In Part 1 of our Modern Restaurant Technology Guide, we explored some of the major components of the tools that today’s restaurateurs need to keep operations running smoothly and profitably — tools such as a point of sale system, accounting tools, inventory management systems, and the accompanying hardware.
But the best tech tools for restaurants don’t end there.
There are other technology tools that can make your restaurant even more appealing to customers and easier to run.
Modern restaurants should consider adopting these tools, too.
HR & Scheduling Apps
Scheduling restaurant employees and then managing those schedules has traditionally been one of the more difficult and tedious tasks that restaurant managers have to contend with. Manually making a schedule that takes everyone’s needs and preferences into account and makes sure that the right employees with the right skills are filling out each shift can easily take hours. Plus, schedules can shift and change at a moment’s notice when employees get sick or fail to come in.
Thankfully, HR and scheduling apps designed just for these needs are coming to the rescue.
Features to Look for in HR & Scheduling Software
- Time clock and timesheet management tools – Clocking in, clocking out, and tallying up hours worked should be simple and error-free.
- Staff communication tools – Staffers should be able to check their schedule remotely, request time off, and easily send each other messages about their schedules.
- Task Management – Some scheduling software also has the ability for administrators to assign tasks for each shift and monitor which employees complete them.
- Auto-scheduling – Some tools have an auto-schedule feature that factors in sales forecasts, bookings, expected foot traffic, and of course
- Automatic shift replacements – These suggest and contact potential replacements for your staffers as soon as they notify managers that they’ll be missing a scheduled shift. Because employees’ skills (and performance) are tracked in the software, it “knows” which employees are appropriate to suggest for scheduling changes. Employees can even swap shifts on their own through the software with no need for management to get involved.
- Payroll software integration – With direct integration with payroll software, it can be easier than ever to get employees’ paychecks based on their hours worked.
Examples of HR & Scheduling Software
- Deputy Software
- 7 Shifts
Analytics & Dashboards
Separately, cloud-based software programs that manage things like point of sale, inventory, accounting, and scheduling for your restaurant can save many, many hours of work.
But when you start connecting them together with the help of integrations, each of the tools becomes much more powerful.
Leveraging the power of integrations is especially helpful when it comes to data and analytics.
Without programs that share data automatically, there will be a lot of manual importing, exporting, and transferring to spreadsheets in order to get the data you need. And as we know, manual work takes a lot of time and causes expensive mistakes.
Features to Look for in Analytics & Dashboards
When your tools integrate together, they may be able to do the following things.
- Share customer, vendor, and staff data (no more entering new accounts manually in each program or worrying about duplicates or errors)
- Give you a clear idea of how much you’re spending each shift on food and staffing costs (also known as “prime cost”) and identify trends and potential savings opportunities
- Easily calculate your restaurant’s “cost of goods sold” and compare that to revenue, which makes it easy to calculate food cost ratio, beverage cost ratio, and the profitability of each individual menu item
- Show the average revenue per ticket or per table, and see how much individual customers have spent over time
- Show how staffing costs relate to sales (such as how much revenue each employee brings in and how sales trends affect staffing needs)
- Sync transaction data from the POS system to the accounting system in real-time so you can understand how your restaurant is doing financially at any moment
Examples of Analytics & Dashboards
- Most leading restaurant SaaS have built integrations with other major programs. However, there are also apps such as Tenzo, which specialize in connecting with each of your individual software programs (scheduling, point of sale, accounting, etc.) to create beautiful dashboards.
Customer Loyalty Programs
These days, customers want relationships with businesses, and the right kind of software can help develop those relationships.
Loyalty programs connected to your point of sale system can track and analyze customer behavior to understand how long each one has been coming to your restaurant, what they usually like to order, and what times they like to come in.
You can then use this knowledge to create compelling marketing offers and reach customers at the right times.
Features to Look for in Customer Loyalty Programs
- Easy enrollment – The best loyalty programs make it easy for your customers to enroll in the program in multiple ways, such as during checkout or through your website.
- Customer-facing interface – Customers should be able to easily find out how many points they’ve earned and which rewards they can get.
- Smooth POS integration – The most convenient loyalty programs automatically track purchases made across multiple locations and websites.
- Customer segmentation – You should be able to group customers together based on various behaviors and characteristics in order to send them messages and
- A marketing tool – Within your loyalty program, you should be able to create campaigns via SMS and email builder, and even schedule automatic messages for certain benchmarks.
- Customer insights – A good loyalty program will illustrate overall trends within the loyalty program, including spending habits and campaign results, clearly and easily.
- Coupons and special deals – You should be able to create and send special promotions that are limited by the date, type of customer, purchasing behavior, and more.
Examples of Customer Loyalty Programs for Restaurants
- Lightspeed Loyalty
Gift Cards Programs
Accepting gift cards at your restaurant is a great way to boost cash flow and increase revenue.
Gift cards are a great way to promote your restaurant during the holidays or special events and occasions. Plus, when customers redeem gift cards, you have the chance to upsell them to boost your revenue even further.
Features to Look for in Gift Cards Programs
- POS integration – You’ll want a gift card program that’s directly integrated into your point of sale system so customers can purchase cards from their existing accounts and you can track their purchasing behavior.
- Online or in-store purchase options – Some of your customers will want a traditional plastic card with their purchase, and others will be happy to email or even text the card to their recipient. Your software should support all of those options.
- Balance lookup – Gift card holders should be able to easily check their balance online.
- Ecommerce use – If you sell any food, drink, or branded merchandise online in addition to your restaurant, gift cards should apply to those purchases, too.
Examples of Gift Cards Programs
- Most major restaurant POS programs, including Lightspeed and Toast, come with gift card features baked into the software.
We’ve discussed many different tools throughout this guide to modern restaurant technology.
Individually, each tool can make running your restaurant much easier.
However, the programs can work together in very different ways. If you use too many programs that weren’t designed to work together, you might end up with redundant features, confusing data and reports, and glitchy integrations.
Choosing the right software tools represents significant time and expense, and you want to make the right selections the right time around.
That’s why many savvy restaurant owners and managers are choosing to partner with restaurant technology specialists to implement their restaurant hardware and software.
At Cloudscape Technologies, our mission is to support local restaurateurs in the Middle East region to find the best tech solutions. We take on the hard work of getting each program up and running for your restaurant, making sure all the programs work together seamlessly, and finally training your staff on how to use the new programs.
With this level of help, restaurant owners can focus on keeping their restaurants running smoothly.