7 software strategies to help your restaurant thrive this winter – Forbes Advisor


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The restaurant industry has changed dramatically in 2021. With COVID-19 restrictions impacting in-person dining in many states, restaurants are eyeing another muted holiday season. But the holiday season doesn’t have to be your only source of fourth quarter income; There are some innovative changes in your catering software strategy that can set you up for a good start to the New Year.

These are our top tips for leveraging your software tools to set your restaurant up for success until 2022.

Assess your strengths and needs

You are probably already using some type of restoration software. Many restaurants have a love-hate relationship with their software tools. From point of sale (POS) to accounting programs, they can be difficult to learn and may not cover all the tasks you need. This frustration is not always the fault of the applications.

Many restaurant owners and managers don’t have the time to learn all the functions of their systems, and they rarely have the time to keep up with new developments when the software they use adds new tools. But this first step is essential if you’ve been running hard all year to keep your business afloat. Before you start buying new software, take a look at the systems you already have.

Many restaurant point-of-sale brands have spent 2021 rapidly developing new online ordering and delivery tools, customer relationship management, kitchen display systems, inventory management, and even delivery solutions. employee planning. An outlet you’ve been using for five years may have developed tons of new features to grow your business and save you time.

Think about which tasks you rely on software for, and write down daily tasks for which you could use more assistance. Are the tools you are currently using solving your problems, partially solving them, or creating more work? Do the tools you use for accounting, sales tracking, employee performance, and inventory tracking all communicate with each other? If they don’t, is it because they lack capacity or because you haven’t integrated them? Would planning a upgrade help you get the most out of your software?

Many restoration software tools are offered on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. They tend to offer more than one level of subscription with different functions. Do the tools you use have the capacity to better support you with a higher level subscription? Or are you paying for tools that do a lot more than you need to? In the latter case, could you upgrade to a cheaper subscription level?

Allow time to call your account reps or customer success officers and recalibrate your current subscriptions to meet your needs. Be honest about what you need and what you will be using. Conversations with users allow restoration software vendors to develop new solutions and fix bugs. Your ideas are precious to them.

Your representative will likely inform you of system updates or new tools that may serve you better and may even offer you promotional prices (especially if your contract is due for renewal soon). It never hurts to ask if they can offer you a better price or lower payment processing rates. Every penny saved can help increase your results.

After evaluating your existing software, you’ll want to consider additional add-ons.

Add internal online ordering channels

Between 59% and 63% of customers prefer to place their delivery orders directly through restaurants rather than through third-party apps. In the past year and a half, 98% of customers have used digital ordering, and 70% of customers actually prefer to order digitally rather than in person.

All of this leads to the establishment of internal online ordering channels. If you don’t already have them, now is the time to start. If your restaurant is located in a location with a lot of winter weather, you’ll want to consider adding delivery as well. Customers are more likely to place an order for your amazing burgers if they don’t have to brave a snowstorm to pick them up.

There are several ways to provide this service. If you are using a cloud-based point of sale system, your point of sale provider likely offers an online ordering module. In fact, some app-based point of sale systems include an online ordering site for free or for less than $ 15 per month. Alternatively, you can choose from several excellent restaurant website design platforms that specialize in custom online ordering sites for restaurants.

Some of these web design platforms charge monthly subscription fees. Others only charge a per-order fee and a processing fee for online payments. Sometimes you can even find a free online ordering tool, although these free sites don’t always include the option to accept payments online.

Online ordering platforms for restaurants

Take advantage of loyalty programs

Customers love loyalty programs. In a recent study, 69% of people said loyalty programs encourage them to visit restaurants more frequently. The National Restaurant Association has found that loyal customers represent up to 64% of a restaurant’s business. Turning new customers into regulars is a great way to build long-term success.

Almost 80% of consumers believe loyalty programs should offer immediate benefits rather than follow-up points. This is good news for restaurateurs. It’s much easier to control your costs when giving away a free appetizer or dessert than it is to lose 100% of the revenue on a steak because a customer has applied all of their loyalty points to a single meal.

Almost every point of sale on the market today offers some type of loyalty tracking. In most cases, you can customize your system to track points and give dollar or percentage back. Alternatively, you can reward loyal customers with unique rewards when they reach a certain point level. If your point of sale doesn’t have loyalty tools or you don’t like the options, there are also standalone loyalty apps like Lunch box and Mango that integrate with several different point of sale systems.

Add waitlist tools

When you need to manage your restaurant occupancy, a waitlist tool can save your life. If you are currently using a reservation tool and are burnt by no-shows, a waitlist app can free you from taking reservations. Of course, you can always use a pen and paper to jot down client names and cell phone numbers, but if you are short on staff, who will call waiting list clients when a table is available?

Today’s waitlist apps automatically text customers with the click of a button. Simply add customers to the waitlist as they arrive, or you can choose to allow customers to be added to your waitlist before they show up. Most waitlist and reservation tools are stand-alone, however, many cloud point-of-sale systems integrate with more than one waitlist application.

Like the other software mentioned, you can find free waiting list tools, although most charge a monthly fee that can range from $ 24 to over $ 200 per month. If you need a complete reservation solution, popular restaurant reservation systems like Resy, OpenTable, and Eatapp also include waitlist tools.

Examples of restaurant waiting list tools

Engage your staff with a scheduling app

Smart scheduling apps that push schedules to your employees’ smartphones used to be a rare sight, but nowadays restaurant workers almost expect you to have one. Not only does a scheduling app save you hours of manually creating schedules each week, it also logs all time off requests and your staff’s availability.

You won’t have to keep up with team swap requests written on Post-it notes or wait until you are at a restaurant to approve a team change. Scheduling apps let you receive alerts on your smartphone so you can make schedule changes from any internet-connected device and track your labor costs while creating schedules that ensure that you stay within your labor budget. These are not just tools for large multi-site restaurant groups. Several planning applications such as Home base Where 7Shifts offer free tools for restaurants with small teams.

Get to Know COVID Vaccine Tracking Apps

Many states have deployed COVID-19 vaccine tracking apps. New York currently offers the most sophisticated app, the Excelsior Pass, which includes a business scan app. New York restaurants can use a smartphone or iPad to scan customers’ vaccination records with QR code and the Excelsior Scanner app will tell you whether the vaccination record is valid or not. This is a valuable tool in New York City, where proof of vaccination is required for indoor meals. The scanning application is free to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

As of November 2021, Arizona, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Washington DC have all been partners of MyIR Mobile. This app does not currently support scannable QR code vaccination records, but they are hoping to include this feature soon. If your restaurant is located in one of these states and requires proof of vaccination for indoor dining, keep your ear to the ground for updates.

Final result

A winter without the holiday season doesn’t have to be bleak. Taking the time to assess your current restoration software strategy will help you strengthen your business in the months to come. The best strategies are to give customers and employees the access they need, convert new customers to repeat customers, and plan to manage COVID-19 food restrictions in your area. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to consolidate your software strategy; pretty much all of the tools we’ve mentioned here have free options or free trials to get you started.


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