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HungerRush Interviews Travis Pioske of Ole Piper Restaurant & Sports Bar

How long have you been in the food service industry, Travis?
I was raised in this industry for better or worse, haha. I’ve worked every corner of a restaurant for 20 years – from dishes, plumber, repair man, electrician, line cook, head chef, and all manager positions. It’s something that I’ve always had a knack for; it always keeps me on my toes and never bores me. It’s a controlled chaos, if you will, that at most times can be enjoyable.

Was there a particular issue that led you to choosing an all-in-one POS system like HungerRush?
With our previous system, Speedline, we were paying a percentage of our online order fees to a 3rd party company. When you’re averaging at least 200 online orders a week, that amount can get a bit expensive. HungerRush offered a much cheaper choice for online ordering and the fact that it works hand in hand with our POS in the stores made controlling it a lot easier. HungerRush works with each station being a separate entity, while other POS systems we’ve used work together all as one. This is great because if one system does go down or crashes for any reason, it doesn’t affect the store and we can keep running, whereas with our older systems we would have to be on the line with tech support during the middle of a dinner rush.
Speedline was a good “starter” system, but HungerRush is a much more user friendly POS system. It’s easier for employees to learn how to use it and each update is always improving the system.

If you were using a previous POS, why did you make the switch to HungerRush POS? What are the major differences in functionality?
At first we were skeptical about switching POS systems; operationally our store needs a minimum of 12 stations, so switching was a HUGE change. After we got everything settled with installation and training, everything ran very smoothly. HungerRush is always available to listen to our challenges and provide updates that make the system better for our needs. The POS is very user friendly; the templates, colors, and guides they use make creating a menu and editing items very simple. They seem to be constantly improving and adding new features, which is a bonus. Just like any restaurant, things need to evolve and HungerRush tries to stay ahead of the game. Not having to pay a percentage of my online order sales is a BIG plus, as well!

Businesswise, do you feel that modern technology, specifically an all-in-one solution such as HungerRush, is mandatory in today’s highly competitive restaurant industry?
If you want to KNOW what is going on with your restaurant, KNOW what is selling and what is not, KNOW where your money is and what profit you’re making, then yes – it is definitely mandatory.

Do you believe that a POS system has a direct impact on a customer’s experience?
Yes, it can mean the difference in a customer getting food on their table in 10 minutes or 20 minutes and it being CORRECT. Writing tickets is a thing of the past and considering I can barely read my own handwriting, it’s impossible to always be able to read everyone else’s. In online ordering it makes a HUGE impact. If the system is not user friendly, customers will not keep placing online orders, and online orders mean less labor to answer phones. HungerRush is consistently maintaining either a 4/5 or 5/5 star rating from my online customers; happy customers = happy owners.

When was it decided that Ole Piper needed to incorporate an online ordering solution like HungerRush? Were you hesitant to take the leap at first?
We had online ordering prior to having HungerRush (see above). We knew online ordering would be beneficial but getting it to work properly and having it be easy enough for the average consumer is the tricky part. HungerRush does a good job with that.

After setting up HungerRush online ordering, what kind of results did you experience immediately? Did online ordering simplify any aspects of your business?
Because we already had online ordering prior to HungerRush, we basically had to switch overnight. HungerRush was there to make sure it transitioned smoothly. Of course customers were drawn back by the immediate change, but in the end they were very happy with the results after everything was fine tuned.

On average, what percentage of your business now comes from online ordering?
Online ordering is about 12% of our total sales – that’s huge considering we’re a Mom & Pop restaurant and not a giant chain.

Does having HungerRush online ordering save your business money in any way? If so, please explain.
Yes, it saves on not having to pay a 3rd party company a percentage to handle our online orders. It also saves us on labor by not having to have as many host/hostess’ on staff to answer phones.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey thus far with Ole Piper’s?
Our restaurant is still thriving since 1969 and that says a lot. To see it evolve and change while still managing to keep its core and foundation is comforting. Being such a strong part of a great community and continuing to watch Ole Piper grow year after year is the greatest reward.

Being as successful as you are, what advice would you give to other owner/operators out there like yourself?
You can’t be afraid of change, it’s inevitable. Instead, do proper research, learn about new things and make an educated decision when needed. Listen to what your customers want, it’s them that drive your business sales. Technology can only make things easier for you if you let it.

About Ole Piper Restaurant and Sports Bar
Based in Minnesota, Ole Piper (also known as “Pipers” or “The Pipe” by locals) has been in business for over 30 years, opening its doors in 1969. Over the course of those 30 years, the restaurant has remained family owned and operated; Ole Piper prides itself on strong community values. Their specialty is pizza, but their menu also offers Chicken, Pasta, Appetizers, Burgers, Hoagies and many other items.