It’s the dream of millions of people: opening your own restaurant and serving delicious food to loyal customers who will return to your business again and again.
Yet in order to make this dream a reality, there’s a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears that needs to go into your restaurant business behind the scenes. The field of restaurant management handles all of the concerns required for successful restaurant operations: from hiring and managing employees to bookkeeping and marketing campaigns.
Despite the heavy effort that goes into running your own restaurant, many restaurant managers are still doing much of this work with a hodgepodge of manual methods. Accounting, for example, might be done with a combination of mental math, tallying up cash register receipts, and Excel spreadsheets—far from the most productive way of doing things.
Not only is this inefficient, it can also introduce errors that cost you money or lead to breakdowns in your business workflow. In the fast-paced restaurant industry, restaurant managers need to spend more time overseeing the business, instead of wasting time and worrying about mistakes.
Enter restaurant management software, which has the potential to revolutionize the restaurant industry by making staff members more productive and efficient. But what is restaurant management software, and what are the main features of a restaurant management software platform?
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about using a restaurant management platform. Want to know the top benefits of restaurant management software for your business? Read on for all the answers.
As its name suggests, restaurant management software is a software application that assists in the successful management and operation of a restaurant business. Restaurant management software aims to help restaurant managers do their jobs better, in turn providing a better experience to both employees and customers.
The best restaurant management platforms have been custom-built for the restaurant industry. They often combine aspects of several other types of software, including:
Restaurant management software nearly always includes a point of sale (POS) system for handling payments and transactions. In addition, modern restaurant management software is often compatible with devices like smartphones and tablets, so that employees and managers can access it from anywhere, at any time.
However, these are by no means the only advantages. In the next section, we’ll discuss some of the top features of restaurant management software to look for.
Wondering how to choose the best restaurant management software? It largely depends on the features that are most important to your own business. Below, we’ll suggest some of the top restaurant management software features that may be advantageous for your restaurant.
Running a restaurant business is often a delicate balance. It requires you to coordinate “front of house” employees such as servers, hosts, and bartenders with “back of house” employees such as chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers. What’s more, restaurant managers need to handle staffing concerns such as hiring, firing, training, and scheduling to ensure that the business is running at peak efficiency.
With a dedicated restaurant management platform, you can more easily manage all aspects of your workforce, with features such as recruiting and onboarding new hires, allocating shifts, tracking employees’ time through clocking in and out, and more.
Even if you manage your employees effectively, you won’t be able to retain them if you don’t pay them their earned wages on time. Calculating wages for servers is especially challenging, since you’ll have to deal with taxes and tip credits that make the math more complex.
When you pay your servers too much or too little, it can unnecessarily cost your business money or lead to wage theft. In turn, this could result in a $1,000 fine from the U.S. Department of Labor, whether the act was accidental or intentional.
By choosing a restaurant management platform that includes payroll functionality, you can avoid the risk of costly mistakes and pay your employees the right amount—on time, every time.
Payroll is just one of the many accounting and finance challenges for restaurant managers. You need to monitor your cash flow, keep your expenses and operating costs low, and make sure that you’re setting the best price points for the items on your menu.
The average restaurant profit margin usually lies between 2 and 6 percent. Without much room for error here, every possible optimization counts—and every potential math error counts against you.
Restaurant management software offers a variety of finance-related capabilities, drastically reducing mistakes while helping you balance your checkbook and close the books faster. Many restaurant management platforms offer real-time financial reporting and business intelligence that you can customize to your liking, so that you always have the latest information at your fingertips.
You can hire the best chefs in the world and pay them a fair wage, but none of that will matter if you aren’t able to cook any meals. Inventory management is a crucial task for any restaurant: keeping track of the restaurant’s ingredients and supplies, and ensuring that you always have enough on hand.
If you notice that you’re running out of a particular food, for example, you need to know why. Was it due to a positive reason such as a new menu item selling like hotcakes, or a negative reason like spoilage or theft? You might never know without dedicated restaurant management software.
Restaurant management software gives you more visibility into your restaurant inventory—so that your servers will never have to say “Sorry, we don’t have that tonight” again.
Behind every restaurant is a supply chain populated by third-party vendors and suppliers who provide the raw ingredients for your menu. Ordering and billing restaurant vendors and suppliers is an adjacent concern to inventory management, and one that’s no less critical.
The best restaurant management software can process invoices and track orders automatically, so that you don’t have to waste hours wondering why a shipment hasn’t arrived yet. In addition, many of these platforms integrate with your finance and POS systems, letting you easily track the flow of money throughout your restaurant business.
Unless you’re a cash-only restaurant, you’ll need a way to accept customers’ credit and debit cards. According to a 2016 survey, 68 percent of diners prefer to pay by card at a sit-down restaurant, while just 18 percent prefer cash.
The majority of restaurant management software includes a built-in POS system to help make payment processing smoother, saving you the costs of purchasing a separate device. Many of these systems even accept mobile wallet payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Customers remain highly vigilant about the security of their payment information when eating at restaurants. In November 2019, for example, more than 4 million stolen debit and credit card numbers were released on the black market after being siphoned from malicious software installed on restaurant chains' card processing systems.
Look for a payment processing system that's compliant with the PCI DSS set of standards for protecting the confidentiality of customers' personal and financial information. This includes compatibility with chip card technology, which reduces card fraud by 76 percent.
There’s no shortage of platforms for customers to express their thoughts about your restaurant: Google reviews, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, in-house surveys, and more. Whether it’s a rave review about one of your dishes or a complaint about a rude server, customer feedback is critical to understand your performance as a business.
Feedback and customer service are essential parts of restaurant management, which is why a growing number of restaurants are using live customer feedback platforms such as Humm. This software captures the real-time data you need to build better customer relationships, change your menu in response to customer demand, and highlight areas of improvement for employees.
Dedicated restaurant management software comes jam-packed with functionality, from employee scheduling and payroll to inventory management. But how do these shiny new features translate into tangible improvements for your restaurant business?
Below, we’ll discuss 5 concrete effects that you might expect to see by using restaurant management software:
Restaurant management software is nothing short of a revolution in the restaurant industry. When done right, a high-quality restaurant management platform can massively boost the productivity and profits of your business, helping you cut costs and eliminate wasted effort.
To find the best restaurant management software for you, speak with a knowledgeable, experienced third party who can help you evaluate your options—like Humm. Are you looking for a powerful, feature-rich, real-time feedback platform that can help you enhance your restaurant’s customer experience? Humm can help. Get in touch with us today for a chat about your business needs and objectives.