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Top 5 Restaurant & Bar Market Integrators

These market-leading integrators talk system design, customer service, and the upswing of media in restaurants, bars and clubs.>

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Service Industry Craves Service
How can the average “local” integration firm expect to get the business from a national chain restaurant? According to Josh Shanahan, president of Brighton, Mich.-based Sport View Technologies (SVT), “a strong partnering network is crucial.”

His firm has been the systems integration provider for Minnesota-based Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants for several years. When Buffalo Wild Wings needs service for any of their 230-plus corporate owned stores, they call SVT, which has a help desk operation that’s available 24/7, 365 days of the year.

Even though the $20 million integrator operates with only one office in Brighton and a newly-opened office in Austin, Texas, its service footprint is nationwide, says Shanahan. “We have a very robust subcontractor network. And our project management and service staff are very used to traveling in mission-critical instances.”

DFA, which has worked with Wild Wing Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings, Casual Pint and many more, makes it a point to talk with each client about the differences between commercial and residential equipment. “If we’re working with a client opening their first bar, they have the desire to get a ton of Vizio TVs and stick them on the wall. But they don’t understand these residential-type TVs aren’t designed to work 24 hours a day.”

Lessons from Leaders
Owner-Operator System Design: John Lyons Systems’ business is based off referrals. It prices systems fairly to not “gouge” the facility owner and ensures the system is easy to control so no matter the staff on a given night, the system will work smoothly.

DFA Solutions offers all clients a 24/7 service line that rotates among its installers. DFA charges for the service if a client calls, trying to remote diagnose the problem before rolling a truck. DFA also offers extra compensation for its installers called upon with the service line.

If a bar/restaurant/club has a large number of TVs, put “mailbox numbers” on the bottom corner of each TV so the staff knows which TV is which.

It’s essential to future-proof the system. If a bar/restaurant/club wants to expand its system down the line, installers will not have to blow up the old system. Planning ahead will reduce headaches down the road.

Bar owners who are just starting out might not know the difference between commercial and residential electronics. Educate them about the deficiencies “Best Buy TVs” could cause in commercial settings.

Digital media is on the upswing in restaurants and bars, as well as touch capabilities that allow consumers to engage in more digital ordering and messaging, all but eliminating the need for sales clerks except when questions come up on particular products, specials or offerings.

This is especially important, Midyett says, when a client is opening their first bar and doesn’t have a lot of money. “We recently worked with a restaurant that wanted us to install 43 TVs. But we started with 20 TVs and put an infrastructure in place that allows us to add more TVs when they are ready. We won’t have to go back and blow up the old system. We future-proof systems to grow with our clients.”

DFA offers clients a 24/7 service line. The emergency cell phone rotates among DFA’s installers, who receive additional compensation when it is their turn with the service phone and get called out in the middle of the night. “It’s great if one of our clients is freaking out, they can talk to an actual human being who can slow them down and try to solve it over the phone or remote diagnose it. If not, we’ll roll a truck.”

And DFA gets to charge for it. “It’s extra service our clients pay for, but they appreciate it,” Midyett says. “None of the stuff we do is finished when tha
t last check comes in. It’s only the beginning.”

AVI-SPL, the 2011 CI Integrator of the Year with revenues of $556.3 million, has seen “a huge increase in the importance of digital media” in the restaurant and bar space.

“These solutions aren’t one-off anymore,” says Dale Bottcher, senior VP of enterprise and public sector accounts, pointing to AVI-SPL’s work with the Dave and Busters chain that included essentially outfitting all the restaurants the same way. “They’re becoming standardized.”

AVI-SPL stands out from its competitors with its ability to apply engineering expertise to the systems integration, as well as being able to deploy its solutions nationally and globally, Bottcher says. AVI-SPL also brings unique video and digital media to its work and has the ability to deploy solutions that others can’t match.

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