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Hostme Blog

5 technologies you need to know before opening your first restaurant

Opening your own restaurant is exciting — but also a bit unnerving. You are asking yourself millions of questions, solving that many problems in the meantime, and wondering every step of the way if you’ve got everything under control.

To help you, I created this short list of critical technologies you need to consider using, as they can greatly fuel your success.

1 — Restaurant Management

You may remember a time when the host would scribble your name on a long list of guests waiting to be seated. You were then given an approximate (and most likely inaccurate) wait time and a pager. New restaurant management systems are revolutionizing the way restaurants manage their reservations, tables and guests. Now, customers can book a table online or through their phones. In return, they will be provided with an accurate wait time and be texted whenever the table is ready. But that’s just part of it; those systems manage everything from the reservations, the waitlist, table assignments and turnover, server assignments, and finally, the customer loyalty program. For a usually fairly low monthly fee, you can dramatically improve your guests’ dining experience while also optimizing your table turnover rate.

Some of the most popular restaurant management systems are Open Table, Seatme and Hostme.

2 — Point of Sale System

A point of sale (aka POS) system is the modern version of the good old cash register. It typically includes exactly that — a cash register — as well as a screen, a customer display, and a debit/credit card reader.

With about 75% of diners paying with a credit or debit card (Source: TSYS 2014 Consumer Payments Study), the decision of whether to own a POS system or not is an easy (and obvious) one to make. But selecting the right one for your business is going to be trickier. POS systems range from very simple and fairly cheap, to very comprehensive and, well, a bit more expensive. Some POS systems are even specifically designed for the restaurant industry and offer additional functionality such as order display in the kitchen to accelerate the food preparation process, servers’ tablets to send orders directly to the kitchen, and insightful reports on customer preferences or a customer loyalty program.

The leaders in restaurant POS are Toast POS and Touch bistro.

3- Inventory Management

This will help you manage and rein in your cost of food. It will allow you to track every product from order to depletion, and it will also help with the tracking of waste, as well as invoice management and reconciliation. While this might not be an essential tool to own for a starting restaurant, it will be something to consider as your business operations grow in order to ensure food safety, as well as the best food prices, from vendors.

Try tools like LiveInventory or PeachWorks.

4 — Online Pre-Ordering of Food

It means exactly what it sounds like it means. Diners can pre-order their food online. They can even book a specific table so that when they arrive — “Bam!” — the food is there and they don’t have to wait. Granted, it’s not for everyone, but the concept is getting some traction.

So, the first critical question is to ask yourself: “Does it fit the experience I want to provide?” Not everyone wants to eat in less than 15 minutes, but for some locations — for instance, those next to theaters or concert venues — it may make sense at certain times of the day.

Some good options are Allset or rushOrder.

5 — Staffing Software

Again, this is probably not something you will necessarily need right from the beginning, but this will make your life easier as you hire more help for your restaurant.

PeachWorks offers that functionality as part of their inventory tool.

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