We‘re living the technological revolution. Some time last year, I ordered a box of catering platters whilst on a walk around an isolated reservoir, in the Yorkshire hills. Using the Amazon app, and good ol’ 3G, the entire purchase process took under two minutes, my phone was back in my pocket, and my platters arrived the next day. I remember thinking to myself “That’s amazing! I can order literally anything, anywhere”. Indeed it’s quite the time to be alive for the modern consumer, but there’s one service sector that’s a bit behind the times… Restaurants.
Restaurants are playing catch up
From self-service checkouts to contactless payments for your bus ride, technology has touched just about every facet of the consumer lifestyle. The majority of restaurants, however, are still decidedly “old school”. A change is afoot though. Tablets have slowly started replacing notepads and back of house operations, such as accounting, staff rotations, and stock management, are becoming increasingly more digitised.
What does this mean for the consumer?
To put it simply - a better experience, ergo repeat business and recommendation. Standardising repeat processes, giving staff increased autonomy, and proving better training are just some examples of tech-supported actions that restaurants can take to free up their staff to focus on what’s really important: looking after the customer. For too long restaurant staff have been bogged down by messy red tape, soda stained manuals and piles of ruffled log books to maintain.
There are plenty of systems that fit existing categories, such as POS, accounting, and HR, but there are a select few who are providing whole new solutions to age old problems and simply don’t fit the traditional categories.
Soundtrack Business Creating the perfect ambience should be perfect with the help of Soundtrack. Just tell them what sort of vibe you’re going for and their software will do all the hard work for you.
Feed it back There are a lot of customer loyalty and survey apps out there, but Feed it back are extra special. Their software links with you existing EPOS in realtime, giving you live, actionable, data-led feedback. Nice.
Nibble App Nibble helps brands reach and engage new and existing audiences through their network of influencers. Their focus on micro-influencers (under 50k followers) means you’re only paying in free food making it insanely cost effective.
Collins Collins is a booking system that keeps you and your customers in touch, from booking to sit down. Customers can see their wait time in real-time and you can turn tables with super efficiency. They also boast 14% more bookings from your website. Win win.
Tenzo Tenzo is a data aggregation tool, that lets you see sales, social media activity and staffing all in one place. This real-time insight enables you to make decisions based on real data, instead of wasting time trying to find it.
Flux Flux have taken paper receipts and loyalty programmes and digitised them, by integrated with your customers’ banking apps and your (E)POS. Clever hey?!
Collset If you have a unique problem, Collset will almost certainly have a bespoke solution, provided using Sharepoint. They’re particularly strong in financial reporting.
Trail In its simplest form Trail is a series of checklists that are designed to boost restaurant operations. Trail replaces all those papers and excel sheets and gives organisations a detailed, birds-eye view of their operations across multiple sites.
Handheld devices are swiftly replacing the humble flip pad and with good reason! Digital point of sale systems are providing restaurants, and retailers alike, with realtime insights into their businesses that until now have been notoriously difficult to obtain. From hot sales statistics to automated stock ordering, EPOS systems are undoubtedly the way forward for the savvy service provider.
Revel Built with restaurants in mind Revel boasts nice features such as menu building and loyalty programmes.
Lightspeed Lightspeed’s dedicated restaurant EPOS system lets you customise your customers’ dining experiences, in real-time, without messing things up for the back of house team.
Shopkeep Shopkeep is a good all-rounder for smaller outfits, offering detailed sales insights and nippy hardware.
HR & payroll
A number of great applications for finding and interviewing staff have emerged in recent years, but where they’ve really shone in the restaurant trade is by providing excellent last-minute staffing solutions.
Recruiterbox Recruiterbox give you complete visibility across the entire hiring process, allowing you to manage your hiring anytime, from anywhere.
Bizimply Managing staff across multiple sites can be a tricky business, but not with Bizimply. Their software is built specifically for the by-the-hour workforce.
Harri Harri are a staple in hospitality hiring. Their software walks you through the entire recruitment journey and integrates with your payroll.
Catapult Need staff at a moment’s notice? Look no further than Catapult for last minute retail and hospitality staffing.
Rota Rota are another top provider of on-demand staffing and boast an average fill time of just 30 minutes.
GenieApp The last minute staffing market is a well-serviced one, with another solution from Genie, who offer a free 14 day trial.
Syft We did say this is the ultimate guide! With all these options to choose from you’ll never be short-staffed again. Syft come highly recommended and their app is really easy to use.
Rotas and scheduling
The key here is the people who need to manage the schedule and the devices they use. Younger employees will want to be able to manage and schedule using a mobile device. The output of scheduling will be a feed into the payroll module of an accounting system.
WhenIWork Scheduling large teams is made easy WhenIWork. It offers multiple integrations and it’s free, up to 75 employees!
Deputy Deputy is a very comprehensive workforce management tool. Perfect for larger organisations.
PlanDay In addition to easy rota planning, PlanDay also offers insights into the financial impact of your staffing.
RotaGeek RotaGeek are big in retail and are moving into hospitality. With their predictive technology proving a hit there’s lots to be excited about!
Nowadays, most accounting software looks after the payroll nicely and some even have basic HR functions too. For the more established organisations, however, it’s well worth checking out what some of these dedicated HR solutions have to offer.
Workday Workday has seemingly done the impossible (or at least very difficult) and linked accounting and HR to demonstrate how individual staff members impact the bottom line, across large, multi-site organisations.
CharlieHR CharlieHR makes onboarding new staff a doddle, obtaining proof of eligibility to work and compiling full HR records. It’s also… free!
S4 Labourfrom Catton Hospitality S4 offer intuitive labour management, which they claim will cut 10% off your wage bill. With wages typically being the biggest hospitality outlay, this is no small sum!
Selima Selima, recently acquired by The Access Group, are all about helping businesses remain steady and profitable by adapting to changing market conditions and improving staffing processes.
Most EPOS systems will provide inventory management as standard, and for many this will suffice. The restaurants trade, however, can require a more involved management system. Even more so in the case of the waste-conscious outfit. So, here are our top picks for restaurants.
Simple Order “Reduce waste. Cut food costs. Simplify back of house operations.” We couldn’t say it better than them!
MarketMan Inventory management software, specifically designed for restaurants. They’ve done very well in the US and have recently crossed the pond. Definitely worth a look.
Saffron Saffron do everything you’d expect from an inventory management system, and then some. Their recipe builder is particularly cool, automatically calculating cost per dish and nutritional info.
Sourcery Sourcery provides accounting software with a human touch. It manages invoices (and relationships) with your suppliers, and boasts features designed specifically for growing restaurants.
Instasupply Instasupply focus on helping businesses control their spending. They do this by managing all of your spend-related interactions in one place, in realtime.
If you’re reading a software guide it’s reasonable to assume that you’re getting kitted-out it the tech department. So let us give you one more piece of advice… Choose an accounting provider that can integrate with your other tool(s), or else you may end up with a gap in your vision of how the bottom line is impacted. Some flexible solutions are:
Xero Cloud-based, low cost, and market leading for SMEs. [Full disclosure] We use Xero and we love it! A huge number of accountants are partnered with Xero, which means you can still outsource your accounting, but maintain full visibility of your finances, in real time, with bank feed integration. Bing, bang, bosh!
Financial Force Force is the right word. This outfit take accounting to the next level. It’s more a business management tool that ties everything back neatly, and all-importantly, to the bottom line.
Still going strong
The focus of this guide has very much been on new tech, but it would be wrong to not give nod to a few long-standing providers who are modernising their offerings and very much keeping with the times. Don’t be tempted to rule them out as “old fashioned”. They’ve still got it!
Zonal Zonal have a solution for just about everything, including features like a white-label order & pay app. You just have to look at the success of the Wetherspoons App to see that this is the direction that customer interaction is heading.
Fourth If you’re running a hospitality business you’ve probably already heard of Fourth. With the exception of the EPOS, there’s little they haven’t turned their hands to in hospitality tech.
The Access Group These guys are big players and are keeping ahead of the tech revolution, by snapping up great new tech as it emerges (remember Selima?). They offer a pretty comprehensive range of products, so take a look.
Sage Sage have been market leaders in accounting for a long, long time, but the rise of cloud-based competitors has forced them to modernise. They’ve produced a range of comprehensive accounting solutions with good integrations.
So there you have it! Your complete guide to picking the best software to support and grow your restaurant. If you’re considering new technology we’d love to show you what Trail can do. Just click the banner below to arrange a demo.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you think so, then go ahead and hold that clap button down and thanks for reading!