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Automation of a restaurant and coffee-bar – pros and cons

Sep 5th 2015 at 12:30 AM

Five years ago, for many managers the main goal of restaurant automation was to deliver nice receipts and reduce time to make them. More sophisticated goal implied the wish to do the business in the same way as competitors that do.

But nowadays one trend has been loud and clear: to prevent theft, increase the number of regular customers, save hours of accounting or production manager drudgery.

In other words, the time has come to realize that the restaurant automation is necessary to solve particular tasks and its goal is to provide quick access to the information to analyze the status of company resources and to make well-timed management decisions.

The key words here are “quick” and “well-timed”. Because after all, the sooner you get the information, the sooner you can react to it. For example, if you discover that your waiter steals (unfortunately such things happen), you will reprimand or fire him without waiting until he buys a new car with your money.

Or you receive data about VIP-clients visits for the last month and you immediately understand who you have to pay more attention to in order not to lose this important person, and so on for each type of report: visitors, staff, goods and materials flows, suppliers, financial figures.

If the goals are clear, we can get to work. Today we will define briefly what you have to pay attention to while integrating restaurant automation system.

At first, you have to define terms. Even if you are natural born optimist, do not postpone automation to the last week before your enterprise opening. Open delay, untrained staff and general nervousness is a usual result of such “one week” launching.

So, if your enterprise is a new one, it will be better to launch the automation process during premises renovation. At least, discuss the main topics with your supplier company.

At operating enterprises, this process can be more spanned in time and less comfortable since new communication lines and automated workplaces have to be installed in already renovated premises. Nevertheless this fact should not stand in the way of the managers who have decided to move their company management on a new level.

Theft in the restaurant: Impartial assessment

According to the latest statistics, the percentage of theft in the restaurant industry ranges from ten to fifty. That’s not a big news, so let’s talk what to do to reduce its influence on the enterprise owner’s revenue.

The first most effective way to do it is a shared use of automation and video surveillance systems. Is it possible to organize real time observation of employees activities even when management staff is out? Does anything of that kind really exist? Yes, indeed!

Video surveillance system keeps an eye on employees movements instead of a big boss. It operates with the associated automation system. Every event in the automation system, from printing of a receipt, bill or kitchen order, client’s card reading to items deletion from orders and other operations, are sent in the video system as flag events. Later you will be able to review every action performed by your employees during receipts payments, cash receiving, printing, deleting and many other operations.

Video camera objective will capture all operations performed by your employees and they will be available with ease to the management staff. Flag event will allow reducing the search time of over dozens of hours of records.

Let’s consider, for example, the situation when a kitchen order is printed but the chef decide to have a break, a smoke or something else not related with his direct obligations. Meanwhile the guests are waiting, the waiter is sure that the ordered dish is being made. Finally the guest may leave the restaurant in frustration. And the reasons of bad service can be vague or disguised by employees on purpose.

To understand the real reason of such service delay, you just have to review video clips by means of the Kitchen order flag event generated by Inn.

Discount system in the battle for customers

Offering a card of a regular customer today? It’s the order of the day. So the logical question is how to stand out if all enterprises offer such cards? Let’s put aside the questions of design, excellent kitchen and convenient location. Let’s talk about rewards.

Companies and corporations around the world are returning to individual sales. With automation system it became possible and profitable to work with each customer individually as if he was the only one, and believe us, he appreciates this. And one of the best ways to perform this kind of sales is to integrate individual discount cards. Technically, other loyalty programs are also acceptable; for example, the list of offers available for any customer inspires to buy one or other dishes and drinks: the third bottle of wine for free, order a banquet event and get a bottle of Champagne as a gift, etc. These variants are also worth considering and applying. But individual discount cards are still the most efficient ones.

Try to offer cards to everyone. At the beginning it can be a simple, low-budget variant, up to the paper-based one. Later on, you can view   guests “profitability” in the information system and separate them into gold and silver categories. Then design a plastic card for each category corresponding to the establishment image that will be used to work with the customer individually.

Reduction schemes are very popular in discounts. The most frequently applied are cumulative quantity discounts, also called accumulation discounts, when price reductions are based on meeting special conditions (frequency of visits, spent amount).

A simpler variant of a discount is based on date, time, day of the week, customer’s category. You can combine all these factors.

More complicated programs are based on bonus points. When a customer buys goods, services or dishes, he is awarded with bonus points which he can spend only in this establishment.

Discounts are only a part of the discount system. The second fully-fledged part is information provision allowing to analyze and keep working with customers. Only in this case the business profitability can be raised considerably.

When your guest applies for a discount card, ask his name, date of birth, married or single, children’s age, favorite car model and other information on the basis of which you will be able to segment visitors. And of course, don’t forget about contact information. You will be able to use these data to send happy birthday greetings offering to book a table to celebrate this event in your establishment with special discount or to invite those customers who like premium brandy (you can get this information with ease from the automation system) to taste a new brand, or to make an agreement with a car service center to offer special discounts et let the customer know about such opportunity. Discount system can enhance your creative strategy. In this case your efforts will results in positive effects for your guests, and the costs will be low or absent.

As you can see, a reasonable discount policy, its obvious benefits in comparison with the discount policy of your competitors, discount possibilities of the automation system are the factors related in many ways to the victory in the battle for customers. Today your competitors offer almost identical menus and services packages on the market. But since you apply a creative strategy to your discount system, your enterprise will cut through the clutter.

This article is written by professional writer. He has expert knowledge in  the field of Software & Hardware. He has given valuable tips on Top


Retail POS Software India and Retail Point of Sale System India.

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