by Greg Staley, CEO of SynergySuite
As restaurants are resuming more normal operations, many brands are beginning to take a look at projects that had been put on hold in the initial uncertainty and disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend toward more efficient, sophisticated tech stacks that was building in 2019 is seeing renewed interest now that budgets are opening back up.
Operators are looking to improve their businesses and save money to be best positioned for ongoing success as pandemic recovery continues. So why is new tech such a focus for forward-thinking operators?
The disruption of the pandemic and the ongoing labor shortage have highlighted for many restaurateurs how time consuming and onerous manual processes can be. Some reasons to upgrade include:
- Making process or policy updates across a brand or region easier
- Saving money through consolidation
- Reducing manager overload by automating certain tasks
- Getting fast, holistic reporting
- Positioning a brand for growth
To be clear, manual processes aren’t an inherent problem. They may work well functionally but cost you too much time. For many operators, the advantage of tech is that they can take a process they already like and automate it to save labor hours previously spent carrying out manual tasks.
Let’s take a look at how shifting away from manual processes can help achieve those savings.
1. Ease of Updates and Brand Consistency
Every restaurant has specific guidelines across the brand or for certain regions. Those policies could be related to brand consistency, area health and safety standards, state labor laws, and so much more.
Unfortunately, when something changes (as it did all too often during the pandemic), ensuring those changes are communicated and implemented across all necessary locations becomes difficult.
Many restaurateurs have chosen to implement employee communication via team apps, or on the tablet where employees clock in. This eliminates the possibility that a manager will forget to print an email or an employee on vacation missed the memo. Operational checklists can also be pushed out to every location at the same time with cloud software, rather than worrying employees are missing something with a printout and clipboard.
2. Avoid Patchwork Technology
It’s common as restaurants grow to bring on new technology to meet one specific need. While it’s a cost-effective strategy in the beginning, creating a patchwork of restaurant technology across your business will cost you more and cause difficulty with integration and data integrity in the long run.
If you’ve been piecing together your tech stack as you grew, but suddenly realized it’s no longer scalable or cost effective to do so, you may want to look at updating your technology. You may be able to find a solution that covers what you’re already using, plus helps you automate manual processes.
3. Improve Retention by Avoiding Burnout
Reducing turnover has always been important in the restaurant industry, but now that labor is harder than ever to come by, you really can’t afford to lose any employees (and especially not your manager). One way to do that is to take some of the tasks off the plates of employees.
Tasks like inventory, proper scheduling, and reporting can add hours each to your employees’ schedules when done manually. Modern restaurant management systems can now use your data to forecast labor needs and inventory levels, allowing each location to keep close control over critical costs. And with strong tech integrations, your data can all feed into a central database for easy, streamlined reporting.
4. Better Understanding of the Business
With manual reporting, data gleaned is often two or more weeks late, making it difficult to spot trends or trouble areas quickly enough to react immediately.
Good restaurant management systems will also integrate data from across your tech stack, letting you view real-time insights into popular items, see profit and loss, monitor labor numbers, catch waste and theft, and more. Getting data as it happens, rather than having to manually compile reports, allows operators to make data-driven decisions that lead to success.
5. Prep for Growth
Enterprise restaurants are not the only ones moving away from manual. Growing brands need to start looking now at how they are going to scale the processes they use.
Think about how you will communicate and enforce brand standards across a company when your brand begins expanding regionally, out of state, and nationally. Having a locked in tech stack you trust to keep the brand on track as it grows is invaluable.
If you’re ready to start making proactive moves to secure and grow your business, better technology should be one of the first things you look at. Through whatever uncertainties the coming years hold for the restaurant industry, the more visibility and control you have over your brand, the better.
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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