"It's always there, it works every time, and we wouldn't want to function without it."
Howard Jenkins Vice President, Management Information Systems Red Robin
Red Robin International, a subsidiary of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers headquartered in Denver, Colorado, operates over 90 restaurants throughout the United States and Canada. With restaurants scattered across North America, Red Robin needed a reliable way to exchange information between the restaurants and headquarters. It also needed to help restaurant employees stay productive and customer-focused. RemoteWare has made it possible for Red Robin to maintain control of dozens of restaurant PCs by facilitating data exchange, automating system maintenance tasks, simplifying troubleshooting, and preserving approved system configuration.
Because RemoteWare makes data exchange with the restaurants so effortless, managers and executives are able to base business decisions on information that is more timely, accurate and complete.
Reduces long distance charges associated with daily data exchange between the restaurants and headquarters
Enables team members (employees) to focus on service-oriented tasks
Facilitates troubleshooting because the department can take control of a restaurant PC from headquarters
Provides the ability to control how restaurant PCs are configured
Prevents the installation of unauthorized applications
An Atmosphere of Easygoing Fun Each day in over 175 locations, Masterful Mixologists create "wild and wacky concoctions" under the watchful eye of a jaunty bird in red sneakers. The place: Red Robin Restaurants, which also serves up gourmet burgers, bottomless steak fries, and other casual fare in an atmosphere that's "cool enough for teenagers and hip enough for adults."
From its humble Seattle Washington beginnings in 1969, the restaurant chain and its franchises have spread across North America, recreating in each location an atmosphere of easygoing fun. But keeping the fun going is never easy. In the restaurant business, it takes excellent business practices and informed decision-making to outperform the competition. In this regard, Red Robin has had some important help from iAnywhere for over half a decade.
"Always There" Red Robin International (a wholly owned subsidiary of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers) uses RemoteWare to tie 90 corporate restaurants closely to headquarters. Red Robin is able to maintain tight control over an enterprise scattered across a wide geography. Yet many of RemoteWare's functions are virtually invisible.
"We think of RemoteWare as a utility, like the telephone," says Howard Jenkins, vice president of management information systems (MIS) for Red Robin. "It's always there, it works every time, and we wouldn't want to function without it."
Each night, Red Robin uses RemoteWare to automatically dial each remote store location and collect vital information, such as payroll data, sales records, and vendor invoices. This information is stored in a database at headquarters. During the same connection, information from headquarters (such as new pricing, product descriptions, or employee instructions) is downloaded to each restaurant PC.
Red Robin also performs system management tasks on the remote computers, such as updating software applications, verifying proper system configuration, and performing necessary maintenance functions. Restaurant employees don't need to press a single key, since most functions take place automatically. In addition, if restaurant personnel run into a problem with their computer, technical experts at headquarters can use RemoteWare to assume control of their system and work through the problem without their involvement.
Despite (or because of) its low profile, RemoteWare has helped Red Robin achieve a number of important corporate objectives.
Reducing Costs Red Robin originally found iAnywhere and purchased RemoteWare in 1996 to save on long-distance telephone charges. Designed to maximize efficiency in a lowbandwidth environment, RemoteWare performs most tasks off-line. For instance, when a software update is downloaded to the remote computer, actual installation and configuration take place once the connection has been terminated. These tasks are executed in the background without disrupting user activities.
Red Robin achieved the savings it was looking for on its telephone bill—and soon discovered that iAnywhere software offered far broader advantages. "At first we thought of RemoteWare as just a data transfer agent, but we came to see it as a powerful strategic tool," says Jenkins.
Increasing Productivity Rather than just trimming the phone bill, Red Robin found they could achieve greater productivity for both restaurant employees and the MIS staff. Thanks to more efficient troubleshooting techniques, countless hours of lost work time were regained. Previously, solving problems on restaurant systems required long telephone conversations between a frustrated employee and an equally frustrated technical expert at headquarters. Unable to see the restaurant system directly, the expert had to rely on "Twenty Questions" to figure out what had happened. In the meantime, "real" work remained on hold for the restaurant employee as well as the troubleshooter.
Now, when computer problems occur, the troubleshooter simply dials in to the user's system, takes control, and sets to work finding a solution. Problems are solved much faster, and much less productive work time is lost. Perhaps even more significant, fewer problems happen in the first place because most system maintenance tasks are now executed without user involvement.
Improving Customer Service Having greater control over restaurant computers not only has improved productivity, but also has directly affected the time and attention employees can offer customers. Red Robin has refined the desktop environment in the restaurants to maximize employee efficiency, and RemoteWare's Workshop feature makes it possible for the MIS department to keep this environment pristine.
"We use a feature of RemoteWare called Workshop to lock down the desktop and to prevent any unidentified software from being installed," explains Jenkins. "Now we don't even allow a CD to be played. Before we had this capability, we would find AOL Instant Messenger and other unauthorized software on the machines, which was taking productive time away from our employees. Eliminating that kind of thing has been a huge help for us."
For one thing, the Team Members were better able to focus on the guest. For another, time spent on help desk calls was further reduced. "It is so much easier to troubleshoot now!" says Jenkins. "Before we were locking down, troubleshooting could be very arduous. We never knew what we were up against."
Supporting Sound Decisions RemoteWare is also making a difference at the highest levels of the Red Robin organization. Because RemoteWare makes data exchange with the restaurants so effortless, managers and executives are able to base business decisions on information that is more timely, accurate and complete. And in the future, executives won't even have to wait for the nightly data exchange. Red Robin plans to implement a wide area network (WAN) using highspeed T-1 lines to link the restaurants to headquarters. When this takes place, RemoteWare will facilitate the instantaneous exchange of information.
"As Red Robin grows and becomes more complex, executives will need to rely on real-time information to make quick decisions," Jenkins explains.
Although Red Robin originally installed the iAnywhere-powered solution to save on phone line charges, the company will continue to use it even when the phone lines go away. According to Jenkins, that's because iAnywhere created a product that has capabilities that extend far beyond the dialup environment, providing the means by which Red Robin can maintain control of its entire, distributed network.
"I'm active in the National Restaurant Association, so I know that everyone knows iAnywhere because RemoteWare is the de facto standard in the industry, including quick service, casual and fine dining establishments," Jenkins says. "Nobody else is coming along that's anywhere near it."