Technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. People shop online, communicate over apps and are entertained by screens. Technology has made many aspects of life easier, but it’s not a perfect solution to every problem.
For business owners, there are decisions to be made about how much to incorporate technology into your process. Even the food industry, which has maintained many of its more traditional practices while other industries have become hyper-digitized, is feeling the influx of apps and restaurant software.
For restaurant owners and managers, the challenge is to find the technology that supports and simplifies your day-to-day operations. Avoid the tech that creates more complications than control. Let’s talk about popular restaurant software categories and how to choose what is right for your restaurant.
What type of software is used in restaurants?
The easiest way to think about the different restaurant management software systems is to group them into 3 major categories: back of the house, front of the house and financial operations. Some software options might have capabilities that support multiple categories.
Back of House (BOH) Restaurant Software
Back of house software options help keep your kitchen in order, fridge stocked and communication flowing between the front and back of house.
Vendor Ordering Software
Perhaps one of the most important back of the house softwares is one that enables you to order food and products from your suppliers. While there are non-technical ways to do this (like leaving late night voicemails for your suppliers), the time savings with a high-tech solution can be considerable.
With Choco you can fill and send your orders in our app with only a few taps — any time of day, from anywhere.
Inventory Management & Food Costing Software
Inventory management isn’t the most glamorous part of running your restaurant, but it can leave a big dent in your workflow and bottom line if not properly managed. An inventory tool can help your team keep track of what’s in stock without having to keep track of a paper trail. With software, you can input your different types of products and then easily add or subtract your inventory as it’s delivered or used. Look for an inventory option that integrates with other software, like your point of sale, so the process of editing your inventory can be automated.
Kitchen Management Software
Software can make processing tickets from the front of the house easier. By keeping everything in one place, staff in the front and back of the house can both keep on top of orders coming in on a busy night. Both sides of your restaurant can check on the status of tickets, meaning tickets are less likely to be misplaced or forgotten.
Front of House (FOH) Restaurant Software
Front of house software can help your waitstaff maintain an organized, flowing stream of guests dining at your restaurant.
Point of Sale (POS) System
Your point of sale system (POS) is one of the most important software options for a restaurant to have. This is how your customers pay you for their dining experience. Many POS options combine payment functionality with other useful tools like table management and online ordering.
Restaurant Reservation & Waitlist Software
This is a software feature that’s growing in popularity in the industry. Reservation software allows guests to reserve their own seating online or add themselves to a waitlist, freeing up the need for a hostess to field calls and assign tables in advance. With software, restaurants can designate how many guest reservations can be accommodated at given times and guests can choose a timeslot for their reservation along with how many people will be dining. If reservations are not available, they can add themselves to a waitlist. Guests can also typically cancel or update their reservations themselves, as well.
Table Management System
Table management software can make the process of keeping track of where guests are sitting and who’s responsible for serving them easier. Not only can this type of software improve your team’s ability to manage the entire front of house with more ease, you can keep track of the seating data to use after the rush is over. This can help you determine which tables guests stay at longer or which areas need additional server support. It’s a bonus if a POS offers this functionality so you can dig into the data of which tables are ordering more, too.
Online Ordering Software
Online ordering is another software option that has grown hugely popular in the last few years. The pandemic made it necessary for restaurants to offer easy ordering when take-out was the only option. Even now, long after restrictions around indoor dining have been lifted, consumers expect to be able to fulfill their own orders online for both take-out and delivery.
Financial Operations Software
Restaurant Payroll & Accounting Software
It’s not the fun part of running a business, but the numbers have to add up. Accounting software can take some of the frustration out of handling the financial logistics of your business, from preparing your tax documents to paying your employees.
Restaurant Analytics Software
Data can help you make the most impactful decisions for your customers, staff and bottom line. Most point-of-sale systems come with reporting and analytics abilities. Look at the data there about sales and incorporate data from other sources for customer feedback, staffing or any other data points that can help you make the best decisions for your business.
Finding Restaurant Software That Meets Your Needs
As we’ve described, there are a ton of different software options that you can use in your restaurant. While this opens up many exciting possibilities for the industry, how can you know which ones are best for you specifically?
For most restaurants, a point of sale system is the most important management tool to start with. This can also be one of the most expensive softwares, but it’s often worth the cost to make sales easier for your staff and to give your customers the options they expect. Then consider which other software tools can add to your POS. (Choco is a free option that can make your ordering easier.)
With all software you’re considering, look at three main components: functionality, ease of use and price.
Functionality: Make sure the software you’re looking at has all the capabilities you need. An online ordering system that also allows customers to make reservations gives you double the functionality in a single tool.
Ease of Use: Restaurant management software should make your life easier, not more complicated. Look for tools that are easy to use with simple, straightforward interfaces. It shouldn’t take long for your team to be up and running with new software.
Price: Most software options work on a subscription model, meaning that you’ll pay a certain amount per month to keep using the software. For many POS systems, your monthly cost will include the card processor and other hardware you’ll need. Look for options that fit into your budget while giving you the most functionality.
Restaurant software has become the norm in the industry. Now you have a framework for deciding which software systems can support your business and which may not be worth your time.
At Choco, our free ordering app connects you with your suppliers. You can order and chat directly with all of your vendors in one location, saving you time and hassle.