For those in the tech industry, hospitality is a currently a very lucrative frontier. The business is well-known for having an “if it’s not broke” attitude when it comes to upgrading systems. However, it’s no longer an option for those working in hospitality services to work without some sense of the technology out there.
Everywhere you look, there seem to be solutions popping up for every problem: inefficient POS systems, constant staffing, reservations, and guest insights. These services are becoming so common, it’s no longer a question of “when” someone will create the newest system for a hanging problem but “who.”
With so much saturation, it’s no surprise that some of these hospitality management services are better than others. So, in taking the efficiency and timeliness in mind, let’s identify the problems and then discuss the systems along with the key players behind them.
Inefficient POS Systems
Having a quality point-of-sale system is integral to running a business in hospitality; it’s challenging to turn a profit if you can’t keep track of sales. The days of clunky POS modules are numbered, and the restaurant industry is getting savvier every day. Not only are these expensive options, but they take up quite a bit of space as well.
Because the software can sometimes be outdated, system crashes can become routine — bringing down service with it. No restaurant operator wants to deal with not being able to process credit cards or phone payments during a busy service. Also if you have had one of these systems for years, cleaning it out is a manual job (think deleting 500-1,000 past menu items one-by-one). The new players in the game are iOs point-of-sale systems.
Some notable companies with iPad and mobile friendly POS’s include Brink, Revel, and Breadcrumbs. Even some of the old mainstay systems are beginning to make the transition to tablet and iPad systems. Micros is hopping on board with RES 3000, while Aloha and Digital Dining are doing the same.
Understandably, there are operators who worry that new iOS systems are too fragile for the rough restaurant world. Durability and efficiency are always concerns when purchasing restaurant equipment in general, so it’s best to do your research and get multiple quotes before taking the plunge.
Staffing a restaurant is a continuous uphill battle. Just as soon as you feel fully stocked on great employees, a few leave or are terminated, then you’re back to where you began. Not to mention the money, time, and effort it takes to get new bodies through the door.
There are the “go-to’s” like Craigslist, but with them increasing their prices to $45/per post, it might be hard for some restaurants to make room in their budget for the expense. Then, for larger hospitality groups and restaurants, there’s the matter of keeping track of applicants and current employee documents.
Many of these companies attempt using traditional ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems), to save documents, complete candidate’s paperwork, and process for your payroll system. However, what these traditional systems lack is understanding that the need for people in this field is never-ending.
There are some ATS’s that have non-negotiable contracts (up to $20K+/ year), in some cases from 6-12 months. This is disconcerting for most restaurants as some establishments may not even last up to 12 months — not to mention manage to pay for a system that is not likely conducive to their business(es). These archaic forms of applicant tracking are supposedly the most compliant out there.
However, there are those ATS’s that boost this fact, that do not even update their most essential employee forms (I-9’s, W4’s, etc) – as these expire. On top of all of this, you may even be flagged for having too many active employees which they commonly use to segue you into a new, more expensive contract. Restaurants’ profit margins are already very low, so why risk using those funds for something that is not a sure thing?
Begin by doing some detective work on all-encompassing solutions, seek out hiring systems made for specifically for hospitality businesses. For example Harri’s Total Talent Solution is tailored for food and beverage based groups and restaurants. The system is easy to use for those in hospitality, with a resume database, paperless forms, custom offer letters, and payroll integration. Once you figure out your needs and goals choosing the right system for staffing will become easier.
Reservations and Guest Insights
Long gone are the days of binders upon binders of reservations with guest notes. There are now systems where you can document everything from guest preferences, birthdays and even allow guests to text through the system if they’re running late. A CRM system is no longer an option for managers on the floor, it’s essential.
The generation of Yelp, Instagram and Snapchat expect restaurants to cater to their needs. So, flipping through your stack of binders won’t get you anywhere here. Helpful tools like SevenRooms create profiles for your guests from their first reservation. Not only are allergies, addresses and last time they visited are noted, but personal preferences and VIP’s are prioritized as well.
Instead of your average PPX, f.t.d and H.B. notes written next to the host stand, everything is smartly presented in one place. SevenRooms even goes as far as to track guests’ zip code vincinity so that your floor team will remember to treat them like neighbors if they live nearby. The system also syncs with your existing POS System.
It’s fact that mise en place makes the kitchen a well-oiled machine, why not give the front of the house the same courtesy? Guest information is an invaluable tool on the floor, and it will give your first-time diners the same stellar experience as your regulars. For now, hospitality might be behind technologically in comparison to other industries, but it’s catching up- fast!