This post is sponsored by Upserve.
The technology options for restaurants are quickly evolving, but operators shouldn’t let the fast-changing environment dissuade them from adding new tech solutions. Identifying the right tools for the job and integrating them in an efficient way can help restaurant brands become more agile, improve customer service and save time and money.
There is a “significant portion of restaurateurs who openly admit they feel behind on the times,” Chad Troutman, Senior Director of Revenue Marketing for Upserve said in a webinar presented last week by the restaurant technology company.
Many restaurant operators continue to stick with outdated systems and avoid adding new technology due to “a paralysis in making the decision because of the numerous options that you have out there,” he said.
An audience poll conducted during the event found that 35.7% of respondents rely on their point-of-sale system as the only tech solution in their restaurant, and 14.3% still use pen-and-paper to keep records and create schedules.
Restaurant owner Robbie Gillin joined Troutman to discuss how embracing new technology has helped him take control and become more efficient. “We all know that running a restaurant you have to wear many hats, and typically we as restaurateurs try to wear too many at once,” said Gillin, who owns and operates The Supply House in New York City. “From marketer, to accountant, to inventory manger, to employee scheduler, to forward-planner to customer greeter…more often than not there’s too much on our plates in arriving at our common goal, which is to make money in an industry that has a historically high failure rate,” he said. “I personally have found that certain technology can lighten that load and take a huge load off my back, but you have to embrace it. You can’t fear it.”
Here are some key takeaways from Troutman and Gillin on how restaurant operators can embrace technology:
Determine your needs to select the right tools
The first step to selecting and adopting new technology is identifying the main pain points. “Look into all of your systems and see where there are some breakages, where there are inefficiencies and room for improvement,” Troutman said.
The three most common problems stem from issues with reservations, managing orders for takeout and delivery, and employee scheduling. Troutman suggests reservations as an entry point for restaurants looking to venture into tech because working with an established reservation system like OpenTable makes integration easy, and offering online reservations will immediately start saving a restaurant time. By reducing the time it takes to answer the phone or make calls to confirm reservations, you free up time for hosts and other employees, who can then use that time to set tables, familiarize themselves with nightly specials or perform other pre-shift tasks.
“Don’t think about just what the technology solves on the surface, but the opportunity cost of what it solves,” Troutman said.
Map out a plan to make tech work for you
Once operators have identified their most pressing needs and selected the technology they will use to address them, it’s time to make a plan for integrating the new tools into their operation. Troutman and Gillin agree that starting small and scaling up is the clearest path to success. Before rolling out a new system to employees, restaurant owners and operators should familiarize themselves with the ins and outs of the tool. “There’s nothing worse than walking into your own restaurant and an employee asks you a question about your POS and you have to defer to someone else,” Gillin said.
The next step is to identify one staff member to take ownership of the new technology and be responsible for supporting other employees as they learn. Training this “power user” one-on-one before hosting a group training is much more effective than rolling out a new system to everyone at once, Troutman said.
Keep an eye on what’s next
After selecting and rolling out a new tool, operators should use it for 30 days before stepping back and evaluating their choice. By this time, restaurateurs should have an understanding of how much the tool has improved day-to-day operations. If it hasn’t – or the improvements aren’t on par with what was expected – operators should discuss these concerns with the company that provided the tool.
While addressing initial concerns is vital to figuring out if a certain tool or service is working as it should, it’s also important for restaurants to keep assessing their suite of tech tools. “Not only should you be evaluating your technology on the weigh-in, but you need to continue to evaluate it and it continue to push on the company that is providing that technology to improve upon it,” Troutman said.
One concern that he hears from many restaurant operators is about how orders placed with services like Grubhub don’t automatically transfer into a restaurant’s POS, forcing employees to take an additional step to send those orders to the kitchen. Having heard this complaint from so many operators, Upserve will soon be rolling out a solution to eliminate the extra step.
These types of efficiencies will likely become more common as more eateries adopt new technology and look for ways to smooth out breaks in the system. In an audience poll asking what function from restaurant tech would make life easier, 71.4% answered “having all information from restaurant technology all in one place.”
Troutman agreed that enabling tech tools to communicate with one another is the next step, proclaiming, “I believe the future of restaurant technology is consolidation.”
For more insights from Troutman and Gillin on how to purchase the right technology for your restaurant and integrate it into your operation, listen to the recorded webcast.
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