Cool new IT tools­

Today’s high-tech software and supporting systems can streamline management functions, ensure consistency in multi-unit restaurants and improve unit level and company profits.

It takes a lot to manage restaurants efficiently. Controls are a big part of the job—controlling risk, labor and costs of all types, among other things. But take heart. Today’s high-tech software and supporting systems can streamline management functions, ensure consistency in multi-unit restaurants and improve unit level and company profits. Here are some of the more innovative tech solutions currently available.

Handheld wireless POS
Table service POS systems are powerful management tools that can tie together servers, bartenders, the kitchen and back office management. One company is taking this technology a great leap forward by placing service in the hands of the dining public. ESP Systems has introduced a wireless paging device that is left at the table when guests are seated. That device can be used to instantly communicate with the server, who is outfitted with a wrist-mounted communicator. Customers just press a button when they’re ready to order, get a refill or want to settle up the bill. Kitchen and bar staff pages the server’s wrist communicator when an order is up and restaurant management can track actual service times—in real time.

Web-based maintenance
Even the best cooking, refrigeration, warewashing, dispensing and prep equipment breaks down or requires periodic maintenance. A systematic program of preventive maintenance can reduce the risk and cost of untimely breakdowns (i.e. during the evening rush) and extend equipment life. MobileTRAQ offers a web-based software package designed to track and schedule preventive maintenance service for equipment at multiple locations. It centralizes equipment specifications, warranty status and service history and acts as a command center for scheduling all maintenance and repairs. This software system can save management time, reduce costly equipment downtime and extend the useful life of major equipment.

Bar inventory control
Over-pouring and employee theft can eat into one of a restaurant’s biggest profit centers—the bar business. This industry-wide problem has spurred the development of a number of liquor pouring and security systems. AccuBar is targeting those bar operators who must take full bar and back room bottle inventories once a week or more, in order to balance POS sales with physical inventory. The company’s self-contained handheld device scans bottle barcodes to identify each inventory item and provides bottle “fill level” graphics so that you can estimate the contents of every open bottle. After the inventory is completed, the hand reader slides into a data cradle, where it provides an instant inventory spreadsheet.

Where to search for vendors
There is no shortage of restaurant management technology vendors. To save you a few mouse clicks, there are two excellent web-based source directories that can narrow your e-search.

Capterra runs a site called The Enterprise Software Center ( It has a master menu broken out by management category (such as Workforce Manage­ment, Human Resources, etc.) and also by industry, including Food & Beverage.

A click on the Restaurant Man­age­ment category leads to 73 different vendor sources, each with a link to individual company websites.

The site’s Restaurant Manage­ment Software Directory listings include enough description to narrow
your search.

The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration is another good Internet directory source when you’re out hunting for technology providers. After going to the homepage (www.hotel­, click on the Hospitality Links, then Foodservice Industry and finally Technology. You will be rewarded with a 13-page list of
software and system providers, complete with a short product/service description and a direct link to all those web sites.

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