Restaurant Tech: Is It Worth the Cost?
When discussing restaurant technology, you'll often hear the claim that it has the power to "raise revenue." Stories abound of restaurants "increasing their profits" by implementing technology. It can seem like an oxymoron at times. Restaurant technology comes with a cost, we all know this — especially when it comes to operators with multiple sites. For some operators, the initial investment in restaurant technology can stir great hesitation and cause many to stick with outdated methods (like paper tickets) or obsolete technology.
We cannot deny that quality restaurant technology doesn't often come for free. It's true. But we can also confirm that restaurant technology can, and will, help you become a more profitable operation, despite the costs they incur. Here's our guide.
While guest traffic and orders help generate revenue, identifying "leaks" or waste in your workflow, and plugging those holes, will also raise revenue by stopping the slow (often secret) bleed from your resources. This method for revenue-driving is crucial to remember. Consider it a "best offense is a good defense" principle. If you've got your resources water-tight and aren't dispensing your inventory wastefully, you can truly focus on what's coming in.
We also want to note that at the time of this writing, any sizable financial investment can feel monumental. It's with this in mind that we write this, knowing that these are conversations to have when things "normalize."
Restaurant technology, like a kitchen display system, will simplify your workflows, especially with a fully-integrated setup. They help remove wasted time from every task, whether it's getting the order from the POS to the kitchen (an integrated system will automatically push it back there). These mini "time gaps" compound over time, a few seconds here, a few seconds there, accounting for massive amounts of time you could have been packing more to-go orders.
Integrated restaurant technology removes those chunks of time at every stage of the journey, pairing your kitchen down to a lean, automated machine. Since you're not wasting precious minutes of every shift performing routine tasks like running tickets to the back or checking on order statuses, you stand to serve more food and earn more money.
Accidents happen, but they're always costly. With every botched order, your staff must re-make the meal. These mistakes waste inventory because you throw food away, and lose revenue when you refund a customer. Restaurant technology can help you minimize errors in a variety of ways.
Graphical displays help present the order information in a clean, digestible format. For those in the kitchen during high-intensity moments, visuals help them properly stay on top of what goes where. Furthermore, technology features like recipe viewers provide a digital "safety net" for staff members, an excellent visual refresher on dishes in the heat of the moment. Recipe viewers can also help in your onboarding efforts, making it quick and easy to train staff up to your standards despite high turnaround.
Finally, restaurant technology and order throttling features help create prompts that pace the meal automatically, ensuring that everything finishes simultaneously. For example, foods that take longer to cook (like steak) will start earlier. Within a few minutes, the prep cook will receive a prompt to start the salad. Both items finish at the same time and can go out to the table together. The throttling eliminates the dilemma that happens when your staff completes one dish long before others; it sits in the delivery window under a heat lamp, resulting in a re-make.
Ultimately, restaurant technology helps you cut down on costly mistakes and make good on your promises of quality and consistent service.
With unpredictable world events and market forces continually at odds of upending normalcy, creating multiple business models and revenue streams, even within the same restaurant, can help you weather the storm. If recent events are any indication, a restaurant's ability to provide takeout, delivery, and curbside orders (off-premise dining) can still create a business at a time when shutdowns and bans prevent walk-in traffic.
Restaurant technology helps you execute on a successful, simplified off-premise strategy in numerous ways, from allowing you to integrate your technology with third-party delivery partners to providing guests with order status updates to facilitate touchless delivery.
Restaurant technology, that's capable of determining real-time order statuses, means you can quote back to your guests more accurately, using actual kitchen data and processes and not a predetermined algorithm. Furthermore, with 2-way SMS features, you can also receive notifications from delivery drivers and guests when they’ve arrived in the parking lot. This technology provides for a smooth, contactless curbside pickup experience.
Finally, the best way to truly quantify your restaurant's performance is to use data. Restaurant data shows what's happening in your kitchen, from how long it's taking to prepare your meals, to how many orders you see on an average night.
Restaurant technology that provides data reporting and easily-accessible analytics allows operators to take an accounting of their operation and use numbers to identify the areas where they need to improve. Historical data can help them get a read on their average performances during particular months or seasons, and daily reporting can make you more reflexive. Ultimately, data analytics help you raise revenue by identifying the problem areas, without tweaking the things that work.
With technology, there are costs involved, but you've got to remember that it's an investment. Regardless of your size or segment, there are ways to turn your restaurant into a smart, fully integrated one. Those investments will bring about returns that far outweigh the initial costs, and you'll see increased revenue in your business.