In polling we have done regarding tech in restaurants, it’s clear there is a love/hate relationship between operators and new restaurant technology.
While most of you (73%) believe tech provides a technological and profitability advantage, almost half of you (43%) admit you are lagging behind in adoption. That may be for the simple reason that the work necessary to implement new technology is overwhelming. This leads to terrible execution and sometimes outright failure.
You can’t leverage the competitive and profit advantages of new technology if you fail at its implementation. To address this, we have identified three common pitfalls of new restaurant technology implementation.
1. You’re Not Involving Your Team
As an owner/operator, you feel empowered to make decisions for your business. It’s your behind on the line and who better to decide than you?
Now that you have gotten that out of your system, it’s time to realize you live in the real world. While they are your decisions, you can’t make them succeed unless you involve the folks that those decisions impact.
This doesn’t mean you are creating a democracy; instead think of creating an advisory board from your team. Include “constituents” from the various segments of your business. By including someone from the front of house, back of house, line management, and administration, you’ll get some useful insight from those most likely to be affected by the change. This will help with long term positive results.
This advisory board allows you to test your ideas without the disruption of implementing by getting the reaction from the various stake holders. They also become evangelists and informally smooth the way for a new technology rollout. This goes a long way to reducing resistance to change and gaining acceptance from those you mean to manage.
It may feel like you are giving up control, but, hey, you have to give to get in this world. This is especially true with change in the restaurant industry. We are creatures of habit and the only way to get us to change is be patient and communicate early and often. Involving your team in the decision making process is a solid way to accomplish your goals.
2. You Didn’t Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan
So many great ideas are botched due to a lack of planning. You can’t anticipate everything that will impact a new technology rollout, but simple planning can mitigate the impact of the unexpected.
Start with your advisory board and involve them in the rollout plan. Let them add the value of their collective experience to learn what the change will cause and to create solutions that will ease the pain of that change.
Who knows better than your actual team how it will feel to shift the paradigm under which they work? Even a small change that will substantially improve their jobs is still a disruption. That’s where the planning comes in.
By creating an expectation about change, you have taken the first step in facilitating it. Smart rollouts of new systems are timed to cause the least disruption and give your team time to manage the new systems. Introduction, training, follow-up and follow through should be planned in advance.
Give your team the time they need to accommodate the new technology, understand how it fits, and accept it as part of their lives. The process will ensure that your team is never surprised and feels included in the new technology rather than being a victim of the change.
3. You Don’t Learn From Your Previous Mistakes
There is no escaping the new technology that is invading our industry. Consequently, you will likely be implementing new solutions on a regular basis as time passes. This experience is invaluable to successfully implementing in the future.
To leverage that experience, you musts learn from your previous experiences in ways you may not have considered. Start by getting direct feedback from the people most impacted by your previous implementations. Ask them questions that will inform your future rollouts and support in avoiding any pitfalls from those previous efforts.
This can be a difficult and trying approach. Asking line employees for their honest impressions can sometimes sting in its honesty and authenticity. However, that feedback is invaluable to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Even if it’s critical of you personally, take the feedback for the insight it provides. You are still the boss. By asking for this feedback, you are actually proving why you should be the boss, even if it’s not flattering to your previous endeavors.