NorthStar: Helping us to get to know you better

Susan Knox Wilson

Remember the American sitcom Cheers! that ran on NBC from 1982 to 1993? The show was set in a bar and restaurant where a group of locals met to drink, relax and socialize. The show’s theme song asked, “Wouldn’t you like to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came?” Cheers was the kind of establishment we all hoped to find near home. Well, maybe we can!

Our PebbleCreek Food and Beverage team has begun using our new Northstar community management software system to help them get to know you better, in order to serve you better, and, like the Cheers staff, greet you by name, offer you your favorite drink and be glad you came!

Each time you visit one of our food and beverage venues, staff will ask you for your new membership card, which they will swipe into the Northstar database. Your drink and food orders will be noted in the database so the next time you visit, staff will be aware of your likes and preferences. You don’t need to use your membership card for purchases (although you certainly can, and earn points in our Loyalty Program as well)—the card is swiped so staff can get to know you better.

For example, when I go to Toscana’s for lunch, I often have iced tea with an orange slice and a small Caesar salad with a scoop of tuna. Both of these are sort of special requests, as the iced tea usually comes with a lemon wedge and tuna is offered on the menu as a sandwich. With the new Northstar system, the next time I visit Toscana’s for lunch and the server swipes my membership card, he or she will see what I ordered before and can offer me my favorites, as in “Hi, Sue. Would you like your usual iced tea with orange and Caesar with tuna, or would you like to try the special today?”

Staff can also log other requests or preferences into the system. Maybe you’d rather sit at a booth instead of a table? Are you left-handed and like a certain seat? Allergic to wheat or certain foods? Hate liver? Vegetarian? Need extra butter for your baked potato? These types of preferences, and staff’s ability to know them and cater specifically to you, is what they hope will bring you back again and again.

Actually called “the Cheers Effect,” restaurateurs around the country are using this same kind of intelligence to help grow their business. According to restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, “The ability to know and read your customer is critical for staying on top…” But there is a limit to how much data is really useful and, let’s face it: data can never replace a great bartender or waiter. “High-tech will never replace high-touch,” agreed Melissa Gonzalez, Pebble Creek’s Director of Food and Beverage. “Data just gives us an opportunity to understand our customers better, help improve our service and make dining with us a memorable experience. We hope our customers will appreciate that we’re simply using the Northstar system to serve them the best we can.”

Northstar is a leading provider of business management software for private clubs and community associations. Their state-of-the-art community management software system is being rolled out in all Robson Communities (RCI) this year to maximize operational efficiencies. Northstar offers enhanced financial reporting and increased capabilities in managing business operations such as accounting, food and beverage operations and golf management; along with many other enhancements for  POA operations.