Accelerating Pandemic Recovery with Restaurant Technology
By Greg Staley CEO, SynergySuite
Restaurant operators everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief as capacity restrictions lift, vaccines become more widespread, and the warmer weather brings out diners unwilling to go indoors. These signs pointing toward recovery are a boon to operators that have been making it by on lower profits than before.
However, recovery will likely be a long process, made more difficult if you can’t go beyond what your operations were prior to the pandemic. Maximizing profitability is a critical part of accelerating your restaurant’s recovery from the pandemic.
Fortunately, there are more ways than ever for restaurants to optimize their operations and bounce back better than before. Doubling down on online ordering, improving labor and scheduling, and tightening inventory oversight are all ways you can make a big difference in your bottom line.
- Refine and Invest in Online Ordering
Online ordering was one of the hottest things to add when COVID hit. Diners were looking for fully touchless experiences, and the percentage of people ordering online for delivery or takeout skyrocketed.
At the time, many operators implemented their online ordering system haphazardly, getting just enough put together to get up and running. But if you haven’t gone back to learn more about the system, make sure it’s working efficiently and ensure you haven’t missed any features you could be tapping into, you’re missing out on things that could help you convert guests and turn larger checks.
Off premise dining was on the rise prior to COVID, and the pandemic sent the trend through the roof. While off prem will come down as restrictions lift and more customers feel comfortable dining in, it will still make up a higher portion of your business than before the pandemic. It makes sense to ensure ordering for those guests is easy and convenient.
- Make Scheduling and Labor Easier
Your employees are burnt out and many people left the industry as a result of the pandemic. It’s critical to work on employee retention and provide as streamlined a system as possible. Even with an experienced manager, educated guesses play too large a role in writing the schedule. And if you’re trying to train a new manager, those rookie mistakes in the first couple months can cut your profits in half.
So how do you make managers and other employees happy, while maintaining margins? Get an intelligent scheduling and labor management system. Modern labor systems for restaurants should be more than an electronic calendar. They should pull in forecasted sales to build an optimized schedule for your manager. This cuts time out of your manager’s day, allowing them to spend more time with employees or customers, and it takes the uncertainty out of writing schedules.
Plus, employees appreciate a system that means there are no more group texts or sticky notes when they need a day off or want to pick up a shift. It also means managers can’t miss a text about a shift swap. Good labor tech for restaurants makes it possible for your employees to manage their schedules from their phones, just like they manage the rest of their lives.
- Get Better Control Over Inventory
You know labor and food are the two places where money can slip away the easiest. This was certainly true at the beginning of the pandemic when operators were dealing with wild supply chain fluctuations and didn’t have strong purchasing controls, but those issues are not over.
While the biggest swings in the supply chain have calmed down, we will see some instability at least through the end of the year. Without purchasing tools to help you monitor and enforce contract pricing with suppliers, you will continue to see profitability slipping because of inventory issues.
Additionally, as you begin to have more diners and more people dining in, your inventory will be changing. The best takeout and delivery items will dip, drinks will be big again, and you’ll have a shifting mix of off and on prem for months. Maintaining par levels could be a struggle, and inventory management software will likely be your new best friend.
Inventory tools are getting increasingly sophisticated, and, with a POS integration, can give you real-time theoretical inventory levels, as well as make it easier to reconcile with actual when you do inventory. This can save your restaurant from selling out of items, running too low or ordering too much of the takeout bestseller and having food spoil.
Getting back to the margins you had pre-COVID isn’t going to be easy, but you can smooth the way with a more modern approach to restaurant technology. You can save money and time, as well as make customers happier by embracing technology to address whatever challenges you may face.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information or to discuss SynergySuite’s solutions, contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org