How to Automate a Restaurant Business
Why do you need to know how to automate restaurant business? Ever since technology was first introduced into the restaurant industry, it has continuously grown in sophistication. This means two things;
- Automation provides all kinds of avenues for you to streamline your standard operating procedures and improve your business
- For your business to remain competitive, you need to incorporate automation
Don’t worry, this is not a complicated process. To demonstrate just how simple it actually is to automate your restaurant business, we’ll go through all the different steps in this article.
What is automation?
Automation is the act of using various kinds of technology, including both hardware and software, to perform tasks that would otherwise unnecessarily use human effort. The goal of automation is to streamline existing processes, resulting in a more efficient business.
There is a concern amongst workplaces that automation means making human workers obsolete. However, this is not the case. Instead, automation allows you to restructure the priorities of your business and establish new modes of productivity for your existing workforce.
How does automation benefit restaurants?
Restaurants benefit from automation, as it causes a chain reaction in which improvements to a restaurant’s internal procedures allow for improvements to be made to its front end service. Because automation completes processes that would otherwise use up human effort, staff are given more time to improve their customer service.
Additionally, automated procedures eliminate human error. This saves time, effort and resources in the long run, while boosting employee morale.
Step One – Automating your business operations
Your business operations provide the foundation that everything else in your restaurant business builds from. Because of this, your business operations are what you should focus on automating first.
Business operations involve factors that are fundamental to the daily running of a restaurant. Without these fundamentals, a restaurant can’t function, as they involve the finances, delegating tasks amongst your staff for the cleaning and upkeep of your building, the managing of food inventory and the sales of a restaurant.
Front line workforce training & task management
An integral part of your restaurant is your staff, and what they are doing. Before automation, coordinating staff came with the pressures of lengthy induction procedures and the constant surveillance of workers to make sure their work was to standard. While restaurants certainly made this arrangement work, this environment could certainly be improved on.
That’s where automation comes in. You can use technology, such as Operandio, to create checklists and a knowledge base that make it easy to delegate tasks for your staff and provide the knowledge necessary to complete them. In addition, instead of monitoring your staff directly, you can observe the completion of their tasks and use those metrics to inform your staff interactions.
Examples of tools that automate front line workforce training & task management include;
- Operandio, an all-rounder that provides the best functionality and value for money
Point of sales (POS) system
If your restaurant doesn’t make sales, it doesn’t make money. Back in the day, a pen and paper was an adequate way to record sales. But, now that there are technological alternatives in the form of POS software, this has become obsolete.
Automating your point of sales makes it convenient for customers to purchase your food; and easier for your staff to provide customer service, as they don’t have to worry about mistakes and can focus on delivering high quality customer service.
Examples of effective POS system software platforms include;
- Square POS, a well known POS platform used in many environments from restaurants to retail
- Lightspeed POS, crafted specifically for the hospitality industry and perfect for cafes, restaurants, bars, etc.
- Epos Now, a business management system for small to mid-sized enterprises
Food inventory management
A restaurant lives on the quality of its food. This is true in terms of both the enjoyment of your customers, and the food itself meeting safety standards and regulations.
Automation allows you to monitor your food storage and collect data, ensuring the quality of your food products, and the timely replacement of food that has expired. Without automation, this process would be very time-consuming, as you would have to check, record and verify the temperature at consistent intervals to make sure it hasn’t expired.
One of Operandio’s services is remote temperature monitoring, which uses sensors to detect changes in temperature in your storage. This ensures that you are instantly alerted in the event that your restaurant’s stock may be compromised by a change in temperature.
Other food inventory management tools include;
- Magestore, a dedicated application for inventory management based on the Magento platform
- Square for Restaurants, a complete cloud-based POS system suitable for quick-service restaurants
- MarketMan, a cloud-based inventory and vendor management system that can integrate with most restaurant POS systems
Human resource management
Human resources make up an important strand in the framework of your business. You need to be able to compensate your staff for their work and delegate shifts in a way that allows them to make a living while also ensuring your restaurant is run as efficiently as possible. It is also an area that you can’t afford to make mistakes in if you want to retain your employees and avoid a high turnover rate.
Automation makes this process easier by giving you a more foolproof method of mathematically calculating the distribution of shifts, and how to correctly and fairly remunerate your workers for the work they provide in your restaurant.
Examples of human resource management tools include;
- Operandio, which helps you delegate tasks, monitor shifts and communicate with staff whenever you need to
- Employment Hero, which helps small and medium businesses manage HR and payroll
- intelliHR, a people management platform to align, manage and enable employees
Accounting and financial management
Automating your accounting and financial management gives you a clear picture of how profitable your restaurant is.
Digitising this process comes with a wealth of benefits, such as;
- Having your accounting information stored in a secure, easily accessible online location for whenever you need it
- The ability to easily identify and visualise trends regarding business success, that you can then use to inform your business strategy going forward
- The elimination of human error, as accounting and finance mistakes can be extremely costly and have major consequences for a business if left unchecked
Examples of accounting tools include;
- Xero, for micro-businesses that are looking for very simple accounting software
- Freshbooks, which specialises in invoicing for service-based businesses
- Restaurant 365, a POS platform that is specially designed for restaurants
Step Two – Automating customer engagement
Now that your business is running in an optimised fashion, it’s time for your customers to reap the rewards with heightened customer service. Automation improves your customer service by streamlining processes that would otherwise require effort from your staff.
When your customers interact with these automated services, it provides them with more incentive to be regular customers at your restaurant. This creates a relationship between your customers and your business that, if cultivated, contributes heavily to your business’ success.
In a world where your competitors are constantly doing everything they can to assimilate your customers with all kinds of marketing techniques, customer loyalty is something worth celebrating.
Creating automated loyalty programs allows for your customers to easily receive rewards for engaging with your restaurant instantly, without you needing to delegate staff to oversee it. You can incorporate incentives such as discounts and free food easily into your POS system.
Software that can help automate loyalty programs include;
- Annex Cloud, a cloud-based loyalty platform that enables users to track customer activities and offer rewards
- Eber, a loyalty marketing platform that can be integrated into existing eCommerce, payment gateway and POS systems
- Talon.One, a sales promotions tool that assists marketers with campaign management, custom coupon creation and referral marketing
Online ordering and delivery
This has been a godsend for the restaurant industry, as customers nowadays make good use of apps such as UberEats and DoorDash to easily get food from their favourite restaurants delivered.
If your business doesn’t have a digital solution for taking online orders/deliveries; whether it’s a third party app or a built in system on your website, your restaurant is not competitive. This functionality is so simple to implement, but not having it will significantly affect your sales, and your ability to retain customers.
Social media management
It is highly likely that your customers use social media. One of the ways that restaurants remain competitive is to create an online presence on various social media platforms that they can use to cultivate their relationship with their customers.
There are all kinds of things you can do with a social media page for your business; from introducing new products and specials, to collating your customers’ feedback, to interacting with customers directly.
Examples of social media management tools include;
- Buffer, a robust platform trusted by small businesses and individuals to help drive meaningful engagement and results on social media
- Hootsuite, an all-in-one platform that allows you to curate and schedule content, measure your social ROI, run social media ads, etc.
- Sprout Social, which combines several social media tools into one platform — from social media scheduling to monitoring, to reporting
Step Three – Automating marketing strategies
Now that you’ve ensured that you will retain your customers, it’s time to attract new ones. Automation makes this process a lot easier, allowing you to reach a much wider audience with a lot less effort and resources required.
Email marketing is an easy way to reach your customers, as it allows you to bulk send all kinds of personalised emails that advertise new products and specials, give your customers rewards and even survey them on their opinion that you can use to inform your business strategy.
Automation means that you don’t have to type these emails and send them by hand. There are services that take care of it for you, such as;
- Mailchimp, which helps you schedule campaigns, A/B test copy, and get reports that include open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, etc.
- ActiveCampaign, which has hundreds of pre-built automations that help you personalise campaigns for each subscriber
- MailerLite, which has a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for you to curate email marketing campaigns
Gone are the days of spending money on TV or radio advertising that you would toss into the world and hope to see results from. Nowadays, you can reach new customers online with special advertising packages that will integrate themselves into the online experience.
Additionally, you can easily view the metrics associated with these ads, from how many people are seeing the ads, to how many are clicking on them, to how many are actually converting visits into sales for your restaurant.
Examples of popular digital marketing tools include;
- HubSpot Marketing, which has a bunch of features that help you create marketing campaigns and then observe their effectiveness through a ton of metrics
- Proof, which connects to your website and uses social proof to boost conversions and give you an understanding as to your customers’ perception of your brand
- AIOSEO a.k.a. All in One SEO, a plugin for websites that includes a variety of features designed to help you optimise your site and your content for search engines, boosting your brand’s visibility
As you cultivate your business’ online presence, you create content that attracts customers to your business and converts their visits into sales. With automation, you can formulate how you will release your content so that it can reach your target audience in an organized fashion that will grab their attention.
Without automation, this would all be left up to speculation, and you could have been wasting your time and resources on content that may not have even worked. With automation, you’re always in the know, and your business will run as efficiently as possible.
The best content management tools include;
- Trello, a platform that helps you store resources, generate ideas and execute campaigns for your marketing content
- Smartsheet, which uses a spreadsheet-like interface to facilitate workflow and file sharing for your marketing content
- Asana, a simple to use project management tool that helps you easily keep track of your marketing campaigns and their various release schedules
How can I incorporate automation into my restaurant business?
Operandio is a sophisticated software solution that automates several of your business’ procedures to optimise how it operates every day.
If you like what you’ve read, and you’d like to use Operandio to help automate your restaurant business, the sign up process is incredibly easy. Request a demo for Operandio for your restaurant today.