R: Rob Grimes with the IFBTA, here at the NRA show, but actually more importantly here with Jason Leeson, the president of Squirrel systems who is one of our newer Global industry partner members. So Jason, welcome to NRA, welcome to the IFBTA and it’s great to see you someplace other than Vancouver for a change.
Jason Leeson: You bet, glad to be here Rob.
R: Is there a sweet spot for Squirrel as far as who your target market is, who your customer base number of units, or industry segment?
J: Sure, Squirrel’s really an enterprise grade point of sale system, so the sweet spot for us is probably really mid-market, multi-unit restaurant chain that has anywhere from, you know, can go from 2 to 3 locations probably up to the 300-400 range. Table service has kind of been our bread and butter over the years although we’re starting to see a lot more growth in limited encounterservice, and then quite frankly probably growing area of our business here right now is in more of what we call leisure and entertainment so hotels, resorts, casinos, stadiums.
R: That’s a big area actually with a very limited few players in it, so strategically if you can go into that—and so many of those resorts and the theaters and the stadiums and things are actually encompassing different types of food service in them, which was their challenge. So the simple provider doesn’t work, but somebody who understands the more complex environment and multi-concept environment, you know, probably makes for a great place for you.
J: Well and I’ll say, as we move into those areas too, a big part of this is in providing those end-to-end solutions. And the integrations that are required with all of the different applications that they have, whether that be property management systems, labor, inventory, accounting and kind of—if you will—I mean we have some casinos, for example, that we that we recently rolled out with where we had to develop and integrate with 11 different systems in one location.
R: —and then be certified by the gaming commissions—
R: Which makes it even bigger challenge, right?
J: That’s right.
R: So, we were chatting earlier and again, people understand back office and then solutions but very specifically it sounds that you’re doing some focus in some areas of “heartburn” for restauranteurs today in the labor side and the EMV, which I know people think that’s an old term or an old heartburn but really is coming back around. Do you want to address how Squirrel is actually focused on those two particular areas?
J: Sure, yeah for sure. So rising labor costs, it’s a really big deal for the CIOs and the IT directors of our customers that I have the opportunity to talk with. So it’s this $15 minimum wage movement and how restaurant operators are having to deal with it. So they come to us here at Squirrel and really asked us how we can help them improve labor productivity. One of the ways that we’re focusing on that is through mobility, right. And so it’s really about enabling things like tableside ordering, the key benefits to customers, it’s going to allow them through tableside ordering so the servers can have larger sections so more tables at the same time so they have fewer servers as a whole, faster table turns, higher average check sizes, because they’re on the floor at all times they’re more attention to the needs of the guest so guest satisfaction actually improves.
And because that, because they’re having larger sections, and for all those reasons we just spoke about, the revenues are higher and the tips are actually higher for the servers themselves, so employee satisfaction increases so we really see it as a win-win-win-win, I have in all aspects there at the same time. As far as the EMV payment security – continues to be a challenge, I think in terms of moving this forward in the US market, Squirrel’s been doing this—we’re headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and we’ve been doing this in the Canadian market since back in 2010, to be honest. So we’re working with some partners to roll this out throughout the US market but, as this ties in also to labor productivity, is through pay at the table. And chip-and-pin and EMV compliant pay at the table devices to again help improve that labor efficiency.
R: And you guys already have that experience, it’s not new to you—
J: —not new to us…
R: —not new to you so it’s really a solution that’s proven that people understand. Going back to the labor thing, it’s not just about table management and labor scheduling things is it? Because you’re also, are you also offering tableside ordering?
J: Tableside? Well tableside ordering with the server holding the tablet and taking the order—
R: —but not necessarily tableside kiosk?
J: No kiosks at this point, that’s something that’s on our roadmap.
R: And the devices that I’m seeing in this booth here they look like pretty open devices, and so you said that originally you started out as a hardware manufacturer, are you in any hardware manufacturing today?
J: Absolutely, so look, Squirrel’s roots are in hardware and we continue to focus on hardware. Our focus on hardware is continuing to develop enterprise-grade hardware solutions that are differentiated from those commodity consumer-grade devices that are becoming more and more prevalent on the market. Now, that said, we’re also very open and we’re willing to run on those third-party devices like iPads for example. Absolutely we’re starting to see more and more of that. We’re open to supporting that and you’re seeing a little bit of that here at the show today.
R: Listen, it’s been a pleasure. And it’s been a pleasure getting together with you now several times during the year as our Global industry partner member, and I look forward to spending a lot more time in the future and seeing where things go with Squirrel.
J: sounds good I appreciate you Rob.
R: Thank you, so Rob Grimes with the IFBTA and here in Squirrel Systems at the NRA show.