Syrus Restaurant Information Services: Advancing Restaurant Performance and Productivity

Jim Karam, President & CEO The year began on a good note for one franchise organization of a national quick serve restaurant chain. With multiple stores spread across major cities in the United States, a comparative quarterly analysis carried out between two cities revealed a strong profit in one city, but the other city was struggling. With both cities having 30 stores, similar demographics and good customer footfall, the result was rather surprising for the managers. Using Syrus’ powerful restaurant management platform to view their consolidated information, they unearthed an interesting suspect–the unassuming ketchup packets served alongside the all-time favorite French fries. A detailed analysis revealed that in one city, every store was consuming two additional cases of ketchup packets per week. Wanting to delight customers, the restaurants in this city were serving additional packets even to those who never asked for them. In terms of value, the two cases priced at around $18 amounted to $36. For 30 stores in a year, the loss amounted to more than $50,000. All bottom-line profit. “This is one among the many instances where our restaurant management platform has assisted managers and store leaders with powerful insights that essentially contributed to the bottom-line,” says Jim Karam, President & CEO at Syrus Restaurant Information Services.

With a powerful restaurant management solution, Syrus currently serves many nationally recognized brands in the quick serve and fast casual industry, including Wendy’s and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, in addition to restaurant franchisees and restaurant supply chain partners. More than 2000 clients benefit from Syrus’ solutions to reduce food, inventory, and labor costs, and improve sales through data analysis, while considerably improving their overall operational efficiency to gain a competitive edge.

Down the Timeline

Back in the 90s, Karam started Syrus as a part of a Wendy’s franchise organization to develop reporting systems for its stores and in 2008; it was spun out as a standalone entity. Syrus’ restaurant management solution leverages on Karam’s in-depth expertise in the restaurant industry, owing to his upbringing in a family of restaurateurs. He opines, “Most initiatives in the industry are built with a technological focus, not considering the operational complexities or the user mind-set of the restaurant industry. Taking it to heart, we have simplified the myriad of manual processes and built the solution from the ground up to automate many restaurant management processes.”

“The most important lesson learned in my entrepreneurial journey is to have a very close and intimate understanding of the customer. Each of our clients has a dedicated client care specialist who learns about his client’s business inside-out and oversees the quality of the information,” adds Karam. From day one, Syrus’s experts manage the web-based access and integration with the point-of-sale systems, information from food vendors, restaurant supply chain, and product recipes. “We make sure that the data flowing from thousands of sources into our database is complete and properly fed,” says Karam.

Comprehensive Overview

The information presented by the advanced reporting system, in a user-friendly readable format, helps all the stakeholders—including the restaurant manager and even the CEO—to run reports against that information in understanding all the activities prevailing in the stores. The software allows users to benchmark against optimal performance on different parameters. For instance, ‘Where the products are consumed?’, ‘What is being wasted?’, ‘Where there might be employee theft or labor inefficiencies?’, ‘Which stores are the best performers?’ and so on.

With food cost being the single highest expense in the restaurant business, reducing food cost can result in improvement of 2 to 3 percent of sales, which is common with the proper use of our tools

It gives the operator a detailed view of the product that they are selling, the ingredients they are using, and the price of their ingredients. “With food cost being the single highest expense in the restaurant business, reducing food cost can result in improvement of 2 to 3 percent of sales, which is common with the proper use of our tools,” states Karam.

On the customization front, a brand that sells hamburgers for instance might have a completely different method or algorithm for forecasting product usage than one that sells chicken or pizza. “They will need different sets of reports, different products, and labor forecasting tools. Syrus makes it possible with its flexible platform to customize these components without rewriting the entire application,” informs Karam.

Most restaurant brands have a system for forecasting labor depending upon sales to schedule the number of people working in the grill, dining room, and cash register. Without a tool like Syrus, the back-end information or business logic that is calculated manually takes a lot of effort for the store manager. Syrus automates these transactions and incorporates the business logic for staffing personnel. All that the manager sees is an optimal workforce scheduled in anticipation of the sales for a particular day, which in turn saves huge money in labor costs.

Over the years, Syrus’ technology has evolved into a full-fledged SaaS solution providing deep insights into business intelligence, compounding benefits in terms of cost, flexibility, and simplicity.

The End-to-End Linkage

The benefits of Syrus do not stop at the restaurant level. Syrus has recently extended its services into the restaurant supply chain as well. For example, with data on the number of crates of buns sold to a particular brand, the system tracks information on the destination details of the shipment from bakeries, all through the various distribution centers and warehouses across the country. It also presents information on the items shipped to each individual store and the sales. These apply to any item ranging from chicken and condiments to paper. “The information is harmonized from the time the product is created at the supplier’s facility to when it is shipped to the distribution centers and restaurants. This provides some powerful insights, not just for the restaurant owners and operators, but for the individuals managing the supply chain as well. By having one convenient view with this end-to-end information, the supply chain managers can reduce costs for the restaurant brand by eliminating waste and distribution inefficiencies throughout the system. This is especially helpful with new products or Limited Time Only (LTO) offers that are common in the restaurant industry.” The benefit for the restaurant is that their suppliers are not producing more or less than their needs, resulting in less waste, while ensuring all the ingredients are ready on time.

Other systems provide only information at a store level and do not connect the information upto the supply chain, manufacturing point, and the shipping point. “For instance, if a brand is developing a promotional product, it has different ingredients for a limited time, say 6 weeks.
They have to order brand new ingredients from suppliers and with Syrus, they have the accurate projection of how much of the new ingredients are to be ordered. Once the promotion starts, the restaurants are aware whether they are running ahead or behind the forecast,” explains Karam.

MySyrus app

The latest in a series of technology enhancements from Syrus, the MySyrus app offers restaurant operators a new way to stay connected with their businesses. The app provides historical and real-time information on-store performance, like sales, labor, and voids and helps corporate staff and franchisees keep virtual watch over multiple restaurants at any given time.

Another advantage of the application is the ability to monitor the LTO (Limited Time Only) offers in the restaurant industry. When a restaurant rolls out a new product, the operator wants to know the performance right away. Generally, they have to wait until the end of the day or week to figure out the number of promotional products being sold. “But with real-time data from the app, the sooner you will know and the better you can adjust the levels of ordering and staffing,” explains Karam.

The MySyrus app, available on iOS and Android for above-store reporting, is the perfect complement to Syrus’ mobile Ordering and Inventory Management apps. “Mobility is at the heart of much of what we are implementing today to dramatically improve how our customers’ access and manage information. For example, we are prioritizing our mobile applications enhancements to provide more information and alerts in cases of employee theft or suspicious information,” says Karam.

Unlocking the full potential

Continuing to push its solutions above and beyond above-store reporting and back office tools, Syrus is now introducing advanced forecasting algorithms and data analytics to adjust business decisions in order to optimize profitability. “Like any business, pricing your products too low will erode valuable profit. However, pricing too high will drive away customers–especially those who are price sensitive. We are building tools with advanced algorithms that will provide valuable insights to optimize pricing and product positioning,” says Karam.

With advanced data analysis capabilities, Syrus provides tools to evaluate the capital investments in the restaurants to check on the profitability. For example, it will be able to answer queries like ‘Where to spend your remodeling capital for your restaurants?’ ‘What is the true impact of certain advertising?’ and much more.

With the U.S. restaurant industry projections for 2015 set to touch more than $709 billion in sales, one million locations and 14 million employees, Syrus is focusing efforts on features that make it easier for people to access insights into their businesses. “Whether you are a franchise owner of a small chain or a large multi-national restaurant chain, the value of information along with a convenient set of tools for your operators to manage results is going to continue to grow exponentially over the coming years,” affirms Karam.

Syrus Restaurant Information Services

Columbus, OH

Jim Karam, President & CEO

Provider of back-office and above-store reporting tools and services for the restaurant industry.