As opening day for your restaurant nears, it’s common to start double-checking all of the processes and systems you have put in place.
You may meet with your employees and managers to make sure they’re prepared for opening night, or give your business plan another glance to see if there are any glaring issues you have overlooked.
But aside from all the necessary talk about tables, kitchen equipment, food suppliers, menus, employees, and everything else that goes on behind the scenes of your restaurant, there’s one aspect of modern operations that your business cannot afford to ignore: restaurant technology.
Here is the reality of operating a restaurant today: orders should not be taken by pen and paper, inventory should not be tracked in a notebook, and employee scheduling should not be organized on a giant whiteboard in the back office. These are dated, ineffective, and unorganized strategies that can actually hinder your restaurant from growing.
Technology is indeed essential to modern restaurants. When you adopt the right restaurant technologies, they can simplify the customer experience while making your job and your staff’s jobs much easier.
Here are the restaurant technologies that all new restaurateurs will want to have in place before opening a new location.
1. A POS system
A point of sale (POS) system is the center point of your restaurant. It’s the place where your servers and cashiers will fire orders to your cooks and chefs in the kitchen. It’s the hub of products and prices. It’s where your staff goes to clear checks for customers. Why would you allow yourself to run this operation with a pen, paper, and a simple cash drawer?
Modern point of sale systems offer a simple ordering process for restaurant employees. Even more valuable is the in-depth analysis that some restaurant point of sale systems offer through innovative reporting features. This data lays out the best and worst selling items of your restaurant so you don’t have to guess. Managers and owners alike can use this data to make concrete, data-driven decisions for the betterment of their restaurant.
When looking for a point of sale system, consider a cloud-based model so you can check sales reports from the comfort of your home and manage your restaurant from anywhere, at any time. Also, make sure there is quality customer support and regular software updates for security and enhanced product features.
If you’re in the market for a POS system, Toast is a great option. Now, in the interest of full disclosure: I do work for Toast, so I obviously give it my recommendation. Toast is a cloud-based point of sale system designed exclusively for restaurants. While you can still conduct transactions with a traditional cash register and pen and paper, Toast offers helpful features like sales reporting, data analysis, and in-house online ordering. These features allow you to gain an extra bit of insight to increase efficiency and profitability.
2. Online ordering
Pizzerias, fast casual establishments, and quick service restaurants are seeing an influx of demand for online ordering. However, online ordering is making a splash in full-service restaurants as well.
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All restaurants can benefit from online ordering. Customers looking for a place to eat online through a food aggregate site will find you easier, making it more likely that they will choose you over a competitor. This feature is a definite must-have in saturated markets where getting your new restaurant’s name out in the open is oftentimes difficult and time-consuming.
When exploring online ordering for your new restaurant, try not to rely exclusively on third-party sites. While food aggregate sites can be good for brand exposure, they also require you to front the hefty sum of up to 15 percent per-order revenue. Instead, adopt an internal online ordering system in your restaurant once your business takes off and encourage guests to order through your website, so you don’t have to pay a customer acquisition fee on every single online order.
3. Employee scheduling software
Any business—especially restaurant businesses—should create an environment where employees want to come to work every day. The result of such an environment is a high morale and level of output. However, some aspects of the job are so frustrating that a simple solution should just be adopted to keep the peace. Employee scheduling is one of those common issues, and scheduling software is one of those effective solutions.
Restaurant employee scheduling software benefits owners and managers because they can clearly see who is working, when they are working, and for how long. Your staff—who will typically need training on every software you implement—should be introduced to a user-friendly and easy-to-operate scheduling program so they can request time off and see their calendar for the foreseeable future with ease.
When deciding on which scheduling software to integrate into your restaurant operations, use one that is proven, easy, and accessible. Great examples include 7Shifts, Ctuit, and Peachworks.
4. Inventory tracking
Tracking inventory is not as simple as buying food and supplies, selling finished meals, and measuring the difference in what’s left over. It requires predictive forecasting, careful portion control, and an investigation into any discrepancies between what your records show and what’s left in your kitchen.
Restaurant inventory tracking software makes this arduous job much easier. This software is a worthwhile investment because it saves a huge amount of time and money in the future. Inventory tracking software leads to more accurate orders from your suppliers and smarter portioning by your kitchen staff. It also makes it more difficult for your employees to steal and gives you a firm grasp of where your money is going.
When seeking a restaurant inventory tracking system to bring into your restaurant, choose one that is well worth the price. The features and accuracy of inventory system should generate more revenue for your business than it costs to maintain; one good system to do this is Crunchtime.
5. A loyalty program
Did you know a customer will, on average, spend 39 percent more on their order when they are close to unlocking their next loyalty reward? Some would argue that this is reason enough to adopt a customer loyalty program in your restaurant, not to mention the added benefits of earning brand promoters and repeat customers for your business. But where does the technology come in?
The restaurants that hand customers a flimsy paper card to be stamped each visit are doing restaurant loyalty wrong. Using a digital loyalty program (one managed from an app, email address, or card number) allows restaurant owners to tap into the purchasing patterns of each individual customer and deliver personalized offers to their guests.
On the back end, restaurateurs can collect data from their regulars and see how familiar faces react to staff, changes in menu and pricing, seasonality, or other new initiatives.
When choosing a loyalty program for your restaurant’s guests, find one that will be mutually beneficial to you and your customers. Integrating right at the point of sale, like with LevelUp or Toast, makes restaurant loyalty easy and worthwhile.
Restaurant technologies benefit your new business
It’s important to have all of these technologies implemented before doors open to the public, and these five examples just scratch the surface. Don’t forget to always make sure your restaurant staff is thoroughly trained on every technology they will be using, in order to minimize the instances of complication or mishaps.
These five restaurant technologies, when managed wisely, will lead to more informed management for a successful restaurant that will thrive long after its grand opening.