Things won’t be going back to ‘normal’ any time soon. However, this is no time to lay down for a nap: as leading restaurant chains have started announcing their plans to reopen over the coming weeks and months, it’s time to draw up your own reopening strategy.
Can you really ensure your operations are safe for staff and customers while remaining financially viable? With the right approach, systems and strategy, it's possible. Digital restaurant technology has a key role to play in this and can help in three main ways:
1. Opening up multiple ordering channels, ensuring a safe, low-contact guest experience.
2. Streamlining operations to get your costs down and profits up.
3. Providing the data you need to continually improve your business.
Omni-channel Digital Ordering
Here at Vita Mojo, we try to avoid jargon but omni-channel is one term really worth getting your head around. Literally ‘multi’ channel, it simply means providing seamless ordering experiences no matter where or how your customers order: mobile or desktop, click & collect or delivery, on kiosks or order & pay at table. Giving customers ease and consistency of ordering across all your channels should be a target for any ambitious hospitality brand.
Digital ordering is a clear win for operators - equipping customers to order for themselves reduces the labour you need to run (and therefore your expenses) while also removing operational bottlenecks such as waiting for the bill, or queueing at a till, allowing you to serve more customers. Offering a variety of ordering channels reduces friction for your customers, and increases the likelihood that they are both able and willing to order.
Many brands have started offering delivery, to serve customers who aren't able to physically get to their restaurants. The popularity of delivery-only restaurants is growing too, which avoid many expenses by basing their operations in less expensive areas which can then be transported into cities for home delivery. Click and collect is an ideal option for restaurants in accessible locations as it avoids the hassle and cost of last-mile delivery but still cuts time spent in-store drastically, benefitting operator and customer alike. Consider carefully what channels could work for your business.
Digital ordering needs to be done right - modern customers value convenience and user experience above almost all else. Your food and drink may be top notch, but if the process of ordering it is frustrating, unintuitive or time-consuming then they will be put off. It should be a top priority to get yourself a digital ordering system that looks great, is easy to use, and clearly shows customers all the information they need. Vita Mojo specialises in helping restaurants, pubs and bars find the ordering channels which work for them and building an omni-channel solution to match their brand perfectly. Check out our system here.
Getting the Right POS
Electronic point of sale (POS) systems are the smarter versions of a till. Their primary function is to ring up orders and take payments, but there is a huge range in the functionality of systems available. Top-end products even include features such as staff management and email marketing, with a higher price tag to match.
The main requirements of a good POS are an interface that’s easy and fast to use, hardware that is affordable and the ability to accept all the relevant payment methods for your business. In today’s world, that means ensuring you can take transactions via NFC, for Apple and Google Pay.
It can be tempting to opt for a POS with all the bells and whistles, but beyond the key features, consider what your business really needs. As the exchange of cash has been recognised as carrying a risk of the spread of contamination, many food businesses have stopped handling cash entirely. Could this be a change your business could make to increase health and safety, and save time in your transactions? A POS that doesn’t need to take cash can save you money, while helping to streamline your operations.
Kitchen and Capacity Management Systems
One of the biggest challenges of the future restaurant is getting enough customers through the door while capacity restrictions are in place. Operators will have to cut down on any time guests spend standing around, and ensure orders are fulfilled as fast as possible. This means equipping your kitchen to run optimally with the right kitchen management system.
Replacing the need for paper tickets and back-and-forth between cashiers and chefs, kitchen display screens make more of your operations communication digital and instantaneous. In addition to a clear and intuitive interface, good kitchen display screens need to work seamlessly with the rest of your technology in a single ecosystem.
By aggregating orders from all channels in one simple display, a great KDS empowers your staff to fulfil efficiently, irrespective of how your customers order. The Vita Mojo KDS goes one step further with its smart prioritisation and capacity management systems which automate decision-making on the fly and give you more control over how many covers are allowed at a time. This keeps things simple for your team, boosting both your throughput and the satisfaction of your customers.
Historically, the hospitality industry has been largely ruled by intuition. However, as the months ahead threaten tightening margins and a deflated, post-pandemic economy, the smart operator will need to make use of every possible tool at their disposal to make smart strategic decisions and cut costs. The greatest tool of all, is data.
Data is more than a nice-to-have. Transparency of customer habits, menu performance, footfall trends and operational timeframes is essential for spotting leaks in your operational pipeline, targeting your investment and making decisions which will transform your business. When combined with an effective CRM partner, data can also turbo-charge your customer relationships with targeted marketing messages and personalised ordering experiences that keep customers coming back for more.
The secret to collecting useful data is having joined-up technology in which the data is easily shared between all your systems. If your data is fragmented and hard to gather then you will struggle to find the time to properly review it, let alone take actions from it. Additionally, it can be overwhelming to review your own data and hard to know what to look for in it, unless you happen to have a background in statistical analysis.
The Vita Mojo Operating System is an end-to-end tech solution which means data is collected across the board and easily accessible through a single dashboard. Even better, our in-house data experts support you to demystify the statistics and translate them into clear actions to increase your efficiency and profit.
In the months ahead, it can't be business as usual for operators. An unprecedented (sorry, yes, unprecedented) set of challenges lie ahead for restaurants. No question, you will have to adapt to survive, but with the benefits of automation, data and digital ordering, it can be possible for your business to reopen, survive and thrive in a post-Covid19 world.