Hacker Newsnew | comments | ask | jobs | submitlogin
michaelbuckbee 785 days ago | link | parent

You wouldn't expect a family owned pizza shop in a small, sleepy Ohio town to be a hive of scum and villainy but that's what installing a computerized ordering system discovered.

I had worked off and on through college at this same pizza shop and about midway through my time there they switched from paper written tickets to a lightpen based ordering system.

Everyone threw a fit: "It's too hard to use", "It's not as quick as just writing 'LP' for a large pepperoni and an illegible address on a piece of paper".

This goes on for a week, orders are slow to go out, things are messed up, the phone lines are always busy so everybody knows we're losing business (people hang up and call somewhere else or get frustrated waiting for their food to be delivered).

The owner's contemplating canceling the system and going back to paper until the weekly tally is done and it is discovered that revenue is actually UP 30% for the week.

Drivers were massively skimming by "losing" tickets: drivers would go out on a run, deliver 4 orders and only return the cash and tickets for 3 of them. Managers would pull the same trick after hours: toss a $20 ticket in the trash and pocket the cash.

The computerized order system (which everybody settled into after a while) was an astonishingly good investment for the shop - ROI measured in weeks - and quickly led to a 75% turnover in the staff.

I don't know what's in the 4 mouse clicks to check each reservation in (as mentioned in the article), those steps might be worthless, they might be what's preventing the maitre'd from taking a folded twenty and seating someone who just walked in versus the couple who made a reservation weeks ago - and pissing them off in the process.

And without that information it's very hard to say whether or not the UI of that application is good or bad. Employees on the ground maximize their personal short term interests, owners paying for infrastructure have both a longer term view and different incentives.



csallen 785 days ago | link

This reminds me of one of the musings of Charlie Munger:

"...Now there are huge implications from the fact that the human mind is put together this way. One implication is that people who create things like cash registers, which make dishonest behavior hard to accomplish, are some of the effective saints of our civilization because, as [B. F.] Skinner so well knew, bad behavior is intensely habit-forming when it is rewarded.

"And so the cash register was a great moral instrument when it was created. And, by the way, Patterson, the great evangelist of the cash register, knew that from his own experience. He had a little store, and his employees were stealing him blind, so that he never made any money. Then people sold him a couple of cash registers, and his store went to profit immediately.

"He promptly closed the store and went into the cash register business, creating what became the mighty National Cash Register Company, one of the glories of its time."

-----

Karellen 784 days ago | link

That punchline is one of the funniest things I've read all week! Thanks.

-----

mbell 785 days ago | link

>You wouldn't expect a family owned pizza shop in a small, sleepy Ohio town to be a hive of scum and villainy but that's what installing a computerized ordering system discovered.

Actually that is exactly what I would except, nothing to do with Ohio or a sleepy town I thought it was pretty well known that businesses of this type deal with a large 'skim factor' just like its common knowledge that many in the food/beverage service industry don't report all income to the IRS (pocket tips and not report it). In fact it was my understanding that almost everyone knows this (in regards to tips not landing on IRS forms) and lets it slide as really its the only way those that do this as a 'real job[0]' get by. This is why it is, at least for those I've known, considered 'bad form' to tip on credit card as those tips flow through company pipes to the employee's taxable income.

[0] real job meaning career employment vs a job while getting through college or whatever.

-----

RockyMcNuts 785 days ago | link

Flip side is it's harder for the owner to skim and not pay taxes. Quite a few places are cash only, paper receipts, no electronic trail for that reason.

-----

rhizome 785 days ago | link

Those owners are unlikely to buy computer POS type systems in the first place.

-----

sliverstorm 785 days ago | link

Eh, if your revenues are up 30%, you're probably coming out ahead even if you used to evade tax on 100% of your revenue.

-----

swombat 785 days ago | link

Not necessarily... UK VAT is 20%, and so is Corporation Tax.

Between the two, you need a lot of extra income to make up for the tax!

-----




Lists | RSS | Bookmarklet | Guidelines | FAQ | DMCA | News News | Feature Requests | Bugs | Y Combinator | Apply | Library

Search: