Restaurant Management Software: What You Need to Know
In a margin-critical business such as restaurants, you know that keeping a close eye on every part of your operations keeps your business in the black. Inventory management, accounts, POS software, employee scheduling and HR functions, and supplier management are all interlinked parts of the finely tuned machine that is your restaurant.
At this point, you may have cobbled together a few restaurant management software services to take some of the work off your staff. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the trends in restaurant tech and how you can increase profit margins, minimize costs, and improve customer service by integrating restaurant management software services to work together.
Advantages of Software for the Restaurant Business
For every process in your restaurant, there is a software solution to help you manage it.
POS software makes it quick and easy for customers to pay, increasing turnover. Couple with inventory or accounting software, it can give you insights into your most profitable menu items and help you control waste and theft.
Advanced POS systems, like Toast POS, improve the customer experience and keep diners coming back for more. Online ordering and reservation options meet your customers where they are: online.
Advanced POS hardware, like handheld ordering devices and digital KDS, speeds up and streamlines time-to-service and minimizes the risk of mistakes to give your customers a best-in-class experience.
Inventory Management Software
Restaurant inventory management helps minimize food waste by tracking inventory movements in real time. Get oversight into exactly how and where inventory is used in your restaurant, and keep an eye on costs to negotiate the best deals with suppliers. Integrate it with your accounting software to help keep track of spending and forecast accurately.
Using your restaurant management system analytics, you can predict when the busiest times will be and use predictive ordering to ensure you have the exact quantity of ingredients you’ll need.
Employee Management Software
Predictive analytics can also reduce labor costs with employee management software by ensuring that you have exactly the number of employees scheduled per shift.
Happy, satisfied employees also make for happy, satisfied customers. Besides proper remuneration and benefits, giving staff the tools to do their job well (from an easy-to-use POS system to flexible employee scheduling) improves morale, which can have a positive effect on service.
Trends in Restaurant Management Software
The restaurant management software market has grown exponentially over the past decade, and even more so, recently. And restaurant technology such as online ordering, contactless food delivery, and ghost kitchens have changed the face of the restaurant industry .
But how can restaurant owners incorporate tech trends into their business to promote growth? And how are software solutions addressing current trends in the restaurant business?
Restaurant POS Software
POS software has been available for restaurants for a long time. Hardware and software solutions now meet the need for more flexibility, a variety of payment options, and customer retainment tools.
- Mobile POS gives staff the hardware they need to take orders at the table, reducing mistakes and wait times for food.
- POS apps make it possible for customers to order from the table on their own device via an app, or to easily order for delivery or takeout from home.
- POS kiosks reduce staffing needs and wait times for foods at quick service restaurants.
- POS analytics enable restaurants to use data to make better-informed business decisions and target personalized marketing to customers.
Contactless and Online Ordering
Trends toward contactless technology were on the rise even before 2020, but the pandemic was the catalyst for a huge movement toward contactless ordering, online ordering, food delivery, and contactless payments. In fact, contactless/mobile payments were somewhat or extremely important for 87% of customers, order-at-table for 84%, self-ordering kiosks for 77%, mobile/web order-ahead technology for 83%, and online ordering programs for 84%, according to a survey by Toast.
Restaurant management and POS software are keeping up with demand by making these options available to restaurants and customers.
Almost half (45%) of U.S. diners have tried a restaurant for the first time because of a social media post.
Integrating social prompts into the dining experience by displaying handles and hashtags prominently, requesting feedback via POS and loyalty programs, and running contests for shares on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter are all ways to build vital word-of-mouth for your restaurant.
Ghost Kitchens, or delivery-only restaurants, have popped up throughout cities during the pandemic. It is a model that minimizes overhead by ditching the dine-in concept (and the labor and real-estate that comes with it) altogether. Ghost kitchen restaurants prepare food for takeout or delivery and run their brand through their website, social media presence, and delivery apps like GrubHub or UberEats.
Today’s POS and restaurant management systems are multi-platform and multi-channel, allowing you to run a ghost kitchen with sales simultaneously through your website, your own app, and third-party apps.
Growing Your Business With Restaurant Management Software
The more efficiently your restaurant runs, the more money you save, and the easier it is to grow.
Using restaurant software to manage your business gives you both a bird’s eye view over the day-to-day, month-to-month, or year-to-year of your restaurant to spot trends, while allowing you to drill down into the granular operations to pinpoint and resolve problems before they escalate.
Reduce wastage and lower COGS by using inventory management software to track stock levels. Integrate with your POS to use intelligent forecasting that can predict exactly what and when you need to reorder, to get the most out of your inventory. For example, you can set par levels and use system-suggested ordering to minimize stock-outs and over-ordering.
Predictive analytics can also help you to grow with a workforce management system. Integrating your POS, inventory management, and workforce management can keep labor costs down, ensure labor compliance, and increase employee satisfaction and retention. Budget for labor based on sales forecasts, and track employee performance to incentivize for the best service outcomes. For example, if you can predict your busiest shifts, and identify your best-performing staff, you can create schedules that match them up, so that your most efficient staff work your busiest shifts, and you don’t end up under- or over-staffed.
You can also use your POS or sales system to learn more about your diners using customer data. From there, you can entice customers by marketing offers directly related to them, and always being aware of their preferences when they return. Advanced POS features like loyalty programs, menu engineering, and digital payments also work to increase the chances of happy customers, higher spend and return diners. You can use loyalty programs, for example, to target deals at customers that have ordered similarly before — with an offer on their favorite dish for the holidays, or an early bird special to maximize sales at typically quieter times.
One of the fastest ways for restaurant operators to grow the business and increase market size without adding significant overheads is to set up online ordering. By linking a POS system, accounting, and inventory management, you can ensure that customers have a way to order food online via your own app or website and/or through third-party delivery apps. You can also ensure that inventory and menus are always up-to-date across every channel (in-store, online, and on third-party apps), that customers are able to easily pay for their order online, and kitchens are staffed to enable fast and accurate delivery service.
Considerations When Purchasing Restaurant Management Software
Only you know your exact restaurant management software needs. Your service style, your budget, and the preferences of your own clientele will dictate the type of restaurant software and feature set that will contribute to your success.
Features of restaurant management software may include inventory management, POS, accounting, employee scheduling, online ordering, table management and reservation software, and more.
- Restaurant inventory management software: Track your restaurant inventory, minimize food costs and wastage, and manage suppliers and procurement with inventory management software like MarketMan.
- Restaurant POS Software: Manage menu items and tables, communicate between front of house and the kitchen, and increase the efficiency of your sales and service with a POS system like Lightspeed or Redcat.
- Restaurant accounting software: Track and manage accounts, handle invoices and expenses, and get real-time insight into your cash flow with restaurant accounting software like Xero or Quickbooks.
- Restaurant employee software: Schedule shifts, communicate with staff, and track performance in employee management software like 7Shifts.
- Online delivery & marketing software: Manage website and app promotions across platforms with marketing software like Lucky Diem, and then manage online orders across platforms with an aggregator like Cuboh.
Most restaurant management solutions are not one-size-fits-all.
How could they be, when there are so many different styles of restaurant? From food trucks to fine-dining to fast-service, your restaurant is unique – and your software needs probably are too.
The best way to build a software stack perfectly suited to your restaurant is to build an ecosystem of the best software applications for you, through integrations and APIs.
Understand the essential features you need right away, and start with a robust restaurant management system like MarketMan, then add integrations as you grow and adapt.