There’s so much to think about before launching a business in Australia’s foodservice sector. Of course you need a site to operate in, you need staff to hit the ground running, equipment to cook with, a menu to tantalise tastebuds and a marketing campaign to get bums on seats.
These things cannot be overlooked if you want to operate a successful restaurant or café, and to survive the test of time. Thankfully, what today’s operators have that previous generations didn’t have, is access to the digital world. Technology is one of the most – if not the most – important assets in your business, for three key reasons:
Let’s use point of sale (POS) systems as an example. Modern POS systems have a wide range of capabilities which can include inventory management, cellar operations (for venues with a wine selection), customer relationship management (CRM) and plenty more. Traditionally, each of these operations had to be considered in isolation, but POS systems allow business owners to manage them with one single platform.
Another modern day blessing for foodservice businesses is cloud technology, which allows operators to store and access data and software over the internet rather than on the computer’s hard drive. This means that critical business information can be accessed anytime, anywhere with the added benefit of automatic system and software updates. Payroll, super and other rate updates are also automatically adjusted via cloud technology.
Cloud computing means business owners have access to accurate and current financial insights, all at the touch of a button. Combined with the benefits of POS systems, this technology also allows operators to gain valuable information about business trends at the press of a button, identifying top selling dishes, the most productive floor staff members and predicting cash flow.
Today’s foodservice professionals are also able to work on-the-go, viewing estimates, invoices and other vital documents from a mobile device. In a survey of 172 state and territory winners and finalists of the 2014 Telstra Business Awards, it was discovered that 77 percent of respondents use cloud computing to set up more flexible virtual offices and collaborate remotely. Therefore, technology is making that dream of working ‘on the business not in the business’ more attainable.
Boosting business and return visitors
The Telstra Business Awards survey also found that 48 percent of businesses reported profit increases, and 41 percent reported lower operating costs as a direct outcome of embracing digital.
One of the best ways to boost profitability is to encourage diners to come back to your establishment time and time again. POS systems can improve the execution and effectiveness of targeted rewards and loyalty programs by shedding light on customer purchasing habits and other business activities. This data can – and should – be utilised during the business’ traditionally quiet periods, and POS technology allows you to personalise incentive schemes (why not give your regulars a free glass of bubbles on their birthday, or a free entrée on their fifth visit?) while also measuring the effectiveness of such marketing schemes.
There are countless other ways that technology can help improve the productivity and profitability of your foodservice operation. Oracle Hospitality’s Essential Guide to Running a Restaurant sheds light on the key challenges faced by industry members and how they can best be overcome.