The year is 2021. If you aren’t using technology in your restaurant, are you even a restaurant owner? The COVID-19 pandemic pushed restaurants into using QR codes, online ordering systems, and virtual team meetings. As we come out of the pandemic, some restaurateurs are wondering if these technologies are here to stay. I believe they are. And more than that, I think that our industry is in the midst of a technological revolution. Here are 5 reasons why.
Your team members are most likely used to using technology for everything already. Nearly everyone has a smartphone, and most of your staff probably don’t remember a time when they didn't have one. According to the National Restaurant Association, the average age that people get their first restaurant job is 18!
Younger people have never known a time when their information did not come from a screen of some sort. This is their natural way of learning, working and keeping up to date. If you embrace and encourage this in your restaurant you are making their lives a little bit easier, and doing a better job of communicating with them.
When systems are streamlined, service will be better so customers will be happier. Technology, when used correctly, can make service flow smoother and reduce mistakes. It is important to put the work into finding good applications, and ones that are right for your venue. Once you do that it is vital to take the time to set it up fully and properly for your venue. This is where many restaurants fail. Yes, it’s another thing to do that may take up a few hours of someone's time, but the time saved and value added can pay back tenfold.
People like technology. When they see it in use in your venue it makes them feel like the place is more modern, up to date and “fancy”. Of course you need to manage and implement the use of any technologies in a way that compliments the nature of your venue. Don’t allow it to become a distraction or a crutch for your team. Like any other aspect of a restaurant, tech tools are productive only when they are managed well.
I love organization. As a server, trainer and team lead, being organized was what made me good, and made the job manageable. The right app can help you get organized and stay organized. I can’t emphasize enough the value of having all the info you and your team need in one place that is easy to access and easy to use. Yes, you may have to use more than one piece of technology in your venue. Perhaps your POS and scheduling are on different platforms. Be creative and look for apps and ways that can consolidate all of your info to one, or at least fewer places. Get rid of the paper wherever you can! (Although sometimes paper back-ups are a good idea.)
For day to day operations use some tech that allows you to update things quickly and share it with your staff in as close to real time as possible.
For more on the value of organization check out: Investing in Your Best Assets: How Training and Organization Improve the Employee Experience
Your venue will function at a higher level if you implement technology, and you will be able to adapt, grow and change much easier. POS systems, reservation apps, scheduling, training, notifications & messaging, HR, and payroll are all areas where technology can be applied to make a restaurant run better.
A word of caution here: I am not suggesting that you use technology for something just because it exists. Sometimes your scheduling spreadsheet really is the best option for your venue. If it is, don't change it. You can however ask yourself if there is a better way to share it with your staff, or a communication platform that will help with shift trades. Again just using some sort of tech is not the solution. Use good tech and use it in a way that really works for your operation.
One of the driving forces behind what I do is finding ways to make life better for restaurant workers and those that lead them. I know that starts with organization, training and communication, and I know that tech can really help restaurants do that. Not only that, but I have seen how organization and tech combined can make day to day work life simpler for managers, leaders and owners as well.
For a deeper dive into this check out the article: Simplify Your Restaurant: Why Your Team Will Thank You.
Technology is a part of our current world. For the generations that make up most of our workers, it is as natural as walking and talking. It only makes sense to make good use of these facts and the systems that are available to improve the way your team works, learns and communicates. Time and resources spent finding, choosing and implementing good technology in your restaurant is an investment that can pay off in very big ways!