Expo…because until you go to Pizza Expo, you haven’t really experienced the pizza right-of-passage. Secondly, finding the right pizza Point of Sale. That technology love where your POS knows and loves pizza just as much as you do, and birds sing, and cheese melts. “Having the right POS helps you understand your business. You know what you’re selling (or not selling), who you’re selling to (or not selling to), and you have a database that can help you build your menu, build your customer base, build your business,” says John.
As a small business owner, you can’t afford to jeopardize your bottom line (or your sanity). “A good POS takes all of the guesswork out of running the restaurant. You have the answers you need at your fingertips. Stops mistakes. Stops freebies. When I first bought a POS system, I was worried about something going wrong with the system. Now, that thought never crosses my mind…I don’t even think about things like that”.
John upgraded his business from Granbury’s DiamondTouch POS to Thr!ve POS in July of 2015. “Thrive is fascinating to me…always being updated, making improvements, doing research to improve the product. It is amazing to me the time and effort that is put into improving this product. Not because it is bad, but because the market is changing so fast, and you guys are staying ahead of it”. (Aww shucks, you’re making us blush)
Deciding to upgrade to Thr!ve was a no-brainer as technology in the industry continues to evolve. “DiamondTouch was operating on a system that was no longer supported by Windows, and we were tied to online ordering – so we did the conversion for the purpose of maintaining a secure website”. John Continues, “Every time we go to Pizza Expo, I look at all the POS systems available every year. Thr!ve is the best available. You can’t go wrong with Thr!ve! Technology is constantly changing and evolving – sometimes it’s not easy to keep up. I have called and spoke to many competitors who use other systems, and they all have problems. Thr!ve is addressing all of these issues the other systems are having – Thr!ve is the superior product.”
But entrepreneurs like John are the heart and soul of Thr!ve POS, and it’s a partnership that’s a two-way street. “I can’t even imagine going back to doing business prior to having a POS – there is no way we could do the volume of business we do without a POS. It would be completely impossible for us. Thr!ve is a time-saver for us”.
John’s Pizza Cafe is the perfect example of how you don’t need a multi-million dollar operation to leverage mobile and online ordering technology. “Online ordering is the most important. I jumped on it as soon as we heard about it…and we love it. Due to lack of labor availability, online ordering has helped increased our business substantially. We do more in online ordering than other restaurants do in total”. Not too shabby, John!
What wisdom would John share with someone looking for the right system in a sea of technology options? “Online ordering!!! (That’s right, three exclamation points!) Ease of operation, simplicity, customer support. Support is so important. Your employees need to be able to run the system easily, and fast. A POS system without online ordering, support, and ease of use is worthless”.
But technology is an investment, and as a business owner you should ensure that you get the most out of that investment…which means online ordering is no longer an optional business tool. “Unless you are going to build a cute little pizza shop with 20 seats that you are going to fully operate yourself, you have to have the right POS. If you plan on being competitive in the pizza business, you have to have a presence online. Customers are on the internet. You have to be where they are. Customers shop from home. You have to have a presence online, and that means online ordering”.
As Easy as (Pizza) Pie
There’s a definite intimidation factor in trying to “speak technology”, but a good system speaks your language. It shouldn’t be the other way around. John’s favorite aspect of Thr!ve is how easy it is to use. “You don’t have to think about it. You aren’t losing money because of your cash register system. Your POS system has got to be the #1 priority item in your restaurant. It’s critical to a successful operation. Ovens, prep tables, various equipment…all those things are important. But the POS is the MOST important. If I was going to open up a second location, I would absolutely start with the POS!”
John’s Pizza Cafe is truly a case study in pizza POS success.