The food industry is rapidly changing now that COVID-19 has changed how the world operates as a whole. While we’re starting to see an end to the pandemic, many of the consumer behaviors are starting to stick— behaviors like ordering online and choosing outdoor spaces for dine-in options.
And with these changes, small restaurants and chains need to start adopting practices that will allow them to ride the evolution of the industry. One of the most important changes is pivoting towards digital systems.
How Restaurant Management Is Changing
Restaurant management is no longer what it used to be either, not only because of COVID but also various factors. People are relying on technology now more as a result. Accordingly, the restaurant management software business could grow to $6.94 billion by 2025. Let’s look at some of the factors that are changing restaurant management.
Amidst the Delta variant, outdoor dining experiences increased by 72%. Now that the pandemic is slowing down and we’re starting to live with the virus— at least for the foreseeable mid- to long-term—businesses are changing the way they operate. Social distancing and other health protocols seem to still be there. And with updates to restaurant policies shifting with the pandemic developments, restaurant management systems seem to help with the elastic nature of today’s ever-uncertain environment.
Digital transformation isn’t anything new. We’ve been digitizing processes even before people knew what a Coronavirus was. But we’ve seen a mass development over the years as more cloud-based services have come up. People aren’t using them just because of a virus anymore. Digital solutions have proven to be equal to the task of streamlining operations, saving time, and improving productivity. So it’s likely that restaurants will still keep using these software solutions moving forward.
Evolving consumer behavior
As a direct result of the two things above, people’s behaviors are generally changing. And that’s how it has always been. Once upon a time, restaurants looked very different. Customers preferred waiters in roller skates and analog cash registers when paying. Now, people are paying through their watches and booking reservations online. As consumers evolve, businesses need to evolve with them.
So what do we do now that times are changing like never before? The first step is to determine what tools will help us adapt. And that’s where restaurant management software comes in.
8 Ways to Improve Customer Experience with Restaurant Management Software
What is restaurant management software and how does it help businesses? In a nutshell, the tool helps manage various parts of a restaurant operation by creating a centralized system for order tracking, inventory management, staff management, and other processes. Today’s best restaurant management can help improve the customer experience and bring more people through the door. Here are seven ways that restaurant management tools can do that.
1. Streamline your inventory management
What’s one thing that people hate to hear when they have a menu on their hands?
“The steamed crab isn’t available tonight.”
Most of the time, unavailable items on the list could lower the happiness rating restaurants get from their customers. Sometimes, these unavailable menu items might be due to the seasonal availability of items. But more times than not, it’s because of miscommunication in the area of inventory management.
Manually tracking raw food items is highly prone to human error. Accordingly, inventory folks and chefs might forget to pick up peppers or cream of tartar sauce at some point. With better inventory management, these scenarios can be highly minimized. Inventory management can even use artificial intelligence to automatically track when inventories on certain food items go low and send alerts to make sure they get on the shopping list the next time around.
2. Create a digital menu
A restaurant management system can also be a source for a digital menu that restaurants can update easily. Printout menus don’t have that capacity and could lead to higher printing costs. Businesses can either provide their own devices for people to view online menus or provide QR codes that people can scan to view an online version of the menu on their own devices.
3. Take online reservations and orders
Nowadays, it’s common for businesses to sell things online. Retail businesses use ecommerce websites and learning businesses offer some form of virtual service. For the food industry, the digitization experience has brought two main advantages to the customer—the ability to reserve tables online and order food online.
A business owner or manager will quickly find that running a kitchen that takes online reservations and orders will be difficult without a restaurant management system. That’s because this software can help manage the influx of orders and add them to the onsite orders so kitchen staff and front-of-house staff can accordingly adjust. Let’s say an online reservation comes in for the VIP lounge just in time for someone to walk in and ask for the same lounge. When a restaurant management system integrates with an online reservation system, the restaurant can avoid a double booking and, consequently, a set of angry high-profile customers.
4. Improve payment gateways
Another way that a restaurant management system project could improve customer experiences is on the side of payment options. As fintech improves, people’s payment solution of choice continues to become more diverse. Some people like to pay through cash, while others might pay through card. Then e-wallets and contactless payment methods seem to be another viable option for others now too. With a restaurant management system connected to a payment gateway, restaurants can track, manage, and receive payments via multiple channels.
5. Use data analytics to adapt
Restaurants now have the power of data analysts at the tip of their fingers. One restaurant management system example use-case would be using data and insight to track which products sell more or what times of the day provide the most foot traffic. Restaurant establishments can even track more advanced metrics like which products have the highest star ratings (if a restaurant asks for reviews) and which staff member serves the highest-paying customers. All these data points can help inform businesses of strategies that can improve sales and lessen operational costs.
6. Improve internal systems
The best restaurant management software doesn’t just manage customer-related activities. They can track internal systems like employee management and shift scheduling too. Through these added capabilities, restaurant managers and business owners can spend less time managing staff and more time creating strategies and ideas to drive more business.
7. Keep track of repeat customers
Lastly, a restaurant management software can also act as a customer relationship management system to track repeat customers. The reason you might want to do that is to reward and nurture customers and clients who might have a higher sense of brand loyalty towards your establishment. It’s no secret that getting new clients is more expensive than retaining old ones. So restaurant management software will be a great way to create more loyalty. You can keep track of the number of visits, birthdays, special occasions, order preferences, and so on to add a dash of personalization to your loyal customers’ food orders.
8. The Digitized Food Industry
Around 71% of food businesses see digital transformation as one of the most crucial factors for business agility. So maintaining a digital system isn’t only a nice-to-have business asset anymore. Time will come, and it is probably already here, that digital systems like restaurant management system will be a necessity.