Spreadsheets are no longer the best restaurant management system. If you are still trying to keep track of reservations, stock inventory, and employee schedule using good-old Excel, you are missing out.
Out-of-the-box and custom restaurant automation solutions offer a plethora of business benefits. I'll take you through them, explain essential features, and share a couple of trade secrets you need to know to select the right solution for your business.
Restaurant Management System Business Benefits
End-to-end restaurant automation software can incorporate dozens of features from accounting and tax reports to loyalty programs. To make sense of capabilities and benefits, let's consider internal and customer-facing business processes in turn.
Back of the House Benefits
Restaurant management involves dozens of mundane tasks that could benefit from software automation. Everything from tax reports to employee scheduling can be achieved using a reliable management system. However, you need to be sure the solution's features meet your needs and can increase efficiency and reduce expenses, instead of going the other way around. Keep an eye for features to help you
Keep track of stock inventory. You will always know when the supplies are running low and placing an order with suppliers can be as easy as clicking one button. Moreover, you will be able to track supply usage and quickly put a stop to employee thefts. Predictive analytics will help you calculate the budget necessary to keep your restaurant stocked any month of the year, depending on customer demand.
Schedule work shifts to keep employees happy. Intuitive restaurant system design will let employees schedule their hours and prevent overstaffing or understaffing to save money without detracting from the customer experience. Integrating an employee communication system can ensure all members of the team stay on the same page and are happy with their employment.
Automate accounting and tax reports. If you set up an accounting algorithm for a restaurant management system, it will save a lot of time and resources. Moreover, it will help you keep track of local and national taxes and file necessary reports in time to prevent unexpected audits and fines.
Track sales and provide comfortable payment options. Point of sale (POS) software will provide your employees with a smooth tool to take orders, deliver them from the table to the kitchen, and generate business reports based on sales and credit card transactions. Automated solutions decrease the number of errors and increase efficiency, enabling your personnel to focus on delivering satisfying customer experience.
Front of the House Benefits
Customer relationship management in the food industry is a must. After all, gaining new customers costs six times more than keeping current clients. I'm sure you've heard of the top CRM software for restaurants, such as Toast, TouchBistro Restaurant, Upserve, and others. Let's go over what these ready-made software solutions can do for your customer-facing processes.
Establish an efficient and user-friendly reservation system. Online reservations will free up your in-house staff to pay more attention to the guests and prevent double-booking or overbooking. Customers will enjoy a streamlined user experience without the need to call and talk with a distracted maitre d'.
Run an efficient loyalty program and attract new customers. Gift cards, coupons, and referral codes will help you engage with existing clients and keep them coming back for more. Word-of-mouth, coupled with discount offers, will also help you gain new customers.
Set up an online order system for delivery and takeout. Without the pressure of a phone call, your clients are likely to spend 23% more on their orders. The number of mistakes will go down, and that will go a long way in establishing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Coupled with powerful analytics tools, CRM software for fast food or any other type of restaurant can help you track customer purchase history, identify the most and least favorite items on the menu, and the biggest spenders.
Restaurant Management System Alternatives
Besides the restaurant management software examples I've mentioned, you should consider two other alternatives.
First, you can go with an all-purpose retail solution, such as Epos Now, LS Retail, or Cash Register Express. They come with multiple built-in features your restaurant might need, including stock inventory, CRM, and retail accounting. However, they are not tailored to the food industry and might lack critical solutions.
Your second alternative is to run a software engineering project on a restaurant management system. It might require a significant upfront investment, but you will get the solution that fits your needs to a T. Moreover, you can count on reliable technical support in case you run into any trouble and ongoing development for your growing business needs.
Look Out for Essential Restaurant Management System Features
I hope I've made a case for the benefits of CRM in the restaurant business, and end-to-end automation systems offer even more possibilities for growth. However, the deeper your restaurant management system penetrates your business, the bigger repercussions its failures might cause. I've analyzed the most prominent risks your company can run into and come up with a list of features to prevent or mitigate them. For maximum security and highest returns, look for
Automated flexible reporting. To make most of your CRM for a cafe or a restaurant, you need to assess critical information at a glance. Adjustable filters and settings should let you choose data points and sets to display and provide visualization options for easy access.
Offline capabilities. It's not only useful for cruise ship operators but traditional restaurants as well. Cloud-based solutions should be able to work with a spotty or non-existent Internet connection and synchronize the new data once the network goes up.
Sensitive data protection. If you collect customer information for your CRM needs, ensure the restaurant management system is secure enough to prevent breaches. The solution should be compliant with GDPR and other data privacy regulations applicable to your business.
Third-party integration. If you select a restaurant CRM module without all the bells and whistles, you should be able to integrate your existing ERP, bookkeeping, or stock management software. Manual data transfer between software solutions will cause delays and mistakes.
Scaling capabilities. When your restaurant business takes off, and you open new venues, your smart restaurant management system should be able to handle more data and streamline operations across all branches.
As a part of the FreshCode software development team, I've helped dozens of companies streamline their business processes and increase revenue. I know for sure restaurant management systems have vast potential, and if you ever decide to take your business to the next level, I'd like you to remember these four things:
Back of the house solutions offer increased efficiency and reduced expenses by streamlining employee scheduling, accounting and tax reporting, inventory management, and sales tracking.
Front of the house solutions breed customer loyalty and increase revenue through online reservation and order system or a loyalty program.
You can start a restaurant management system project or opt for an all-purpose retail solution if you can't find the food industry software that meets your needs.
You need to think restaurant automation through and ensure the solution you choose comes with proper security features, scaling and integration capabilities, as well as an offline mode.