Autumn chilled UK bars and restaurants – so what questions do you need to ask before the 2019 storm hits?

Business is brisk for the festive season, but there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s been a chilly Autumn for many UK bars and restaurants.

Latest figures show that while business was up in the capital by 2.5%, hospitality businesses in the regions saw like for like sales fall by 0.5% in total.

Restaurants were hardest hit, with a 0.7% fall, and bars were not far behind on 0.4%.

Many blame Brexit for making consumers cautious about spending – and rising costs, scarce labour and rocketing business rates are not exactly contributing to a healthy bottom line.

So hospitality is going hi-tech to shelter businesses from 2019.

Let’s face it – only restaurants and bars in good operational shape will be able to weather the storm heading our way. That’s why many are turning to restaurant and bar management technology to streamline the way they do business.

Leading operators including Dishoom, Hawksmoor and Honest Burgers have already chosen restaurant POS software that can help them in the struggle against rising costs, inefficiency and waste.

With a restaurant management system, serving staff take orders and payments at tableside on handheld devices including tablets and send them straight to the kitchen, while managers view operations online in real time from their mobile.

Orders are always accurate, and the system forecasts both food trends and labour requirements, saving costs, reducing waste and making sure the right number of staff are always available.

However, there’s a wealth of restaurant management systems on offer, all with different facilities.

So what should you ask before making your investment? Don’t forget these 10 important questions:

  • Is the restaurant POS system specially designed?

Invest in a dedicated system developed to meet the special requirements of restaurants – not one that’s adapted from retail.

  • Can you split courses to help the kitchen?

This should be straightforward and tie in with kitchen automation where required. Your kitchen printer or screen can show relevant information for each station, so food is prepared swiftly at the right time.

  • Can you send from tableside to different printers?

Serving staff should be able to send orders direct to the kitchen and take payment at tableside, printing the receipt in the restaurant to save time for your guests.

  • Can you manage the menu for different times of day?

Make sure the restaurant management system you choose can customise screen layouts for different staff members, and also enable or disable menus depending on the time of day or days of the week.

  • If diners move tables, can you reallocate?

Look for software with flexible table maps where specific orders are allocated to specific tables, and you can transfer the ticket and merge or split tables if required.

  • Can you split bills easily?

This saves a lot of time and guest debate! The result is a quicker table turn and a more satisfying dining experience.

  • Can you control stock all the way to ingredients?

Good restaurant POS software can track popular menu items, spot trends and delivering accurate forecast reports. It can also create alerts on potential allergens in ingredients – a huge benefit that can keep your guests safe.

  • Does the system help you drive loyalty?

Capturing guest data is highly useful for increasing engagement with your customers, helping to create tailor-made services and as well as targeted email marketing campaigns.

  • Can the software track all cash transactions?

Seek a system that gives full details in real time so the current cash position is always available.

  • Is training simple?

Good restaurant management systems are easy to use, so staff can be up and running in hours.

Growth is looking spotty for 2019 – but remember, it IS going to be growth.

Predictions for the hospitality industry in the coming year are up and down, but there are still many areas where growth is expected.

In fact, fast-casual sales in particular are looking healthy with a growth of more than 8% anticipated.

So get the right technology in place and make sure all your ducks are in a row from an operational point of view.

2019; we’re not expecting it to be a walk in the park.

But with the right kind of support from technology, and a clear, real-time vision of how your bar or restaurant is performing, you’ll be able to run a tight operation that makes the most of every sale – and delights customers into the bargain.

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