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How automation can earn your restaurant great reviews

Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurant operators work hard to ensure that every guest who comes in leaves happy, having experienced a great meal with great service. Part of creating that great experience involves careful planning of every part of the meal—the staff greeting them at the door, the cleanliness of the dining room, the friendliness of their servers, the taste and temperature of the food and much more.

One way to increase guest satisfaction that may not be immediately apparent, however, is with the implementation of technology across restaurant functions. Automating tasks and giving staff the tools they need to make their jobs easier can help increase their job satisfaction, which as a result can increase their productivity—after all, a happy employee is a productive employee. Here are a few ways that technology is being used to streamline job functions and increase employees’—and, in turn, diners’— satisfaction with their experiences at restaurants.

Inventory management that’s easy to use

No business savvy restaurant operator will argue the merits of taking inventory. But taking inventory is not fun, especially if it’s done by hand with pencil and paper on a clipboard. The process is time consuming, tedious and subject to error. Errors with inventory management can lead to inaccurate financial statements, supply shortages or spoilage, depending on which way the error was made. What’s even worse than taking inventory on pen and paper is then having to get that information into a software system or spreadsheet that is difficult to use and not at all user friendly.

Of course, digitizing inventory management is a good idea, but only if it’s not a drag on employees’ productivity and morale to use the software. Instead, think about using an inventory management software that keeps not only the owner or the accountant in mind but also the operations team—the people actually taking inventory counts.

For instance, operators should consider: Can the software be used on a mobile device or tablet? Can it be configured according to current operations? Is it organized “shelf-to-sheet” or in another way that the team will understand? Is it easily or even automatically updated when the prices of ingredients change or new items are purchased?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, then there may be some employees in the kitchen who have a bad taste in their mouth.  

AP automation

Accounts payable (AP) can be an especially tough area of business to keep organized and up to date. With invoices and refunds, credits and receipts, it’s easy to see how things can get lost in the shuffle, how late fees may accrue and how vendors can penalize poor AP processes. When managers or chefs who may have started culinary and hospitality careers to serve guests and not stare at computer screens, it can cause a lot of stress. And, stress in the workplace can lead to burnout, interpersonal issues and turnover. However, mitigating this is as easy as pie!

By automating accounts payable with a platform such as xtraCHEF, managers can not only enjoy feeling stress-free about their part of the AP process, but they can also spend more time on the floor, building relationships with staff and tending to guests’ needs. By removing the manual tasks related to AP management, chefs can get their food costs numbers without making their hands go numb from tapping away at a calculator or keyboard. Ultimately, everyone in the restaurant benefits because employees are free to do what they do best and when employees are at their best, customers will recognize and appreciate it.

Budget building and forecasting

Finally, automation for budgeting and forecasting can help in a number of ways. Not only can it help adequately and efficiently plan for the ebbs and flows of seasonality but it can recognize cycles and trends. By providing visibility to all stakeholders in the restaurant what their allotted daily spend is, they’re not operating in the dark and can easily plan and react according to constant changes. For instance, a declining budget can keep track of how much budget is left relative to sales and cost-of-goods-sold projections between now and the end of the period.

What’s more, with POS integrations, daily sales data can be compared with purchase data and real-time inventory values to get an accurate picture of the budget without hours of work to calculate these numbers—all without any data entry. Data entry isn’t why anyone got into the hospitality industry, and being burdened by menial tasks such as these, especially on a long-term basis, can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s job and, perhaps even employee turnover.

By keeping employees happy and productive, guest experiences can be more enjoyable and can lead to more repeat visits. While many operators may not think of operational technology as a way to improve the dining experience, the truth is that giving a team the tools that are designed to improve how they do their jobs can make that restaurant a better place to work and therefore a better place to dine. And a staff with high morale is more likely to stay, more likely to tell their friends to come work there and more likely to provide a great experience to guests—it’s just that simple.

To learn more about xtraCHEF’s technology suite for automating back-of-house tasks, visit xtrachef.com.

This post is sponsored by xtraCHEF