With its beginnings as a Melbourne late night coffee house in 1962, Dracula’s has become an award-winning dinner theatre, retail and tourism business. Now, the multi-million dollar company also operates on the Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise as well as its original Melbourne home, providing visitors and patrons with what can be best described as an entertaining horror-themed experience.
For well over a decade, Dracula’s has relied heavily on integrated POS and back office management technology solutions. In late 2008, though, the company was faced with a hospitality management system that was failing to provide it with the flexibility, ease-of-use and functions required to support a dynamic business.
That being the case, the search began for a solution that would enable Dracula’s to: more easily manage and track stock, gain a greater insight into business performance, quickly update POS terminals with new offerings, and move forward with a customer loyalty program.
Of greater importance, the company required a solution that would be supported fully by vendors and the solution provider. In commenting on that particular requirement, Dracula’s Financial Controller, Greg Jackson, says: “Our existing system wasn’t being supported nearly as well as it should have been, and it was taking far too long for responses to problems. Essentially, there were early warning signs of a system that had to be replaced.”
Partnering for success
Following recommendations from various sources, including the company’s independent stock auditor, Dracula’s approached POS solution specialist Harris Data Systems to discuss a new POS and back office management environment project based on SwiftPOS software.
“We saw SwiftPOS as having the necessary strength and versatility at the point-of-sale and back office,” Greg states. “Importantly, it has a proven track record in regard to innovation and developer support. And with Harris Data Systems, there was the benefit of dealing with a recognised leader in providing, implementing and supporting modern POS solutions.”
Power at the back office
Almost immediately following implementation of the new solution across all Dracula’s theatre restaurant and retail operations, the company realised major business benefits. Key among those is business intelligence, which stems directly from the extensive SwiftPOS reporting capabilities and Harris Data’s work on establishing a high-speed data link between all Dracula’s sites.
With the software’s flexibility in report creation and system-wide data capturing, Greg states that he at last has the tools needed to generate on-demand reports that are being used on a daily basis to manage and refine the business. “We’re able to create reports easily that highlight critical data, such as retail products that aren’t selling, sales people who may be in need of additional training and business departments falling behind their operational objectives,” he says.
“That’s the sort of information the management team needs every day to ensure the business remains competitive and profitable. Without it, it would be a case of hoping for the best.” Unfortunately, it was generally a case of having to wait upwards of a week before the adjustments were made.
A more streamlined kitchen environment
It’s also in the kitchen that SwiftPOS and the Harris Data solution is having a positive impact. Now, rather than relying on an outdated and error-prone docket system, the kitchen staff can view all orders on a single kitchen video monitor (KVM). Aside from eliminating any instances of misplaced dockets, the KVM ensures cooks can better anticipate and prepare for course demands.
The business insight being afforded Dracula’s by SwiftPOS extends also into the area of accurate stock management. “The retail part of our business is extremely important,” Greg states, “and knowing precisely where stock is located and current levels is crucial. Where determining that information used to be extremely labour intensive and take several hours every week, it’s right at our fingertips and fully up-to-date.”
The ability to react quickly to a large number of factors that have a bearing on business operations has become more of a reality for Dracula’s since the introduction of SwiftPOS. According to Greg, this is due primarily to the software’s ease-of-use.
By way of example, Greg says: “If our bar manager comes to me at three o’clock in the afternoon and suggests a new cocktail for the bar, we’re able to update the system – and that includes pushing it out to the hand-held PDAs used by the waiters and even detailing the recipe for bar staff – within a matter of ten minutes.
“The same goes for our merchandise. If a product isn’t selling well enough and needs to be withdrawn from sale, or we suddenly receive a supply of a new product that we want to include in the system, we can adjust everything from stock levels and pricing through to on-screen POS menu options almost immediately.”
All that is in stark contrast to the previous system, which required such a complex series of operations and adjustments, that it was generally left to the solution provider to implement.
Greg explains: “Our theatre restaurants offer patrons a selection of five main courses; and our goal is to serve dishes within a very short time of the orders being placed; and that calls for a certain degree of anticipating and preparing orders in advance.
“With an on-screen view of what’s being ordered, our chefs are now in an ideal position of being able to better manage their kitchen resources to match the meal choice demands of the patrons.”
As a result, there are significantly less delays in the kitchen and, just as importantly, a marked reduction in the number of “anticipated” meals not being ordered.
Building customer loyalty
In pushing beyond the gains already being made, Dracula’s has plans underway to exploit the customer loyalty program features of its SwiftPOS-based environment. “Due to the fact that the loyalty program features are fully integrated with every other SwiftPOS component, we will be extending the program across all areas of the business,” Greg says.
“It means we can cross-market between retail and dinner theatre businesses, and market directly to customers we know will be interested in certain products and offers.
“It all comes down to is having a broad-based POS and backoffice management solution, which includes technology partners, that we can use to better manage and grow the business.”
- Establish a foundation for introducing a comprehensive customer loyalty program
- More easily manage and track stock
- Gain a greater insight into business performance
- Quickly update POS terminals with new products
Dracula’s partnered with Harris Data Systems, an authorised SwiftPOS solution provider, on the implementation of a fully integrated SwiftPOS-based POS and back office management solution.
- On-demand reports that are being used on a daily basis to manage and refine all business areas
- POS terminals able to be updated in minutes as opposed to hours or days
- More streamlined kitchen environment