Carl’s Jr. Keeps Food Fast and Fresh with Microsoft

LAS VEGAS — Aug. 2, 2012 — Serving food fast, hot and fresh is the goal at Carl’s Jr., whether it’s an Original Six Dollar Burger a la carte or meals for the whole family. It’s part of the customer experience and a key ingredient in the business model.

Carl’s Jr. got its start in the 1940s when the company’s namesake and founder, Carl Karcher, opened a hot dog stand in Los Angeles. Roughly 70 years later, the restaurant chain has more than 1,200 franchises and has been recognized as one of the best franchise business opportunities.

PAR EverServ 6000 POS Terminal

PAR EverServ 6000 POS Terminal

August 01, 2012
Each Carl’s Jr. store features four PAR EverServ 6000 POS terminals, which send sales and employee data to SL Investments’ back office. The POS solution also connects to devices such as kitchen displays that route orders, and order confirmation boards used in drive-thrus.

Las Vegas-based S.L. Investments owns and operates 38 Carl’s Jr. franchises in Nevada, with plans to open more than 20 additional stores over the course of the next decade. As the company executes this strategy, two performance indicators will be especially important: cost of food and cost of labor.

S.L. Investment executives needed more oversight of performance across all their stores, and managers needed a timelier, more accurate understanding of their stores’ performances — something that was lacking with the company’s previous technology solutions.

Working with PAR Technology, a provider of hospitality solutions, the company implemented a point-of-sale (POS) system that provides the necessary oversight and has helped its restaurants generate greater revenues out of food inventory. In addition, it helps ensure the speed and quality of service, tracks inventory levels and serves as the time clock for employees checking in and out of work.

The system is based on Windows Embedded POSReady and connects each of a restaurant’s four POS terminals to display monitors located in the kitchen and drive-thru station, so employees can see the details on each customer’s order and provide accurate, timely service. The POS system also connects to speed-of-service timers and has the capability to incorporate tablets for use as mobile POS terminals during peak hours.

“Customers just want to come in, get their food and go home,” says Bill Thorson, vice president of Facilities and IT for S.L. Investments. “So the more reliable the system is, the faster we can serve them, the better.”

Today, Carl’s Jr. associates can process transactions more quickly and accurately with fewer key strokes and they can improve service with a solution that is fast and reliable. “With a PAR system running on the Microsoft platform, we can take orders more quickly, and customers feel good about their visit,” Thorson says.

Since implementing the solution, S.L. Investments has been able to reduce its food costs to around 26 percent of net sales, from a previous range of 28– 29. And managers can pull up numbers throughout the day to track against projected goals and determine whether they need to adjust staffing levels to maintain store profitability.

For company executives, the new system has led to an improved ability to track business performance on a store-by-store basis, allowing them to track the cost of new or pre-existing menu items and adjust the prices accordingly.

Says Thorson: “We’re able to take orders more quickly, we’re able to process each customer a little faster … [to] get them seated or get them out of the drive-thru … If you can get people in, get them out quickly and keep them happy, then you’ll be competitive.”

Read the Carl’s Jr. case study for more information.

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