It’s all over the web. It’s in industry magazines and you’re probably feeling its effects through your day-to-day business. What is it? It’s the increasing presence of technology and digital in the operation of your restaurant or small business. It’s not new that technology is part of the restaurant industry — we’ve had POS systems in place for years but it’s clear that there are more opportunities today than there ever were before. Software is increasing interconnectivity with your guests, and social media marketing is aiding in building your brand and presence online and attracting customers from far and wide.
The digital age has brought advancements in every industry, and the restaurant industry is no different. Since so many options are available, it’s essential to be smart when choosing. We’re here to help demystify the different types of software available to you as a restaurateur and operator.
Take time to learn about each type to see which fits your business best and which will bring you the greatest return on your investment.
POS, or Point-of-Sale System
A good POS is your best asset. In fact, we doubt the modern restaurant could exist or operate without it. It’s expedited training of your staff, allows for easy management of cash flow and creates an interconnected community within your restaurant. As you sell food and beverages, you know it can be difficult to keep track of every item – a POS system can help seamlessly increase your productivity.
Servers or managers take in orders from guests manually (by pen and paper) or digitally (with an iPad or tablet) and send the orders to the kitchen. The system is simple, clean and easy; no more hanging order chits in the kitchen. A happy side effect of this is better customer service and increased service capacity. Servers will be able to spend more time with guests and ensuring that the dining process goes smoothly – and you can avoid ordering errors. Track an order from start to finish through a POS system. Undoubtedly, this is essential for any business.
Reservation Systems and/or Front-of-House (FOH) System
As it continues to streamline industries, digital software is also helping increase the flow of funds coming to your restaurant through simple online reservation systems or table inventory managers. As a restaurant owner, you know that more patrons = more orders, and ultimately more revenue. A front-of-house system will help keep your seats filled through reservation and wait lists.
Known as FOH systems, the Front of House system can manage your tables so you can ensure quick turn around and manage guest flow quickly and painlessly. Look for adaptable FOH programs that allow you to change floor plans (for special events) and schedule reservations with ease.
Restaurant Inventory Software
Now we move on to the meat of the restaurant. With your front of house taken care of, we can start getting organized in the back. There are many options for inventory software that track food, non-food products and supplies. As this great blog states, an especially advanced system will allow you to “calculate every recipe and allow you to play with the ingredients and pricing to achieve the best profit margins.” Inventory software is the piece of the puzzle that helps join POS and FOH systems together in creating the perfect ecosystem for success.
So far, we’ve discussed native and in-house technology, but what about technology that affects you externally? Here are some examples of technology working alongside the restaurant industry through consumer driven initiatives.
From Yelp to TripAdvisor – restaurateurs must have this on their radar. Online reviews can make or break businesses and really help owners measure their overall brand presence and reputation. If you’d like a closer look at Yelp and more information on how to use it, check out our blog post on the effect of a good Yelp review on your business.
Mobile Ordering and Payment Apps
We’re never without a smartphone these days – for better or for worse, they are here to stay. We use them to communicate and to connect, but also to buy and to sell. We’ve seen an increase in online payments in the restaurant industry thanks to businesses and apps like Orderit and Just-Eat. The Bank of Canada issued a report on The changing landscape for retail payments in Canada, detailing how the methods that Canadians use for payments:
“While cash continues to be the most frequently used payment instrument for POS and person-to-person payments in developed countries, including Canada, the growth of Internet-based and mobile payments may have a significant impact on the use of cash if consumers shift from POS transactions to online purchases and send funds through their mobile phones or the Internet.“
These new avenues for ordering and online payment are just the tip of the iceberg. From chains to independents, mobile ordering will soon be a mainstay with advancements in Apple Pay and Android Pay (formerly Google Wallet). According to Google, “Android Pay will be accepted at 700,000 or more physical retail stores in the U.S. at launch and will also be compatible with 1,000 mobile apps.”
Our industry is one of the toughest – but the most rewarding. Equipping yourself with the right tools and knowing where best to spend your money is helpful. Implementing technology into your business strategy will increase productivity and save you money. Be discerning and choose the system that fits you and will help you achieve the best results.