There have been some big shocks in the UK restaurant market this year, with even famous names suffering a downturn.
Yet over 4,000 new restaurants have opened here in the last four years, so the industry is still showing a lively spirit.
So in these mixed-up times, how can you make sure YOUR restaurant is one of the survivors?
We’ve come up with our 7 favourite quick restaurant software tips to help you level out the ups and downs of the market
But first, why’s life so tough for restaurants in 2018?
Thanks to the impending ‘divorce’ – soft or not – the pound has fallen and basic ingredients have therefore shot up in cost.
Jamie Oliver blamed the Brexit blues when he was forced to close six of his restaurants last year, followed by 12 more in 2018.
Like almost everyone else, he’s seen margins eroded by factors including the rise in the minimum wage – and he’s certainly not immune to that other big repercussion of Brexit, the exodus of EU hospitality workers.
Of the 3m people who work in UK hospitality, more than 750,000 are from the EU nationals.
Many have left, and because promised Government training for British staff not coming in to force until 2022, a shortage of labour and talent certainly looks on the cards.
Private equity perils
The restaurant and bar sector has been dominated by private equity for a long while, and deals have been at a record high this year.
It’s led to over-ambitious restaurant chains expanding too quickly, and the market is said by many to be over-saturated. Consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to spending their precious pounds.
On top of this, the trend towards using online ordering apps such as Deliveroo and Just Eat has been providing diners with an alternative to eating out.
These disruptive arrivistes also mean restaurant clients lose the opportunity to upsell higher margin items such as beverages with their meals.
The combination is hitting the sector hard. Accountancy group UHY Hacker Young says that no fewer than 35 out of the UK’s top 100 restaurant groups are now loss-making.
Like everyone else, they blame higher staff costs and falling consumer confidence as well as rising business rates.
Driving efficient operations and effective sales are crucial if restaurants want to thrive. Restaurant management technology helps – for example, those using Aloha EPOS systems, such as Nando’s, are reporting increases in gross profit and revenue.
Our top 7 quick restaurant software tips for success:
Restaurant management software makes it easy to create targeted marketing campaigns that bring guests back again and again.
Using cloud-based EPOS it becomes easy to capture diners’ data to inform to email promotions. You can also use they system to post your events and promotions to social media.
Once customers arrive, you want to keep them coming back by creating a real relationship that benefits everyone.
Restaurant management software offers multiple ways to reward repeat business:
Your EPOS restaurant technology makes it easy to keep track of the system – and if you are in a group, the loyalty schemes can be applied across all sites in a jiffy.
Our clients are increasingly using social media to get the word out about their business – it’s a particularly useful way to reach the younger generations of diners.
With technology it’s possible to promote your business, sending out social campaigns at a national or site level. Importantly, you can also monitor your online reputation and see what reviews people are posting.
A mobile solution means you can track social media feedback in real-time and respond quickly if there’s an issue.
Sad to say, fraudulent staff can sometimes hit your bottom line by indulging in theft and scams.
Using fraud detection software means a restaurateur can spot patterns of unusual behaviour in real-time. And because the staff knows their actions are being monitored, they are likely to stay on the straight and narrow.
This is one of the highest costs for any restaurateur but can be kept control with technology.
You need to perform a balancing act of keeping enough staff on at the right times to keep guest happy, without wasting money on overstaffing or unnecessary overtime.
With restaurant technology you can forecast exactly what labour is required, create rotas easily and reduce unplanned overtime thanks to full integration with payroll.
See our new video for further tips on how to maximise revenue and increase the efficiency of your staff.
Food waste is a huge drain on the resources of any restaurant, and it’s crucial to keep it to a minimum.
EPOS technology not only identifies best-selling dishes but also spots trends, so the right stock is ordered and less is thrown away.
When it comes to restaurant software tips, this is perhaps the biggest, long-term.
EPOS technology creates a seamless customer experience from online reservations to quicker seating, thanks to graphic table plans.
Food arrives quickly and accurately thanks to tableside ordering on handheld devices, tablets or smartphones – and it can also integrate with kitchen automation.
Even bill payments can take tableside. It all adds up to a quick, satisfactory customer experience that they will be keen to repeat.
These 7 restaurant software tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of good restaurant management technology, and they are well worth taking note of.
All the indications are that 2019 is unlikely to be any easier than this year; the industry needs all the help it can get. And with a quick and demonstrable ROI, technology is definitely an important part of any restaurant survival kit.