Restaurants that utilize the right technology are more likely to be more profitable and more prepared, especially during economic downturns.
Software for restaurants have been around for decades but just like everything else around us, we’re seeing advances in technology like never before.
POS systems that allow customers to order and pay and the table
Reservation software that can remind you about your customers' birthdays, what they like to order, or even where they prefer to sit.
Reward programs that are attached to your customers' credit cards
Scheduling software that helps optimize labor
Inventory software that can alert you of potentially missing inventory, low inventory, or inventory that’s close to expiring.
But even with all of these advances in restaurant technology, can software really help restaurants manage through this inflationary period and high-interest rates that are expected to go even higher? The co-founder and CEO of CooksTime seem to think so. He explains:
“What we often see are restaurants that manage themselves based on their accounting statement and their bank account. If they’re putting more money into the bank than what they’re taking out, then that’s oftentimes good enough. But that’s a real risk, especially now because of higher wages, the potential for increased unemployment and higher food prices. Not to mention, that money is left on the table because of problems that go undetected.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employee wages in the U.S. increased by 5.2% compared to last year and restaurants have been a beneficiary of those increases with more people dining out than ever before. On the flip side, restaurants are also experiencing the impact of inflation. The National Restaurant Association reported that wholesale food prices are up 16.3% in the month of July compared to a year ago. Due to continued price increases, the average restaurant is reaching a point in which they may be forced to decide whether to raise their prices and risk losing customers or staying the course and watching their profit margin dwindle.
“During these times, it’s even more important to have the right system and tools in place. You don’t want to be sitting with too much inventory on your shelves when things start to slow down. You’ll need that money in your bank account. People will still eat out but instead of 3-4 days per week, it might go to 1-2 times per week and when that happens, you’ll want your restaurant to be on their list of places to dine. This is why things like tracking your customer birthdays can be extremely valuable.”
Technology can really help with diving into the details and having the information at your fingertips. Your accounting statement will provide a broader view of how your restaurant is performing but restaurant technology can tell you what’s happening beneath those financial numbers. For example, your accounting report might show that your food cost is 34% and you might think that’s good however your extended software might tell you that your cost should’ve been 30%.
"Also, you’ll want to stay on top of your vendor price changes and fully understand how those changes are impacting your menu cost. This is an area that we find to be very important because price changes are often overlooked simply because they happen so often, especially with food products.”
A Restaurant with a tech stack that focuses on customers, employees, and inventory is 97% more likely to have a higher profit margin, higher revenue, and happier employees compared to a restaurant with comparable conditions but with limited use of technology.
In the end, plenty of restaurants survive and manage with nothing more than a POS and a spreadsheet but these restaurants are more likely to have a more difficult time during an economic downturn and they’re very likely to have lower profit margins and problems that they may never discover.