Starting any new business is a big step, but starting a new restaurant business has got to be one of the biggest.
There are more startup restaurants that go bust than survive, which is why it is imperative you get everything in place before you begin. Planning and forecasting at the outset is the key to making your business a success. Also having and using the right technology and business software will improve the odds dramatically of succeeding.
There’s more and more competition these days and people have choices, so you need to make sure the niche you choose is a good one.
Do your research…
Doing your research is vital before you open your doors. The adage location, location, location is key, but in addition to this, make sure the location you choose for your style of restaurant is matched with the local clientele.
Have the right technology and business software…
Having all of the right processes and systems in place will make sure your business runs smoothly and efficiently.
Modern technology and business software is essential to current day restaurants. When you adopt the right restaurant business software, it will simplify the customer experience, whilst at the same time making your job and your staff’s jobs much easier.
This is on top of making sure you already have the right kitchen equipment, menus, seating and great decor in the restaurant, arranged your suppliers and made sure you’ve nailed your staff recruitment.
“Starting a new restaurant business is a tough businesses to startup. It takes time to build a reputation. A great chef to back up a great menu is key.”
So which technology and software should I have in my restaurant?
1. A Point Of Sales System or (POS) system
Every modern restaurant should have a point of sale (POS) system. Gone are the days of using pen and paper.
A POS System is the control center of your restaurant and is where your servers and cashiers will fire orders to your cooks and chefs in the kitchen.
It should be easy to update and will hold all of your products and prices. Modern POS systems offer a simple ordering process for restaurant employees and allows for easier interaction with your customers.
From an accounting, forecasting and business planning point of view, POS Systems provide valuable in-depth analysis of what customers are ordering. You’ll be able to pull down various reports to analyse your numbers. What dishes sell the best and of course, what doesn’t sell. You’ll be able to keep a check on wastage and change or alter your menus and ordering accordingly.
You’ll be able to work out what times and days are the busiest and when you are quiet, so you can think about incentives to fill your restaurant at quiet times. Plus many more reports.
Having information like this at your fingertips will allow you to make good data-driven decisions.
Considerations for a good POS System are: is it cloud-based, which will allow much better flexibility and access, and will allow you to manage and review your restaurant from anywhere; linking to a good online accounts package, check into the API functionality, so that it can be linked directly to your accounts software.
2. Stock control and inventory tracking
To run a profitable restaurant, keeping a control on your stock is vital. Keeping your wastage to a minimum is key and could be the difference between success and failure or profit or loss. Having a good POS System will also aid this process.
Tracking your inventory is not as simple as buying food and supplies, selling prepared meals, and measuring the difference in what’s left over. It also requires intelligent forecasting, careful portion control, and investigating any discrepancies between what your records show and what’s left in your kitchen.
Good stock control allows you to keep a firm grasp on where your money is going and to make sure your orders to suppliers are more accurate and efficient. It will also make it more difficult for your staff to pilfer your stock too.
Make sure that your inventory system you use is either built in to the POS System you buy or is able to be integrated with it and your accounts software.
3. Employee scheduling software
Keeping track of your employees is a vital part of any business, and restaurants are no exception.
Making sure you know the roster of who’s on and who’s off, when holidays are and so on is important for an efficiently run restaurant business.
Having the right software will help enormously to schedule your team. A key time-saver is to also link your roster system with a good payroll software too. Alternatively, if you outsource these services, make sure it will either link to your accountants software. Find out what payroll software they use beforehand. This will make the process of producing the payroll smooth and easy. This will save you money.
4. A customer loyalty program
Having a customer loyalty program will seriously increase your sales and profits. Read this article on Entrepreneur.com about loyalty programs.
Of course you could use a simple card for this, like Costa Coffee and Starbucks do. But having this in the form of technology is even more powerful. You can email your customers with promotions and on special occasions, like their birthday. You can also reward loyal customers with great incentives to return.
Linked your customer loyalty program with your POS System too. This allows you to know what each of your customers like to eat and drink. Use this to make your customers feel special and Wow them each time they visit you.
You can also use it to encourage referrals too and offer incentives to your customers that refer.
Before you open the doors to your restaurant.
When starting a new restaurant business make sure all staff concerned know how to use the technologies you choose.. It’s key that you do this before you open the doors to the public.
“Starting a new restaurant business is a tough businesses to startup. Review everything BEFORE you open your doors to customers.”
There’s nothing worse that arriving a a restaurant that is experiencing teething problems. Try to iron these out before you begin to serve food. I remember getting the wrong bill on my table at a restaurant which had just installed a new system. They apologised and I was fine about it, but some people are less forgiving.
At all times, and particularly in the beginning, you are looking to create an impression. You want customers to remember the experience in a good way and to enjoy their meal. You can guarantee that people will talk about the problems they had than the food they enjoyed when things go wrong.
It should be your mission to have customers looking to refer you for your great food…not to laugh about your problems with their friends.
Choose software which is easy to use and functionality rich
Make sure the business software you buy is easy to use, whilst at the same time is full of functionality. Also, make sure the company you choose provides training and ongoing support and upgrades.