COVID-19 altered many industries — taking a particularly large toll on the hospitality industry — specifically restaurants. While many of these changes the pandemic brought to this industry were unwelcome, the past two years have opened the door to the acceleration of food delivery options and created innovative ways of reaching consumers.
Stat Source: Capgemini
If a process has been working in your restaurant, that’s great, but having a healthy level of open-mindedness about new ways to operate your business and refresh your operations can lead to greater efficiency and lower costs. Implementing a restaurant management software system into your restaurant’s existing POS systems does just that.
They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but the writer of that adage likely never owned a restaurant.
With more consumers ordering food from their fingertips rather than across a counter, differentiation and personalization of the ordering and dining experiences are more important than ever.
The food delivery space is projected to skyrocket to $30 billion by 2022. As a result, restaurants should hop onto the trends and consider installing restaurant technology that gives them access to important data points and optimizes the bandwidth of their existing ordering systems. This will elevate their restaurant efficiency and customer experience.
What is Restaurant Management Software?
Restaurant management software is the technology that makes your online and on-premise operations smoother, stronger, and faster. It offers a variety of functional capabilities and packages for hardware and software integrations, streamlining the tens of processes within every restaurant or virtual brand can exponentially transform the customer experience and back-of-house productivity.
Restaurant management software can hook up to any existing technology systems in your restaurant to start seeing increased sales and a maximized use of staff shortly after being implemented.
Advantages of Restaurant Management Software
Versatile restaurant software can integrate into existing point-of-sale systems for cohesive data collection and restaurant management, offering benefits from sales tracking to funneling of orders into an all-in-one system from various platforms. Here are more key benefits.
1. Track sales efficiently.
Restaurant management software allows employees to track sales without the hassle. With a centralized system that directs all transactions to one system that can be accessed on several synced tablets or computer systems, sales data is more easily managed and accessible.
This lets restaurants convert sales figures into useful information to make better, faster decisions. With this tech, restaurant owners can leverage data like sales volume of a specific product to provide customers with a more specialized experience and plan efficient scheduling, menu planning, and marketing.
2. Improve relationships with customers.
With a ton more insights about the customer from sales to average orders in a given time frame, it’s easier for customers to reorder their favorite meals with the touch of a button and receive an individualized experience with your restaurant.
For example — if a customer places an online order for the same menu item each week, the software system will store this data, and can then prompt the customer to reorder through targeted notifications. Access to customer-specific insights such as frequently ordered items, times of ordering, and preferred method of communication provides the customer with a more user-friendly experience and can result in higher order frequency.
3. Reduces errors.
The automation of data processing and inventory control significantly reduces errors when it comes to collecting accurate data and proper order management. Capturing accurate data is essential to forecasting demand accurately, ordering the correct quantity of inventory and minimizing costs. Using automation can greatly decrease human error through automated employee shift scheduling and automated payroll.
4. Enhanced productivity with your staff.
Restaurant management software allows the restaurant owner to input peak demand hours and typical staffing needs during those times to reduce idle staffing or understaffing.
When a shift is properly staffed, the result is increased efficiency, providing more available attention for staff to allocate to customer calls, optimizing service quality.
Restaurant Management Software Features
Different restaurant management software packages offer unique features. However, each restaurant has its own set of needs and customer demands so it’s important to look for the best software setup to fit your business.
In the restaurant business, keeping track of cash and card orders allows the business to ensure steady positive cash flows. Restaurant management software allows users to connect accounting services such as QuickBooks for seamless accounting integration and financial reporting.
Cash flow data is collected at intervals and organized in an actionable format to ensure a stable cash flow. With the ability to export data with ease, the user can save and share financial reports with other stakeholders. Performance, sales, and financial reports help identify areas for improvement.
The data points collected by a point-of-sale system include revenue, expenditures, payroll data, and cost of goods sold. Because these necessary inputs are in one place on your devices, they can easily be transferred to a bookkeeper, accountant, or tax site for processing.
With the touch of a button, restaurant management software allows you to create and edit your menu in real-time from an iPad or tablet. Additionally, the staff can adjust menu pricing, item availability for online ordering, and item inventory.
Receiving insights about which menu items are most popular allows for menu engineering to attract more customers to certain items or draw their eye to specific areas of the menu.
Online order management.
In 2021, online food ordering for delivery in the hospitality industry is estimated to exceed $31 million in the United States.
This significant uptick has underscored the need for clear communication in the kitchen. If the kitchen staff are unable to keep up with food orders, the whole system can run amuck. A reliable restaurant POS software system bridges the communication gap.
Software systems such as Lunchbox funnel all orders through one portal, increasing staff efficiency and ability to integrate online orders into the queue in an actionable, organized manner so waits are minimized and additional food costs are reduced.
Credit card processing.
Customers can save their credit card information on the restaurant’s ordering app or website. This connects to the central point-of-sale system, which lets customers re-order easily in the future. Coupled with a card reader, the POS assists with payment processing and orders for easy checkout with quick and accurate credit card processing capabilities.
A unified point-of-sale system in conjunction with integrated software gives POS users the ability to manage loyalty across several ordering platforms through streamlined communication and promotions targeted to loyal customers. Loyalty is about personalizing the ordering and dining experience.
Eighty-seven percent of consumers would allow a brand to track their purchases and habits for the purpose of providing a more unique, personalized experience. Incentivizing repeat purchases and fueling customer loyalty through engaging loyalty programs keeps your restaurant and brand top-of-mind for the customer and can convert to greater sales and purchase frequency.
An accurate inventory count affects what items will be available for a customer to order. If inventory is managed incorrectly, ordering an unavailable menu item may leave a customer disgruntled...and hungry.
Automatic inventory-checking processes in the POS system save time and money for management to allocate to other tasks, reducing the likelihood of over-purchasing inventory or underestimating demand.
Employee management and scheduling.
Juggling employee scheduling and customer demand is no simple task. The increase in orders placed via delivery and takeout has only made this balancing act more challenging since orders from various platforms are being prepared in one place.
This is where a cohesive software system can be your saving grace. An all-in-one system that takes into consideration times of heightened demand ensures that employees are being well-utilized and reduces unnecessary labor costs.
Reporting and analytics.
Breaking down data into actionable segments to best target your customer base allows you to get a deeper glimpse into the customer’s preferences and patterns.
After all, the stomach is the window to the soul. Centralizing data from various platforms delivers the holy grail of customer insights and the ownership of your data you deserve.
Floor plans are strategic within each restaurant, particularly when on-premise dining is central to your restaurant’s sales and strategy. A digital layout of the restaurant and tables lets employees keep tabs on capacity, if a table has been served, and offers necessary information about specific tables. This table management feature optimizes restaurant employees’ ability to serve customers in various locations in the restaurant in a timely, organized manner.
Order aggregators such as Ordermark or Chowly have responded to the boom in online ordering over the past two years with unique sales-boosting features that set your restaurant or virtual brand apart. Aggregators streamline orders from various third-party and online platforms and integrates with the big players in the online ordering and last-mile delivery space for seamless consolidation.
None of this would be possible without direct access to customer data. Lunchbox and other in-house online ordering solutions champion your right to customer data. Why let third-party delivery applications make you pay for access to your consumers’ data when you can get direct access to your customer data for a lower cost?
Every Restaurant Has Different Needs
Even though each of the above features can elevate your business, each restaurant requires different software capabilities depending on several attributes including the target customer and dining style. For example, a ghost kitchen or virtual brand will not require table reservation software because on-premise dining is not a facet of that business model. In the ghost kitchen space, Lunchbox acts as an order aggregator, marketing sidekick, and a creative partner. Many POS systems are compatible with order management software programs and reservation management apps.
Connecting Online Ordering Platforms With Your Restaurant Management Software
Your restaurant management software operates best in conjunction with a complementary ordering platform or restaurant app. The more connections you can forge between the customer’s ordering data and your restaurant POS systems, the more you can leverage that data to craft a more personalized customer experience.
For example, the integration between Toast and Lunchbox offers restaurants the capabilities of both a POS system and an online ordering interface. Toast lets customers order in restaurants, and Lunchbox lets customers order online. From there, you can link in last-mile delivery services like Relay or DoorDash Drive to make sure the entire customer experience is A+.
Considerations When Choosing Restaurant Management Software
Choosing the best restaurant management software for your business can be anxiety-provoking, but you can relax! On most restaurant point-of-sale websites, you can connect with representatives to learn more about what they offer and get a demo. They can offer insights about how their restaurant software capabilities can meet your business’ current needs. Then you can decide how they compare with other prospective POS systems. Here are a few things to consider when you’re searching for your restaurant management software.
The cost to integrate a restaurant management system varies for different platforms. If using a low-cost platform is a priority for your business, then you can look for a leaner point-of-sale system to integrate into your restaurant. Additionally, platforms can work with you to discuss a price that fits your restaurant’s technology and software budget.
Be aware that some software solutions might have functions and features you do not need for your business model. Finding a package that meets most of your needs at the preferred cost will allow you to grow your business without growing your expenses too much, leaving you a leaner bottom line.
If your business relies heavily on orders made through delivery apps, then finding the restaurant management software that integrates smoothly and effectively with those third-party delivery mobile apps will be a priority in your search. Lunchbox operates as a sidekick to assist with one or several auxiliary functions such as order aggregation and targeted marketing and integrates with various point-of-sale systems.
Regardless of whether you operate virtual dining brands or offer a traditional on-premise dining experience, customers will always have feedback. Customers feel more connected to your business when an employee or restaurant manager replies to their positive comments and frustrations with their order and dining experience or delivery service. Research shows that customers whose comments and complaints are replied to are more likely to return as a customer and feel connected to your restaurant.
Now you’re ready to take your restaurant to the next level. Your next step is evaluating your restaurant’s needs and using those criteria to test a few restaurant management software prospects. Use this time of transition to transform your restaurant into its most efficient, creative, and delicious form!