The digital world is moving so fast, trying to keep up can make your head spin. As businesses, it can be hard enough staying abreast of the technology that keeps customers happy, let alone staying ahead of the game from a business technology standpoint. But with a bit of upfront effort, making smart technology choices can help save you time and improve your business operations.
REDUCE WASTE, IMPROVE PROFITS
Say goodbye to spread sheets and clipboards and say hello to Eruza, a cloud-based order management program for perishable food. Driven by machine learning and data science, Eruza predicts demand and optimises supply, allowing you to create and process orders at the touch of a button. The developers claim you can reduce waste by as much as 25 per cent while keeping shelves full and increasing margins. Pricing starts from as little as US$20 per month.
LOOK TO THE CLOUD
If you haven’t already shifted to a cloud-based POS system, there’s a number of solid reasons to seriously consider it. Firstly, investing in a quality POS system saves time and money, because it provides many essential business tools in a single package: inventory management, loyalty programs, online ordering, timesheets, and accounting integration to name a few. Secondly, you’ll get access to your data anywhere, anytime, and in real time, meaning you can check sales or update inventory, even when you’re offsite. Thirdly, you can implement updates extremely efficiently; you won’t have to reprogram every individual register or terminal, as one update does the lot, even if you have multiple venues. Lastly, rest easy knowing your data is safe with automatic backups and added encryptions, helping protect you from lost data, viruses and security breaches. Touch Bistro and Lightspeed Restaurant are popular choices, designed specifically for the North American hospitality industry, although there are many options on the market so make sure you shop around.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOTS
Yes, bots. As in, chatbots. If you’re already running for the hills thinking it’s not for me, just stay with us a minute. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds and it could actually streamline your customer service and save you a whole lot of time. Think about all the frequently asked questions and enquiries you get through social media…”Do you have vegan options?” “Where are you located?” “Do you allow BYO?” And then imagine you never had to spend time responding to them, ever again.
Thanks to Facebook Messenger chatbots, this is actually now a reality. ChatBotHero has launched a version tailored for the hospitality industry. The bot answers FAQs, handles reservations and provides menu details with photos, all through chat. This article talks through the basics of setting up a chatbot. And no, you don’t need to be a programmer to do it. While it may take some time up front to set it all up, it will save time later on by filtering out the volume of your online enquiries.
GET REAL ABOUT ROSTERING
Every venue manager in history would place ‘staffing’ among their greatest challenges of running a restaurant, café or bar. Thankfully nowadays, advancements in technology have made this process a whole lot more streamlined. Platforms like Deputy and OpenSimSim combine rostering, timesheets, leave requests, team communication and task setting in one, web-accessible place. Give your staff the ability to sort out swapping shifts for themselves, or publish open shifts where it’s first-in, first-served. Employees can set their unavailability, sign in and out of a shift and log breaks via the app on their phone or POS tablets in your venue. Plus, you’ll get complete visibility over staffing costs before you set the roster for the week. Winning!
ACCOUNT THE CLOUDS
Cloud-based accounting systems are just online versions of accounting software, right? Wrong. There’s a raft of benefits that set tools like FreshBooks, Quickbooks and Xero apart from their offline compatriots. With no software needed, you can get access anywhere, anytime, so you’re not just limited to doing your bookwork on one computer in a fixed location. Invoice on the fly, or give your accountant remote access. No more saving files and hand-delivering them to your accountant. As you’ll only ever have one data file, there’s no risk of deleting the wrong one or entering data into an older file. And because everything is stored virtually, you don’t need to worry about backups. Plus, all the upgrades and maintenance are managed seamlessly on the backend (at no extra cost) so you don’t need to worry about a thing! And then there’s the holy grail of online accounting: bank feeds (*queue angelic choir singing*). While some offline accounting programs do enable automatic import of your bank transactions, it’s usually a premium add-on and will only work when you’re connected, compared to the cloud where it happens instantly and automatically and saves a whole lot of manual entry.
Technology crazes come and go, but making smart choices about where and how you get tech-savvy makes a lot of business sense. From cloud-based management systems to apps and bots, adopting platforms that are scalable, customizable and move with your business will keep you ahead of the game in this fast-moving digital world.