Managing a fresh seafood market and restaurant near the Chesapeake Bay is no easy task for Tracy Fifer, a third-generation Marylander whose grandfather opened a seafood carryout in the heart of Baltimore in 1950. After learning the trade from their father, Tracy and his two younger brothers opened the door to Fifer’s Seafood in 2001, a casual dining restaurant situated in a small shopping plaza in Pasadena, Maryland.
Fifer’s has grown and expanded a few times since their opening, but this popular seafood restaurant and market hasn’t always been on the cutting edge when it comes to using technology in the restaurant. “We were doing it the old-fashioned way with pencil and paper, but that came at a steep price. During a busy weekend we would lose between $300 and $500 due to ticket mistakes and delays. The wrong food would be cooked because the kitchen staff couldn’t read the tickets, the wait staff would forget to add a second or third drink order, and a carry-out order would create chaos because no one knew how to schedule it. I knew it was time to make a change,” stated Tracy.
After receiving a sales call from Dan Youngblood at Technology Marketing, a full-service distributor of ASI’s Restaurant Manager POS, Tracy was excited to see how much time and money he would save by installing a computerized POS system, to help manage the dine-in, carry-out, and delivery aspects of his restaurant. The popularity of Fifer’s carry-out crabs continued to grow and Tracy kept adding phone lines to handle the rush during weekends, especially during the popular summer months when Maryland crabs are in high demand. To streamline this process even more, Tracy decided to try out Restaurant Manager’s new integrated Online Ordering service, which processes orders from the web and sends them directly to Fifer’s kitchen. The weekend rushes were soon more manageable as Fifer’s “trained” their customers to order online and save 10% on their orders. Customers began to flock to the new online ordering service resulting in a 40% increase in online sales. “It seems like almost overnight, we went from zero online sales to having months in excess of $10,000 or more just in online seafood sales,” said Tracy.
The Online Ordering service from Restaurant Manager comes with features such as defined delivery areas, coupons and promotions, and an integrated e-mail club. “Who would have thought that a family-run, seafood restaurant would reap so much business just from offering our menu online? But once we experienced the potential, we knew we had a winner. Now, for virtually any event, we send out an e-mail reminder with a promo code for use on the web and we get slammed with online orders. My favorite is the NCAA March Madness, we would never have seen results like this without online ordering,” said Tracy. Fifer’s has shifted so much delivery and pick-up business from phones to the web that they’ve actually been able to cut out a couple of phone lines.
Fifer’s isn’t standing still either, they recently upgraded their Online Ordering SaaS (Software as a Service) to include a number of enhancements such as better graphics, customization of their web pages, and Mobile Online Ordering. “Now virtually anyone with a smart phone or tablet can order their next meal, or place an order of steamed crabs right from the palm of their hands. The best part about the mobile version is that our customers won’t have to download and constantly update an app. They just log onto Fifer’s website, click “Order Online,” and place their order. We expect the addition of the mobile option to increase our web sales even more,” stated Tracy.
In addition to the mobile offering, the upgrades to the Online Ordering Saas product allows Fifer’s to offer “One-Time-Only” discounts, enticing new users to get an even better discount for trying Fifer’s Seafood restaurant. Fifer’s customers will also be able to save their favorite orders, recall past orders, and request special instructions on their orders for example, “Please include extra napkins and plates.” “We can’t imagine not operating without Online Ordering. It’s kind of like having a cell phone, you just don’t know how you went through life before you had one,” said Tracy. Fifer’s will continue to pursue technology that helps them increase sales and effectively manage their operations, and Restaurant Manager POS will be right there to assist them.
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