The previous point of sale would not support expanding into catering; it also did not provide a path to EMV (chip) card compliance.
Xenial Ordering running on Android tablets.
BY THE NUMBERS
In Kansas City, if you see a line, get in it, especially if you smell smoke. Chances are, the line will lead you to great bar-b-que.
At Slap’s Bar-B-Que, most days, the line starts forming shortly after the doors open and builds throughout the afternoon. In good weather, there will be a line down the sidewalk for several hours. Slap’s sells until they sell out, and typically they sellout before closing time. But before there was ever a line of customers, or even a door for them to walk through, there were contests and awards.
A Shelf Full of Trophies Came First
Before opening Slap’s, Mike and Joe Pearce took their passion for great bar-b-que to the contest circuit, eventually landing an admirable second place in the final round of the fifth season of Destination America’s televised “BBQ Pitmasters.”
They haven’t stopped competing. Continuing to pursue the contest circuit helps them stoke their passion for serving only the best bar-b-que, with a side of southern hospitality. Their team name, Squeal Like a Pig, was shortened to Slap’s. They now serve hundreds of customers a day from a single location in Kansas City, Kansas.
BBQ, Smoke, and an Experience
Slap’s Bar-B-Que’s main business is walk-up counter service. The brothers’ passion for people and a great experience matches their love for great food. “The experience we want to give customers is one of connection to the food they order,” says Mike Pearce, Slap’s Bar-B-Que co-owner. “From the time they walk in the door and smell smoke, to seeing their meat sliced fresh when they order it, all the way down the line, including dishing up sides, and so on, the customer gets to see us prepare their food.”
Customers can place pre-orders by phone 24 hours in advance. In addition, the brothers recently added a catering service. And that was when they discovered the limitations of their Talech POS system.
From day one, Slap’s used a tablet-based point of sale (POS) by Talech. A very basic, out-of-the-box solution, it fit their needs at the time. “When we decided to add catering, and Talech didn’t support it, it became apparent we needed something a bit more robust,” remarks Mike.
A Modern POS for Modern Business
Slap’s Bar-B-Que decided to implement Xenial, an app-based, cloud-powered restaurant management platform. “Based on Xenial demos, we could see that it was a perfect match for where we plan to take our business,” says Mike.
Slap’s takes orders and payment with Xenial running on a sleek Android-based tablet. “I can wholeheartedly recommend Xenial to other businesses, with 100% confidence, and that’s based on my experience reviewing no fewer than ten different point-of-sale solutions, from tablet-based apps to more traditional POS,” says Mike. “With Xenial, businesses get the most bang for their buck.”
As Easy as your Smartphone to Learn and Use
Introducing any change can create difficulties, whether it’s employees who are hesitant but need to learn the new technology, or regular customers who suddenly have a different piece of payment hardware to interact with.
The team at Slap’s, however, found Xenial “super easy” to learn. Mike adds, “There are functions in Xenial that our employees ended up liking a lot better than the previous system. We’ve implemented a lot of different systems and technologies here at Slap’s Bar-B-Que, and compared to them, learning Xenial was easy. Super basic.”
Better User Interface, Fewer Mistakes
Mike and Joe have noticed a sharp decline in the number of ordering mistakes with Xenial. “Because of the layout, ordering navigation, and how Xenial ordering works in general, we’ve seen fewer ordering mistakes than we had on our previous POS,” remarks Joe Pearce, Slap’s Bar-B-Que co-owner. “Now, with Xenial, it’s rare for cashiers to stop the line to make corrections, voids, or refunds. And that makes for a better customer experience. It’s been a huge positive.”
Restaurant Management Platform Primes Bar-B-Que for Growth
Currently running an average of 300 to 350 transactions per day, and 400 on the high end, the Pearce brothers see growth on the horizon. “I project 500 daily transactions by mid-summer,” says Joe.
“We’re growing exponentially; we’ve doubled every year. Any small business that experiences that kind of growth or expansion is going to have headaches. And the one headache I don’t want to have to deal with is my point of sale,” says Mike.
“I’m super excited about our partnership with Xenial.” Building on the success of the current location and catering business, the brothers are looking at properties to lease for future locations. “I have peace of mind knowing that our Xenial restaurant management platform is going to scale with no problem to multiple locations,” says Joe.
Multi-location Support, Built In
For operations with multiple locations, Xenial consolidates sales and other metrics into a single dashboard. This gives owners and managers the visibility they need to see performance system-wide. “That kind of visibility is critical,” says Mike. Xenial’s convenience extends to training and labor management. “By using one system across all locations, and remotely at events, we’ll be able to share staff across locations,” says Mike. “We can train them once on Xenial, and they can work wherever.”
“We love that once it’s set up, Xenial is mostly hands-off,” says Joe. Xenial downloads any updates to the devices, so staff, managers, or owners don’t have to visit each device and go through an update installation process. “Xenial automatic updates will be a time saver, especially once we have several locations,” Joe remarks.
Rental POS a Great Fit for Growing Business
Xenial does away with the excessive up-front hardware costs, per-terminal fees, and separate maintenance and support contracts. Instead, businesses pay a flat affordable monthly fee based on revenue. Xenial customers can use their own hardware running iOS, Android, or Windows. Or, if they opt for Xenial hardware, Xenial will replace it every three years.
Commenting on this acquisition model, Mike says, “The rental model that Xenial offers is a game-changer. There is no other way to do business today.” He should know. As Mike and Joe looked into expanding, they spoke with a number of restaurant owners who wanted to sell their POS along with their other restaurant assets. “These owners paid between $20,000 and $50,000 for their POS. We probably couldn’t have done that, and if we had figured out a way, it would have put such a hindrance on the business from a cash flow perspective,” says Mike. “Startups are often surviving month to month for the first several months, or even for a few years. It’s a bit scary. So a rental agreement for our POS is a super affordable option that we can budget on a monthly basis,” says Mike. “We don’t have to come up with (or finance) $20K, and we don’t have some crazy lease statement. The rental model that Xenial offers is a sign of the times, it’s what small businesses want and need, and it’s what they’re starting to demand.”
Joe adds, “Startups ask questions like, ‘Do I want to borrow money to acquire something that lets me take other people’s money?’ Personally, I want to spend that $20K on a smoker, not a computer, because the smoker directly improves our kitchen’s output and our customer’s experience. With Xenial, we anticipate we’ll have all the functionality of one of those expensive POS systems, at a fraction of the price.”
EMV Compliance Avoids Hundreds per Month in Charge-backs
The fact that Talech didn’t offer a path to EMV chip support also contributed to the Pearce brothers’ decision to switch. “Xenial and Heartland Payments support EMV, which removes a business liability for us that was amounting to a few hundred dollars per month in charge-backs,” says Mike. “Plus, the integrity of capturing the customer’s credit card information in a secure way is something we wanted.”
People Make the Difference
For 3 of the 4 years Slap’s Bar-B-Que has been in business, they have been a customer of Heartland card processing. “We’ve had nothing but a great experience working with Heartland as our transaction processor, and we’ve developed a huge mutual trust. So we were very excited to build on that partnership by working with the Xenial team, which is an extension of the Heartland family” says Mike. “The people of Xenial and Heartland really sealed the deal for us.” “It’s been a breath of fresh air to be using an emerging, cloud-native POS like Xenial and working with such a great group of like-minded people,” adds Joe.