By Ray Abramson
In the restaurant industry today, technology companies are popping up across the world, offering smarter and better ways to order, deliver and market their products. The result has been an overall enhanced experience for customers. Buying food has never been easier or quicker!
Restaurants are consistently pushing the envelope, trying to improve their overall business processes. Take for example David Segal, the founder of tea chain David’s Tea with his new restaurant chain Mad Radish. In each of his locations, cash is not accepted. All payments must be processed digitally, resulting in a faster and ultimately better customer experience. David is not alone in this, with other brands like Alan Bekerman’s iQ Foods following suit. This is just a small example of how technology can directly impact the overall operations of the business. For restaurant management, the incremental revenue they drive through these new tools has had positive impacts on their bottom lines. Faster and easier ordering means more output, which means more happy customers eating their food each day.
But how is technology impacting back-of-house restaurant operations? Do restaurants have proper operational systems in place to ensure they can effectively manage current and future demand while safeguarding their brand? This is the question that is sometimes omitted from the equation. When bringing in new front-of-house technology, new menu items or promotions or even just opening new locations, a strong operational plan to maintain consistency is crucial.
In any restaurant chain, whether there are one, 50 or 500 locations, managing a consistent and quality operational process is essential to ultimate success. Usually, the common tool to ensure that each restaurant operates correctly is by something as simple as a store visit, with a checklist in hand. These checklists often contain questions revolving around topics such as health/safety, cleanliness, equipment standards and food quality. The goal of this practice is to collect information on the overall operations of the location being assessed. Today, the most common practice to conduct these assessments is by using a pen and paper checklist, an Excel form or Google sheet.
Walking around each store with a paper checklist, jotting down notes while snapping pictures of problems using a cell phone… This is a shared experience that corporate district managers and restaurateurs everywhere can relate to. With a process like this, there are a few different opportunities for how technology can assist.
Let’s look at some of the issues plaguing the archaic paper checklist process:
- Field assessments are time consuming to complete effectively
- Lack of quality data from paper/excel checklists and inability to identify core issues
- Failure to add pictures and videos directly into each assessment
- Tracking previous assessments is difficult with individual Excel files or paper sheets
- No real-time data capabilities
As the days of picking up the phone and calling in your food order have moved into the digital age, so too will these operational field audits. Where today, customers use apps like Ritual, Platterz, Foodora and UberEats, new companies that offer technology based back-of-house functionality are starting to appear.
With a digital tool to replace paper field assessment checklists, those issues listed above are almost entirely solved. With technology, there is no more fumbling around, searching for past assessment forms. Each individual report is stored digitally in the cloud, readily available. Not only are the answers from each assessment present, but photos, videos and comments are assigned to the individual report. Now you can go back in time and see each report regardless of when or where it was completed. Overall, one of the strongest benefits of a digital approach is the aggregated data computed after each assessment. Management is provided with motivating operational trends illustrating which areas require improvement. Also, because it is now done digitally, all the information from each assessment can be viewed in real-time.
As the restaurant industry adopts new digital solutions, technology will only become more ingrained into what’s considered “normal business operations”. New shifts in the way customers interact with restaurants, from ordering to paying, and the way restaurants manage their operations will continue to evolve.
About the author:
Ray Abramson is COO of MeazureUp, a restaurant operations technology company based in Toronto. MeazureUp is a cloud-based software company that helps restaurant chains manage brand and operational consistency. Using the MeazureUp solution, organizations can gather detailed analytics and operational intelligence by conducting digital field assessments using the MeazureUp application. Some customers include The Keg, St. Louis Bar & Grill and Golden Chick in the U.S. Reach out to Ray via e-mail, LinkedIn or call him at 416-428-5970. You can also find MeazureUp at www.meazureup.com or on LinkedIn or Facebook.