Carmy Berzatto, the owner-operator of his family’s Italian beef joint in FX Television’s The Bear isn’t afraid of change. He adds fennel to the giardiniera, creates a chain of command in the chaotic kitchen, and insists everyone go by “chef,” a hallmark of his prior fine-dining career meant to signify mutual respect. But when a younger chef suggests installing a modern POS system to replace the pen-and-paper and an outdated cash register, he’s initially resistant.
It makes sense. For many small operators like Carmy, new technology can be overwhelming. Tech updates are associated with learning curves, glitches, and headaches. Staffing challenges mean restaurants are operating with lean staff and price increases require near-constant menu pivots. But for small mom-and-pop shops operating with slim profit margins, smart tech is actually key to successfully managing rising costs, staffing shortages, and shifting customer expectations.
Boosting Profit Margins
Not every restaurant is gifted with a secret stash of cash to save the day. That’s why you need to keep an eye on your bottom line. Tech can illuminate ways to boost your profit margin—whether through cutting costs or driving revenue. Direct online ordering can increase sales by 3% on average, while also ditching predatory commissions and third-party platform fees.
Increasing Staff Efficiency
Running a restaurant is about people just as much as it is about food. Equipping staff with a handheld POS or implementing QR code ordering can save your staff time, increase order accuracy, and rev up turn times to bring in more sales. QR code ordering isn’t a passing trend—it has helped restaurants increase total sales by 9%. And while the gravy might be subject to taste, accurate data and detailed reporting takes out the guesswork. Seeing sales and labor costs side by side can help decrease labor costs and run a more efficient operation.
Retaining Your Team
Just as much as the high-pressure situations, The Bear’s portrayal of the camaraderie that takes place in the back-of-house is applaudable. But as we see in the show, it takes more than camaraderie to ensure staff retention. The right tech makes everyone’s job easier. It could be a KDS that enables cooks to manage their station and get orders out faster or labor management software that eliminates scheduling errors, protects your business from money-handling challenges, and helps maintain compliance. When these systems work perfectly in sync with your POS, your staff can focus more on doing what they love instead of fixing order errors and sifting through messy tickets.
Streamlining Online Ordering
After a long push by sous-chef Sydney, Carmy’s restaurant in the TV show introduces online ordering and…disaster ensues. With smart tech, it doesn’t have to be that way. Order throttling or pacing would have saved Carmy and his team from the anxiety-inducing onslaught of tickets upon opening. Restaurants know that a to-go business can only drive revenue if set up properly. Otherwise, it’s an overwhelming distraction for staff overseeing multiple third-party tablets and an unstoppable flow of orders from both on- and off-premise guests. Direct online ordering channels all orders straight to the POS system, keeps more money in your bank account, and helps automatically manage the number of orders being placed.
Creating a Guest Experience
At Carmy’s restaurant, we see longtime customer loyalty as well as the sudden influx of new guests as people discover a famous chef is running the show. To accommodate new demand, Carmy’s team could have benefitted from tech that streamlines their workflow and lets them spend time doing what matters most: creating a memorable guest experience (or in their case, breaking up all-too-frequent skirmishes outside the storefront). An intuitive POS system decreases the time it takes to place orders, and direct online ordering frees up staff tied to the phone line. For a small shop, a line out the door can be a nightmare—or a godsend with the right tech and staff bandwidth.
Leveraging Your Data Trends
When all your data is tracked in a cloud-based system, there’s no need to spend hours rifling through filing cabinets looking for payroll records. Detailed, accurate reporting that’s accessible from anywhere could have saved Carmy’s sister, Sugar Berzatto, a ton of headaches as a co-signer of the family business. A point-of-sale with robust, insightful reporting can help you understand menu trends, dayparts, employees, and costing to make data-driven decisions and reach your goals.
While changing systems and incorporating new tech can be painful for cash- and time-strapped businesses, it doesn’t have to be that way. The restaurant industry is changing and practices that were unheard of five years ago, like QR code ordering, are now commonplace. With an intuitive POS system that works in sync with your online ordering, labor management tools, and reporting, your team can adapt quickly and you can see the measurable impact on your profits. If only Carmy and Sydney had upgraded their systems earlier, they could have shifted towards their new concept in far fewer than 8 episodes.