THE RAIL'S RESTAURANT TECHNOLOGY PRIMER
In this five-part series, restaurant managers and operators will get an overview of how the restaurant industry views and consumes technology. Get tips for creating a successful digital strategy that works in the industry. Learn about four new tech your restaurant should consider exploring. Find out if your establishment is optimized for mobile diners. And lastly, learn how to protect your restaurant from cyber attackers (yes, they're aiming for you!).
- Order Up! Technology in the Restaurant Industry [Infographic]
- Four essentials to defining your restaurant’s digital strategy
- Still using a cash register? 4 new technologies you need right now!
- Is your restaurant mobile ready? [Slideshow]
- Six tactics to improve your restaurant’s cybersecurity
As we hope you have noticed, over the past year we have been attempting to bring you new content to go along with the SportsTV Guide listings. While exploring and experimenting with these new ideas and trends, it dawned on me that our industry is at a seminal crossroads punctuated by the availability of an enormous array of new technologies.
And while we’ve embraced new technologies readily in the past, we’re stalling on new tech that’s being invented and innovated today. Why is it taking so much longer to pervade? What’s holding us back?
Change at gunpoint
To start, our industry will never change anything by choice. With HDTV, you couldn’t pass off that old style CRT display when your competitors started sporting new ones. It was this need to differentiate ourselves that drove the super-fast adoption by restaurant operators. It was an easy decision, and the irony was no one could point to a single metric that proved any ROI.
The better allegory with today’s available technology is the POS revolution of the late ‘80s. The modern POS was perfected and deployed as the big hair metal bands gave way to the grunge look and alternative rock of the early ‘90s. These were outrageously expensive computer systems that were setting operators back thousands of dollars. However, in this case, the ROI was so straightforward it couldn’t be denied or ignored.
So why are today’s technologies taking so much longer to become widely adopted? It’s simple, they lack the socio-cultural impetus of the HDTV and the clear ROI of modern POS. That doesn’t mean, however, that these technologies don’t have tremendous ROI to be considered.
Here are some technology you need to strongly consider right now.
- Tablet Ordering/Mobile Payment – The research is clear, this technology has an incredible impact on your business. If for no other reason, the guest can pay when they are ready. The metrics show faster table turns, improved guest satisfaction at a traditional pain point, and it even increases server gratuities.
There are lot of options here, with the current leaders being companies like Buzztime, Tabbed Out and ApplePay.
- POS Data Analysis – I bet you don’t really realize just how incredible your own POS system really is because you aren’t using any reporting tools. There are several different ways to maximize the value of your existing POS, but none of them include ignoring the results. Upserve, for example, can connect your POS & credit card data with guest specific behavior.
Armed with this type of information, you can market to your best guests better and assess the value of individual menu item. Upserve even has social and staff communications solutions.
- Inventory Control & Monitoring Systems – Gone are the days of yore, when inventory was a hideous and time consuming experience. There are several newly released apps that deliver easy to use systems to execute inventory. Bevinco and Orderly both offer inventory control apps that are free to download. Orderly uses optical character reading to capture invoice information and give you control over ordering, while Bevinco facilitates your physical invoice by reading UPC codes and connecting via a Bluetooth-enabled scale.
Both apps reduce time and paper management while improving your ordering process. They will literally save you more than they cost. It’s that simple.
- Online Scheduling – To be perfectly honest, I can’t imagine anyone still putting pen to paper or managing an Excel spreadsheet every week for their schedules. Technology like HotSchedules takes the pain out scheduling by communicating with your staff via a mobile app. HotSchedules delivered finalized work schedules right to their phones, facilitating schedule changes and shift swaps in a simple and controlled manner.
Don’t be afraid
I know it’s new and scary, but all of these technologies will improve your business and save you money. They will also figuratively save you the aggravation and paperwork, and improve your day-to-day tasks. The only caution is to take them on one at a time and prioritize what problems need solving first.
Don’t be last to the party and embrace the change. I promise you’ll thank me later. ;-)
What new tech has your bar or restaurant adopted? How's it working so far? Leave your experiences in the comment section below.
Old cash register image by zizzybaloobah.