Technology for restaurants: The recipe for growth in 2021
2020 has been one of the most difficult years for the restaurant industry globally. However, this year has also reminded us that technology has been there to help restaurants even during difficult times, offering new alternatives to overcome change, innovate in service and reach where the diner needs it.
Therefore, at Soft Restaurant® we want to offer you this complete guide on everything you need to know about the use of technology in a restaurant today, from the incorporation of basic tools to the latest innovations that have emerged as a result of Covid-19, as well as a brief look at the prospects for the industry facing a future full of challenges for a successful recovery.
- 1. What is restaurant technology and how has it evolved?
- 2. What types of technology are used in a restaurant?
- 3. How does the use of technology benefit a restaurant?
- 4. Pros and cons of using technology in a restaurant
- 5. How much does it cost to invest in technology for a restaurant?
- 6. How to choose a restaurant technology provider?
- 7. How to start using technology in a restaurant?
- 8. Success cases of technology use in a restaurant
- 9. Conclusion
What is technology for
restaurants and how has it evolved?
Restaurant technology is the set of tools and procedures that intervene in the different activities of the food and beverage sales sector, from the preparation of products to customer service.
The first technologies in restaurants appeared at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with the development of gas cooking, canning procedures, and refrigeration systems. That same century, the first technological tool appeared to carry out greater control of sales operations: the cash register.
Technology has evolved rapidly in recent years and today more than 80 percent of restaurants countries such as the United States have adopted various tools that help them operate efficiently and successfully, from the already essential point of sale to innovations to order online and enhance delivery.
According to the report Restaurant Industry 2030, technology and data will be of fundamental importance in the near future of the industry, offering new alternatives and business models to continue growing even in the face of changing situations such as those that have been faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Evolution of technology for restaurants
Technology for operation
- Cooling systems
- Gas stove
Technology for operation
- Cooling systems
- Gas stove
Point of sale (POS)
Technology for operation
- Home automation
- Internet of things
-Comandera or mobile point of sale
-Options to accept various payment methods
Technology to control and increase productivity
Technology for administration
- Administrative reports
- Users and security
- Analytics for restaurants
- Centralization of operations for corporations
Technology for customer service
* Interactive menus
Technology for the new normal
-Contact free menu
-Platforms to sell food at home and take away
Technologies of the near future
-Drones at home
What types of technology
is there in a restaurant?
Today, technology in a restaurant fulfills a wide variety of functions, ranging from improving customer service to controlling everything that happens "behind the scenes." Some of the main categories they fall into are:
Technology to enrich the customer experience
In a highly competitive industry such as the restaurant industry, offering a personalized service that distinguishes an establishment is essential to attract, captivate and convert a visitor into a loyal customer. To achieve this, technology offers tools such as:
The digital menus They work as applications for tablets that are available on restaurant tables so that the diner can explore high-quality images of the products, read the descriptions and even choose between different languages, providing relevant information to correctly choose the dish of their preference .
Loyalty programs are effective tools to encourage consumption and promote customer retention, offering rewards for their visits, promotions and gifts on special dates, as well as long-term communication to create stronger and lasting ties with diners.
The programs of online reservations They allow diners to set aside a table through an online portal and help managers to manage these reservations, facilitating communication between the two through e-mail confirmation and sending messages from the same platform.
The self-service digital kiosks They help to exponentially speed up the service of a restaurant, since the diner is the one who raises his order autonomously through an interactive screen and this is sent directly to the kitchen, without the need for the staff to act as an intermediary.
Technology to control the sales of a restaurant
The evolution from the cash register to the point of sale system has continued until reaching the development of new technologies for restaurants that help to obtain total control of sales, operation and production operations in the kitchen, such as:
Un restaurant software is a multifunctional system created specifically to improve and optimize all the processes of a restaurant and increase its sales results. Essentially it integrates all the functions of a point of sale, but it also has other characteristics that are essential for the restaurant operation, such as:
- Inventory control
- Recipe costing
- Tables map
The mobile point of sale (or mobile commander) for restaurants is an application of a restaurant system that helps to pick up orders on a tablet directly from the table and send them to production in a simple and fast way, making it possible to speed up the operation of waiters and reducing waiting times for diners.
The increase in bank card transactions -especially by millennials- has made having various payment methods an urgent necessity for a restaurant that wants to keep up to date and have the possibility of continuing to grow. Some of the technologies to offer this service are:
- POS terminal to accept credit or debit cards.
- Online payment system.
- Wire transfers.
Technology for the management of a restaurant
Good restaurant management is essential to ensure proper operation, efficient use of resources, and cost savings. To achieve this, technology makes tools such as:
> Safety profile
> Integration with payroll systems
> Control of entry and exit of personnel
> Costs control
> Payment to suppliers
> Electronic invoicing
> Administrative reports
> Centralization of operations for corporations
Technology to control and increase productivity
Maintaining control of all the tasks involved in the production of food and beverages is essential to achieve one of the most important objectives of restaurant management: cost reduction.
Automation of tasks such as recipe configuration and costing, product explosion and warehouse operations have made it easier to keep detailed control of all inventories, as well as reduce hidden costs in production, the percentage of waste and the possibility of ant theft.
Having a production monitor in the kitchen area allows the area manager to view the orders raised in real time and organize all the cooks to carry out each order in a timely manner.
Technology for the new normal of restaurants
The Covid-19 pandemic showed the fragility of the restaurant sector in a scenario in which the social gathering, one of the pillars of the industry, was restricted, but it also showed the way in which technology can offer innovative solutions to continue carrying service to the diner's table.
Some of the most recommended technologies to avoid contact with commonly used objects and prevent contagion during the pandemic are:
> Digital menu.
> Self-service kiosk.
> Online payment system, without cash or to reduce contact with cash.
Technology for a smart restaurant
The integration of Business intelligence It is part of the technological innovations that have taken place in restaurants, because given the high competitiveness of the sector and open crisis scenarios during contingency, more than a good idea is necessary to ensure the success of a business.
The tools of analytics take as a starting point the generation of databases from all the information generated in the restaurant (types of consumption, resources invested, increase or decrease in customers, etc.) to carry out in-depth analysis of the business situation and generate reliable predictions that help develop effective business strategies.
How does the use of
technology in a restaurant?
The use of technology has revolutionized the gastronomic industry worldwide, helping to optimize all the processes that are part of restaurant management and significantly enriching the consumer experience.
Some of the main benefits that technology brings to a restaurant are:
1. Efficiency and control over the entire operation
One of the greatest benefits that technology brings is control over the organization of all operational areas that allow the restaurant to function perfectly and meet its fundamental objective: customer satisfaction.
To achieve this, technology takes care of standardize all the tasks that are part of the restaurant operation, from the capture of the order by the waiter to the delivery of the order in the kitchen, guaranteeing the optimal use of resources and helping to set the necessary production times to avoid losses.
In addition, it helps to maintain a fluent communication to respond in an agile and efficient way before any event, as well as to accurately record all the information that is generated to access reports that allow evaluating the performance of the restaurant and propose better strategies.
2. Reduction of operating costs
Lowering costs is one of the main objectives of restaurant managers and operators of all types, and technology has been in charge of developing tools that allow achieving this through the optimization of human resources, savings in inventories and increased productivity.
Technology in a restaurant can ensure that the investment in human resources is exactly what is necessary without negatively affecting productivity or customer service.
For example, applying technology to the administration, it is possible to obtain a detailed view of the time it takes for kitchen staff to produce a series of orders, with which they can know if it is necessary to hire another employee, stay with them or even decrease the number.
Using technology to keep inventory control allows you to accurately standardize recipes, obtain the cost of each one, and know the minimum and maximum sets of each ingredient according to their input and output rates.
Tools such as restaurant software help detect the key moment to make the necessary purchases and maintain a good relationship with suppliers, ensuring that replacements arrive when they are needed, but without the risk of losses.
Therefore, you can avoid having an excess of products in the warehouse that imply higher storage costs and that do not allow detecting the poor quality of the products, anticipating expiration or avoiding ant theft.
Technology gives you the ability to know the production rates that your business can achieve, helping you to verify that the time and efforts that the staff invest in each of the restaurant's operational processes are the most effective in order to serve more diners , without compromising quality or efficiency.
Remember that with higher productivity, operating costs decrease and business profitability increases.
3. Increased sales in a restaurant
The use of technology in a restaurant has proven to be an important factor in attracting more customers, increasing the average ticket and increasing the frequency of visits per diner, directly impacting the increase in restaurant sales.
An example is the restaurant chain Chili, which just by implementing a tablet on the tables of its restaurants obtained an increase in 50 percent in the sale of coffee and 20 percent in the sale of food.
4. Streamline customer service
The technology allows the automation of manual tasks carried out in various operational areas of the restaurant, saving the time invested by the staff and allowing them to increase their customer service capacity.
For example, the point of sale for restaurants is in charge of streamlining the bill collection processes and automatically linking the information with the record of warehouse stocks to facilitate inventory control.
As you can see, with technology it makes administrative processes more efficient, increases sales potential and provides greater control over production and inventories, helping you to reduce costs effectively to increase profitability. In other words, it makes running a restaurant easier and more assertive.
Pros and cons of using technology in
According to a study From The National Restaurant Association, 45 percent of restaurant owners want to invest more in their business technology, but some of the obstacles they face are maintenance costs and the fear that customers will not be able to adapt to the changes.
To help you have a more complete picture about it, in the following infographic we will show you what are some of the pros and cons of implementing technology in a restaurant
Pros and cons of implementing technology in a restaurant
How much does it cost to invest in technology
for a restaurant?
Technology offers a wide range of solutions that are adjusted to the needs of each type of restaurant according to its stage of development in the management cycle and your growth goals.
If you have already been able to identify what stage your business is currently in, we share some of the costs that you must take into account to make a smart investment.
Investment in software
One of the fundamental tools to obtain control of sales and inventory control in a restaurant is the restaurant software, whose cost varies depending on whether you acquire it for monthly or annual rent.
As a result of the technological needs that restaurant operators have expressed, systems have been developed for restaurants that integrate specialized functions to obtain control of the various areas of the restaurant, whose price can range from $ 500.00 to $ 800.00 Mexican pesos ($ 30 - $ 40 USD ) in monthly rent.
Investment in hardware equipment
Hardware add-ons such as point-of-sale and kitchen monitors, ticket printers, and bank card readers are generally purchased on an individual basis, based on business needs.
Their costs vary widely, as they can range from $ 2,000.00 MXN ($ 100 USD) in the case of a portable miniprinter, to equipment such as touch screen point of sale monitors of approximately $ 20,000.00 MXN ($ 1000 USD).
Investment in solutions for the growth of a restaurant
In addition to the restaurant software and its hardware accessories, the technology offers various solutions that function as satellite systems to increase productivity, enrich the customer experience and improve the integral management of the business.
One of these is the comandera or the mobile point of sale and the digital menu, whose costs can range between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000.00 MXN ($ 150 to $ 200 USD).
Investment in digital sales channels
The costs of selling food online at home and to go have been one of the most discussed topics in the industry after the emergence of Covid-19 and the restriction of capacity in restaurants.
The most used options have been the use of third-party platforms that can represent an approximate cost of 30 percent commission on order, and on the other hand, there is the use of the restaurant's own online ordering system that can be purchased at an approximate cost of $ 500.00 MXN ($ 25 USD) in monthly rent.
Investment in training
An important point to take into account is the training of your work teams to know the best practices of the use of technology in your restaurant, with which you can ensure that the integrated tools are being used to the maximum and avoid inappropriate uses that can damage systems and generate additional costs.
Commonly, providers offer individual or group trainings, either system-wide or specific, depending on the business needs, and can range from $ 1,000.00 MXN to $ 9,000.00 MXN ($ 50 - $ 300 USD).
How to choose a good restaurant technology provider?
If you have already read up to this point, it is likely that now you are wondering where you can buy the technology that your restaurant needs and how to know how to choose the best option on the market (which will not depend solely on price).
To help you, we have listed the characteristics that you should look for in a provider so that you can be sure that the technology you are acquiring is reliable and will allow you to achieve your growth objectives.
1. Keep it up to date
According to Moore's Law, the speed of microprocessors doubles its advances every year and a half approximately, which is why it is important that your technology provider has the most recent launches on the market in order to offer you the most effective and appropriate solutions to new consumer trends.
2. That adapt the service to your needs
As you have seen, there are many technological tools for restaurants of various types and sizes, so it is important that your supplier knows in detail what restaurant management is like and can offer you exactly what your restaurant requires and can buy.
3. Have after-sales service
It is important that when purchasing the system for your restaurant you have a guarantee that you will be able to count on the after-sales service (support, attention, updates and training), as this way you can feel protected in case of presenting an incident that requires the assistance of a specialist in the future.
4. Make it effective and decisive
Efficiency is key in a restaurant and it is also key in a supplier. Beyond price, evaluate their power of reaction in helping you understand how to implement and use technology so that you can effectively solve the problems your restaurant faces.
5. Make it legal
The sale of pirated restaurant systems is common in the restaurant industry, but it is also a risk factor for the safety of a restaurant and the success of its operation.
By acquiring a system with a provider that distributes illegal licenses, not only will you not have the customer service, support, updates or the necessary training for a correct implementation and use of the technology adopted, but you will also be exposing access to information from your business to an agent against whom you will not be able to defend yourself legally in the event of a problematic situation.
How to start implementing
technology in a restaurant?
Technology offers a wide range of solutions to improve the processes that occur in the various areas of a restaurant, but to find out what specific tools your business needs, we recommend that you follow these steps:
Step 1. Set your short, medium goals
It is important that you can clearly define your short, medium and long term growth objectives, establish achievable goals and set a specific time for their fulfillment. From that, it is time to evaluate which technology is the one that will help you reach the vision you have for your business.
Step 2. Approach a provider
Once you know that you have a clear picture of what you are looking for, it is time to contact a technology provider to find out what solutions they have at their disposal for you. You can even request quotes with multiple providers to make sure the option you choose is the most convenient.
Step 3. Implement the technology in your restaurant
Now that you know which is the best technology option for your business, it is time to get down to work and start the implementation and staff training processes. Here it is advisable to be in continuous contact with your supplier to make sure that everything is done correctly and you do not have problems in the future
Step 4. Evaluate the results periodically
Monitor the follow-up of your proposed objectives and verify if the technology you have incorporated has really helped you achieve your goals, or if not, evaluate why it has not been. Here the tools of Business intelligence they can make your job extremely easy.
Success cases of using the
technology in a restaurant
If you still doubt whether investing in technology is a good idea for your business, now we will present the story of two restaurants that have successfully implemented tools that have helped them grow and maintain themselves over decades, even in crisis situations.
Palominos Restaurant in Hermosillo, Sonora
Know its history!
Tropical Kok in Texcoco, State of Mexico
The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic decreased 90 percent of restaurant sales in Mexico and caused the closure of a third during the most critical months, but Tropical Kok, a healthy food business located in Texcoco, was one of the three restaurants with the highest number of online food sales in the country through the Soft Restaurant® e-Delivery platform.
Learn how technology has helped him face the Covid-19 pandemic!
Now that you know a comprehensive overview of the different technologies that exist for restaurants, their benefits, pros and cons, costs, success stories, what is the right technology for your business and how to choose the right suppliers, it's time to take the next step.
En Soft Restaurant® We have a family of integral solutions that are adapted to the needs of your restaurant, so we invite you to contact a sales executive so that you can acquire the technology that your restaurant needs to face the changes in the industry that the year brought with it. 2020 and meet your growth goals.