FOCUS OF THE MONTH - TECHNOLOGY IN RESTAURANTS, REDEMPTION OR A CURSE?
This year has brought to us far more new technologies than ever. The new tools, applications, softwares, hardwares, systems, platforms. You would need to be a true restaurant technology geek not to be getting head aches just looking at how many things are constantly being thrown at us.
How many e-mails from marketers are you getting weekly? How many invitations to free dinners in cool restaurants, combined with a presentation of a new Point of Sales system? How many Sales Managers have been promising you they would multiply your profits and change your life forever? How many times have you heard, your every day life would just become much easier if you only applied one of those new technological one fix-it-alls? Well, let’s face it, if we were geeks who love sitting in front of the computer, getting excited with new algorithms, we would probably be really bad in running restaurants. Those two worlds are so rarely compatible, it doesn’t surprise that getting things right on the tech side is causing many hiccups. Especially that only few big restaurant companies actually hire IT managers. So how should we tackle this?
WHY DO YOU NEED THE CHANGE
Let’s start with the classical circle of acceptance. Psychologically we always start with denials, and many long standing businesses still believe it is possible to run the restaurants in the old way. The more owners stand dead against any changes, the more they reject the more complicated technologies. Then comes anger, depression, finally bargaining, just before acceptance. We need to accept the reality around us and instead of wasting energy on frustrations or avoidance, let’s focus on why we need all the gimmick and how should we approach the troublesome upgrades.
The new technology is no longer about finding individual systems such as POS, Booking systems, People Management, Property Management, Procurement, Accounts and Payroll. The best of the new technologies are actually those, that speak to each other and cross transfer the data. Therefore, the upgrade of the system does not only relate to the individual divisions of your venue, but it needs to glue your whole operation together. If you were thinking that you might have been saved from the nightmare of going through the upgrades, just because you have purchased a new service not that long ago, think twice. If the new system uses only a fraction of its full potential you were presented at the demo stage, if some of your old systems are not compatible with your newest app, it is the time to go back to the drawing board.
WHAT CAN YOU GAIN?
The answer to this question is very simple - you will make more money. Your operations will be managed in the better way, your resources will be spent more sparingly, costs will be controlled in a better way and your people’s talents will be utilised to their full potential. If you give the tech the respect it deserves and implement the systems in an honest way, your POS will connect to your procurement and accounting systems, creating better reports, and providing more exact forecasts in much more efficient way. If your booking system speaks to your POS, and then they connect to your people management systems that also does your payroll, just with few clicks of a mouse, you would be able to improve the efficiency of your staff rota. These are just basic examples of the endless combinations you can achieve when deciding on right tools for your business.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TOOL?
Firstly, before you buy any new tech solutions, make sure you have a bigger strategy drawn out. You need to identify your tech needs, and plan the technological development for your company. Do your research on each of the systems, have the sales people giving you full demo of what their products can bring to your business and then make sure the systems you selected are compatible with each other. The key to success is the possibility for an easy transfer of data between your systems. Many of the modern system solutions will give you an idea of which other products on the market work with their technologies. There is nothing worse than spending money on tech you could not fully utilise.
WHAT ARE THE MUST HAVES SYSTEMS FOR RESTAURATEURS?
Regardless of how big your business is, whether you have one small restaurant, or you own a chain of bars and pubs, there will be products on the market that are suited just for your operation. The more important it is you do spend time on proper research before you commit to any of the new systems. We could write many articles on different types of technologies available, but would you read it all now? Instead we give you some really useful comparisons and reviews you could go to any time.
Point of Sales systems are the key of every operation. The right system not only will provide you with the till you need, will be able to give you customised sales and cost reports, but it will also help you keep your inventory in check and keep track of your employee performances. The top systems usually integrate with procurement systems, booking systems and people management applications.
Here is a great article that sums up the best systems available on the market, outlining their strengths and weaknesses
Great reservation system is the absolute must in every restaurant and it provides the base for the seamless service and building a great report with your guests. There are ones every one knows, like OpenTable, but there are also a number of smaller or less known softwares that do the job equally well. What are you looking for in the ideal reservation system? First of all, the guest database and profile management, as this is very often overlooked. You need to have a possibility to export the data base and create reports that outline guest profiles. Secondly, the possibility of integration between your other systems. Some reservation systems speak to the POS and accounts making restaurant management look so easy. Here are 5 of best systems available on the market today.
If you are running a small business, you might think you don’t need a complicated procurement software, however having one in place is really making everyone’s life easier, and helps reducing costs drastically. If you have a right product in place, you will have better control over invoices, you will be able to order all your products online and the system will send payments on your behalf. Great systems also provide you with price checks ensuring you are getting the best deal comparing to the market rates. Other than that you will also be able to have an immediate access to your stock levels and have up-to-date stock valuation that is crucial for working out gross profits. Finally, they are really the best tool for food and beverage cost control. Read more about the best systems on Caterer here. There is also a bigger, more in depth analysis of what you could achieve with a great procurement system on Hospitality Upgrades blog here.
Once your products are selected, get your People and Culture (or HR) people on board, and ask them for a clear training plan, as very often managing change proves tricky. It is important you train your key people first and ensure they will conduct the proper training to their peers. Also remember about constant reassurance and support to your key staff through out the implementation period. Finally, once your systems are fully operational, don’t forget about regular meetings and revisions which facilitate good data interpretation and translate directly into potentials for increasing revenues and cutting costs.