Square Case Study

Jack's Bar-B-Que

How a barbecue icon transformed customer experience and sales—overnight.

Jack's BBQ in Nashville

Business Type: Restaurant, Retail, Catering
Locations: Three
Nashville, TN

Our Story

A fresh take on old-fashioned BBQ.

Jack brought Texas- and Tennessee-style barbecue to Nashville over 40 years ago. Since then, he has grown Jack’s Bar-B-Que into a nationally recognized, multilocation restaurant chain, drive-through, and catering service.

Jack’s Bar-B-Que is in the heart of downtown Nashville—a prime location for tourists and foot traffic. As a quick-service business, Jack knows he needs to keep the line moving while working in sync with the kitchen to make sure his customers are happy. He counts on reliability—any point-of-sale outages cost him thousands in lost sales.

So Jack decided to switch to Square—overnight.

Customer at Jack's BBQ

Thousands in sales at risk.

Running a business on a dated system is tough. Nick, the general manager, experienced this firsthand—the old computer and point of sale system crashed on a regular basis.

“If the Internet went down, that was a real problem for our foot-traffic business model. Seventy percent of our business runs on credit and debit card purchases—that’s a lot of lost business.”

Line speed is crucial to Jack’s quick-service restaurant experience, and it suffered under the old system. Employees were required to take one order at a time, which slowed everything down. “Our lunch volume is just so massive that a two- or three-minute hiccup could cause a 20-person backup out the door. And when the line is that long, customers just go across the street.”

Nick also had no way of customizing the system across locations, each with unique needs. “Whenever I had to add a new employee or an additional register at one of our locations, it was a manual process.”

The reporting he needed from each location couldn’t be customized either. At the end of each business day, Nick would struggle to figure out which store performed better, how each location should be staffed, and what was selling well where.

“During a busy lunch when lines are out the door, every hour the old system was down could cause thousands of dollars of loss in sales.” - Jack Cawthon, Owner

Before the switch

  • Sales at risk: The old system crashed regularly, with thousands in lost sales at risk.
  • Inefficient process: Changing the menu and adding new employees and points of sale took weeks.
  • Manual reporting: Sales data could take days to pull, with no visibility into overhead and top-line costs.
  • Lack of customization: There were no integrations with existing tools and no reporting across different parts of the business.

Employees at Jack's BBQ

Making the switch—overnight.

Nick was nervous about switching. “A lot of people don’t really like change because they’ve run the same system for 15 to 20 years. But we know when something is broken, we need to fix it.”

After Square Stands and contactless and chip readers arrived within two days of ordering, Nick knew it was the right decision. On a Sunday night, the old system at the first location was switched out for Square. By Monday morning, they were up and running.

“It was really quick and easy to design a menu. And we trained our people to use the point of sale in less than 30 minutes.”

The rollout to the other locations was even easier. It took one hour for each POS terminal to get up and running at the second location, and 30 minutes at the third location. Jack’s Bar-B-Que switched over its entire business to Square in less than a day—and didn’t miss a single sale in the process.

Jack's BBQ counter

What happened next.

Customers are happier.

Lines move faster now that Jack’s Bar-B-Que can service multiple orders at a time. The team can cycle through customers with credit cards quickly, while still serving other orders.

Square helps businesses grow.

Jack’s Bar-B-Que uses Square for hardware and payment processing. But the team was surprised that it could also use Square to manage multiple locations and employees, make data-driven business decisions, streamline operations, and more.

Square is more reliable.

Jack’s Bar-B-Que switched to Square for reliability, but along the way it also got intuitive business tools, fast setup, and Square’s Offline Mode, which lets Jack’s take payments even without a connection.

Everything is customizable.

From easily edited menu items to Open Tickets and tip screens, the team has made Square work for Jack’s. Adding a new point of sale or employee now takes minutes.

Reporting is quicker.

The team can see gross sales, how much people are spending at each location, each location’s total sales, best sellers, and employee hours. Nick checks the Square Dashboard app “15 times a day,” even when he’s not at the restaurant. The team is also using Square Dashboard to make smarter hiring decisions based on projected sales. Crucially, Jack uses this data to know when it’s time to expand.

“I used to check the parking lot to see how each location was doing. Now I check Square Dashboard.” - Jack Cathon, Owner

After the switch

  • Streamlined operations: Setup time for new points of sale, locations, and employees was reduced to 30 minutes.
  • Improved reliability: Offline Mode protects every sale and secures the 70 percent of sales made with card payments.
  • Increased sales: Since Jack’s cut transaction time, the business can serve 10 percent more customers during the busiest hours of the day.
  • Lower costs: Managers reduced the cost of labor and inventory across three locations by 20 percent using Square’s real-time sales data.

The established hotspot in Nashville was able to transform their operational process over night with Square, and new restaurant owners can reap the same benefits from the the products too. If you are first starting out in the industry, learn more about the various components of starting a restaurant that will help you be successful.

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