A key part of staying competitive as a restaurant these days is keeping up with foodservice technology trends. Whether we like it or not, technology is streamlining just about every part of life nowadays, and restaurant technologies are more powerful and important than ever. Customers expect easy, technology-enabled experiences and it is up to restaurants to deliver them or lose out to those that will. At the same time, there is more useful restaurant tech to save restaurants time and money than ever before.

By leveraging new technology in the food industry, restaurants can increase their margins, provide better customer experiences, and increase their order volume. Here are the four ways that you can best leverage technology in your restaurant business:

  • Streamline BOH with cloud connectivity
  • Train new employees and minimize risk from employee error
  • Easily schedule your employees and manage inventory with restaurant software
  • Receive, process, and track reservations and orders with digital restaurant POS systems

Cloud Connectivity for Streamlined BOH

The biggest foodservice technology trend in recent years has been cloud connectivity. The internet-of-things (IoT) has officially made its way into the kitchen and is revolutionizing the way that restaurants are operating. Fully automated restaurants may still be a few years away, but smart devices are becoming an integral part of modern kitchens.

Thanks to cloud restaurant technologies, smart devices such as fryers, ovens, and walk-ins can manage their operations and communicate with restaurant staff and with each other. They can track their temperatures and tasks to allow employees to save time and avoid mistakes as the devices will let them know when food is ready or maintenance is required.

At the same time, connected devices also have significant food safety implications. Bluetooth temperature sensors can automatically measure temperatures and feed them into a centralized HACCP log. Not only does this save supervisors valuable time, but it also helps avoid errors since temperatures are recorded automatically. You won’t have to worry about employees forgetting to check food temps in the middle of service anymore with these systems in place. Managers can also set temperature thresholds for each sensor, and receive alerts whenever a sensor approaches or passes the threshold.


Restaurant Tech to Train New Employees

Restaurants are having to source labor from a wider pool of candidates to stay competitive and avoid disruption from employee turnover. This can result in team members who lack the language or job skills traditionally required for their job.

Luckily, restaurant technologies can help bring these employees up to speed more quickly while reducing the training burden on supervisors and managers. Digital recipes and instructions can be translated into an almost endless number of languages, and many are designed to be easy to read with limited language skills thanks to their use of pictures and diagrams. Devices themselves are also starting to come with touchscreens which allow employees to access instructions on the fly, right where they need to perform the task.

Smart devices can also serve as more-or-less permanent training wheels for staff. When your fridges and fryers regulate their temperatures and your rethermers identify foods and operate automatically, there’s a lot less for your new employees to learn.


Restaurant Management Software: Scheduling and Inventory

Managing your human and physical assets is a huge undertaking. There are so many moving parts to every restaurant that even the best managers can struggle to keep everything moving smoothly. But due to the latest foodservice technology trends, software solutions are taking on more of the burden and allowing managers to focus on higher-level strategy and interpersonal leadership. Known as restaurant management software, these platforms will make your restaurant operate more efficiently with less effort.

Scheduling can be the bane of a manager’s existence. Collecting employee availability week to week, drafting and distributing schedules, and finding subs when employees inevitably call out all takes time and energy. Mobile-based scheduling software is making it easy for employees to submit their availability, request to be rescheduled and volunteer to sub for another employee. This information will feed into the manager’s scheduling platform, making drafting and sharing schedules a matter of a few mouse clicks. And they can easily reach the entire workforce to address any issues that come up during the week.

Unsurprisingly, mobile-enabled software can be a lifesaver when it comes to inventory management, too. More and more restaurants are ditching paper logs in favor of digital records. Employees can log new stock easily through their phones or restaurant tablets, and just as easily update inventory counts throughout service. These software platforms can also provide useful insights into inventory trends, allowing managers to make more informed stocking decisions and avoid over or understocking.


Beyond Restaurant POS: Ordering and Reservation Management Software

Restaurant POS systems are important tools to streamline customer experiences and order processing, but they’re also old news. If you don’t already have a great digital restaurant POS platform, there are plenty of great articles that can point you towards the best system for your business. But recent foodservice technology trends have moved towards other restaurant software solutions which you can leverage to provide a higher level of service and make things easier on your employees.

One easy way to fill up your tables in advance while simultaneously saving your employees’ time is to implement an online reservation system. This restaurant software can free up your hosts so that they can provide a higher level of service for your customers. It also avoids recording errors and allows you to send automatic email reminders to reservation holders. You can connect the online processing system to a centralized digital reservation management system which allows you to easily update reservations and send reminders, whether reservations were made online, over the phone, or in person.

Restaurant software can also up your to-go game. While more and more people are getting their food to go through GrubHub, Uber Eats, and other third-party services, it’s also a good idea to modernize your in house to-go service. Online ordering once again makes it easier for your hosts to focus on your current customers, streamlines ticket management and timing in the back of house, and provides a better overall experience for to-go shoppers.

Finally, the latest foodservice technology trend to hit fast-casual and informal restaurants is kiosk ordering. Instead of giving their order to an employee at a register or the table, customers order through kiosks or even tablets at their table. This allows customers to submit their orders more quickly and provides a consistent ordering experience that doesn’t depend on the attitude and experience of an employee behind a register. Even better, it frees up your employees to focus on their back of house duties, so you can manage a higher volume of business with the same number of employees.

One great side effect of restaurant software for making reservations and ordering food is that it can help you market your business more effectively. Kiosks and online reservation or ordering systems can collect customer data to empower future marketing efforts. Simply asking for an email or phone number to confirm the order or reservation will allow you to build contact lists which you can use to establish a loyal customer base.


Last Thoughts

Restaurant technologies can revolutionize the way that your restaurant operates and help you grow your business effectively and sustainably. But keeping up with foodservice technology trends requires a hefty investment in software and smart devices. Restaurant tech is an investment and you need enough working capital to acquire and implement the technology. This might sound a bit daunting, but restaurants working on thin margins can still leverage technology to turbo-start their business by taking out restaurant business loans. These loans can give you the working capital you need not only to implement the latest restaurant technologies but also to make other important investments in your business’ success.

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Jeremy Pearlman | Jeremy is a New York native enjoying the good life in the Big Easy. In his writing, Jeremy covers a wide-range of topics, but his specialties are personal finance and business leadership.