by Greg Staley, CEO of SynergySuite
Restaurant technology has never been as important as it is right now, as restaurants face a perfect storm of increased consumer demand, ongoing staff shortages, price increases, and supply chain disruptions.
Luckily, today’s affordable, accessible, integrated software allows operators to collect information and make data-based decisions about every aspect of their business. Their easy-to-read reports spotlight inventory, labor costs, sales patterns, and much more. This allows informed decisions about scheduling, inventory, and food purchasing to save significant time, hassle, and money. Software solutions also allow operators to spot trends, track noncompliance, and find (and fix) problems before they become huge, costly liabilities.
In contrast, restaurant operators using manual systems – like paper lists or spreadsheets – and/or using gut instincts to run their businesses are relying on flawed approaches. Manual processes make it challenging to accurately track inventory, manage labor, or identify inefficiencies. Additionally, they’re time-consuming, error-prone, and unable to provide a comprehensive view of the entire organization. Add in today’s tremendous challenges and disruptions, and you have a restaurant that’s likely struggling to survive, let alone thrive.
Restaurants should rely on tech solutions, and the valuable reports that they generate, to help solve their most pressing problems, including:
- Seemingly small inefficiencies add up over time and can be costing your restaurant hundreds or thousands of dollars each month. The administrative part of the job – overseeing operations, tracking sales, managing labor, forecasting, etc. – can be quite tedious and time consuming, but they’re essential to running a successful business. However, tech solutions streamline these tasks, making them faster, easier, and more accurate. Operators can review valuable data to drive smarter decisions, like using daily sales patterns to order more accurately and plan employee schedules that optimize your labor spend.
- Employee theft. A whopping 95% of businesses experience employee theft, and 75% of employees say they have stolen from their company at least once. And dishonest restaurant employees steal an average of $1,900 from their employers. Accounting, bookkeeping, and inventory management software lets you track your cash flows, monitor profitability, and reduce theft.
- When your kitchen overportions, your restaurant loses money with every meal served. Over time, this can add up to a substantial amount. With labor management software, operators can track performance, drilling down by employee and location, to determine which individuals and stores might be over-portioning. With this insight, owners and managers can retrain specific employees on correct portioning, as needed.
- Inventory wastage. Manually conducting inventory is time-consuming and inaccurate, and the lack of intelligent insight often results in redundant purchases, significant kitchen wastage, and other costly issues. However, when restaurants install a point of sale (POS) system, they can dramatically reduce wasted food and related expenses. Automatic inventory tracking can help owners track stock, such as liquor, to spot potential shrinkage from overportioning or theft. Reports and analytics allow operators to determine which items need to be restocked, which should be reduced because they aren’t selling, and which ingredients will spoil first, reducing waste and unnecessary expenses.
- Supply chain issues. As of November 2021, more than 90 percent of restaurant operators said they had experienced product delays or shortages during the previous three months, according to the National Restaurant Association. Food industry experts determined that better visibility into supply chain operations is essential. The pandemic, and the related product shortages, accelerated the need for track-and-trace technologies, which enhance visibility and transparency across the supply chain, including processing, manufacturing, and delivery to restaurants and other final destinations. Supply chain delays also reinforce the need for maximizing existing inventory, tracking stock more accurately, and using existing ingredients more creatively.
- Overusing employees. The restaurant industry is facing a staff shortage, which means that many existing employees are being overutilized. When relying on instinct to configure schedules, employees can easily be overscheduled or not given proper breaks, leading to employee dissatisfaction and burnout. Restaurant labor technology uses your forecasted sales and historical patterns to determine how many people need to be working, when, and for how long. With leaner teams and limited resources, integrated tech solutions help operators navigate the ongoing staffing challenges and optimize operations while offering an exceptional experience for guests. For instance, reports can help determine whether shifts are being appropriately staffed so customers aren’t growing frustrated as they wait for service during an understaffed shift. Likewise, overstaffing is problematic and costly. Software solutions can help operators staff appropriately, manage labor costs, and keep employees (and guests) happy.
Use modern, cloud-based tools and an integrated tech stack for streamlined data collection, holistic views of your business, and fact-driven reports to help optimize operations. With more information and easy-to-read reports, you will be able to identify and resolve issues to ensure your business maximizes efficiency and profitability.
Moving forward, the restaurant industry will see a rise in tech adoption, with innovative new solutions that will help operators overcome their most pressing problems. A growing number of brands will rely on machine learning, artificial intelligence, collaborative cloud solutions, and other tech tools to help them overcome challenges, boost transparency, manage costs, reduce waste, increase efficiency, and optimize operations.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information, please contact Greg at [email protected].