Mobile technology has permeated nearly every aspect of our lives. We’re connected at work, at home, on vacation, while we sleep and even when we eat. When was the last time you visited a restaurant where at least half the patrons weren’t glued to their phones?
The restaurant industry has rolled out a cornucopia of technology to feed our digital appetite, including free Wi-Fi, tableside ordering and gaming consoles and even self-service kiosks. Technology has become an integral part of the dining experience, some restaurants have even offered kids a free meal if parents ditch their phones, just to differentiate and get patrons to unplug and be fully present to enjoy the experience.
But it’s painfully ironic that while it’s a technology free-for-all out front, in the back office, restaurant management is still tethered to archaic systems. The lone desktop machine is a bane to their existence, forcing mangers to work longer hours, make multiple trips to the store on their days off and walk thousands of more steps every shift.
While mobile ordering and POS systems have become mainstream and mobile loyalty and marketing solutions are commonplace, once again, these are mostly for the purpose of making things more convenient for the customer. Certainly, that’s important, but leveraging those same benefits for restaurant management can be truly game changing when it comes to operational and staff efficiency.
In fact, faced with growing competition for patrons and staff, a potential economic downturn looming on the horizon and the rising cost of doing business, implementing mobile technology that unleashes management from the back-office desktop can be critical to business growth.
Here are seven ways that mobile back-office tech can make your restaurant run smoother:
With legacy back-office desktop systems, managers must leave the floor to order supplies, deal with vendor issues or handle a scheduling problem. Time spent behind closed doors is time taken away from customer service and staff support. With mobile solutions that provide access to back office functions from a tablet or mobile phone, managers can take swift action on tasks like procurement, scheduling, payroll and more, right where they stand. This not only saves time, but also keeps managers out front where they’re needed most.
Improved Staffing Efficiency
With conventional tools, scheduling can be a hot mess. Schedule changes kick off a flurry of text messages and generate a mountain of stress. Call offs and no shows compress that chaos into a panic-filled frenzy to ensure adequate coverage. But with mobile staffing solutions, employees can view schedules and request a shift change directly from their mobile device. A manager can approve it with one click from their device, and the system runs smoothly and stress-free. If extra help is needed, managers can issue a request for additional staff or to cover a call off or no show and employees are immediately notified of the opening. This functionality not only makes things run smoother and with less stress for the manager, but also lets staff take on more hours if they’d like and creates a modern, efficient workplace environment that appeals to younger, tech-savvy workers.
Happier Managers, Better Results
In many restaurants, managers often don’t have time to spend a large chunk of their day on recruiting, payroll, schedule and more, which forces them to work overtime to complete those office tasks. And, when an issue crops up on their day off, they’re forced to come into work. The burden results in frustrated, burned out and overworked managers, which puts the restaurant at risk for losing them. With mobile solutions, managers can keep tabs on real-time store performance, payroll and scheduling from anywhere, and can solve problems remotely, without having come into the office. When managers are happy, so is their team, and that means improved service and better results.
Access to the Latest Tech
For years, traditional back-end software has come in the form of a bloated, expensive on-premise software that was mostly out of reach for smaller establishments. But, cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions have made powerful software infinitely more accessible and affordable. Most mobile solutions operate in the cloud, which dramatically reduces the cost and IT resources required to access and run the software. Since they no longer have to buy an entire suite of custom software, even the small shops can leverage the same powerful tools as Fortune 500 conglomerates with lower total hardware, software and overall IT cost.
In the days of desktop software, vendors sold one-size-fits-all or bespoke solutions that tried to be all things to every customer. Now, many solutions are available with modular components, allowing restaurants to choose only those modules that are valuable and useful for their operations. That means, rather than having to invest in massive software suites, you can build your own customized solution that gives you the tools you need to fit your restaurant’s operations.
With mobile solutions that make data available in the cloud, franchise and/or chain management can check in on performance at each location and easily see how things are going in different stores. Instead of asking managers to manually compile lengthy reports (adding to their already too-long back office burden), this ubiquitous access enables more agile decision making and the ability to respond to issues quickly and appropriately.
Save Money and Headaches
Manual inventory records, hundreds of sticky notes, myriad paperwork and shift logs are a recipe for paper clutter and lost information. By implementing mobile back-office management technology, restaurants can not only save paper for more sustainable operations, but also save money and headaches. With mobile inventory tracking, digital shift logs and electronic personnel documentation, managers can say goodbye to lost documents and missing data and share critical data across every shift.
Mobile technology has revolutionized the dining and customer service experience, providing unprecedented convenience for patrons and new marketing channels for restaurants. Unfortunately, some operators have only begun to scratch the service when using mobile tech to streamlining back office operations and delivering that same level of convenience and efficiency for staff and managers. Soon, we can expect to see greater traction in adoption of the type of mobile experience that’s already pervasive in other industries become a part of every eatery’s back-office technology stack.