A restaurant today can be an almost uniquely hands-on business. In so many other types of businesses, we see less and less contact between owners and customers. In restaurants, however, the in-person experience and interactions are crucial and irreplaceable. Even as we do see more delivery services emerging — particularly in light of the 2020 pandemic — the restaurant experience isn’t going away anytime soon.
Despite all of this, though, restaurant owners can still get in on the digital revolution that’s affecting so many other types of businesses. Digitizing a restaurant doesn’t mean doing away with human contact or in-person experiences. Instead, it just means finding ways to take advantage of technology in ways that improve efficiency and, ultimately, maximize profits. To those ends, there are a few digitization tactics in particular that restaurant owners ought to keep in mind. Here are 4 steps on how to digitize your restaurant:
1 – Installing Modern POS Machines
If you’re running a restaurant, you undoubtedly have a POS system in place already. It’s virtually impossible to get by without one unless it’s a tiny restaurant, or perhaps a food truck. That said, not all POS systems are the same, and these days there are more advanced, digital-forward options that can improve your business substantially. A more robust, modern system can help you to accept more payment methods, gather more data, and even monitor specific online orders and inventory, all in a seamless and intuitive manner. And as our post on ‘How Much Do POS Systems Cost?’ made clear, you can get started with a system like this without having to spend much at all.
2 – Marketing Through Social Media
Depending on the nature of your restaurant, you may be used to some local, in-person marketing tactics. Whether that means promotional events in public areas, signage around town, or even word of mouth within neighborhoods, it’s certainly possible to expand a restaurant’s business without much in the way of digital marketing. However, it’s not enough. Business News Daily put it best, stating only that “your small business needs to be on social media” today, only because if it’s not, you’re missing out on cheap and useful marketing tools that your competitors are likely using. Embracing digital marketing — specifically through social media — gives you a way of connecting with customers, sharing updates, and generally staying at the forefront of your community’s focus, all of which means better business for your restaurant.
3 – Taking Advantage of File Sharing
If you run a restaurant, you’re likely aware that there are often more communications than customers might expect. You need to negotiate with suppliers, occasionally interact with reviewers or local publications, release menus and news blurbs to appropriate outlets, and maintain your records. Much of this can be done through email, but this is not a particularly organized way to operate in 2020, and at times it’s less convenient than some file-sharing alternatives. Box details that large file sharing is something that can now be done with drag-and-drop convenience, with the right service. A given file — whether it’s a new menu, an image gallery of your restaurant, an inventory report, etc. — can be turned into a link for others to access, rather than sent via email. This can be a useful way to streamline file transfer and communications for restaurant owners, in that it keeps exchanges on record and, in some cases, makes it easier to transfer certain types of documents.
4 – Updating Accounting Practices
For a busy restaurant owner, the actual practice of managing the books can be a nuisance. Sifting through payment records and assessing financial data takes up a lot of time, and usually isn’t something a restaurant owner or manager necessarily has a natural affinity for. This is why it makes sense to digitize the process as much as possible. Discussing accounting and bookkeeping as areas in which a company can benefit from “productivity tools,” The Balance SMB outlined clear benefits, suggesting that the right accounting software can “streamline the way you invoice, take payments, and manage cash flow.” All of those things can be done digitally through tools that largely automate the process and provide you with a clear overview of all relevant financial information.
These steps won’t necessarily change how your restaurant looks and feels to customers — which in most cases, is a good thing! But together, they can significantly streamline the business end of your company, making it easier for you to focus on the restaurant itself.