Patrick Benson shares his IT tips for companies big and small
Patrick Benson, Senior Vice President of Information Services for Ovation Brands, one of the nation’s largest steak-buffet restaurants, sat down with ChiefChats.com to discuss various technology-related topics for big and small chain restaurants.
The following are excerpts from a recent interview with Benson at the Ovation Brands Corporate Support Center in Eagan, MN.
Q. How should restaurant concepts be leveraging the “cloud” for their IT solutions?
A. With cloud solutions, managers can get out of the back office and onto the floor where customers are being served to work the operations of the restaurant, as opposed to focusing on the accounting and bookkeeping. The best-in-class cloud-based solutions let you focus on the business of running a restaurant and not on counting the beans.
Q. Are there any tech advances that can offer small restaurants an alternative to reduce credit card transaction fees?
A. Do not marry yourself to one credit card processor; rather, architect your IT systems so that you can switch if necessary. Second, being PCI compliant will make sure that your credit card fees are as low as possible and give you power when it comes to negotiating rates. Third, capturing as much information as possible in a swipe as opposed to manually keying in credit card transactions will help save money.
Q. What technology “truths” apply to both large chains and small mom-and-pop operators?
A. Technology for both small and large operators like Ovation Brands isn’t any different than any other business. IT cannot operate as a separate tribe from the rest of the business. We have to be true partners and maintain that conversation on an ongoing basis. We also help bring new ideas and information to the business, like data from social media.
Q. Has social media helped or hurt the restaurant industry?
A. There is hidden gold in what people are saying on social media. If we can find ways to harvest the sentiments of what people are saying about us, we can find different ways to engage potential customers and them into loyal customers, advocates and, then, evangelists for our brand.
Patrick Benson recently joined Ovation Brands as the Senior Vice President of Information Technology. Benson’s career as an Information Technology Executive spans world-class consumer product and retail organizations, including multiple senior IT roles across the PepsiCo global business, as CIO of Lighthouse International in New York City, as Americas Vice-President for Cadbury, and as Vice-President of Enterprise IT for Supervalu in Minneapolis. In addition to his requisite technology skills, Benson possesses a deep business, operations, and consumer focus to delivering IT solutions.
To see the full interview with Patrick Benson and ChiefChats.com, visit: http://chiefchats.com/ovation-brands-patrick-benson-on-it-for-small-restaurant-chains/.
In the Fall of 2013, Buffets, Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant companies, marked its 30th anniversary. New executive leadership spearheaded a reinvention of its structure and culture and subsequently renamed the corporation Ovation Brands.
Ovation Brands currently operates 341 restaurants in 35 states, comprised of 332 steak-buffet restaurants and nine Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse restaurants. The restaurants are principally operated under the Old Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet and Ryan’s brands. Ovation employs approximately 18,000 team members and serves approximately 100 million customers annually. Corporate headquarters are based in Greer, SC with a Corporate Support Center located in Eagan, MN. For more information, visit www.OvationBrands.com.