How Technology is Transforming the Restaurant Business

‘Technology is replacing manual labour in restaurants’ is a tall statement to make. While one may hear of robots preparing food, digital kiosks taking orders, there are certain aspects of restaurant operations that can only be taken care of by humans.

For most parts, restaurants have always been considered a labour intensive industry. From the preparation of the food to serving it, manual work is always required. Nothing can replace the hospitality provided by the Maitre de or the service given by a cheerful bartender at a restro-bar. While nothing can beat the human aspect of serving the food, one cannot argue the benefits technology brings to the table.

On the face of it, restaurant management seems like a completely manual process, however, technology plays an integral role in streamlining operations that ultimately leads to a better guest experience.

Streamlining Restaurant Operations

Cloud technology has made a lot of strides in the restaurant space over the last few years. Restaurants are now increasingly moving towards solutions that can be integrated with third- party applications as well. The Point of Sale is no longer just the humble billing software; on the contrary it has evolved to become an end-to-end solution that brings multiple other operations such as Online Ordering, Customer Relationship Management, Recipe Management, Base Kitchen Management, etc under one big umbrella.  Right from billing automation and stock & management to real time reporting and analytics, technology has simplified and streamlined the operations.

For instance, integrated with the POS, smart inventory management allows you to set monitor your daily stock consumption based on the orders placed. You can also set re-order levels that send you alerts that a particular item is going out of stock and remind you to order more. This helps in reducing stock wastage and also helps you reduce the scope of internal thefts.

Restaurant management is no longer just about execution of operations, but delving deeper into the analytics to increase profits. It is important to know how the daily sales of your restaurant, what time of the day is most profitable, which item on the menu is performing the best and which is not, even the performance of your restaurant staff.Through real-time reporting and detailed analytics, you can track all these and more right from your mobile.

Measuring of ROI has become a must, which can only be achieved through detailed reporting. The challenges of restaurant management are plenty; however through technology, you can automate and further optimise operations and reduce your overall food and labour costs.

Improving Guest Experience

Quick and efficient operations go a long way in improving the service at your restaurant which can be achieved through restaurant automation, however, personalisation is the key to providing a stellar guest experience. Nowadays, technology is being steadily used to analyse customer preferences.  Imagine a customer walks into your restaurant and places his order. All the staff taking the order has to do is ask their name and number, and the entire order history and behavior is displayed on the POS screen. This data can now be used by your staff to suggest items similar to the ones that they have ordered before. This also provides an upselling opportunity for servers.

A holistic guest experience is incomplete without seeking feedback from the customers. Earlier, the most common method to take customer feedback was through paper based feedback forms. However, this was failing in multiple ways. First, the feedback forms were generic, asking about the overall food and service. While this did give some insight, one could not pinpoint exactly what was not upto the mark.

Second, and most importantly, the whole point of taking feedback from customers is to ensure that they had a good experience, and if not, taking steps to improve it. Even if a customer is not satisfied with the food or service, often the feedback is ignored by the staff, or considered much later, by the time which the customer has already left disgruntled.  Another problem is the data entry of the feedback into the CRM, which is another time consuming and tedious task. Customers’ handwriting can be illegible, or the form can easily be misplaced.

To solve this problem, digital feedback forms came into the picture. The feedback app generates specific feedback forms for each customer based on the particular items they ordered. This also gives intelligence about the performance of the specific items on the menu. In case, a customer gives a poor feedback, you’d be instantly notified thus, allowing you to take corrective actions then and there.

Bringing in More Profit

Once the restaurant is up and running, the biggest concern of the restaurateur is to make it more profitable. Now, there are two ways to do that, reduce costs and increase sales. Through technology and data analytics restaurateurs can now easily segment and target their customer base better. This becomes increasingly useful to generate repeat customers. Now you can segment your entire database based on the average spend of customers, their ordering behavior, preferences, and demography. Take for example, a customer who ordered Italian food from your restaurant once or twice. You can send personalised SMS and emails talking about the new pasta on your menu. Add to that a 10% discount and you can expect him to order again. Personalized marketing can help you achieve repeat sales by upto 22%. Further, it also aids a long term engagement, and helps building a great customer relationship.

Technology has always revolutionized one industry at a time leaving behind a more volatile and dynamic scenario. The same thing is happening with the restaurant industry. While making management and operations easy, it is also increasing competition and customer standards but in the end hopping onto this wagon of change is the best route to go!

This is a guest post submitted by Ferheen Athar. Ferheen is the Marketing & Communications Manager at POSist, a complete restaurant technology platform. She spends most of her time giving gyaan to the restaurant owners through super insightful articles that can be found at The Restaurant Times.

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