I love eating out! Discovering new restaurants that have been opened in my city, reading reviews, and experiencing tastes that I would not be brave (or creative!) enough to try out in my own kitchen is a very exciting experience. So when the coronavirus pandemic hit us, after the first shock and making sure that myself and my closest ones are safe I’ve started to order as much food as I could from my favorite places. Why? Because I know, how hard and unpredictable is to run a restaurant - and I didn’t want the places that bring me so much joy to close.
Daily year-on-year impact of COVID-19 on global restaurant dining Feb-July 2020, source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1103928/coronavirus-restaurant-visitation-impact/
Today, when I’m writing this article the situation is starting to look a bit better. After a huge crisis in March, restaurants are slowly starting to recover. There is still a long road ahead, to come back to the profits from last year, no doubt. Yet, thanks to the first-hand experience, each restaurant owner can now prepare for situations similar to lockdown much, much better! And what can really help, that is pandemic-immune and available in a relatively short time period? A dedicated software solution - your own restaurant management software.
Table of Contents:
1. What is the best restaurant management style?
2. What are the benefits of the Custom Restaurants Management System?
3. What software do restaurants use?
4. How do you build restaurant management software?
What is the best restaurant management style?
Starting from the basics - how to run a successful restaurant business in times we’re living now? First of all: being “just” good (even amazing!) chef and cooking delicious dishes is not enough. The competition is too strong. From a business perspective, as a restaurant owner, you need to take care of several things like marketing, management, supply chains, and much more. The most important advice I want you to take from this part is that you can’t do everything on your own!
Do you think that Gordon Ramsay is cooking on his own in each restaurant he owns? Unless he has a Harry Potter-style time turner - he simply couldn’t do that! Each person has got 24 hours a day and what distinguishes the best restaurant owners is that they are deeply aware of that. Focus on the one thing that you like the most / are the best at and put all of your energy into that! Do you love coming up with creative dishes? Do only that, and believe me - if you dedicate yourself enough, you won’t have time or headspace to do anything else.
Multitasking is a huge problem in our times and it doesn’t serve anyone. Sure, not everyone can hire a dedicated team to share responsibilities right away, but as soon as you can - do it. It doesn’t mean that you are weak or anything (another negative stereotype, that our voice of judgment says to us, that is completely not true!) but in the opposite - that you care about your restaurant enough, to stop being a control freak and trust people, that they will fulfill your vision.
Another thing: cooking is an art but business is business. If you want your restaurant to succeed you need to be data-driven. Collect as much information about your customers as you can, analyze, and use them, to optimize your profits. That way you can avoid situations when you dedicate your time & money into a completely new menu that your clients just won’t like. Opening a restaurant in the location, where people can’t afford what you’re serving. Hiring people, that can appear to be too expensive after time. The possibilities are endless!
You have a hard time finding the right people that you can trust with your restaurant business and hate being flooded by endless excel spreadsheets? There is one other option remaining: the right software for restaurants.
What are the benefits of the Custom Restaurants Management System?
Running your restaurants without any management system is like driving a car without a purpose. Yeah, for some time you are truly enjoying yourself but sooner or later, it’s becoming tiring. You have someone on your passenger seat that constantly tells you how you should ride or where you should go, but it’s not based on any logical argument. You don’t know whether you should listen to that person or not, and that gives you a headache.
The kid on the back is very quiet for too long, but you can’t check why it’s like that because you have to keep your eyes on the road. Suddenly, something is wrong and your car stops in the middle of nowhere. You approach the car hood but as you are not a mechanic, you have no idea what went wrong. With the corner of your eye, you see, that the kid was quiet because he/she has eaten the whole huge chocolate bar alone, and got in the sugar coma. Basically, you are screwed.
After this short, vivid ;) explanation, let’s dive deeper into what are the main benefits of using a custom restaurant software system in your business. By custom, we mean the one that was built exclusively for you!
Restaurant management software is often understood as a pos (point of sale) system. The main goal of this kind of apps is to improve the sale system in your restaurants, simultaneously being easy to use and cloud-based. It updates all of the data in real-time making sure, that the orders are, well - in order. It helps with inventory management, real-time data collection and simply running your business smoother. Let's get into details of those benefits - here are the 7 that we find the most important in the case of restaurant management software.
#1 Better restaurants cost management
Thanks to the custom restaurant software, you will never end up in a situation when you don’t know whether you make it to the next month or not. This technology tracks EVERY expense that’s happening in your restaurant (payrolls, rent, supply costs, etc.) and calculates, how much do you need to make to keep afloat or earn the money that satisfies your needs. Thanks to that precious data, you are able to optimize your restaurant management to the max! Want a real-life example?
In the Shawarmer Web & Mobile App that we’ve made and constantly develop for the biggest Shawarma (over 100 locations already!) restaurants network in Saudi Arabia, the restaurant owner can track which dishes are the most popular in which of his restaurant locations. So he sees that for example, his Shawarma spicy dish is very popular in Bahrain but not so much in Riyadh. That way he can optimize his expenses and focus on the dishes that make the most profits for him in the exact location - without the system, he wouldn’t be able to do that!
#2 Being free of fees and subscription payments
That is one of the biggest advantages of having your own custom restaurant software. Most of the already available on the market restaurant management software are based on the subscription model which means that you can use it ONLY if you pay them each month. Imagine a situation like COVID when each cent counts - paying your share mostly because of the fear of losing data doesn’t sound good.
Especially in comparison to the software, that you’ve paid once (of course, if you won’t decide to develop it further) and it’s yours forever. Uber Eats lowered its commission from 35 % to 30% because of the pandemic - but it’s still 30% of YOUR money that goes to them just because they let you use their software. That’s insane!
#3 Being immune to the external management system updates and changes
Don’t know how about you, but I hate it when the tool I’m paying for is changing. Sure, sometimes it’s for the best but in 99% the timing is never right. Hubspot, the marketing tool we’re using at Railwaymen has changed its layout lately and I was very annoyed. Firstly, because I’ve already known where all of the functionalities are and I needed to learn it from scratch, two, it has got lots of bugs and three - the timing couldn’t be worse, as we are developing our content strategy now very rapidly.
Now we want to share it with you!
With the custom software that wouldn’t be a thing. If anything was about to get updated in my app, it would be my decision entirely and it would happen in the time that suits me best. And maybe I don’t need any updates now, as I’m perfectly happy with what I have? That’s also alright and only possible when the software is yours.
#4 Improved customer service & experience
No one likes to come to the restaurant and wait to be served. Or the worse situation - you are being served, but after long minutes of waiting, the waiter is bringing you the wrong order. It amazes me that it still happens! Especially, as the solution is so simple - the right system will enable you to track all of your orders to make sure that the customer experience will be of excellent quality. The right restaurant management system enables your clients to leave reviews and rate the general experience that they had with your restaurants. Those kinds of data definitely make the management process much more data-driven!
If you equip your waiters with tablets, where they can conveniently collect orders, you will reduce their stress and make them more pleasant to the customers. Serving people is hard so it’s definitely something that will make a difference for them!
Read the whole Shawarmer case study here!
#5 Full-control over your restaurant processes
Yep, this is the part where I explain the kid with a sugar coma reference. As a restaurant owner, you are not able to be everywhere, every time. You need to focus on the big picture - and while you do, some smaller, yet significant things may miss your attention.
Managing a restaurant is hard, but think about the software as your COO. It will notify you, when something is wrong and bring peace of mind, that everything in your business is supervised even when you sleep! It will take care of some repetitive tasks, like food ordering or reminders, that you have some bills to pay. Everything will be gathered and stored safely inside (all of the documents, agreements, employment contracts) of the app, for you to have access to them wherever you are, All of that to make you focus on things that truly matter - your restaurant mission, vision and serving delicious food!
#6 Customer Loyalty Systems
Restaurants software can help you truly know your customers. At which hours they are most eager to visit your restaurant? How much time do they spend inside? What kinds of drinks and starters are the most popular? And based on those, and more data you can award the people, that make your business thrive.
In the Shawarmer App we’ve implemented a customer loyalty system in the form of coupons. The app tracks customers, that order shawarma regularly through the app and awards them with personalized discounts and special offers, available only to them. Familiar with McDonald's coupons? They are using them for years so they have to work - and as we see from the Shawarmer data, that they truly do!
#7 You name it!
That’s the thing with the custom software - you can tell us, what is the next advantage, that your app will bring to your business! Indifference to the already made solutions, we’re building your app from scratch. So from the very beginning, we can focus ONLY on the functionalities that you really need & will use, prepare some solutions that no other software has. And when it comes to the possibilities - they are (almost ;) ) endless!
Do you want to have inside some award system for your employees? Done. Alerts of the local events where you can get some really unique ingredients? Sure, why not. Tips on how to adjust your customer service to the client's age, nationality, or status? Consider it done. These were just a few of my ideas I got within a minute - I’m sure, that as a restaurant owner you have lots and lots more! We will gather all of them, “transform” them into specific features and prepare the whole development plan with specific steps that has to be done along the way. And when we’ll sort all of this out - the app development process begins!
Want to share some of these ideas with us and validate whether it makes sense? Our completely free of charge software strategy workshops sounds like a perfect solution for you! Just check what they are about & book a session with our Business Efficiency Specialist Joanna in the article below.
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What software do restaurants use?
The thing is, that it varies sooo much that it’s hard to tell. For example in Poland, a popular pos system is POSbistro that we've also developed. Yet there is a high possibility that you’ve never heard about it before if you are living outside our country. DISCLAIMER: Uber Eats or Glovo are NOT examples of restaurant management software! They are simply made for deliveries and they won’t help you to run your restaurant in any way.
From my perspective, one of the best restaurant management software examples are AccuPOS, Harbourtouch, and POSGuys. But will any of them be suitable in your case? No idea, you need to tell me more about yourself and your business for me to advise you - and actually you can simply write me .
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: custom restaurant management platform is not for everyone! If you are running a small, family restaurant - choose the pos system that is already available on the market. But if you think about expansion and scaling your business or you already have an extender network of restaurants, deeply consider building your own management system.
How do you build restaurant management software?
When it comes to building your own custom restaurant management software, the road is pretty similar to building an application overall. So you have 3 most popular options:
#1 Do it by yourself
If you are an experienced coder that knows the basics of UX Design then MAYBE - you will be able to do a very simple restaurant management software by yourself. It might take you years but it is not impossible. Just make sure that your restaurant won't go bankrupt while you focused on creating your software.
#2 Hire freelancers
For simpler projects, where you have all your business plans ready and you feel capable of managing them efficiently, that solution might actually work. Check the details and Freelancer vs Software House comparison here.
#3 Partner with a software house that already has experience in the custom restaurant management software area
As you might already have figured out - we’re talking about ourselves. We at Railwaymen, have already developed +100 mobile and web applications during +10 years of our existence, and the food tech industry is very dear to our hearts. As we don’t like to brag - we will give the microphone to one of our clients, Shawarmer Brand Extension Director Abdulaziz:
Without a restaurant management software, running an efficient business is extremely hard. There are just too many aspects that you need to take into consideration, that don’t necessarily go well along with the creativity needed to come up with some delicious dishes. And that is one thing that technology will NEVER replace: a culinary genius that comes up with the recipes, the algorithm would never be discovered. Cherish that, and let the technology do the rest - after all, it should serve us, never the other way around ;)
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