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Restaurant Technology To Match Your Needs

restaurant technology

Today’s restaurant guests are hungry for great food and good times. With that being said, 73% of diners agree: tech improves their restaurant experience1. Over the past five years, restaurant technology has exploded and is now in every element of the business from lowering costs to opening new sales channels. Today, there are thousands of restaurant technology solutions available. While it might seem impossible to keep track of all the options, it’s important to know how to prioritize what you need from what would be nice to have.

Restaurant Software Categories

Because there are so many technologies available for restaurants, do your research on the different categories to determine which ones might be best to integrate into your business.

Point-Of-Sale

Every restaurant needs a POS, it’s the heart muscle of the restaurant. Be aware that not all Point of sale systems are the same. By centralizing essential operational functionality alongside labor, payment processing, and kitchen management, your restaurant can operate efficiently and profitably3. The key is to match your restaurant to a POS vendor that serves your category well. For example, it would not be smart for a small independent restaurant to use a multinational company that specializes in large hotels. It’s best to go with a vendor that can provide attention to your operation needs.

Multi-Channel Ordering And Payment

The restaurant business has expanded beyond on-premise sales. Since selling across multiple channels insulates your operation from unexpected dips in demand from a single channel, you’ll need software to support multi-channel ordering3. You also need the ability to take payments across each of your chosen channels seamlessly. Customers can then order and pay on any device and your staff can focus more on fulfilling orders rather than answering the phone, swiping cards, and handing receipts back and forth.

Back-Office And Inventory Management

Accounting, bookkeeping, and inventory management software can be the most impactful for your restaurant. It’s how you keep track of your cash flows and monitor profitability, not to mention reducing the amount of food being reordered. The right software will take care of all of this for you so you can balance your supply and demand.

Business Intelligence And Analytics

Business intelligence and analytics software is a companion to your accounting software. The software takes a restaurant’s data and then analyzes said data. This provides restaurant owners with more insight into the performance of their business, which in turn helps them make informed decisions moving forward. The most important considerations are that the business intelligence tool integrates with your entire tech stack and that its dashboards are easy to read and understand3. Insights should be automated and actionable, otherwise, the investment isn’t worth it.

Steps To Identify The Right Solution

The first step before considering any platform is to understand where your company has exposure or risk of loss. This includes cyber security, theft, safety, sanitation, and PCI compliance.

Understanding Inefficiencies

Understanding inefficiencies that exist in your restaurant can be improved through the implementation of technology. For example, are Managers performing tasks manually and taking time away from developing their staff? Is the Finance department spending hours producing reports that could be automatically created? Schedule meetings with all of your departments to get feedback on where they would be comfortable to implement technology.

Return On Investment

Next, it is important to determine how to maximize return on your investment. Many service providers who manage repairs and maintenance will not only save you money, but save your accounting team time2. Look closely at all potential advantages of deploying any technology within your restaurant.

Prioritize And Identify

Think about where your company will be in 5, 10, even 15 years from now. Certain investments will lay the foundation for the future as well as provide benefits to current operations. Now that you identified a need, begin researching providers. Call or visit other restaurant operators, vendors, and industry professionals to ask who they use and recommend.

There are five key questions that can help determine your restaurant’s business needs to match potential vendors.

  1. Does your restaurant have multiple locations? With a technology solution that provides guest management, kitchen automation, and a cloud-based enterprise portal, you’ll be able to manage your technology across units from one central location. This allows you to pinpoint where any efficiencies are happening. 
  2. Do you change your menu often? Restaurants tend to update their menus one or twice a year, however there are some restaurants that require more frequent menu changes. If you are one of those restaurants, having a kitchen automation system that allows you to quickly change the data is important. Also, giving your chefs consistently with step-by-step directions, along with high quality photos, will be key4
  3. Are you accepting to-go and delivery orders? Kitchen automation software can help you capture off-premise dining customers. Configuring the software to provide statuses such as ordered, being made, prepared, out for delivery, for all to-go orders is easily done. 
  4. Do you need your tech solutions to work together? When adding any new software addition, you must ensure that your front of house can communicate with the back of your house. Every team member needs to be on the same page, this can only be achieved with integrated technology. For example, when you have a smart kitchen display system integrated with your point of sale system, your front of house can read the bandwidth in your restaurant. With that information, your front of house staff can provide off-premise customers with real time quotes for delivery orders4
  5. Do you need technology assistance and support? As you consider what technology match would be best for your restaurant, consider finding a technology provider with a readily available support team. Why spend hours trying to configure software when you can rely on a company with technology support to meet your implementation and reconfiguration needs?

Asking The Hard Questions

When meeting with potential vendors, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as “how are you better than company X? What do you do differently?” Pose specific questions about how you will be using the product, stages of implementation, support, costs, and updates. Request references and look on their website for a current client list to call. 

As you evaluate the right solutions and vendors for your restaurant, keep a few things in mind: first and foremost is affordability. Cloud-based software is affordable and functional, but if you lose internet connectivity, you want a vendor with responsive and helpful support3. It’s easy to get distracted by all the bells and whistles, but stay focused. Take an honest appraisal of your operation and deploy technologies that serve your restaurants existing needs while also giving your restaurant room to grow. 

Once you’ve hired a vendor and implemented the new technology, have a discussion with your restaurant staff to get feedback. Investments in technology and service providers can be daunting, but when you choose the right one, you’ll say “if only I had done it earlier”. 
To learn about GoTab’s restaurant technology, visit https://gotab.io/en/best-restaurant-pos-systems/

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