“We've just been so happy with RemoteWare that we've never felt the need to investigate an alternative. It’s always been easy to use, and it does everything we want it to. I don't know of any other product that does everything it does.”
Based in Tampa, Florida, Checkers is the largest double-drive through chain in the United States, with nearly 900 affiliated restaurants. Data exchange between the restaurants and the headquarters was inefficient and time-consuming. To solve this issue Checkers enlisted the help of Sybase iAnywhere product RemoteWare which manages data exchange and allows for customization of reporting tools and process automation. Thanks to this solution Checkers has realized cost savings, while improving productivity and efficiency.
- All levels of Checkers employees now have greater access and ability to share information, creating an environment in which employees can better serve each other and their customers.
- Provides executives with faster access to business information for high-level decision making
- Automates data-sharing processes, simplifies user support, prevents errors, and ensures data integrity
- The company has realized cost savings, while improving productivity and efficiency
- Retail and Distribution
Data Exchange was Inefficient and Time-Consuming
A brief motto measures Checkers' Success-and defines the ways Sybase iAnywhere is helping the drive-in restaurant chain achieve it— "Great tasting food served fast, friendly, and at a low price."
By living up to that motto, the Checkers Drive-In Restaurants ("Checkers") chain has grown rapidly since its founding in 1986. With over 800 restaurants now in operation (including affiliated Rally's Hamburgers®), the back-to-basics chain continues to leverage its motto's four basic principles: great food, served fast, friendly, at a low price.
In the fast-paced, highly competitive environment of the fast food restaurant, many a software "solution" soon becomes a bitter pill to swallow. The people who keep hungry customers smiling just aren't experts at keeping ravenous computer applications happy; and support personnel often find themselves battling bugs that can turn the most hardened system manager's stomach.
Not so with XcelleNet RemoteWare, according to Chris Schwab, network administrator for Checkers Drive-In Restaurants. "We've just been so happy with RemoteWare that we've never felt the need to investigate an alternative," Schwab says. "It's always been easy to use, and it does everything we want it to. I don't know of any other product that does everything it does."
The company that has built its reputation on the hefty quality of its burgers has long depended on the robust capabilities of RemoteWare. The remote management tool automates the daily exchange of information between each store and Checkers' Tampa, Florida headquarters, uploading sales data and other store information and downloading sales reports or software updates. RemoteWare also facilitates the distribution and installation of software. "Overall, RemoteWare's ability to manage any type of data transfer with the stores has been a tremendous help to us," Schwab declares.
It's a time-sensitive, competitive environment that makes the fast, efficient exchange of information critical for Checkers. "You have to be able to react immediately to what competitors are doing," Schwab says. "That's why it's important to have access to data immediately."
The majority of the stores-nearly 600 of them-already use RemoteWare, but are in the process of installing new touchscreen registers and upgrading to the latest version of Aloha® back office software. At present, over 300 franchise stores still use stand-alone back office systems, and can't yet take advantage of automated data exchange via RemoteWare.
As part of this rollout, Checkers is putting a dedicated Internet circuit in each corporate-owned store. "We aren't requiring the franchises to use a broadband connection, but we are trying to get them to buy into it so they can achieve all the benefits," Schwab explains.
The drive for greater unity-and faster data sharing-actually began around the time RemoteWare was first implemented in 1994. Schwab was on the team that evaluated RemoteWare to see whether it would do a better job than the rudimentary dial-in system the company was using. The answer was a resounding "Yes!"-and since that time Checkers has never looked back.
"Now we gather sales information, payroll data, food purchase data, repair and maintenance bills-whatever we can use from each store," Schwab says. "Each night RemoteWare dials out to our remote server and transmits the information. At the same time, data such as register updates or training materials are sent to the stores." Once store data reaches headquarters, it is automatically imported into the corporate database.
Smiles can't be manufactured, and cheerfulness can't be requisitioned. But effective training and timely assistance creates an environment in which friendliness can thrive. That's the atmosphere Checkers works to create by valuing the employees who man the kitchens and the counters. And that's the atmosphere RemoteWare fosters by making end-user support so much easier.
"Our management teams are good at making sandwiches and serving customers, but we don't expect them to be computer whizzes," Schwab remarks. "Before we had RemoteWare, a manager with a PC problem had to tell us what was happening. That was a challenge because someone who's not familiar with computers isn't as able to convey what's on the screen."
With RemoteWare, solving computer problems has become a much simpler (and friendlier) undertaking. "Now when managers have problems with a procedure, we can get on-line with them, take control of their PC, and walk them through it," Schwab says. "It's so much easier."
RemoteWare also provides Checkers employees at all levels with greater access to information, and a greater ability to share it. After the raw data from a store is downloaded to headquarters, it is formatted into customized reports that are sent back to the store. "It's a snapshot of how they're doing. It gives them some helpful feedback on their performance," Schwab explains.
The types of reports that can be created are virtually limitless, since RemoteWare can be configured to collect any kind of computer data. Better yet, RemoteWare is virtually invisible to non-technical employees. For instance, to send out a revised training manual, a manager can simply make revisions in the document. RemoteWare automatically downloads the modified manual to all the stores.
"Wherever possible, we want to implement procedures that don't have to be controlled by the IT department," Schwab declares. Giving employees greater control over informationsharing creates an environment in which employees can better serve each other and their customers.
It's hard for Checkers to quantify the cost savings RemoteWare provides. How much would it cost to call in and manually enter data from all 900 restaurants? How much are customized performance reports worth? How much does efficient data exchange save on phone bills each month? How much down-time does a quick resolution to a computer problem save? How much is that time worth?
Schwab does know, however, that the 350 stores that don't yet support electronic data exchange cost Checkers money. (That's just one reason the company is urging the franchisees to jump on the electronic bandwagon.) He also knows that using RemoteWare to back up store data from a remote location provides a significant cost savings. The bottom line: Checkers' costs are reduced because RemoteWare allows data to be shared safely and efficiently across the chain's geographically dispersed enterprise.
A Simple Motto
Great tasting food served fast, friendly, and at a low price. Checkers' motto appears simple; but the achieving all four objectives is a truly daunting task. Dedicated employees are a vital part of the equation, as are the tools they use in every aspect of their jobs. That's one more reason Checkers is standardizing its technology infrastructure, and relying more than ever on RemoteWare. The company presently plans to upgrade to a new version of RemoteWare once it has completed the infrastructure upgrade for corporate stores.
"We plan to use RemoteWare to set up a realtime polling solution, so that at any time of day a store manager can take a snapshot of what sales were in the last hour," Schwab says. "If they want to see how a promotion is working, they can simply jump online and take a look." With the greater bandwidth capacity that will be available in most stores, Checkers is also planning to deliver audio and video training sessions directly to its restaurants via RemoteWare. As he plans for the future, what Schwab values most about RemoteWare is its underlying flexibility.
"Everything comes back to customization," he says; "-the ability to grab any data, to customize reporting tools, to script whatever we want using work objects, to automate the processes we need ."
It's this ability to create RemoteWare in the Checkers image that makes the remote systems management tool indispensable. Just as it is Checkers' ability to give real meaning to a "simple" motto that assures the restaurant chain's continued success.