These days, it’s just about impossible to avoid technology as a small business owner. Technology-based tools help small businesses compete with larger companies, and help small business owners do more with less. As a restaurant owner, you need to take advantage of every tool at your disposal to compete with other eateries in your area, and seizing on technology is a great way to get ahead.
But, with so many different small business tools on the market, which technologies should you invest in as a restaurant owner? Which tech avenues should you pursue to help your business succeed, and where should you focus your energies and resources when there are so many different tools to choose from? Our answer to these questions focuses on three different types of tech tools that all restaurant owners should invest in. Here are our tips.
1. Reservation Technology
Handling reservations can be a huge headache for restaurant owners as you will need to have staff available to answer phones and make reservations as well as a well thought out system of tracking reservations as they are made. It is easy to get overwhelmed, which can lead to overbooking and other mismanagement issues. But a digital reservation technology tool can help you deal with all of these issues.
The most popular tool on the market currently is called Open Table, and the company claims to be operating in 32,000 restaurants globally. Open Table lets your customers browse open reservation times and make reservations for tables that are available. Best of all, it lets your customers make reservations without causing you any stress. Open Table is also easy to customize, so you can decide how many reservations to take for each block of time, how long reservations will be, and everything else you could think of to give you control over how your reservations work.
Open Table and other reservations technologies can be easily incorporated into and promoted on your website, social media profiles, and other homes around the internet. As more people learn that you accept reservations electronically, more of your customers will switch to the technology, and you will experience increasing returns on your investment.
2. Digital Record Keeping
If you are still keeping track of all of your records and managing your books with pen and paper in the analog world, you may be at a huge disadvantage compared to your competition that has digitized record keeping. Digital records are easier to back-up, meaning you won’t be at risk of losing your records and needing to retrace your steps. Plus digital records are easier to search, easier to store, and generally a more efficient way to keep track of information for your business.
If your record keeping has become somewhat disorganized and tangled with physical analog records getting cluttered and hard to manage, approach a shift to digital record keeping as a chance to start over and get more organized. Check in with the IRS about what records your business will need to be keeping, and think about how you can start doing this kind of record keeping digitally.
Most basic ledgers and accounts can be handled very well in a spreadsheet program like Excel, where you can enter as much information as you need and feel confident it won’t get lost. A basic word processor will be adequate for many of your record keeping needs as well. Overall, you probably won’t need to invest in new technologies to keep your records digitally, and will just need to shift your own practices.
3. Online Ordering
If you are looking for one digital tool to invest in to help your business compete, online ordering may be your best choice as a restaurant owner. Online ordering differs from some other digital tools in that it doesn’t just make your business more efficient, but can actually boost your bottom line almost immediately. Some restaurant owners have reported boosts in revenue of up to 30%, and you can expect to see some growth in revenue at your restaurant as well.
That’s because online ordering makes it easier for people to order take-out at your restaurant, which can open up a whole new revenue stream if you don’t currently handle many take-out or delivery orders. Even if you currently process a lot of take-out and delivery orders, an online ordering platform can help you boost the value of each ticket you process since you can customize your online ordering portal to promote certain dishes and suggest add-ons.
Online ordering makes your restaurant run more smoothly by letting servers focus on providing a great in-person dining experience instead of answering phones when take-out orders come in. But beyond just boosting efficiency, online ordering will actually help you make more money. It’s a perfect example of a digital tool that your business shouldn’t be living without if you want to compete.