Once upon a time, pens, chalkboards, and sticky notes were the number one tools used to manage restaurants across the world.Understandably, they were never the most reliable tools, but in the absence of anything else they remained effective.
Today, the tools that restaurant managers have at their disposal have come a long way from paper and pencils. The advancements have been so great that there’s a user-friendly app or software solution designed to streamline and optimize pretty much every aspect your business. But with so many to choose from, often it can be hard to figure out what you actually need.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when researching what’s out there, as well as a few tools worth taking a closer look at.
Ironing Out Processes
In the fast-paced business of hospitality, there’s always admin to take care of. Watertight processes propel successful restaurants forward, and your two most important assets are your staff and your inventory. Anything that helps make scheduling and stock-taking easier to track is worth investing in.
Tools like When I Work allow you to digitize shift assignments and put efficient processes in place to ensure that everyone in the business has oversight of ‘who’s working when’. Features like clock-in software and team messaging are built in to help your staff keep track of their own working hours, as well as shift changes and internal communication.
For inventory tracking, MarketMan is designed to make resource management simpler by allowing easy access across different devices—it even lets users order supplies directly through their site.
While all of this sounds great, making the most of software solutions like these relies on giving staff fairly rigorous training on how to use them. It’s essential to account for this if you’re going to make a considerable investment—though expect that what you’re buying now will pay off in the long run.Pay or Play POS?
Getting value for money is crucial, but that shouldn’t make businesses hesitant to change. After all, customers are demanding more and more digital services in restaurants: Wi-Fi access, card payments, even settling bills using bitcoin (by no means widespread, but watch this space).
Though it’s becoming less common, some restaurants still operate without a POS system. This is surprising considering how many reliable and user-friendly options there are out there. From tablet and mobile software with plug-and-play card readers, to diner-facing terminals at the tables themselves, there’s been a huge shift toward integrating consumer-friendly tech in recent years.
Perhaps one of the main issues is that POS systems now do so much more than merely take payment. What this means is that even if you’re looking for something simple, you may end up with a stack of features you might not use. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the finder details of a slick, sophisticated system, you often end up paying over the odds for something advanced when all you need is a simple solution.Guest Management: How Much Is Too Much?
Different types of restaurants have their own unique requirements. Larger chains may look for scalable all-in-one solutions, but there are a lot of systems out there that focus on doing one thing really well.
Take waitlist systems, for instance. There are a number of standalone solutions that are worth taking a closer look at, including Waitlist Me, Nowait, and Cake. While most offer customer SMS messaging to alert them when their table’s ready, like POS systems, waitlist apps seem to offer varying degrees of functionality—such as guest and reservation management, downloadable reports, and so on.
Focus On Diners and the Rest Will Follow
Before investing in any new tool, you need to ask yourself if what you’re buying is going to make things better for your customers, not just your staff.
Here at Ready, our aim is to make the customer’s dining experience as seamless as possible. Ready alerts waiting diners when a seat’s available, allows them to peruse the menu while they wait, lets them pay and go as they please, and even split their bill however they want. And if there’s a query about payment, it can all be easily and painlessly resolved. There’s even a feedback platform that allows staff to monitor guest feedback.
Good tech tools make things run more smoothly—both for FOH and behind the scenes. If processes are quicker and easier, your staff have more time to focus on the customer experience. After all, that’s what will ultimately improve your business’ profitability.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Mix and Match Studio, Shutterstock / Jacob Lund, Shutterstock / Jacob Lund