Restaurant technology cuts costs, streamlines operations and attracts customers, but many small or independent restaurants have been slow to adopt the latest technologies. Many of these innovations quickly pay for themselves in minimal time because they streamline operations, attract new customers and generate greater sales. Rentals or service agreements are also available so that restaurateurs can afford to implement the new systems without breaking their budgets.
Capitalizing on Explosive Smartphone Growth
In-house hospitality technology uses popular smartphones and mobile devices to extend restaurant point-of-sale systems for mobile ordering, taking reservations, awarding automatic loyalty rewards and accepting orders from outdoor diners. Customers can order drinks from the bar at poolside, receive news feeds and stock reports while dining and connect to an operation’s social media posts and home pages for information about specials, menu changes, nutrition facts and human interest stories. Other benefits of mobile-enhanced services include:
- More flexibility for ordering
- Reduced trips of servers to and from the kitchen and bar
- Ability to use a team approach for greater service efficiency
- Better management control of the dining, kitchen and online-information environments with real-time data
- More personalized service based on a customer’s preferences and ordering history
Facilitating Hospitality Operations
Technology improves order accuracy, controls inventory, enhances guest services and provides a great experience to each customer. Serving customers in more profitable ways depends on streamlined operations in both the front and back of the house. Restaurant technology benefits FOH, BOH and promotional operations.
FOH Benefits of Technology
Management can use smartphone technology to communicate unobtrusively with servers, hosts and bartenders. Staff can use technology apps to connect with databases that track customer loyalty and preferences. POS systems and restaurant software simplify inventory management, ordering, cost control and budgeting.
Managers can generate instant reports to forecast sales trends and supplies needed, estimate labor costs and prepare weekly work schedules. Examples of innovative restaurant technology include:
- POS systems and restaurant software
- Automatic loyalty and rewards programs
- Programmable environmental controls
- Digital menu boards
- Mobile and tableside ordering systems
- Self-service or manned kiosks
- Integration of smartphones with POS systems
Greater BOH Efficiency
Kitchen display systems greatly reduce errors and speed order fulfillment. Tickets get sent to each food-prep station, and projected delivery times become coordinated and more accurate. Sequencing the orders for large parties or multicourse meals becomes simpler to manage. Displays can post single or multiple orders depending on work load so that the kitchen staff never gets overwhelmed. Advantages of technology in the back of the house include:
- Up-to-date predictive modeling allows restaurants to prepare the right amount of mise en place ingredients to reduce waste.
- Faster communications improve the guest experience at every level and reduce kitchen and server errors.
- Energy-efficient equipment and smart environmental controls save money on overhead.
- Executive chefs or kitchen managers can easily organize menus, get nutrition information and generate food costs for standard or special-order items with BOH software.
- Hand-held inventory devices simplify inventory and ordering, and low-level employees can handle the counting work.
Enhanced Promotions and Communications
Online marketing technology allows even small neighborhood bars and restaurants to brand their businesses like national chains. Better communications opens up extraordinary opportunities for customer interaction. Mobile, geo-tagged marketing, inventory-based Web applications, payment-processing POS systems, social media marketing and digital ordering are just a few of the benefits that technology delivers to restaurants.
Restaurant operators face competitive initiatives from supermarkets, food trucks, in-house dining rooms and other restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, only fast casual restaurants are averaging healthy growth. Urban rents are high, and satisfying customers today takes more than just good food and service. Technology gives restaurants a competitive edge for maximizing profits, attracting new customers, leveraging mobile-device users and streamlining operations for the greatest efficiency.