Now is an exciting time for the forward-thinking restaurateur.
Technology has given restaurants a shot in the arm when it comes to efficiency. Going beyond that, it can also help to create more revenue streams. For the savvy and ambitious operator, technology means that they can operate virtually with, almost, no physical confines.
A brave new world
During Covid online ordering was a lifeline for businesses. What started out as a necessary pivot for business survival has become a major money-spinner.
It makes perfect sense as it is possible for restaurateurs to extend their reach and clientele well beyond the four walls of their restaurant.
Taking it one step further, restaurateurs can extend the reach of their existing brand – or even create new brands – through online ordering technology and deploying ghost kitchens. An alternative low-cost option is to use your existing kitchen and staff in the start-up phase and then scale.
What is a virtual brand?
Virtual brands are totally delivery only. As they are not necessarily tied to a physical restaurant location they can be run from anywhere.
There are many benefits to considering this model:
- Low cost – there are two low-cost options to consider which make this such a compelling proposition. Firstly, you can use your existing staff and location to run an additional operation with virtually no incremental costs -a smart way to expansion.
- Secondly, they can choose to run the new brand from a ghost kitchen which is low cost and scalable. All investment can be ploughed into the food and marketing rather than worrying about the additional costs of dining space.
- It is easy to implement and makes sense for today’s consumer. All the restaurateur needs to do is provide a compelling food brand proposition. Third party delivery sites such as Just Eat and Deliveroo make it easy for the diner to order a delivery – whether there is an actual restaurant attached is irrelevant. Online diners are more concerned with ratings and delivery times when choosing a meal.
- Economies of scale – a ghost kitchen or network of ghost kitchens are far more cost effective than paying city centre rents and business rates. You can even run several virtual brands from the same locations.
- The marketing is so much easier and you can extend your delivery radius beyond your normal catchment area. Third party sites have a far greater audience than you could achieve on your own – leverage this to your advantage to grow your virtual brand.
- Continuous improvement is possible – test new recipes on your online audience. You can easily gauge which ones work and then extend those roaring successes to your whole operation.
How technology helps
Simply – technology increases the efficiency of your operation – vital for an operation where serving up and delivering hot and fresh food is key to success. At the heart of this is a robust restaurant POS software solution integrated with key technology:
Kitchen automation – integration with the restaurant POS software means that orders go straight through for preparation – instantly. No margins for error, no rekeying of orders and food can be out of the door and on the road in a fraction of the time.
Mobile payments – if you are providing your own website or app experience you can offer your guests the opportunity to pay through their mobiles – far more convenient and safer than using a card to pay. Integration with the restaurant POS software again ensures their orders are processed immediately.
Loyalty programmes – your virtual brand can also interact with your loyalty programmes so you can ensure that as well as opening a new revenue stream you keep those customers coming back for more thus increasing their lifetime value. Integration with the restaurant POS software means they can easily redeem their loyalty points in-store or online.
Reporting – a key part of the success of any delivery operation is the ability to measure success and continuously improve. An enterprise-level restaurant POS software solution enables you to see at a granular level how your delivery arm is performing.
You can easily pinpoint which menu items are working and which are not – at store or group level for the ultimate flexibility. Integration with stock control and purchasing also ensures that your inventory levels are kept at the optimum level automatically – reduce wastage and ensure that you can always fulfil your orders.
Online ordering is here to stay. With the right technology partner and vision it is easily possible to create a whole new business model without all the upfront investment and red tape of building a traditional restaurant.
Technology integration and the smart leveraging of the tremendous marketing opportunities afforded by online and mobile ordering will enable restaurateurs to fully capitalise.