Calgary-based Good Earth Café is hoping new server technology upgrades, which it says has saved time and reduced operating costs, will help it continue to expand throughout Western Canada.
The coffee chain worked with Calgary-based IT Matters, a Microsoft Small Business and technology partner, to migrate its legacy systems and integrate with a platform based on Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2. Good Earth, which was using a peer-to-peer network on Windows 98, said the upgrade has allowed franchise owners for its 13 locations across the province to automatically input sales information into the head office accounting system.
Prior to upgrading, staff was spending time manually inputting sales information from each café. Good Earth said the new system has saved franchise owners five to 10 hours a week because of the ability to automate these processes.
The ability to analyze promotions and sales in real-time, instead of a month or two later, however, has been the biggest benefit, according to Nan Eskenazi, co-founder of Good Earth.
“It’s been a dramatic improvement as we can pull up any item and look at the velocity at each café that we operate,” Eskenazi said. “This really helps make accurate evaluations of a product’s success. So, if we just launched something, we can look at it every day and really see how well it’s selling, as well as analyzing which cafés are not selling well.”
Good Earth also implemented a SonicWall network which provides a VPN for all the café locations to communicate in real-time with the Calgary head office. This upgrade, coupled with the server migration, has led to some quantifiable savings.
Warren Shiau, a lead analyst at Toronto-based Strategic Counsel, researched the cost savings of the migration. He said it saved Good Earth $420 a month per store in backup and recovery services as well as $630 a month per store in service and support savings.
“Without the new remote connectivity solution between the café locations and the head office, they would have been doing these upgrades (on-site),” Shiau said. “But now, they’re doing it through remote connections on the point-of-sale terminals. So they can diagnose and issue with a point-of-sale terminal from head office, instead of having a local service and support guy come to the site.”
In addition to cost savings, remote connectivity has proven to be crucial to Good Earth’s growth. The company, which opened its first store in 1991, had opened eight cafes in its first 15 years. However, in the last 18 months, Good Earth said it has added five new stores around Alberta, with plans to move toward British Columbia in the near future.
“As you get into geographic areas that you have to get into your car and drive to in order to service, the logistics become very cumbersome,” Eskenazi said. “So to have technology assisting us has helped minimize the time it takes to serve our franchisee’s needs and makes us more responsive in helping them conduct the day-to-day business of running the store. And ultimately, it will mean we can go into new markets.”