Whether you own a small restaurant or a large chain, restaurant technology plays an integral role in how you manage your operations and supply—but what technology do you need to open a restaurant, or succeed at running one, and why?
In this article, we will explore the different types of restaurant technology you need to open, run, or grow a successful restaurant, and how you can choose which restaurant technology is the best fit for your business.
What restaurant technology do you need to open a restaurant?
While every single restaurant is different, with needs and technological requirements unique to it, there are some types of technology that will appear in almost every restaurant. Here is a list of the common types of technology you will encounter in most restaurants.
What are the 8 types of restaurant technology you need?
- Point of Sale (POS) systems
- Payroll solution
- Scheduling software
- Time tracking or time clock
- Human resource management software
- Inventory management software
- Reservation software
- Restaurant website
1 - Point of Sale systems.
A POS system is a computerized system that allows restaurant owners to track sales, cash flow, and food inventory. However, a good POS system does more than process sales and aid with bookkeeping. It simplifies communications between the kitchen and the waitstaff by taking orders and pushing them to the kitchen printer.
A POS system can also be used to track orders, sales, food usage, and the most popular menu items. With additional integrations, it can streamline your payroll process and workforce management in one go.
POS systems can exist in different forms, including:
Desktop POS system: operates on a computer/laptop or app.
Mobile POS system: consists of a mobile phone app that attaches to a card reader, and can be integrated with additional devices like bar code scanners and receipt printers.
Tablet POS system: works in a similar way to the mobile POS system, except it provides a larger surface to work with.
Touchscreen terminals: gaining popularity in a lot of restaurants. Provide guest-facing screens which allow customers to input their own orders and make payments and tips, improving order accuracy and speed.
When selecting which POS system is the best fit for your restaurant, there are many considerations to keep in mind, such as availability of mobile and contactless ordering and payment options, inventory and product management integrations, and what type of hardware the system will require.
2 - Payroll and accounting technology.
Payroll and accounting management is one of the most important aspects of running a successful restaurant business. However, while the bookkeeping process for restaurants is similar to the accounting system for any business, it is made more complex by industry-specific payroll requirements. This is further complicated by the fact that restaurants have slim profit margins and keeping on top of your KPIs becomes essential.
Using restaurant payroll software, you can automate the payroll process, allowing you to focus on other important tasks. It is recommended to find a payroll solution that integrates your time tracking and scheduling software so that you can streamline approved scheduled hours to payroll. This software option should also offer automated tax deductions and remittances, as well as automated statutory holiday pay.
Push payroll is a payroll solution that offers payroll and accounting services that integrate with POS systems, employee hours and rates to offer an all-in-one employee management platform. With its flexible wage tracking and ready online access, it makes dealing with tax remittances a breeze.
3 - People management technology.
The success of every restaurant depends heavily on how well you manage your staff. Because your employees are the ones executing the tasks that generate income for the business, it is important to ensure that they are doing their jobs right.
The people management process includes hiring and onboarding skilled employees, training existing staff, employee scheduling and time tracking, and human resource structuring. In the ongoing digital transformation restaurants are seeing, there is software available for all of these aspects of employee management.
However, people management solutions like The Push Suite offer services that encompass the entire employee life cycle. With such software, you can hire and onboard employees, track their time and attendance, create employee schedules, and create HR structures that work for your business, while also integrating with your POS system, payroll, and reporting.
When everything is centralized this way, you can reduce hiring and onboarding costs. Because time tracking and scheduling are automated, you save time you would have spent on these tasks and dedicate it to more important tasks.
Additionally, with manual payroll and report compilation out of the way, you are assured of payroll calculations and tax remittances free of human error.
4 - Inventory management technology.
It is important to keep track of your restaurant’s supply and food inventory to minimize food waste and save money. Since food makes up the majority of inventory for a restaurant, and a lot of it has to be used in a timely fashion, restaurant inventory requires particular diligence.
While you can manage your restaurant inventory with spreadsheets and manual counting, this process can be made easier and more accurate using inventory management software.
With this software, you can know exactly:
- What supplies you have purchased.
- What goes out of your kitchen.
- What is left over in your inventory.
- How much you are spending on supplies.
- How much food you are losing to wastage.
Different inventory management technologies offer different solutions in addition to inventory management. For example, POSist offers a central kitchen management option for large chain restaurants that allows you to view each outlet’s stock requirements, purchase orders, and keep track of stock consumption across all the outlets.
While inventory management software is very accurate and efficient, it is not available on all POS systems. Therefore, it is important to check with your POS service provider if they offer inventory management integrations to ensure the smooth running of your business.
5 - Reservation software.
Long wait times can be a serious cause of customer dissatisfaction in restaurants. With restaurant reservation software, staff no longer have to act as middlemen between the customer and the reservation process. With software solutions like Eat App, Bento Box, Yelp Reservations, and OpenTable, customers can view available slots in the restaurants and make their own bookings.
The software can also suggest optimal seating arrangements for customers based on time and party size, while also giving them accurate wait time estimates and text notifications when their table is ready. When selecting the best reservation software for your restaurant, there are a few things you may take into consideration. How do you want customers to interact with the software—in an app or through a website?
Reservation software solutions like Eat App are available on desktop, iOS, and Android. Some platforms such as WordPress offer plugin options like Restaurant Reservations that allow you to apply both the website and app options.
Restaurant staff can access key information provided through the customer’s reservation and dining history like favorite dishes and important dates such as anniversaries. They can also manage seating, waitlists, customer loyalty, and dining preferences.
With the right reservation software, you can keep your customers satisfied, reduce losses from no shows, and build a loyal customer base.
6 - Online ordering and delivery technology.
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants had been using online ordering for a few years. However, now there are new inventive ways in which restaurants are managing food orders and delivery using technology to keep up with the industry-wide digitization that is happening at an accelerated pace.
While third-party ordering and delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash are major players in the online ordering and delivering process, restaurants are beginning to recognize the value of having integrated online ordering solutions that allow customers to order directly from the restaurant for delivery or takeout.
Domino’s was one of the first pizza chains to recognize the advantage of customers placing online orders instead of calling in. They realized that there were fewer errors, and employees did not have to pause important tasks to pick up a phone call. Additionally, because the online ordering option allowed customers to view images of the available meal options, they actually recorded an increase in sales.
Using your restaurant website, a branded restaurant mobile app, or integrated online ordering software, customers can order directly from you, eliminating third-party delivery fees and allowing you more control over the customer experience. With these platforms, you can also implement a rewards program to build customer loyalty and offer discounts.
While you may not envision your restaurant as a delivery or takeout spot, it is still important to leverage online ordering and delivery technologies to increase profits and customer satisfaction.
7 - Technology for running reports.
Running a successful restaurant is more than just offering great food and customer service. You also need to constantly analyze and address your strengths and weaknesses to remain ahead of the pack. This is where running reports comes into the picture.
Restaurant reports allow you to keep a close eye on all your restaurant operations, making adjustments where necessary to further boost profits and customer satisfaction. The common reports you will encounter in your business include clock hours, inventory, sales vs labor, expenses, employee performance, holiday pay, and overtime calculation.
While most POS systems provide multiple restaurant reports, you may need to integrate reports and analytics software like Toast and Synergy Suite to gain the full benefits of automated reports and analytics. With integration into the POS software, you eliminate the need for manual data entry, as the reports software will automatically access data from the POS system and generate reports from it.
8 - Restaurant website.
Today, online visibility is a key part of building and maintaining a restaurant’s brand image. Most people spend so much of their time on the internet that websites have become one of the most effective and economical forms of advertising for most businesses.
Restaurant websites provide your customers with information about your business that they would otherwise need to phone in for—like location, menus, specials, offers, and discounts. They can also provide information on new systems in the restaurant such as automated reservations and online ordering options.
Having a website allows you to control your brand and communicate directly with your customers from anywhere. However, you have to ensure your website is helping your restaurant put its best digital foot forward.
What information should you include on your website?
- A call to action and reservation widget.
- Full menus with prices.
- Online ordering and delivery options.
- Contact info.
- Tasteful imagery of meals and décor.
- Social media widgets connecting to your restaurant’s social media accounts.
- Events calendar.
- Email newsletter opt-in option.
Up-and-coming restaurant technology.
Restaurants all over the world are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that widespread use of technology in the industry is here to stay. From online delivery to full automated kitchens, technological innovations in the restaurant business have set high customer expectations.
To remain ahead of the curve, restaurants will have to invest in up-and-coming innovative technology that will give them an edge over the competition.
Some of these advancing technologies include:
- Self-service kiosks: Gaining popularity in large Quick Service Restaurants, these small standing digital systems allow customers to customize their orders and pay for them with their preferred payment method.
- Automated kitchen operations: More restaurants are piloting the use of kitchen robots and display systems to augment the human workforce.
- Air purification technology: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers want to feel safe while dining out. Technology like bipolar ionization is showing promise and may soon become a staple in restaurants seeking the highest standard of air purification technology.
While technology will never completely replace human creativity and ingenuity in restaurants, any business-savvy restaurant owner understands that its role in ensuring the continued success of their restaurant cannot be understated. With the right restaurant technology in place, the only direction for your business to go from here is up.