Technology has become an increasingly important part of our lives – we spend countless hours connected to smartphones and other intelligent devices each and every day. Add to that the fact that a large percentage of our shopping is now done online, and it becomes clear that technology has gone from unique to ubiquitous. Technology, of course, has also permeated the business world, and the restaurant sector is no different. In order to truly compete on today's market, it's imperative for both larger scale restaurant chains and smaller independents to harness the wealth of benefits afforded to them by fast-evolving restaurant technology. Let's take a look at how savvy restaurateurs can put the powers of technology to work for them.
Streamline Scheduling & Payroll
Scheduling can at times be a guessing game. Fortunately, new restaurant technology allows businesses to automatically generate schedules based on historical staffing patterns, as well as a variety of other factors, including minute details like weather fluctuations. These scheduling tools are highly intuitive and can be used by restaurants with one or multiple locations. Options abound, so it's important to shop around to find a good fit for your particular needs. The right employee scheduling software can save restaurants time and money, create better schedules for staff members, manage sick leave and vacation, as well as help navigate high turnover rates. In fact, according to Fast and Casual, restaurants using scheduling software have seen up to a two percent reduction in labor costs. Digital scheduling and payroll technology also allows restaurants to track timecards and employee attendance, which streamlines processes by increasing the accuracy, efficiency and speed of their payroll operations, and also reduces compliance risk.
Track Inventory in Real Time
Inventory management has always been a long and arduous undertaking for restaurants. Management often spends hours conducting inventory checks, counting the numbers of SKUs, boxes, cans, pallets and other stock against distributor invoices and purchase orders. Once you factor in human error which is an inherent part of manual tracking, it should come as no surprise that numbers may not be as precise as they could be, resulting in waste. In fact, according to Chef Hero, consumer-facing businesses in the U.S. account for a whopping 40% of waste by weight. The cost to these consumer-facing businesses is estimated at 54.7 billion USD. Clearly, technology that allows for more precise inventory tracking goes a long way to reducing waste, which is not only great for the planet, but saves restaurants a considerable amount of money.
Restaurant technology continues to transform the way businesses are managed and run, streamlining and automating tasks, not the least of which is purchasing. Rather than having to make numerous trips to grocery stores and produce markets, as well as going through all of the major distributors on a weekly basis, digital purchasing software lets restaurants do all of their purchasing at once - from one location. Purchasing software can also make intelligent suggestions based on historical business data, vendor product lead times, forecast quantities and estimated customer traffic. In addition, restaurants can choose to enable automatic reordering for select items whenever inventory gets below an established threshold, which helps prevent your venue from ever running out of its basic staples.
Any restaurateur will tell you that good communication is the cornerstone of any business. This is true for small independent restaurants, and even more so for larger multi-location chains. Fortunately, interacting and communicating with employees across different business units and locations has greatly evolved since the advent of modern technology. Thanks to the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and other handheld devices, organizing your team around a central communications hub is now easier than ever. This affords restaurants the ability to deliver direct messages to all staff members, vendors or even guests at once. These communications may include details on menu changes, special events, allergies, food recalls, and any other information of a pressing nature. Digital communication tools can thus effectively help restaurants streamline their internal communications processes and grow their bottom line.
Point of Sale Systems
POS systems have today become an essential technology that no business should be without. Busy restaurants, in particular, have a lot to gain from adopting the right POS system that empowers their staff and enhances the overall customer service experience - the ultimate win-win technology. An effective and adapted POS system allows wait staff to take orders and payments directly at the table and ensures that orders are transferred promptly to the kitchen along with any specifications or modifications (allergies, preferences, and such). These streamlined processes reduce potential order errors, speed up order processing and enhance the restaurant's overall business operations. POS systems, however, offer far more advantages to the business itself, as they are the foundation and connection point for many other technologies that restaurants may choose to integrate. The beauty of modern POS systems is that they are customizable and extremely versatile, allowing them to be adapted to each restaurant's specific needs, based on size, number of locations, and specialty and can grow with the business.
The restaurant landscape is changing both globally and locally. In fact, according to Robert Carter, industry advisor at the NPD Group Inc., the Canadian restaurant industry has seen more technology-driven advances in the last five years than in the preceding half-century. "These are exciting times for the restaurant industry...", continues Mr. Carter,"...as millennials enter the business, and as more consumers embrace digital innovations, technology will become more pervasive."