Restaurateur Enrico is a worried man this week – but he’s worried in a fairly nice way. Because since he reopened his doors to customers, he’s become concerned about how he’s going to meet demand.
During lockdown, Enrico – like many others in hospitality – built up a takeaway business that surprised him with its success.
“Recently, we also invested in a canopy roof for our outside terrace and created a new outdoor bar area in April,” he said. “They’ve both been packed ever since – and while takeaway has fallen off a bit, when our indoor dining area came onstream again, we started to struggle.”
He’s working to extend his kitchen and also seeking more staff – but as restaurant managers across the country know, they are in short supply.
Enrico’s situation is far from unique. You may have found yourself in the same boat, unwilling to lose a delivery revenue stream you never considered before the pandemic, but scared about keeping up your standards of customer service.
It’s quite a nice problem to have, particularly when many hospitality businesses are still wrangling with debt problems and rent arrears.
But how can you avoid being a victim of your own success?
Chris, Head of Sales for Aloha restaurant epos software, says: “You need to cut out inefficiencies in your operations, streamline your procurement, optimise customer service and make the most of your labour pool.
“And the vital ingredient in that successful recipe is technology.”
Like many other technologies, restaurant epos software evolved rapidly during lockdown to help businesses keep trading within the restrictions.
Many restaurants who struggled along without restaurant management technology in their businesses before the crisis have suddenly seen the point, and orders are soaring.
5 ways restaurant epos software helps a busy post-pandemic restaurant
1. Increasing operational efficiency with automation.
Restaurant epos software integrates seamlessly with systems including kitchen automation that improve speed of service and reduce waste.
It also enables customers to make automated payments online and at tableside – it’s like letting the diners do some of the work for you.
This drives up efficiency across your operations, provides a satisfying and swift experience for in-house and at-home customers, and frees up your front of house staff to provide great customer service.
This is a benefit when staff recruitment is tricky because overseas staff have gone home because of Brexit and others have found new jobs during lockdown – you can make the most of every labour hour.
2. Juggling in-house and outside covers.
Many restaurants and bars have rapidly developed more outdoor dining and drinking space than they’ve ever had. They’ll be reluctant to give this up when indoor dining resumes, but it’s a strain on kitchen and staff resources.
This connects seamlessly with the kitchen – including kitchen automation – allowing rapid food delivery.
3. Engaging with your customers better.
Customers are scared and confused. They want to come back, but many are risk-averse – and they’ve developed new eat-at-home habits during the lockdown.
Your restaurant epos software helps you engage with them better via social media, where you can build a community of loyal diners and invite valuable reviews and feedback.
It also captures customer data that allows you to easily create personalised marketing emails with offers they will like and which will bring them back.
4. Simplify your menu to help the kitchen.
Don’t have a kitchen nightmare – your hard-worked staff can only do so much.
Looking at previous sales data captured by your restaurant EPOS software you can identify star performers on your menu and ditch the duffers, so your team can concentrate on creating the best-sellers.
You’ll also throw less food away, a major saving, and streamline your procurement.
5. Keeping up standards on takeaway.
During the pandemic, NFS launched Aloha Now, a useful tool to help restaurants set up a takeaway business with online ordering, delivery and payment, and links to the major delivery services.
This takes the admin strain out of providing the service and provides data to drive the operation, while giving at-home customers the easy online process they desire.
Seeing how your business is performing in real time
Chris says: “Your restaurant epos system can provide all these benefits as well as giving you a complete real-time view of how your business is performing, whether you are a chain restaurant business on multiple sites or a standalone operation.
“All of this information is available at any time online, reducing the need for duplicating managerial roles in different locations.”
With the economy already bouncing back better than predicted, the future looks bright for the restaurants who continue to provide the best experience for customers in a crowded market.
So those who use technology to support their own skill, instincts and experience have far and away the best chance of grasping the opportunities that lie ahead.
Chris says: “We wish you good luck in your business – and if you have pressing questions as you enter this busy time, I’ll be delighted to answer them for you.”