This last weekend, I went to a restaurant in Galena, IL known as Otto’s Place. They offer a reliably delicious meal along the Galena River, that leads into the Mississippi. As I entered the restaurant, something caught my attention. They were taking their reservations (really a waiting list) by hand. I was shocked as I assumed most places are all using technological advances to manage their guest intake. In my mind, I was immediately planning how to improve their efficiency by adding Toast or Open Table to advance their POS/Reservation system.
However, after enjoying my meal with my wife and reading about their philosophy and story, I came to the realization that maybe they don’t need the tech. Heck, I could barely get a cell phone signal most the time in that town. They were a slower-pace, enjoy the journey type of community and restaurant and that is perfectly okay! Keep doing you, Otto’s Place, and enjoy the special atmosphere you have created with your dining experience in that building with so much history. Perhaps in the future, you will feel the need to move your tech forward but if all is working fine in your restaurant’s mission — that day is not today.
Not every restaurant needs or wants technological innovations but as a restaurant leader, it is your job to continually look at ways to improve your business. Here are 5 easy ways that can improve your tech and your restaurant.
Whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, MySpace, Twitch, Snapchat, LinkedIn or any other social networking site; if you aren’t on it, you aren’t reaching a potential audience. I am not telling you that making sure your top 8 on MySpace is on point (dated reference? Maybe, but totally worth it) and will be the difference maker between a profitable year or not. I am telling you that every opportunity that makes sense to get your name in front of more people is important. If you don’t understand social media, hire someone who does. Hate it or love it, social media is here to stay in some way or the other, and you need to be doing your part to get your name in front of as many potential guests as possible!
This is cool. Point your phone at a black and white Rorschach blob and you are transported to the internet to something that tells you what beverages are available at this restaurant. If you don’t understand QR codes, hire someone who does. Putting one of these on your door (with whatever link you want!) can attract an entirely new population to your restaurant. It can also save you money in printing costs as many people have grown to enjoy having menus on their phones instead of paper menus.
People like eating in their homes. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was food from your restaurant? Online ordering has its pros and cons but one big pro is that your food is being eaten by a guest that wouldn’t have it if you didn’t offer online ordering. Do the math to make sure it is profitable and get your food in front of extra humans you don’t have to seat in your restaurant. GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats or any other mobile app or website is a way to sell your food. Find out which one(s) integrate well into your restaurant and go make that money.
Tired of not having your inventory on point? Invest in some computer systems to help assist you along the way! There are so many layers to your inventory; surely, some of them are able to be automated to save you time every single week. Here are just 3 companies (so many more available) that can help streamline your inventory processes.
Creating an app for your restaurant can offer so many benefits! Just open up your Starbucks app and see how wonderfully easy it is to give them your business. From ordering ahead, to a loyalty program to any other fun thing they do on there and you can see how beneficial one of these can be. Perhaps all of the previous techs listed can be included in your own proprietary app!
These are just 5 quick techs to think about and fortunately/unfortunately there are countless others! Websites, online scheduling, online reservations, staff communication, menus, tablets, or any other potential innovation is an avenue to make your restaurant better. Continue to stay part of groups that are focused on improving the restaurant game such as Your Restaurant Helper or the NRA or your local city’s restaurant organization. Every day is a chance to improve and that includes improving with technology.