5 Ways Technology Is Saving Restaurants Money

The most successful restaurants typically have a few features in common. One, they have a good handle on their cash flow. Two, they’re hyper-organized. Three, they’ve got a solid team on board. Four, they’re using data-backed projections to make real plans for the future. And five, they’re using technology to help accomplish all of the above.

These days, technology platforms play a vital role in running an efficient business, especially in an industry faced with razor-thin margins. While the list of benefits is endless, we break down a few of the major ways technology integration is saving restaurants money everyday.

Reduce human error (and staffing demands)

Even the most commonplace restaurant technology helps shrink human error. Just look at your average point-of-sale system (POS) and Kitchen Display System (KDS), for example. There are countless ways that this everyday integration makes operations more efficient. But among the most obvious is its ability to manage orders and make sure no tickets go missing, all thanks to a digital makeup that makes it easy to track orders.

As hard as we try otherwise, humans make mistakes. When juggling handwritten orders, tickets get lost. Quickly jotted scribbles get misread by chefs. Sometimes orders must be remade, and other times comped. And in the end, restaurants lose money. That’s where technology, such as a POS and KDS, comes into play.

There are plenty of similar scenarios with other technology applications, from QR codes diminishing ordering errors all the way to robotic automation programmed to improve meal consistency. Many of these functions not only reduce human error, but also reduce labor demands, with technology taking on some of the heavy lifting. In today’s environment, we know that’s a win-win, and sometimes even a benefit to existing staff who no longer have to be responsible for the tedious and monotonous tasks where mistakes frequently unfold. 

Cut down on food waste

With most restaurants, food costs account for anywhere between 28% and 35% of revenue, and sometimes even more as we see supplier prices climb. Meanwhile, research shows restaurants waste up to 10% of food purchased before it ever reaches the consumer. 

Put these figures together, and it means a significant chunk of change may be leaving your restaurant by way of the dumpster. That is, unless you’ve already adopted one of the many technology solutions designed to fix just this.

Inventory tracking solutions, for example, give you complete visibility on inventory levels, and the data needed to identify when to cut back on ordering sizes to prevent spoilage. Recipe development solutions can help determine portion sizing to prevent leftover waste from guests. And there are even food waste management solutions you can use to profit off of excess food, or at the least, turn it into tax-deductible donations.

Bottom line, no matter which technology solutions you choose, decreased waste equals increased profit.

Maximize menu item profitability

Menu analysis is complex and time-consuming. But it’s crucial for your margins to compare sales to food costs, and identify which items are your winners versus losers.

There are a variety of recipe software platforms that help take the guesswork (and headache) out menu analysis by pitting real-time food costs against your POS sales data. These platforms make it easy to view the exact profit on each dish, even as food costs fluctuate. You can also often modify recipes in the platform to see how changes to ingredients and portion size affect projected profit. Profit trends are tracked over time, so that when you do make recipe changes, it’s easier to identify if profits increased or if the change had a negative impact on sales. And you can do it all without sifting through stacks of invoices and handwritten calculations and comparisons. 

Easily track spending

To accurately and efficiently stay on top of every stage of your cash flow — comparing prices, tracking inventory, optimizing menu prices, and analyzing sales — robust software and data services are practically essential.

Combine a strong POS system with an inventory and/or purchasing solution, and you’re able to see exactly what you're spending, making, and throwing out, and keep a precise eye on your margins. Some of the best management solutions enable staff to upload spending via mobile devices, integrate seamlessly with your vendors, and remove an avalanche of paperwork from your desk. And together, they’ll give you the data (and often the pre-calculations) you need to project insights well into the future.

Hire staff faster and more efficiently

In today’s climate, operators are competing for talent like never before. And it makes speed and efficiency now paramount to the hiring process – both for filling necessary roles and simply getting candidates in the door. That’s where a hiring technology platform can prove invaluable, especially when recruiting for multiple restaurants.

The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell estimates that the average cost of replacing an employee is around $5,864 per person. That includes factors like job posting and advertising, as well as time lost to interviewing, recruiting, and training. The longer it takes, the more the total cost ticks up, which, again, means efficiency is key. 

Hiring platforms automate as many parts of the process as possible, allowing you to reach candidates faster and communicate more effectively. With a single click, you can post job listings to dozens of job sites. And many platforms have automated vetting tools, interview scheduling features, and streamlined onboarding features, too. Perhaps the greatest perk is the ability to simply keep track of incoming candidates all in one place so you can capture their attention before someone else does.

[Photo by Andrea Piacquadio]