Fifteen years ago, Dean Reimers was working as a training director for Einstein Bagels when he decided to channel that knowledge and passion into his own business. In 2008, he and his wife Diane opened The Bagel Meister in Douglasville, Georgia. Since then, their shop has become a local mainstay with a foundation of loyal customers who are “like family.”
Selling bagels in the South is no easy task. “We live in a biscuit community, and we’ve had to really convert people to a bagel,” Dean says. “Customers would prefer a biscuit with gravy to a bagel with cream cheese. So we’ve had to do a tremendous amount of marketing and shaking hands and hugging babies, and the list goes on, but we finally convinced them.”
Against these odds, they’ve cultivated a loyal customer base–Reimers estimates that a good 70% of their customers come every single day. And on the weekends, those customers bring their families, too.
Part of the magic of the business lies in its home-grown recipes–from bagels to sandwiches to sauce. The other part is about building relationships and supporting the community. Reimers says he likes to give people something extra when they come in. For example, when a nurse started coming in the morning to buy breakfast, Reimers would give her a dozen bagels for free to take to work and share. For Reimers and his wife, this is the kind of practice that’s good for the community and good for business. He shares: “I’ve never had anybody taste a bagel and say, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s terrible! I’ll never eat that again.’”
And they’re always thinking about how to surprise and delight their customers with a little extra warmth. “A family comes in, we’ll take some fresh bagels that came right out of the oven over to their table,” Reimers says. “We’ll tell them to try them right now because there’s no way you’re ever going to get that flavor again.” Who could say no to fresh bagels right out of the oven? “I guess it’s my passion and my wife’s passion, too,” Reimers says. “When you love something, it shows.”
On the business side, Reimers credits Clover for simplifying and streamlining their process. When they first opened up, they were using a QuickBooks point of sale (POS) system. “It was basically a glorified calculator,” Reimers says. But as time went on and The Bagel Meister grew, they found Clover through the Bank of the Ozarks–they’ve been using it ever since.
Compared to other POS systems, Reimers finds that Clover excels when it comes to the complexity of a restaurant business. “When you’re selling a necklace or T-shirts, another POS is fine,” he says. “But when you have 100 ingredients that go on a few items–options on bagels, options on bread, and so on–other systems are just too limited. Clover was the best option I could find.”
For in-house sales, Reimers uses the full-service restaurant POS. He likes how easy it was to set up: “It was just a couple of clicks and it already had all of my register information–all of the products, all the prices. I just had to choose what I want to sell and what I don’t want to sell online.” Now, they’re working on getting more customers to sign up for the Clover app–many customers are already using it to get perks and points.
Reimers also takes Samsung Pay, Apple Pay® and Google Pay™. He and Diane love this ease of payment and have noticed that it tends to bring in a younger crowd. He says, “People can swipe their watch over this device, and it takes their payments. A lot of people just don’t even carry a wallet or credit card anymore.” Other devices they use include a handheld Clover device for deliveries, as well as a Clover Go to be able to take payments from customers’ cars. However, they find that people mostly pay online through the Clover app.
In fact, online ordering has become a huge part of their business–especially since the pandemic. This makes sense from the perspective of both the business and the community. For the staff, it’s been incredibly helpful to ease the stress of taking phone orders. Reimers says, for customers “it’s been great for mothers taking their children to school, mothers with babies in the back seat, or fathers driving their kids around. So that’s where a majority of our online sales are coming from, is those people who really understand the convenience of it.” Since introducing online ordering, Reimers estimates that they’ve seen an increase in sales of around 5%.
Reimers has found a few apps to be particularly useful for saving time and integrating systems. He uses Homebase for reviewing resumes, scheduling employees, and allowing employees to change shifts without getting a manager involved. For tax solutions, he uses DAVO Tax, which pulls a tax out of sales every day and makes a tax payment at the end of the month. And he credits the Insights app with collecting data and putting it all in one place. Reimers says, “Pick a button, and there’s your information, there’s your sales, there’s your labor, there’s your food cost, and there’s your profit.” It was really worth learning, he explains. “Once things are set up the way you want them to be, it’s a breeze, there’s nothing else to do.”
With Clover, the business side is organized, Reimers can focus on what matters most. He says, “What we were doing before was, you know, our manager or staff would have a form on a clipboard and would have to walk across the room to get another form on another clipboard, and so on and so on. Now, we have everything in one place. And I can control my store from my cell phone. That’s what Clover has done. It’s allowed me to be able to work on other things and not have to worry about 100 small things going on.”
On the rare occasion that an issue arises, Reimers loves how helpful Clover’s customer service is. He likes to use the Call me back option: “Within a matter of minutes Clover’s calling me right back. I think Clover bends over backwards to try to make something right. It’s a good company.”
What’s their best-selling item? Reimers says: “You’re gonna laugh, but it’s true. Plain bagel, plain cream cheese. We do have the occasional customer come in and order a blueberry bagel with the garlic cream cheese and lox. But yeah, most people don’t like change, and that’s the funniest thing.”
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