The workload of a restaurant owner can often seem never-ending. From coordinating deliveries and hiring holiday staff to developing your digital marketing, it can be difficult to keep everything running smoothly. However, it is possible to reduce admin, boost efficiency and supercharge your restaurant’s potential for growth with one simple solution: software.
Since 2020, the global restaurant industry has been increasingly turning its attention to the digital world, with many countries seeing a growth in online food deliveries. But even if your restaurant primarily deals with customers that are dining in, there is a lot to gain from using digital tools.
Software can help your restaurant to streamline its processes and stay on track, but not every programme will be right for your needs. Here are some essential tools you can’t afford to miss:
Kitchen Management System
Your kitchen is at the heart of your restaurant, so you need to make sure it’s working like a well-oiled machine. Instead of relying on a printed work schedule and estimated cook times, invest in a system that gives you the precision your business needs to run efficiently. Kitchen management software can do just that, helping you to optimise a wide range of tasks, including:
- Scheduling shifts for kitchen staff
- Tracking your food inventory and deliveries
- Menu management
- Optimizing cooking and preparation times
- Customizing order routes
Some kitchen management systems will include everything you need in one place, while others may hone in on meal preparation or facilitate better communication between your kitchen staff and the front-of-house team. Consider your restaurant’s existing pain points and find a system that provides a solution to them.
Point of Sale (POS) System
While some customers will still pay with cash in a restaurant, many now prefer card and contactless payments. In order to make this possible, you will need to invest in a good point of sale (POS) system. At its most basic level, a POS system will make it possible for customers to pay for their food with a debit or credit card, or even their phone. However, some POS systems will be optimised for restaurants, making actions like tipping and splitting the bill much easier.
Some restaurants that are really embracing digital tools will allow customers to split the bill seamlessly via an app, reducing confusion and making the payment process smoother. But most POS systems for restaurants will allow you to manually split bills and offer customers the chance to input the amount they would like to tip.
Restaurant accounting can be complicated, especially if you are a VAT-registered business. Different types of food, and the circumstances under which they are sold, can impact the amount of VAT you have to pay. For example, alcoholic drinks and hot food are taxed at the standard rate of 20%, but any food that you sell on a market stall or in a temporary pop-up café may be taxed at a reduced rate, or be zero-rated. Accounting software can help you to make and keep track of these calculations automatically.
But the different rates aren’t the only thing you need to know about VAT. Since April 2019, Making Tax Digital (MTD) stipulates that any VAT-registered business needs to use accounting software to submit its tax return. Failing to invest in an accredited MTD software solution could result in penalties further down the line, so it’s best to start sooner rather than later.
Customer Rewards Program
Many restaurants are now using loyalty schemes to boost revenue, but the most effective way to do this is no longer by stamping a physical card. Relying on physical stickers or stamps can result in customer disappointment when they either forget or lose their card, making a digital solution the most logical alternative.
Investing in bespoke customer rewards software could help you to turn one-off customers into return visitors. You may also decide to link this programme to your marketing strategy by targeting customers on their birthdays or offering families special offers when they dine with two or more children.
Online Ordering Software
If you’re yet to jump on the online ordering bandwagon, then investing in software could make the transition into takeaways much easier. Whether you decide to partner with a third-party company, such as Deliveroo or Just Eat, or invest in your own platform, some kind of software is essential for improving your customer experience.
Ordering food online is faster, easier and more convenient than having to call a restaurant and it will be easier for your staff too. Instead of double checking they’ve written down an order correctly over the phone, they’ll be able to easily access customer requests on a screen.
You have lots of options when it comes to online ordering, as even if you don’t have the capacity to physically deliver food, customers can have the option of collecting their meals in person. Have your online ordering system feed into your restaurant management software to provide customers with accurate updates on their food as well as a time they can pick up their meal.
Social Media Management Software
If your restaurant has more than one social media profile, a social media management tool could be exactly what you need to streamline your digital marketing strategy and improve your brand messaging. Not only will it help you to stick to a constant upload schedule, but you will be able to create content in batches ready to post throughout the month.
Most social media management tools also come with in-depth analytics, helping you to understand which of your posts are performing better amongst your customer base. You may be able to track the number of people who’ve seen and clicked on your content and whether posts have lead them to your website or encouraged them to make a booking.
Is Software Right For Every Restaurant?
Not every restaurant will need every type of software, but every restaurant can benefit from at least one software solution on this list. Whether you’re struggling with changing tax regulations, staff constantly being confused by their shift patterns, or a food inventory that needs a serious overall, software can remove a considerable amount of stress from your day-to-day duties.