Within roughly six months after launching the Restaurant Technology Network (RTN), the community has attracted significant industry buy-in from 65+ brands representing both restaurants and restaurant technology suppliers. A cornerstone benefit of RTN is its workgroups, virtual think-tank-style meetings bringing restaurants and suppliers together to tackle crowd-sourced topics. The end result takes the shape of published best practices, technical guidance or industry standards. The following workgroups are going strong now: Buyer’s Guide and Standard RFP; Open API Initiative; Security Best Practices; and Third-Party Delivery.
For restaurants, while third-party delivery
provides incremental sales at scale, it also disrupts operations. As a result, “Everyone is suffering through the same problems. The issues go beyond ‘tablet hell,’” explains Skip Kimpel, Chief Information Officer, 4R Restaurant Group and RTN Third-Party Delivery workgroup leader.
“Some restaurants have created their own integrations into the POS or are using third-party companies to create them. It would have been easier if there was a standardized code or format ... That lack of standardization is key,” adds Kimpel. “It goes into menu management, where the operator needs to push many changes out. It’s about creating efficiencies through streamlining data and how data is represented back to the restaurant from third-party delivery, and is the data adjustable to the restaurant’s own data warehouse.”
How to simplify and standardize across the board is a major issue for restaurant groups such as WKS Restaurant Group, a Southern California franchisee representing six brands, El Pollo Loco, Denny’s, Wendy’s, Krispy Kreme, Blaze Pizza and Corner Bakery Cafe. Several senior level WKS team members are involved in RTN, including Trevor Fitzgerald, VP of IT.
Participating in RTN workgroups gives Fitzgerald a chance to emphasize the IT needs for multiple-brand operators. “It is important for restaurants to band together to collaborate and to demand that there be some standardizations in place,” says Fitzgerald. He says there are a dizzying amount of differences between third-party delivery providers. For example, how they work across states vary; some may collect sales tax, others may not, and some may collect sales tax only in certain states. Keeping it all straight is a challenge.
RTN is a place where restaurants and suppliers work together to find common solutions. This type of community “has been a long missing piece of the puzzle,” says Kimpel.
Kimpel, who is also involved in the Open API workgroup, has been impressed with the participating members. “I originally got involved because of the caliber of individuals. They all have great leadership skills ... Leadership is a key part to making something happen.”
Shane Wheatland, CMO of Omnivore, sees synergies between RTN and Omninvore’s mission to find a better, simpler way to connect restaurants to technology. “We have the same beliefs. We want to help restaurants go further and faster in their digital journeys.”
Technology is evolving at a rapid-fire pace, and being involved in RTN today will help all members navigate future disruptions. For suppliers such as Omnivore, RTN helps them learn what restaurants’ pain points are, and inspires thinking to help create standardized solutions. Both the restaurants and suppliers involved in the RTN workgroups share a common vision: to enhance the industry through collaboration and to fix problems.
About Restaurant Technology Network
The Restaurant Technology Network (RTN) is a community bringing technology talent from restaurants and suppliers together to solve industry challenges. For more information or to get involved in RTN workgroups, visit www.restauranttechnologynetwork.com or reach out to co-founder Angela Diffly, [email protected]