A recent Guardian newspaper headline was bleak: “Bar and restaurant chains scale back UK expansion as costs rise.”
The article says the effect of rising costs – caused by the fall in the pound and the introduction of the living wage – is being exacerbated by a drop in the number of people dining out.
In the feature, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, says: “There is a real reluctance to increase prices to the consumer for fear of damaging fragile discretionary spend.”
If you run a pub, bar or restaurant, you’ll fully sympathise with that view. And you may perhaps be suffering the effects of the economy yourself – even Jamie Oliver has closed six restaurants.
“Uncertainty is the new norm,” Kate says.
Of course, running a hospitality business has always been a high-risk occupation, so restaurateurs are accustomed to rolling with the punches to some degree.
And it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the most successful of our restaurants continue to do well, despite Brexit and all the other challenges.
So we’ve taken a look at how these beacons of success are managing to shine – and we’ve identified ten technology tips that you can apply to your own business to help it through these uncertain times.
Many successful establishments have invested in a restaurant system that creates operational efficiencies, easing costs and helping to improve their bottom line.
This technology helps in 5 ways:
1) Our customer, our friend:
The more your restaurant knows about its customers, the more it understands them – and the better it can serve them.
Restaurant software with EPOS (electronic point of sale) captures important data about guests, which means you can create targeted email marketing campaigns. By knowing their preferences, you can make sure your offers hit the mark.
2) How was it for you?:
Social media reviews are now a huge influencer on diners – US economists Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder found that a ratings improvement of just half a star made a restaurant much more likely to sell out at peak times.
That’s positive reviews, of course. But what happens if a diner is posting negative feedback before they even leave your restaurant?
Today’s sophisticated restaurant software includes an alert feature that will warn your staff as the negative post is happening – and they can go and make things right before the guest even leaves.
3) Staff go mobile:
Giving your staff the power of mobile can make a great deal of difference to your labour requirements.
Because EPOS can be used on mobile devices ranging from dedicated handheld devices to iPads and smartphones, serving staff no longer have to run back and forth to the kitchen with orders on bits of paper.
It adds up to lot of saved time, helping to ease labour issues – and in these days when it’s getting harder and harder to source staff, EPOS can also help identify your busiest times so you can roster effectively.
There are other benefits, too. The accurate order is sent directly from tableside, so the kitchen can begin preparing the meal straight away.
Guests get exactly what they’ve asked for in double-quick time, which contributes to an excellent customer experience in these days when the average diner spends only 45 minutes in the restaurant.
4) Pay without delay:
Those busy guests also hate waiting around to pay, and that’s where restaurant software helps again. Waiting staff can take the payment at tableside, even with credit or debit cards, and print the bill out to a remote printer.
With large parties – particularly common in casual dining outlets – dividing up the bill is simple; another tick in the customer satisfaction box.
5) Trash talk:
Controlling supplies and cutting waste is one of the biggest issues in restaurants – former Nomad chef de cuisine Matt Orlando recently called on the industry to do better in this area.
EPOS helps you identify which dishes are most popular, and creates detailed reports that can inform procurement decisions and reduce the amount of food your kitchen throws away.
The UK’s Sustainable Restaurant Association reckons the average restaurant throws away a shocking 4 tonnes of food each year – and could save £2,000 by using it up instead.
That’s better in your pocket than in the bin, for sure – and it’s better for the environment, too.
Just add good food…
As restaurateurs all over the world know, good food, friendly staff and pleasant surroundings are the foundations on which any good dining business is based.
But equally, the industry is finding to its cost that today, these ingredients – high quality as they are – may just not be enough.
So add a dash of the latest technology to the mix. As a recipe for success, it’s a proven winner.