(Guest post by Ian Said/Ideal Software)
Restaurant businesses have to work harder these days to keep up with the most successful chain restaurants. While large restaurant chains enjoy the benefits of broad customer bases, independent restaurant owners are using a variety of new technologies in order to get ahead. The following five tech tools are the top most used in the hospitality and foodservice industries today:
Inventory Control System
Having the correct Inventory Control System in place will ensure you have the correct stock levels; too low and you will be unable to serve all items on your menu, frustrating your customers to hear that their favorite dish is out of stock; too high and you will have unnecessary capital tied up in stock, making theft easier. In addition, a good Inventory Control System will ensure goods are not leaving the restaurant without being sold. Today’s inventory control systems are so advanced that they will keep a running tally of your equipment, supplies and even employee hours with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Pay at the Table Solution
Retailers across the country have already adopted a similar technology that allows customers to swipe their own credit / debit cards. When the card never leaves the customer’s hand, the liability of your business decreases drastically, leading to fewer cases of fraud and identity theft. This solution also saves servers and patrons the time it takes to produce the meal check and coordinate payment. By developing such technologies your establishment can promote a reputation for a safe and secure environment.
Location Based Services e.g. FourSquare
Apps like FourSquare are excellent tools for attracting additional business to your restaurant. By establishing your restaurant on these networks, businesses can reward customers for “checking in”, post online specials for app users and even offer in-store incentives. Location Based Services allow customers to share information, tips and experiences with each other, right where they are. Signing up for the FourSquare merchant platform can be one of the best tech decisions you will make with regards to your marketing strategy.
While social networks like Facebook are often linked to apps like FourSquare, restaurateurs shouldn’t underestimate the importance of actively maintaining and taking advantage of social networks. You can help familiarize your customer base with your restaurant and its cuisine well before they step foot in your establishment. Consumers like businesses with personality, so if you cultivate your own via social networking, you will have more regular patrons who share your passions and vision.
Some people would like to see what the menu options are before settling on a restaurant. With more and more chain restaurants providing online menus, you should provide one too. You can stay a step ahead of the game by incorporating a Menu app that your patrons can access from their smartphones, enabling your customers to browse your digital menu showing off all your gourmet dishes.
These tools are some of the most innovative methods behind restaurant business success. These strategies are revolutionizing not only the payments industry but the hospitality and restaurant industries as well. As always the best businesses, whether restaurant or retail, are those that stay ahead of the technology curve.
Ian Said, entrepreneur and founder of idealsoftware.co.za, a software development company specializing in Inventory Control and POS reporting solutions.
Email Ian firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @costofsale on Twitter.