How to Shop for the Perfect Restaurant Management System
What is a Restaurant Management System?
Running a successful restaurant in the 21st century is no cakewalk. Both, the volume and the complexity of work have grown tremendously over the years, and operators need more than a couple of hands to keep the wheels in motion. A number of day-to-day tasks have to be completed and supervised. These include managing staff schedules, tracking inventory, orders and sales, and looking after customer service. Only technology today can help a restaurant operator juggle all these functions expertly. And that technology is the restaurant management system.
A restaurant management system typically includes software and hardware (like cash registers, barcode scanners, kitchen displays, receipt printers) to handle orders, payments and inventory. By installing restaurant management software, a business owner can track orders and sales, process financial statements and manage employee scheduling. In short, the software simplifies a restaurant's daily workload.
Most restaurant management systems can be integrated with specialized restaurant software like an accounting, payroll, or point of sale or POS system.
A modern management system offers the following benefits-
1. Easy employee scheduling
With good management software, a business operator or manager will not have to spend hours poring over scheduling spreadsheets, figuring out employee availability and assigning tasks. With just a click, employees can be scheduled for shifts, shift requests can be easily handled, and the day or week's schedule can be instantly sent out from a mobile device or laptop.
2. Instant review of financial statements
With a restaurant management system, all sales are tracked digitally. It allows an operator to pull up details of every sale instantly, along with the name of the employee who facilitated that sale. Invoices and vendor receipts are also processed to track and control supply costs. Historical data is analyzed by the software to provide intelligence reports and sales forecasts.
A good management system is equipped with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to record customer information like name, contact details and details of past orders. This allows the restaurant to deliver better customer service. A restaurant can also plan loyalty programs based on customer details.
Management software facilitates better communication between staff. An order can be taken on a tablet by the wait staff and sent directly to the kitchen display. The same order can also be sent to the cashier so that the transaction can be billed accurately.
Since management software manages tasks like employee scheduling and inventory better, it helps cut operational costs. With better inventory management, lower prices can be negotiated with vendors and variance and wastage reduced.
Functions of a Restaurant Management System
An efficient restaurant management system makes it easy for restaurant owners to process customer orders (both, on-premise and online ordering), manage bills, streamline inventory management, and run loyalty programs. The system should also be flexible enough to be integrated with other software systems. Most importantly, the management system should be cloud based for easy access, and have robust security features to protect data from external threats.
Key functions of a good restaurant management system-
A restaurant management system must have POS software that does more than simply record orders and prepare bills. It should manage table reservations, take customer orders and make recommendations. It should allow menu updates and price changes.
2. Ordering and management
A restaurant management system should offer customers an all-round smooth experience, be it while ordering, booking a table or making payments.
- Online ordering- The management platform should handle online ordering with ease. This makes customers want to frequent the restaurant, which helps increase a restaurant's sales and revenue.
- Table management- A competent POS software must be adept at table management. Synced with online bookings, it should help customers book a table easily, track the number of available tables, and handle seating arrangements.
- Order management- The management platform should come equipped with user friendly order management software that can process a high volume of orders from multiple supply points, efficiently and easily. It should help streamline and centralize order data.
- Inventory management- A good management system ought to be able to track and compare costs of food and supplies, measure inventory stock, and calculate cost and profit margins. Keeping track of how much stock is left before fresh supplies are ordered will help a restaurant gain better control over its inventory management.
- Employee management- The software should help restaurant owners keep track of employees work hours and duties, allocating shifts and managing schedules and team sizes for different shifts.
A restaurant management system should be able to keep count of its sales. This, along with calculating food costs, will help prevent wastage and theft and accurately calculate profits. The accounting software in the management system should accommodate tools for different modes of digital payment. An operator must additionally make sure it has the requisite security protection to prevent fraud and theft.
A restaurant management system should be able to offer intelligent insights into sales, and track and record customer preferences. This helps highlight popular items and create marketing campaigns for specials.
Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.
Types of Restaurant Management Software
There are different types of restaurant management systems to choose from. Here are some of them-
1. End-to-end management system
This type of management system is the most comprehensive of the lot. Its features include a POS system, inventory management software, customer relations management (CRM) tools, platforms to manage employee scheduling, table management, order management, payment support, analytics and tech support. Before investing in this management platform, though, make sure it can be customized to the needs of your business and meet your budget.
2. Point of sale or POS system
This type of system can be integrated with inventory management, accounting and marketing software, to manage sales and orders and improve customer experience.
3. Operating platform
Some restaurant management systems are designed to only run on iOS or Android platforms to maintain the integrity of the software.
4. General POS system
For restaurant owners who have both, retail (sale offood and beverages for off premise consumption) and food services, their best option is a general POS system. This management platform offers tools for both type of service, with add-on modules.
Tips for Success: Create a Strong Concept-Know your target market, identify the location and kind of restaurant you want Offer strong employee benefits-Good pay and benefits and a supportive environment keeps staff happy. A happy staff has a positive impact on the work environment.
Become money-wise- Understand your cash flow, overall operational costs, and the cost of acquiring and retaining an individual customer.
Track and categorize menu- Know which items do well and which can be replaced.
Get a good restaurant management software- Invest in a management platform that includes point of sale, online ordering, inventory management, and staff management that suits your concept and business model.
Begin marketing- Advertise and market your business on social and traditional media. Plan community outreach programs.
Feedback- Ask for feedback, negative or positive, learn from it and modify your business accordingly.
What to Consider Before you Shop for a Management Platform
Instead of blindly buying the best' restaurant management system in the market, research well and understand how a product fits in with your business model. Consider these points before buying-
- Type of restaurant
Expert Management Tips: Management tips that work for a big or Small Business-
Be consistent in your communication with staff, making clear what you expect of them.
Stay ahead of curve, whether it's in the area of staff management, menu modification, marketing, customer trends or use of technology.
Know your way around kitchen equipment and management software. Be ready to step in if there's a crisis.
Make sure your staff is happy and prioritize staff retention.
Keep customers satisfied and work continually on improving their experience.
Promote the fact that you've gone from good restaurant, to best restaurant on the block via active advertising.
5 Best Restaurant Management Systems of 2022
Once you've decided on the type of restaurant management software you need, it's time to look at some of the best options in the market today.
Hubworks offers comprehensive restaurant management solutions for every kind of business, be it quick casual, fast food or full service. This modular 'App Store' allows restaurant owners to purchase individual back office apps suited to their particular business needs, instead of having to buy a 'one size fits all' package. Hubworks has apps for workforce management, food management, employee scheduling and timekeeping, reporting, supply chain and food safety compliance. An app like Zip Schedules, for example, is perfect for creating and managing schedules, while Zip Inventory works well to keep track of stocks and supplies. Furthermore, its Any Connector software helps integrate its apps with third party software too.
Toast POS is a tool targeted at U.S.-based businesses. In addition to offering regular POS features, thismanagement software can customize menus and automate loyalty and discount workflows. It has integrated inventory management functions and offers digital tools for payment.
TouchBistro is a management platform that can automate every part of a restaurant's operations, right from managing orders, tables to processing employee scheduling. The cloud based software can be accessed by iPad and operated on local networks.
ePOS is a management software that offers real time inventory management, flexible payment options, CRM tools, tech support, table and kitchen management, and integration with over a hundred apps, including accounting software. It uses analytics to produce reports and forecasts that help reduce costs, save time and boost profits. And it allows access from any device.
Oracle Hospitality offers a range of software, hardware, and cloud based solutions for restaurant management. It provides POS systems that can manage a restaurant's operations better and increase efficiency. It can also provide insights into customer behaviour, so that a business can tailor its service to suit demand.
Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.
What do Restaurant Management Systems Cost?
There's no doubt that restaurant management systems offer Quality Management, but what holds many businesses back from this management software is the cost. They're believed to be prohibitively expensive. However, most restaurant management system prices begin at around $70 for core hardware and software tools.
Factors that impact the cost of restaurant management system include-
Type of system
There are two types of management platformslegacy or tablet system. A legacy restaurant platform needs to be updated manually, as the machines are heavier, slower and cost more than mobile, tablet-based POS systems. A tablet system uses cloud based software that can be easily updated and adjusted according to the needs of a business.
Most management systems don't demand processing fees, credit card fees or merchant accounting fees. While researching management platforms, check if the vendor can integrate these costs into the system or a payment cost can be worked out.
A restaurant management system may need to be installed and incorporated into the restaurant's current setup. This could come with an attached fee.
Cost of features
Integrations, like say table management or inventory management, may add to the cost of installation. Evaluate how each feature can help you before signing up for it.
Maintenance and update costs
Every restaurant management system needs maintenance and updates. Check if the services you need to repair and maintain your management system are provided by the vendor, and at what cost, before making a decision.
Potential Drawbacks of a Restaurant Management System
The benefits of a restaurant management system far outweigh its drawbacks. Yet, these are the problems presented by it.
Data security- A restaurant management system, being cloud based, always runs the risk of a security breach or data theft.
Full package not for small pockets- A restaurant management software is described as an end-to-end solution, but the cost of the full package is quite high. A business just starting out might find it a strain on finances.
Glitches- If the management platform doesn't have an offline mode, any glitch or downtime will affect the smooth running of the restaurant. There may be delays or order mix-ups, and longer wait time for customers.