Why adaptable restaurant technology is essential

With the rate technology changes, keeping up with the latest gadgets and gizmos can seem impossible. It’s understandable that many businesses are hesitant to invest in new technologies, especially if they’re going to be implemented in tens or hundreds of locations. Investing can be scary because who knows what will come next for restaurant technology? How soon will you have to replace your existing tech to stay on trend and be able to deliver services as customers demand them?

It’s not just technology that changes. As your business grows, your technology may quickly become difficult to work with or no longer meet your business requirements. It may even hold you back, forcing you to maintain old processes that don’t let you work as effectively as possible. Hospitality trends are fickle; customers demand human interaction, convenience, quick and easy service, and online delivery, all rolled into one. Customer demands fluctuate regularly and if your technology isn’t able to keep up, you will quickly find your business falling behind your competitors.

So how do you keep up date with this ever-changing environment?

When looking at tech solutions, the term ‘future-proof’ is used often in marketing spiels. But unless your chosen techies are also time travellers, nothing is guaranteed in the world of future technology. However, there are many options that could help reduce the frequency of replacing technology going forward and limit the disruption of doing so.

Good technology companies who are passionate and interested in future tech will likely be developing and creating technology solutions as trends change. They’ll always be on the lookout for what to do next and where they can push and improve their solutions to help their customers be more successful and work more efficiently and effectively. Here at PXtech, we have an in-house development team, a portion of which are dedicated to keeping their eye on and developing with the newest and up and coming technologies.

Our solutions adapt as your business changes and grow with you as you become more successful. You can modify any element of your solution to suit your working practices and change it at a later date if these should change. The benefit of adaptable technology is that you won’t have to keep replacing it every few years to stay current. With a centralised database and remote management, you can add varying modules to your EPOS software and add in extra functionality should you need it, just at the touch of a button.

Outdated tech can really hinder your chance of success. There are so many different types of restaurants constantly entering the marketplace and competition is rife. Don’t let your technology hold you back.

Invest in good technology. Invest in a good technology company.

If you’d like to talk about your options for updating your technology, get in touch on hospitality@pxtech.com.

What can you get out of Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) is an incredibly powerful and useful tool for restaurant owners, even more so if you manage multiple sites at once. Integrating a BI solution with a good EPOS system is essential for those wishing to succeed. The insights garnered from a single software platform hosted in a centralised database can assist restaurant owners and managers in better understanding their business, their employees, and their customers. Knowing exactly what is going on at any one time, from any location in the world, can help you make informed decisions and ensure you’re always maximising efficiency and boosting productivity and sales.

Here are just a few insights that BI can give you about your business:

Sales data

From the most lucrative time of day, week, month or year, to your most sold meal – sales data can give valuable insights into which of your marketing efforts are succeeding, what your customers most desire and means you can ensure popular items are readily available across locations. If you know peak selling times and your demand for a product, you can enhance your operations, keeping customers happy and improving customer service.

Employee productivity

Knowing which employees are more productive than others allows you to identify your best team members so you can optimise teams and ensure you have the most productive employees working together at the most profitable selling times. Having an idea about how your employees work together makes employee scheduling easier and knowing how many people to have on at any one time reduces unnecessary labour costs.

Stock control

Keeping an eye on your inventory lets you know when you need to reorder items, what’s been popular, what hasn’t, and could indicate if employees are helping themselves to a free lunch.

Integrated with tablet ordering and Kitchen Display Systems, stock control modules also allow you to alert staff immediately of any out of stock items, reducing the number of unhappy customers and awkward apologies after orders have been placed.

Spot trends and possible fraudulent activity

BI is tremendous at showing you certain trends and patterns in your restaurant data. For example, it can alert you to discrepancies in stock or unusual transactions (such as a large number of voids) that may highlight fraudulent activity or indicate that further staff training is needed. This allows you to rectify any issues right away so you can always be at your most profitable. Tracking employee IDs for certain transactions and using CCTV drilldown means no one is falsely accused and you can rectify any issues before they have a large impact on your organisation.

Business intelligence gives a detailed and in-depth view of your whole business, across stores, locations and brands. It’s important you know how your business is performing so you can make better decisions about where you should pay most of your attention to. Tracking business activity means you can always be aware of any issues and resolve them immediately and it also means you can view and celebrate your ongoing success!

If you’d like to know more about how business intelligence can help your business, get in touch on hospitality@pxtech.com.

Will ghost kitchens destroy your restaurant business?

ghost

When we saw the rise of third-party online ordering websites, the restaurant industry feared the impact it would have. Now the restaurant scene is getting even more competitive with the introduction of delivery-only ‘ghost’ kitchens.

Surpassing the local chippy or Chinese takeaway, these kitchens are offering premium meals directly to people’s doors. Embracing the current demand for food on the go, they half their overhead by shaking off property driven expansions, high rent and labour costs.

By crowding the marketplace even more, the traditional sit-down restaurant is ever more in fear of becoming extinct.

With double the overheads of ghost kitchens, how can you prevent being priced out of the restaurant scene?

If you haven’t already started utilising technology within your restaurant, now is certainly the time.

There’s no doubt that online ordering, payment and delivery options are essential. If you fail to keep up with the demand of being able to offer your meals to customers who dine at home, your restaurant and brand risk being left behind as we move towards more digitalised dining in the future.

Being more technical with your ordering processes is a must. Gone are the days of diners ordering food by calling. Diners want to be able to order from an app or website that allows them to choose, review and pay in one smooth transaction. Having the technologies available to you to do this is one thing but having an integrated system to streamline the process will truly up your online ordering game.

Integrating your online ordering system with your EPOS bypasses those third party services meaning you keep all the profits from the sale and the order is sent directly to the kitchen, optimising communication and reducing order time. This not only ensures customers get their order as quickly as possible with less chance of mistakes but also works to engage the customer through their digital experience and means all transactions are accurately tracked through your POS.

As you no longer have the opportunity to engage diners in your restaurant with great customer service, you need to ensure that your brand ethos is visible to the customer in your technology solutions. Creating an easy and smooth transaction for the customer, whether in the restaurant or at home, will always win repeat custom. Online orders can also be linked directly with loyalty programs so your customers reap the benefits of ordering with you directly and are rewarded for their loyalty.

While there’s much discussion around if diners prefer to eat at home or go out for a meal, there’s no denying that the desire to be able to eat premium food at home is increasing. While being prepared is essential, taking it to that next level by engaging customers online will really help you to stay ahead of your competitors and secure your restaurant’s future in a digital world.

Engage employees to engage customers

Engagement comes in many forms and is often difficult to measure. With such a visceral concept, the definition of engagement can be iffy but the basis remains the same: ‘being positively present during the performance of work by willingly contributing intellectual effort, experiencing positive emotions and meaningful connections to others’.[1]

More and more businesses within the hospitality sector are beginning to recognise the positive effects of an engaged workforce. With 88% of businesses planning on improving engagement in 2017, failure to recognise the power it has will leave your business lagging behind your competitors.[2]

Ensuring employees are thoroughly engaged can improve all areas of a business. It is no secret that hospitality has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry. Bloomberg BNA estimated that a huge $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover. Money is literally walking out the door due to low levels of engagement.

It has also been proven that engagement isn’t only good for improving staff retention. As well as being happier, healthier and more fulfilled at work, engaged employees deliver improved business performance evidenced by productivity, profit, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, innovation and efficiency.  Engaged employees care for the company’s future, are willing to go the extra mile and know how their work impacts the overall goals and vision of your company.

Engaged customers bring a 21% profitability premium to the companies they are engaged with.  Engaged employees increase sales by 20%, their absenteeism drops by 41% and safety incidents decrease by 70%. Companies that invest in engagement see a 17% rise in productivity and 40% rise in quality of work compared to those who don’t.[3]

These are facts. Engagement works. All the statistics show that engaged employees improve the workplace beyond the happy employee; engaged employees actively work to improve profit and decrease unnecessary costs. Engaged employees are more loyal to their company, saving you money and time on recruitment and training. Your HR department would be better off spending less time recruiting new talent, and more time engaging and retaining the great employees your business already has.

With an increasing number of socioeconomic concerns influencing and, in most cases curbing profit, it’s easy to want to take the reins and implement processes and systems that rely on control, direction and compliance. This will only damage engagement levels and cause further financial distress. Instead construct the right teams, analyse productivity levels, ensure you have the right people working together at the right times, and trust them to do their job. Give them the support they need, discuss the larger focus of the business, where you want to be and where you want them to be, and they are more than likely to succeed and be happier while doing so.

Engagement is pinned to be one of the most explored concepts for hospitality this year and looking at the results so far, it is no wonder why. Businesses are being more innovative than ever with their workplace culture and are really going that extra mile to ensure they can provide the best, most engaging, environment for their employees. While installing slides in the office will be a little farfetched for most, if your business isn’t working on its engagement levels, it will be left behind and struggle to stay ahead of the curve. Not to mention spending valuable revenue on recruitment, training and labour costs! Large or small, engagement can help you transform your business for the better and it’s time you started talking about it.

Engagement needs discussing now more than ever; you should not underestimate the power it can have.

If you would like to discuss engagement in more detail and see how your technology can help, please get in touch at info@pxtech.com or 01332 921 300.


[1] CIPD, Employee Engagement: An Introductionhttps://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/engagement/factsheet#

[2] Virgin Pulse, State of the Industry: Employee Wellbeing, Culture and Engagementhttp://community.virginpulse.com/state-of-the-industry-2017-es

[3] Gallup, Gallup 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis: Ninth Edition, http://www.gallup.com/services/191489/q12-meta-analysis-report-2016.aspx

How to Use Your Restaurant Data to Engage Customers

Analysing what is going on in your restaurant is the first step to truly engaging your customers. You’re likely to already collect a wealth of data about your transactions, staff and customers. Collating this data is important but unless you utilise it, this can be a little fruitless. A good EPOS system will collect data automatically and store it safely in the cloud so it’s there to review when you need it. Good Business Intelligence systems can then take this data and transform it into something you can act upon.

However, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s some ideas on how you can utilise data in order to engage with customers on a much deeper level:

Listen to your customers’ voice

The first step in pleasing your customers is to listen to what they really want. Online reviews are becoming ever more important and can provide valuable insights as to where you could improve. More often than not however, customers tend to write reviews when they’ve had a negative experience than when they repeatedly get good customer service and the products they want. While valuable and useful, these don’t help you determine what you’re already getting right.

Sales data can indicate exactly which products sell most, what times of day, week or year they’re most popular, and what combinations of products are preferred. This means you can alter your menu to reflect your customers’ desires. Customers are unlikely to tell you directly that they’ll generally purchase a drink with a main meal for example. Your data does tell you this information, allowing you to create certain deals or options that the customer will engage with. Seeing trends in product sales ensures that your restaurant always offers the customer something they really desire, increasing the likelihood of repeat custom.

Spot emerging trends

While you’re constantly looking at your successful products to ensure your menu is desirable, it’s also good to see the journey of your products or ones that may be gaining or losing popularity. This is most prevalent in seasonal products. A good example includes the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Presumably it sold well in its first year, demand was high and many customers now wait in anticipation of its return to the menu each autumn.

If Starbucks were to have this item on their menu all year round, it may appear to look like an average selling item as its sales are likely to drop in the summer. Keeping it as a seasonal item builds the buzz around it and makes customers excited for its return. If you’re able to spot similar emerging trends, you can jump on them early on to maximise sales opportunities and excite customers with something they really enjoy. Restaurant trends come and go so it’s good to be able to review what works, what doesn’t and what you can implement for the future. This means your restaurant will never be behind the curve and will keep you in line with your competitors.

Personalise the dining experience

With the use of apps, memberships and loyalty schemes on the rise, you are now receiving more information about your customers than ever before. As you make the effort to collect all of this information, it makes sense to be able to do something with it.

Embracing technology within your restaurant through things such as digital signage or interactive menus and ordering systems means you can make the dining experience much more personal to the customer. If you don’t wish to directly implement technology on the tables, letting them order through an app to which they have an account means you can offer them tailored promotions and show what items they order most and may like to order again (i.e. “Want to order the same as last time?”).

Some restaurants are even going as far as to have live social media walls so that customers can take pictures, tweet or share their food across social media and it can appear immediately on the wall in the restaurant. Incorporating this with gamification and competitions (such as whomever gets the most ‘likes’ gets their meal for free) is a sure way to help your restaurant further its reach online, establish a recognised brand name and see what items are trending.

Engaging your customers can be a difficult process so deploying as much help as you can get from your data is a good idea. Big Data isn’t there just to be digitally shelved and never utilised. Analysing and creating actions from data is the next step to increasing customer engagement on a deeper level, sometimes without them even having to step foot in one of your restaurants.

If you would like to know more about how data analysis can help you make reactive decisions about your business, contact PXtech on info@pxtech.com or 01332 921 300.

3 Ways Technology Can Optimise Labour Costs

Calculation Costs

With mobile ordering and apps such as Deliveroo, JustEat etc. restaurants are no longer only having to deal with the customers that wish to dine in the restaurant. Predicting how many members of staff you need on a given night can be impossible and staff scheduling can become a challenge. With labour costs being one of your largest expenses, it’s crucial that you stay on top of what you’re spending on employee wages. Successful restaurants are likely to have a good back-office system to help them analyse labour costs in order to ensure they are fully optimising their workforce.

Here’s three ways you can use technology to reduce and maximise on labour costs.

Verify attendance and punctuality

It’s not unheard of for employees to get their friends to clock in for them when they’re running a little late or are unable to make a shift. Before the emergence of Business Intelligence, business owners had to manually add up employee timecards meaning discrepancies often went unnoticed. Having a digital system in place, CCTV drilldown and automatic alerts when something unusual is happening will allow you to be more vigilant, saving on fraudulent or unnecessary labour costs.

Utilise predictive scheduling

A good Business Intelligence system can analyse previous sales data and tell you what your busiest and most profitable times are. It can also show which nights with which teams are most productive. This means you can plan future staff scheduling to ensure you always have the best team working at the best time. Having staff work within a team on a night that will increase their productivity means you can optimise labour costs by ensuring you get the most out of your employees on a given night. It will also mean that you are never under or overstaffed, providing your customers with the best and smoothest dining experience possible. 

Prevent unnecessary overtime

You can’t possibly keep an eye on all your restaurants and all your staff at any one time. Having real-time data available 24/7 allows you to keep track of unexpected busy periods or periods that may require employees to work over their scheduled hours.  If necessary, your Business Intelligence system can be programmed to send you an alert whenever a member of staff hasn’t signed out on time, leaving you to check why and be on top of what is happening in your restaurant. Preventing any unnecessary over-scheduled work will help keep your labour costs to a minimum.

Staff scheduling can be one of the hardest tasks you face as a restaurant owner. Luckily, there are now systems and technologies that can help. Making sure you are optimising labour costs will surely create a smoother working environment, better customer service and higher profits as a result.

To learn more about how technology can help minimise your labour costs, contact us on info@pxtech.com or 01332 921 300.

5 Ways BI Improves Customer Service

One of the most important aspects of a hospitality business is it’s customer service. There’s no doubt that providing good customer service is integral to success within the sector, particularly when good reviews and referrals are so important for generating new custom.  BI helps with numerous aspects of a business, from simplifying big data to reducing fraud and can also be very useful for improving customer service.

Here’s how BI can help:

Spot trends

Being able to identify certain patterns in customer behaviour means you can know which products sell at what times during which seasons. Making sure you have the desired products available when the customer desires them (and is most likely to purchase them) is important for encouraging repeat custom, good reviews and increasing saleability.

Track stock levels

Ensuring you have the correct products in stock when the customer requires them is equally important. This prevents complaints from customers that your restaurant was out of stock of their desired products. This is most prevalent in seasonal drinks promotions such as making sure you have enough stock to make more cold drinks in the summer.

Staff scheduling

Being understaffed puts strain on your staff, leading to mistakes, slow service and unsatisfied customers. BI can tell you who your most productive employees are and what your optimum sale time is. Having the right staff and the right amount of staff working at the right times can really contribute to providing customers with the best service possible.

Prominent customer voice

Three quarters of adults in the US choose a restaurant based on online search results. Reviews are more important than ever and customers expect to be listened to. Having software that can collect feedback data makes it much quicker for the customers’ voice to get to the owner of an organisation. This makes it much easier for the owner to take feedback on board and make reactive decisions about any changes the business should make.

Deeper analysis = deeper customer satisfaction

Fundamentally, understanding your customer will allow you to provide them with the best customer service possible. Knowing what your customer wants and when they want it means you can make more informed decisions about your business and what it offers. Providing good products that customers truly require will encourage repeat custom and receive better reviews and referrals.

Combining these components and using Business Intelligence to make the right decisions about your organisation will ensure that your customer service is second to none. Data analytics can be very useful to improve many aspects of a business. If you’d like to know how else Business Intelligence can improve your business, get in touch at info@pxtech.com or 01332 921 300.

Engaging Restaurant Customers with Technology

Engaging Restaurant Customers with Technology

While technology can never truly replace traditional human interaction with customers in restaurants, it is starting to become intrinsic to everyday life for most. With seven in ten UK adults turning to online reviews before buying an item, it is clear how often we turn to technology to help with basic decisions.

More people than ever before seek out positive online reviews before trying somewhere new and particularly in an age so rife with social media, it is a quick and easy way to filter the good from the bad. Customers no longer react to basic marketing campaigns and quick promotions and instead turn to their peers for trusted suggestions on where to eat.

Hospitality organisations have found themselves having to go above and beyond serving delicious food to get those precious positive reviews. And although good service, speedy food delivery times and value for money are all competitive advantages, creating customer loyalty is the key to ongoing success.

So how do restaurants engage with customers to create customer loyalty and how can technology help?

Start with the staff                                                                                                 

Staff are the face of your restaurant so making sure that they know their goals and are briefed on their day ahead will mean their jobs become easier. Keeping staff happy in the workplace has been proven to increase productivity and decrease employee turnover. Fully communicating to your staff through an employee app or their EPOS system is likely to keep them engaged in the work they do. This will encourage positive working attitudes and positive experiences with customers. Good service is often reviewed and is high on customers’ lists when it comes to choosing an eatery. Ask yourself: would you dine somewhere that had good food but numerous negative reviews for service?

Self-service optimisation

Putting control in the customers’ hands makes them feel as though they are controlling their own time. Mobile ordering programs can help boost ordering accuracy and with an emphasis on convenience becoming imperative in the modern day, the ability to order at the touch of a button is more sought after than ever. If customers receive the correct order within a reasonable time, they are more likely to return to your restaurant. Further engagement could come from allowing them to track where their order is, how long it will take to get to them and giving them the ability to easily customise their meals.

Membership apps

Apps can be developed to allow varying methods of interactivity for customers. Creating a ‘membership area’ within an app opens the door to several opportunities for engaging customers with your brand. Practical actions such as ordering, quick payment, loyalty rewards and a rating service would all be beneficial to you and the customer. There are further functionalities you can include also: gamification, getting to know your customer better by tracking their orders, tailored promotions and rewards and interactive menus will all work to engage the customer on another level. Putting your branding on a device that the average user reportedly spends five hours a day on will definitely keep you in the forefront of their mind.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

3D printing has taken the world by storm recently and there are already restaurants that are experimenting with this. This is not to say you should start printing your burgers but be prepared to embrace new technologies within this ever-changing digital world. People are always looking for the next best thing so taking that leap and staying a step ahead of your competition is a sure fire way to keep customers coming back.

No matter what technology you choose to engage customers, remember not to lose focus on what your business is really there to provide. While technology is more than useful with engaging customers and easing work life, it must work alongside human interaction rather than replace it. By enhancing customer experience, you are more likely to build customer engagement and create brand loyalty.

A Multigenerational Workforce Improves the Workplace

Jobs in the hospitality sector tend to be fast-paced. Perfect for someone young and constantly on the move, who want convenient working hours a few days a week to fit around studies or other such activities. With 47% of hospitality workers being under 30, it is clear that many restaurants, pubs and clubs tend to target young people, both because they’re usually the ones preferring weekend and evening work and because it generally means lower wages and lower labour costs.

However, as medicine advances, the average life-span has grown longer and there are now more over-65s than under-16s. This means the amount of older people entering or remaining within the workplace has increased significantly.

And although older people are not who usually come to mind when thinking of potential hospitality workers, it may do restaurants, pubs and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) well to bridge the generation gap within their team.

Fast food giant McDonald’s has recently published new analysis suggesting multigenerational working led to employees being 10% happier as well as improving customer satisfaction. In a survey of over 32,000 McDonald’s UK employees, those who worked within their own peer group reported a 10% decrease in happiness levels than those who work with a variety of ages.

It’s not just staff who are happier: out of 1,000 McDonald’s customers, 84% reported that they like to see a variety of ages working within the restaurant with 60% expecting better service as a result.

With new technologies on the rise, it has also become easier for older people to work in classically physical environments. The technology in many QSR restaurants, such as digital touch-screen kiosks that allow customers to make and pay for their own orders, create jobs for the less physically fit or slower workers, as it means less running around for employees and a quicker overall delivery time.

This is just one example of how technology can open the door for various types of people within the workplace. Advanced EPoS and Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, like Axent, allow employees a smoother working shift, as orders aren’t lost and bills aren’t totalled incorrectly. Taking orders through the use of tablets at a table means that orders go directly to the kitchen, rather than waiting staff having to go back and forwards to the kitchen with tickets. BI software and live CCTV footage also makes it possible for busy supervisors, management or owners to work from home and still monitor what is going on in their organisation.

Technology is introducing new ways of working within hospitality and could open the door to completely new members of staff. A multigenerational workplace could bring a wealth of wisdom, physicality and innovation to the hospitality workplace, and with technology making it that much easier to do so, all hospitality organisations should consider employing staff from a range of ages.

For more information contact us on info@pxtech.com or 01332 921 300.

Restaurant Technology Becoming Vital

Restaurant Technology Becoming Vital

It has recently been reported that 79% of diners believe that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.

The recent study of 1,115 diners revealed that most people value the use of technology in restaurants, saying that it positively impacts their dining experience. The survey found that technology had the largest impact in Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) such as Subway or McDonald’s.

The second most important factor of the dining experience, after delicious food, was quality service, followed by how quickly diners receive their orders and how quickly they can pay the bill. Diners suggested that the use of technology improves the speed at which they can receive and pay for their food, with 62% of diners using mobile ordering at least once a month.

New research from Barclaycard has also reported that brits are becoming more demanding in restaurants, claiming that 56% of dining choices are changing mostly for convenience and 37% prioritise quick service over value or menu choice.

Due to such changes in eating out, with the emphasis being on convenience and speed, the sector has a huge demand for the investment in new technologies in restaurants of all kinds.

Many restaurants now allow for mobile ordering through companies such as Deliveroo or JustEat and large QSR chains like McDonald’s have taken the step into introducing technology more prominently within the restaurant with kiosk ordering to quicken payment. However, we very rarely see casual restaurants embracing the use of new and innovative technologies and with 49% of people becoming impatient when left to wait too long to pay at the end of their meal, it appears the demand for technology in restaurants is growing.

Simple paying options such as the ability to pay through a mobile phone, by using a bank card or through PayPal for example, could be an easy way to keep customers happy. Other such technologies such as contactless payment at the table, built into a cloud-based tablet system that displays the correct order amount per table could also be useful. Simpler still, apps that split the bill quickly and easily to provide a quicker and more convenient experience for those wishing to pay separately.

Although quickening food delivery may be trickier – food can only cook so quick – the process from ordering to receiving could be streamlined substantially through the use of automated kitchen management systems. These allow the order to be displayed immediately after being taken, with no need for waiters to walk to and from the kitchen whilst also ensuring no discrepancies are made in handwriting, amounts, and alterations to a meal.

All employees, owners or otherwise, who work in hospitality know that creating customer loyalty is a key aspect to success within the industry. Customers have to leave happy – not disgruntled by long waits. Thus, as we see the restaurant industry moulding around convenience, technology must be considered as a vital necessity rather than a luxury.