by Greg Staley, CEO of SynergySuite
It may seem unrealistic to invest in technology now, after a year+ of COVID-related disruption and financial losses, but tech tools are a critical investment that streamline systems, provide critical data, and can lead to a massive ROI that can sustain your business.
It’s no surprise that the National Restaurant Association said 2020 was the worst year in history for the restaurant industry. As we work to recover, recognize that the most expensive parts of a restaurant – wages, food, turnover, rent, etc. – won’t be decreasing. Any operator trying to trim those expenses without boosting operational efficiencies will be disappointed.
Today, many restaurants have implemented customer-facing technologies, but the savviest operators are also investing in back-of-the-house tech solutions to trim labor costs, get inventory insights, reduce staff turnover, boost customer service, and ensure smooth, efficient operations.
Restaurant technology is a short-term cost for long term savings, with a high ROI and a low barrier to entry. Tech can be used to:
- Solve problems. Operators are using tech tools to streamline inventory, increase efficiency, track sales, integrate POS systems, and more. Becoming more efficient and accurate with key tasks – such as ordering/inventory, staffing, etc. – will save you significant money over the long-term.
- Boost profits. Restaurant margins are currently so thin that any improvements in food or labor costs make a huge difference. After implementing tech solutions, companies are experiencing 2-4% improvements on both, resulting in an impressive $20,000-40,000 higher profit per year, per unit. For instance, a digital inventory management system can help your restaurant monitor inventory levels more accurately, so you’re not over-ordering or over-spending on ingredients. You’ll also have quick and easy insights into the most (and least) popular menu items so you can prepare (and adjust) accordingly. Simple changes like these can lead to higher profits.
- Get a holistic view. Antiquated manual systems can’t provide comprehensive data or a big picture view of performance metrics. Tech tools make it easier, faster, and more accurate to track labor costs, inventory, and other key measurements to guide better decision-making (and subsequent cost savings).
- Provide better customer service. Restaurants want to deliver a flawless, welcoming, and enjoyable customer experience, and restaurant technology can help accomplish that. Digital inventory management systems help ensure that you never run out of ingredients, so customers won’t be disappointed because their favorite meal is unavailable. Tech tools can also help you staff smarter, so there are plenty of employees to serve customers during busy periods to reduce wait times (and subsequent frustration). And integrating digital processes means employees spend far less time manually entering data so they can spend more time interacting with customers and providing exceptional service.
- Rely on data. Operators who don’t collect and analyze data are making decisions based on gut, which is risky in any environment but especially dicey as we all work to recover from the pandemic. Tech tools make it faster, easier, and more transparent for operators to make more informed, data-based decisions that can help manage (or even decrease) costs.
- Schedule smarter. Over and understaffing is an industry epidemic that lowers restaurants’ profitability. Technology can use each location’s forecasted sales and historical patterns to determine how many people need to be working, when, and for how long to keep labor costs manageable. Operators can use tech to maintain a clearer view of their staffing landscape, allowing them to immediately see (and fix) any issues that could potentially damage profitability and/or customer service. And with labor shortages and the resulting need for competitive hourly rates in many locations, smarter scheduling is critical.
- Reduce turnover. Use tech systems that make employees’ lives easier – like scheduling tools that allow employees to easily view their schedules on their phones and instantly swap or pick up shifts. Digital scheduling solutions make managers’ lives easier, too, as they won’t need to remember texts about PTO or rely on sticky notes about shift swaps. Tech solutions also improve communications, ensuring all employees are aligned and informed on the latest news and developments. Focusing on employee retention can improve your restaurant’s bottom line. It’s costly and time-consuming to train new employees and far more cost-efficient to retain your current talent.
When considering which tech solutions to implement first, decide which systems and tools will solve your restaurant’s most pressing needs and provide the quickest ROI. If you feel overwhelmed about implementing (and funding) too much at once, look into scalable options that can grow with your business.
Restaurant operators may be concerned about investing in tech solutions after a such a disruptive year, but today’s tech systems are affordable, attainable, scalable, user-friendly, with an impressive ROI and significant benefits. They’re a wise investment for a successful future.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information, please contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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