Technology has changed a lot of things, from how we shop for holiday presents to how we watch TV. But now developers have set their sights on a new target: the restaurant industry. Cutting-edge restaurant technology can handle everything from an online lunch order to counting the eggs left in the walk-in, all while offering plenty of ROI. Here are five new tools that will increase your restaurant’s earning power and put some bite in your team’s tech offerings.
Last year, we saw an explosion of growth in mobile restaurant technology. Eateries are using online applications and websites, which have all received a digital makeover, to handle all kinds of customer-facing tasks such as ordering, deliveries, and payments.
The most useful of these technologies integrate directly with in-house POS systems to automatically move online orders into the kitchen without the manual labor. Many POS systems have expanded capabilities to handle previously untouched aspects of service. For instance, whereas before a staff member had to take orders and reservations over the phone, now your website accepts reservations and notifies customers when their table is ready. This leaves your team free to handle the more nuanced aspects of service.
New POS systems offer tons of bells and whistles, making them more feature rich than old-school equipment. Our CAKE POS system, for instance, connects with a digital waitlist tool, and allows data storage, so you know exactly who’s visited, their favorite meal, and even their birthday. These days, you don’t have to spill your soul to the bartender to be considered a regular!
Restaurateurs have always craved a more intimate glimpse into patron expectations and experience. But managers couldn’t exactly study customers while they were dining in, like scientists observing a zoo creature.
But now, new software offers insights into customer behavior like never before. Big data restaurant technologies handle the hard-to-answer questions, like which menu items are failing, why Wednesdays are always slow, or how efficiently a new upselling strategy is going over. Useful POS analytics calculate a huge range of factors using sophisticated algorithms that give some factual backing to owner impulses. These insights, in turn, are powering marketing campaigns and operational decisions in a way that restaurateurs once only dreamed about.
Any head chef worth their salt has an almost encyclopedic grasp on the contents of their walk-in at any time. But naturally, working from memory isn’t a failsafe — there’s always that one week you discover an extra 50 pounds of pork loin you suddenly have to get rid of, and fast.
Situations like that are exactly why some restaurateurs have turned the work of inventorying over to machines. Inventory software allows managers to create a central database without constantly reviewing invoices or manipulating manual data on spreadsheets. But highly sophisticated systems also monitor supply levels by tracking orders imputed into POS systems. That way, you know not only what you have, but what you should have, at any given time.
Let’s face it: the allure of branded apps is dwindling. For patrons, it’s annoying to download a hundred different custom smartphone applications for each of their favorite restaurants. But there’s still huge power in access, and being able to tap into customer’s smartphones offers a chance to influence dining decisions and behavior.
Beacons are the answer to that problem. Beacons allow you to push proximity-relevant content — sale alerts, custom menus, exclusive discounts and wait estimates — to customers without a separate download. Instead, they’re sent automatically to nearby bluetooth-enabled devices. On the backend, you can use beacons to accept mobile payments and gather real-time capacity and occupancy rates. It’s a lot more accurate than a visual headcount.
Smart Cooking Equipment
Don’t worry, back of house, technology hasn’t forgotten about you. Not only is mobile POS making delivery and takeout workflows easier, but it’s also revolutionizing how chefs cook from the ground up. Yep, we’re talking about high-tech cooking equipment, and it’s coming to a kitchen near you — and sooner than you’d think.
Restaurants are already using multifunctional ovens to handle a variety of tasks, including roasting, smoking, and grilling, all of it cooked with a high degree of consistency across plates. And with remote smart features, chefs can program those “low and slow” dishes to cook overnight, improving efficiency without a human attendant on standby.
Refrigerators and coolers are getting the digital treatment too. New smart refrigerators are Wi-Fi connected and equipped with environmental sensors, allowing them to monitor temperatures and send alarms if there’s an unexpected change. That has the potential to save businesses thousands of dollars in lost inventory. And energy efficiency improvements make cooling more effective and less costly as well. With all of that on the line, we say bring on the tech!