Canadian VARs, ISVs Escape the Office for Restaurants Canada Show 2022

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

Serendipity (noun): the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

You know the secret ingredient to in-person industry events? Serendipity. At our desks, we decide who and what to connect with. We search for products and companies we’re already aware of, and we choose not to answer the phone when it’s a number we don’t recognize.

But at events, a product or service you never even considered – or knew existed – can catch your eye when you’re cutting through an aisle on the show floor. Or a person you’ve haven’t crossed paths with in years can bump into you coming around the corner, and you learn news or a key insight from them.

That was my experience at the Restaurants Canada Show, held April 9-11 in Toronto, my first face-to-face engagement with Canadian IT solution providers en masse in 26 months. Serendipity hit me even before the show started. I caught the early shuttle to the Enercare Center and was walking through the concourse checking out the architecture when a random door to the parking garage opened. From the door emerged Andrea Roberts, the President of RSPA VAR member Teletec Systems. Because of the pandemic, we hadn’t talked in person since early 2020, and it was a delight (and insightful) to see a friendly face among thousands of strangers.

Serendipity hit me on the show floor, too. Canada has an inordinate number of ISVs (read why here) and at the RC Show they were offering solutions including a scale/scanner that inventories liquor in each bottle, cashless same-day gratuity, voice-activated robots, interactive dining tables, touchless touchscreens, and software that kick-starts a restaurant’s hiring process by scanning resumes and auto-scheduling first interviews via text message.

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Heck, even during the RC Show welcome reception, the guy I got paired up with for the pop-a-shot basketball game introduced himself afterwards as the founder and CEO of an online ordering/POS software solution. What are the chances of that happening? If I stayed home, zero.

I know you and your staff are likely stretched thin due to labor shortages and the increasing demand for technology, but that shouldn’t prevent you from venturing out to attend industry events in 2022. You never know when serendipity will guide you towards a great opportunity.

More RC Show Notes & Trends

  • On paper, the theme of the RC Show was “Revive Your Business” but in reality it was “Labor, Labor, Labor!” Many of the solutions on the floor were designed to help restaurants run more efficiently. VARs and ISVs I talked with said if you don’t offer a meaningful labor-saving solution, it’s hard to get merchants to listen to you in today’s environment.
  • The good news for our industry is that technology is key to helping merchants close their labor gap. One restaurant executive on the RC Show stage said, “We’ve been 10 years behind in technology and now we’re getting flooded with it.”
  • This is probably a good time for me to plug the RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast episode “How VARs Can Help Merchants Solve Their Labor Crisis” and the RSPA Community IQ Resource Center piece “RSPA Members Share Resources That Help Merchants Combat Labor Shortage.”
  • One attendee I talked with said the show was basically “plant-based food, apps, and robots.” That’s an oversimplification, but he wasn’t wrong.
  • RSPA members were well represented in the RC Show expo hall. Among the exhibitors were members Armagh POS Solutions, Teletec Systems, Globe POS Systems, Matrix Integrated Solutions, Paymentree, and PayFacto.
  • If you think there are lots of POS-focused ISVs already, hold onto your tablet because more are on the way. Most of the emerging ISVs I talked with have focused their rollouts on Canada, but they’re preparing to enter the U.S. market by the end of 2023.
  • RC Show veterans told me foot traffic was light, especially from restauranteurs, but a smaller show was much better than no show. RC Show 2022 was originally scheduled for Feb. 27-Mar. 1 but was moved to May due to the Coronavirus Omicron variant.
  • Finally, I didn’t realize how much I missed hearing the word “washroom.” :)

RSPA Canadian Community Networking Event
On May 10, after day two of the RC Show, the RSPA Canadian Community hosted a crowd of about 100 executives for a networking event at the Hockey Hall of Fame in downtown Toronto. The level of enthusiasm in the room mirrored RetailNOW 2021 when U.S.-based RSPA members were traveling for the first time in many months.

Adding to the excitement was the Tampa Bay Lightning/Toronto Maple Leafs game being broadcast on a giant screen where Canadian Community sponsors BlueStar, Global Payments, Star Micronics, Toshiba, Touch Dynamic, and Partner Tech set up their vendor tables. (Adding to my personal excitement was the Lightning/Leafs game letting out as I began my commute back to Erie, PA. It felt as if I was driving my truck through a New Year’s Eve party as the clock struck midnight. I traversed 12 city blocks in about 90 minutes.)

HR expert Ramon Calanza, the event’s featured speaker, shared several recruiting tips applicable to VARs and ISVs in his talk “The Labour Crunch: Strategies to Attract & Retain Talent in a Labour Shortage Market”:

  • Create a recruitment plan that addresses your labor needs for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term. That should be the foundation to your action plan.
  • Your social media activity may not result in a flood of resumes, but it will help your target audience to become familiar with your brand. Be acquainted with all social platforms your target audience utilizes.
  • Outsource recruiting to agencies that will target passive candidates who are not searching job boards.
  • The five key areas your company needs to be strong to attract candidates today are pay, benefits, perks, flexible work arrangements, and work-life balance.
  • Companies can always do more to attract candidates. Some of these might take you out of your comfort zone, but they may be what it takes to land your next company-elevating hire: referral program, sign-on bonus, pension program, profit sharing, and shares of the company.
  • Change the required skill level to land the job and provide more on-the-job training to get a new hire up to speed. “If you can’t find them, make them,” Calanza said.
  • Move through your hiring process with urgency. “Chances are the person whom you just interviewed also just interviewed somewhere else,” Calanza said. “Don’t sit on candidates and make them wait.”

The RSPA Canadian Community will meet next on day one of RetailNOW, July 24-26, in Orlando, the group’s first meeting in the U.S. since 2019.

Don’t forget to register for RetailNOW 2022, July 24-26 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando. It’s Where The Industry Meets!

Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by 420MSP, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact