Healthy Café Menu Choices and Measuring Their Sales Success

Café dining patrons have a growing expectation to find healthful food and beverage choices on the menu.  Whether managing diabetes or a heart condition through diet, or just being more conscientious of healthy eating practices, guests are now better informed about nutritional value and take into account how each meal or snack choice will fit into their overall nutritional goals.

As a result of this consumer awareness and growing demand, virtually every Café has a selection of healthy menu items in each service of their menu rotation.  These healthy choices don’t necessarily replace popular menu favorites like Chicken Fried Steak, Pizza, or Macaroni and Cheese, but instead provide a range of healthy alternatives to café guests.  Whether the guest selects a grilled chicken salad labeled as heart healthy, or decides to indulge in a grilled cheese sandwich with fries, the choice is left up to the guest.

So how do you measure the performance of healthy menu items, and determine which ones should remain in rotation, and which ones should be replaced with more appealing choices?  Although the long line out the door whenever the Sushi Chef prepares fresh California Rolls at lunchtime is the only clue you will need to measure the popularity of the Sushi Bar, other items will require a review of historical sales data to evaluate their performance.

To track healthy meal sales, all menu items within the inventory file of the Café’s POS System should be added to an appropriate department, and then sorted further into a sub department or sub category.  Label one of your sub departments “Healthy” to track healthy sales.  For example, an egg white omelet could be added to the breakfast department, then further sorted into the sub department of Healthy.  A turkey and vegetable wrap may be added to the lunch department, then added to the sub department Healthy.  As a result of this categorization, both the egg white omelet and the turkey wrap will appear in the “Healthy” sub department, which will make tracking and comparing their historical sales information an easy process.  Depending upon your POS system’s reporting abilities, an alternative approach is to create a Healthy Department, then create sub departments of breakfast, lunch, etc. and then create reports using the Healthy Department as a sorting method.  With either approach, sales history reporting is available to track the Café’s Healthy item sales.

Menu Items identified in historical sales reports as not selling well may either be replaced with other items , or could be discounted to increase interest and incent better sales performance.  The sale history data will show if the marketing is working on not working.

Tell us about the success of your Healthy menu selections, and what has helped promote their sales.


Physical Inventory Best Practices

Every retail operation is required to do physical inventory at least once a year. Many stores even elect to do physical inventory multiple times throughout the year, or count select departments or items on a regular basis. Whatever your timing may be, here are a few best practices to follow to help ensure success.

Although most stores have invested in POS inventory control software with physical inventory features and hardware scanning devices, the process still requires people to perform the counting of the on hand items. People perform their best when they understand why the task they are to perform is important. Be sure to explain to everyone who will be participating in physical inventory why having an accurate on hand count of each item is needed. It may also be most productive to divide the counting by departments, and assign individuals to specific departments to count. This enables the counting of multiple departments in parallel, and should help move the entire process along faster. Be sure to schedule the event well in advance so everyone is available for the big event.

Inventory represents a current asset the store expects to sell within one year, however the reasons for doing physical inventory are not limited to just tax or accounting purposes. An accurate on hand count ensures that buying decisions are based on accurate data. Wrong on hand quantities lead to misinformed buying decisions, which negatively impact your retail business. Order recommendations or buying reports can only be accurate if on hand quantities are correct and costly buying mistakes can be avoided. The goal of any retail operation is to strike an optimum balance of inventory so that excess dollars are not tied up unnecessarily, yet sales are not lost due to out of stock merchandise. Getting this balancing act correct certainly begins with an accurate count.

Retailers not only need to effectively manage their inventory, but also purchase inventory that will result in the greatest profitability for the store. It’s a highly recommended practice to perform counts of high volume and high value items on a regular basis. High volume items are particularly vulnerable to error due to the high number of transactions. It’s much easier to identify an inaccuracy in inventory if the discrepancy is caught within 30 or 60 days, rather than combing through months of data to reconcile an item which was last counted a year ago.

One final best practice is to run an inventory report before and after conducting inventory to get an accurate idea of the value of the inventory you were supposed to have vs. what you actually have.

For more information about using Inventory control software with a physical inventory feature, call us at 866-889-3093 or contact us  ARBA Retail Systems is a leading provider of POS Inventory Control solutions and is headquartered in Naperville, IL.


Mobile POS Usage in Hospital Retail Operations

As consumers, most of us have had some exposure to a mobile POS system while either shopping at a retail store or dining at a restaurant or quick serve establishment.  Many restaurant servers now come to the table equipped with a mobile or hand held device for order taking instead of the traditional order pad and pencil, with the completed table order automatically going to the kitchen, and the server quickly moving onto the next table.  In may retail stores, clerks now walk the sales floor with a mobile POS device for line busting to quickly check out customers standing in long lines and get them on their way faster.  This not only speeds check out time and increases customer satisfaction, but also reduces the potential for a lost sale.

Healthcare retail presents many opportunities where a Mobile POS solution can provide added convenience to employees and guests, expand the functionality already present in a traditional POS system, and greatly improve operational efficiency with cost saving results.

The Cafeteria and Coffee Cart

Take for example the hospital cafeteria with traditional POS terminals situated in the check-out lanes, and additional outdoor seating that opens when the weather permits.  Rather than routing patrons through the check-out lanes to pay for food and beverages before seating themselves outside, mobility allows the transaction to be performed at table side giving the employee or guest more time to enjoy their meal and dining experience or possibly prevent a lost sale from occurring.  With a traditional POS system in place, the cafeteria menu may be broadcasted to the mobile device with detailed sales data rolling into a central data base for reporting and informed decision making.  Mobile solutions are also ideally suited for mobile coffee carts, or mobile food carts where a POS system is needed, but space and portability rules out a large cash register with all its peripheral devices.

Patient Guest Services

A lot of hospitals now offer patient guests the convenience of ordering food and beverages from the cafeteria menu presented on an iPad or Android device, and paying by either by cash or credit card on the same device.  Just imaging visiting a friend or family member in their hospital room as patient dining is either taking or delivering their meal.  It’s a great comfort and convenience to be able to order and enjoy your meals together.

The Gift Shop and Fundraisers

Usually run by the hospital gift shop, fundraisers are a vital revenue generator for the hospital retail area.  Generally held in the hospital lobby, the fundraising event may sell anything from uniforms to jewelry and are usually geared to the hospital employees.  The use of a mobile pos system is ideal for this temporary event, especially when the capability to accept credit card or employee payroll deductions as payment types is enabled.

Tell us about how you’re using Mobil POS solutions in your hospital, or where your operation has a need for it.