7 Key Tools Every Restaurateur Needs
Restaurant owners and managers wear many hats. Some even wear a chef hat. More commonly, though, they are responsible for accounting, inventory, marketing, menu design, online presence and many other aspects. All of these functions combine to make fun, challenging and, yes, stressful days. Fortunately, a few key tools can reduce stress and boost your restaurant’s bottom line. Here are a few of our favorites:
1. I Done This
I Done This draws from research on optimal team environments, achievements and human behavior to help leaders better manage their teams and improve communication with them. Employee communications with one another are enhanced too.
You can improve transparency, set up daily check-ins that later become part of progress reports, and spot potential problems before they spiral of control, among other features. The benefits of this tool for your restaurant should include improved morale and employee retention, which in turn save on labor costs. That’s likely one of your highest expenses.
Digital marketing is a must for most, if not all, restaurants. At a minimum, you should have an updated website with your menu and the restaurant’s contact information. Going beyond the minimums, you could opt for online ordering and even offer catering opportunities. If your restaurant is on social media, there should also be links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as to Yelp reviews and other relevant platforms.
It’s a lot of marketing and a lot of work. Hootsuite helps you manage your social media accounts from one place and integrates well with many other apps. You can assess trends such as when your users tend to be on Facebook and which blog post teasers on Facebook lead to the most click-through rates. You can also keep an eye on what others are saying about you across the social media platforms.
Sometimes, Hootsuite is more than what you need. If your restaurant and budget are relatively small, Buffer can get the job done. It’s a tool that lets you schedule and share social media posts, and it offers up data and metrics for your assessment.
Nowait doesn’t mean your customers never have to wait (that could be nice, though). Rather, it makes their waiting experience more enjoyable, and it nets invaluable data for you too. It’s owned by Yelp, and customers can use NoWait on their own to check around for wait times at nearby restaurants and add themselves to a waiting list. They then receive a text when their table is ready.
You, as the restaurateur, benefit by expanding guest outreach and by maximizing peak dining hours. You can also use guest feedback (submitted privately) to make adjustments.
First impressions matter a great deal, but so do final impressions. Your customers’ last few minutes at your restaurant might determine whether they return, and it doesn’t bode well if they have to use advanced mathematics to calculate bill splits and tipping, or wait 20 minutes for the server to bring their check. TouchBistro makes checking out easier than ever and is an efficient POS solution capable of creating delivery routes for delivery orders and combining bar tabs. It works with restaurants of all sizes, so whether you run a food truck, bakery, bar or full-service restaurant, you can benefit.
It also helps manage your staff. For example, they can log in and out, and see which tables or sections they are assigned to. TouchBistro also keeps an eye on inventory, triggering a warning if something a diner ordered is running low.
Many diners appreciate the convenience of online ordering and being able to pick up their food or have it delivered. Eat24 is a platform that should integrate with your other tools to enhance the customer experience. You also expand your customer base because if customers find your restaurant through Yelp, they can just place their online order there. More customers = more revenue!
7. Sourcery (That’s us!)
Speaking of your expenses, labor and food tend to be really pricey. Sourcery is a tool that can easily reduce costs in both areas. For example, if your restaurant still uses manual data entry for invoices, Sourcery will take care of that for you. It also stores and manages invoices so that they are easy for you to find, track and pay. The reduction in credit card fees and payments lost in the mail directly help your bottom line, and streamlining the entire accounts payable process frees up precious labor/administrative hours for you or another key restaurant player to focus on other areas.
Another great benefit of Sourcery is that it tracks prices in as invoices are processed into the system. For example, you can compare prices from several fresh produce suppliers to see where the best deals are for tomorrow’s meals. You can also assess spending, which is critical when you’re trying to improve net profit margin. After all, if you’re not sure what you’re spending money on and how much, you can’t make educated decisions. Perhaps best of all, it integrates with your accounting software. In a neat package, you get a program that can help you control costs, monitor and understand shrinkage and keep favorite ingredients in stock.
Whether your restaurant is still 100 percent paper and pen or has jumped into the digital age, the seven tools above should help it flourish. They can help you save time and money with regards to point of sale, accounts payable, social media, and customer experience.
8. Extra Credit: SQLBot.co
Publishing key metrics daily and weekly keeps your team focused on attacking the right goals. If you use Slack for team communication, check out SQLBot.co for a dead simple tool to publish SQL reports. SQLBot lets you schedule SQL reports against any database and publish them into Slack daily or weekly.
You can download a spreadsheet file of each report, and call reports real time as well.
Running a restaurant is no easy business. We hope this list of tools makes running your restaurant easier so you can spend more time growing your revenue and bottom line, and less time on everything else.