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The restaurant technology stack’s key ingredient: A food & labor operations (FLO) platform

Photograph: Shutterstock

We have reached a critical juncture for the restaurant industry. As guests’ expectations continue to rise, so do the challenges of managing and controlling costs to meet those expectations. Operators turn to new tools, gadgets, and platforms for salvation. But new technologies have their own risks. The wrong investments can further complicate your already stressed operations. So, how do you make an investment into your technology stack that produces winning results?

Assessing restaurant technologies: Focus on what’s most important to your business

Smart restaurants leverage technology to provide the best possible guest experience while  controlling operational costs. To put it another way, the best run restaurants make technology investments that increase sales revenue and maintain their guest experience standards while spending as little money as possible to do so. Investing in innovative technology solutions can help steer you toward operational bliss, as long as the solutions you choose are central to your restaurant’s mission.

The two biggest cost centers at your restaurant are food and labor. At the same time, food and labor are also your restaurant’s primary operations. Your ability to optimize the costs associated with these ops is central to your brand’s success. Food and labor operations (FLO) are directly correlated via sales forecasting and planning. Think about it. Food operations covers everything from food cost control (including waste and inventory) to production planning to supply chain operations.  Labor operations covers optimizing your shift scheduling, labor law compliance, and team collaboration. Sales forecasting is the key that starts the food and labor operations engine.

Sales forecasting is the key that starts the food and labor operations engine.

Consolidating your BOH-FLO for optimal restaurant forecasting

We’ve established that your FLO (food & labor operations) are critical to the success of your restaurant. They are optimized when they are consolidated on one single, centralized back of house platform. 

Here’s why:

A common trait found in winning restaurants is the ability to learn from the past and plan for the future. In other words, they effectively use their sales data to improve forecast accuracy.

Strong forecasting capabilities help you run a more efficient restaurant. Your ability to forecast is critical to not only reducing waste (in ordering, food production, and schedule hours) but to also ensure you properly plan to meet the needs of your guests.  Being understaffed or running out of your best-selling item can have just as large an impact on your bottom line as over-staffing or over-producing.  It is a delicate balance, and a quality food and labor operations platform will use transaction-level sales detail and historical sales trends to generate an intelligent FLO forecast.

A winning FLO technology platform offers various algorithms for forecasting, is easily scaled up or down, considers past weather, events, and holidays, and can even import data from another system if necessary.  A FLO forecast can be viewed and edited by daypart and even by revenue center.  In fact, a modern FLO platform will break down and store your forecast into 15-minute increments throughout the day for the most precise production plans and granular labor demand while shift scheduling. 

The tech stack bottom line

There’s no question that technologies in accounting, HR, and payroll systems are important, but even the most innovative versions of those systems aren’t central to your restaurant’s mission. They aren’t going to impact your ability to increase sales while optimizing operational costs, at least not the same way a powerful FLO platform will. Remember, your food and labor operations are your restaurant.

You cannot provide the best guest experience while controlling costs if your food and labor operations are compromised. They are simply too important for your business from a cost, efficiency, and quality perspective. That’s why every restaurant should start with the best food and labor operations platform to optimize what’s really important.

Want to know more? Visit us to learn how to optimize food and labor costs in restaurants.

This post is sponsored by CrunchTime! Information Systems

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