It's on operators to create a seamless, stress-free experience.
Restaurant technology has morphed from being “nice to have” to an absolute necessity. Tech solutions are essential to elevate restaurant operations, increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve scheduling, boost safety, and streamline daily tasks.
As restaurant tech has become more affordable, accessible, and user-friendly, more restaurants are investing in digital solutions. As your restaurant implements (or upgrades) technology, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:
You didn’t research your options. There are many amazing restaurant tech options available that can elevate all aspects of your business, so do your homework. Determine which features and functions are most important to you, then find a solution that meets these needs. Your business may be at a point where you only need certain functions, or you may need something more holistic if you want to grow and scale. In that case, the best option could be a comprehensive, integrated solution that can do it all—inventory, purchasing, reporting and analytics, scheduling, HR, and more.
You didn’t plan ahead. Restaurant operators can be so eager to start a new initiative that they jump into new tech options without a plan, which can create numerous problems down the road. While it’s impossible to predict every possible scenario, it’s smart to develop plans to mitigate potential problems during rollout. Work collaboratively with your vendor to create a roadmap for the rollout and implementation to make the tech transition seamless.
Your team is not engaged. The best way to get everyone onboard and engaged is to involve key employees throughout the process. While it may not be realistic to include every staff member, select a representative from each affected department to offer useful insights and help boost buy-in from their colleagues. Ensure you have representatives from teams that will be using the solution, as well as those who will be implementing and maintaining it internally. No matter how useful the sales pitch seems, getting input from the potential end users is invaluable.
The tech vendor isn’t a true partner. While many companies may look good on paper, pick the tech vendor that will be the best match for your restaurant. Will the vendor you’re considering offer ongoing support during and after implementation? Are they responsive and pleasant? A vendor may have great products and credentials, but if they aren’t willing to support you, it’s likely not the right fit.
The solutions aren’t integrated. No software does everything. However, you should be certain that the solutions you choose work cohesively together. For example, your BOH should be able to talk to your POS. Trying to build a tech Frankenstein from disconnected vendors may give you more data, but you’ll have less insight without the ability to see this data together and parse it in a meaningful way. You’ll maximize successes—and minimize frustrations—if the systems are aligned.
The tech tools are complex. It’s easy to fall for the bells and whistles of a new tech solution, but one of your top concerns should be whether it’s user friendly. If the solution is overly complicated, your staff won’t use (or like) it. Avoid solutions that are complex or have a steep learning curve, focusing instead on easy-to-use options that will simplify daily operations.
You didn’t properly train employees. You could have the greatest tech tools in the world, but if your employees don’t know how to use them, it’s a waste of money. Once you’ve purchased this great tech solution, train your team on it. Your tech vendor may provide the product training, or you can opt to have an internal team roll out training, helping employees (of varying tech comfort levels) learn how to use the new system.
You didn’t explain the benefits. Explain to employees why you’re investing in technology—it will make daily tasks easier, increase safety and quality, save time and money, etc. If they understand the reasons for this transition, they’ll be more likely to buy into the new solutions. Demonstrate what’s in it for them. For instance, a digital scheduling solution will help ensure that employees get their preferred shifts and will make shift swaps much easier. Consider appointing ambassadors who are enthusiastic about the technology, who can help boost excitement among the team and encourage the more tech-adverse employees to use the new solutions.
Security was an afterthought. A whopping 108.9 million accounts were breached in the third quarter of 2022, a 70 percent increase versus the previous quarter. As cybercrime rises, restaurants must do everything possible to maximize security and minimize online threats. A cyber breach can be expensive, damaging, and stressful, so make sure your network is secure. Some systems store considerable data, and restaurants make financial transactions daily, as well as handling employee payroll, paying vendors, etc. Determine if (and how) a tech solution will increase your attack surface. Also, find out what security measures your vendor takes. Make sure whatever tech solutions you implement are held to the highest security standards.
You didn’t consider the ROI. The right tech solutions can drive revenue growth, cut costs, attract new customers, increase productivity, and boost safety and quality. While it’s true that tech solutions require an initial investment, the right option will pay for itself over time. Before investing in new technology, consider the ROI you’re expecting. Do you hope to reduce waste, increase sales, and become more efficient? Determine whether the tech solutions you’re contemplating can help you improve these metrics. If the answer is no, you may be considering the wrong solution for your restaurant’s needs.
While the restaurant industry has historically been hesitant to implement technology, we’ve seen a huge increase in restaurant tech in recent years. And there’s good reason for this shift—the right tech solutions offer many significant benefits. When you’re implementing or upgrading your tech stack, avoid these common mistakes for a seamless, stress-free experience.
Greg Staley is the CEO of SynergySuite, a back-of-house restaurant management platform. Greg focuses on facilitating better visibility and increased profitability for restaurant chains through the use of intelligent, integrated back-of-house technology. For more information, please contact Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.