3 ways mobile technology can streamline restaurant operations
By Vladik Rikhter, CEO and co-founder of Zenput
One reason people eat at fast casual restaurants is familiarity. They come in knowing exactly what to expect. Everything from the experience in the restaurant to the food and the packaging comes in a manner to which they’ve grown accustomed. That’s precisely what they want from the experience. It’s up to the managers of different locations to deliver that to your customers. As much as the products bring people in, they enjoy the simplicity just as much.
Over time, everyone has developed different processes for formalizing every aspect of their many locations so customers know what they’re getting. Consistency is at the heart of everything you do. However, the way managers and others ensure they reach that consistency doesn’t have to stay the same. Technology, specifically mobility, has given fas casual restaurants the opportunity to automate task completion and share information quickly and easily. Empowering employees to use mobile technology and apps throughout the location gives them constant access to relevant data and the ability to confirm the completion of required tasks in line with expectations. You strive to guarantee consistency from location to location, so it only makes sense to equip teams with technology that delivers both their responsibilities for the day and a means to verify they’ve accomplished their goals.
Prioritizing activities and managing day-to-day operations with mobile solutions
Every employee at a fast casual restaurant has a series of jobs secondary to customer service to finish each day. These jobs range from cleaning, erecting signage and swapping menus in and out to any other action required to run a location. In a perfect world, district managers and others could be confident that every activity would be executed without constant inspection. That isn’t the case, though. Moreover, certain tasks need to take priority over others.
Mobile solutions that bring new assignments directly to the smartphones or tablets that workers already carry can make it perfectly clear what they’re responsible for, and automating activities based on exceptions can make operations even smoother. It isn’t about constantly watching over every employee. Technology is little more than means of verifying required work is done in line with corporate expectations. Customers are going to notice when something isn’t to their expectations, and they let you know by spending less money. A means to transmit information directly to workers and confirm they do their jobs effectively will eliminate the surprises that come with a poor sales report at month’s end.
Managing a location for any fast casual chain, while largely reliant on promoting the same experience every day, comes with the occasional curveball. As new tasks approach, mobility ensures everyone that needs to be updated of new jobs receives notification, as well as the clear list of priorities and goals for the day.
Simplifying store management with mobility
Keeping track of sales figures and other information on a store-by-store basis is a time-consuming process. Trying to calculate prime cost and other significant metrics when the team performs all collection and processing manually can lead to inaccurate data or delayed availability of information. Executives need these numbers quickly to make the correct decisions and purchases across locations. It’s not a matter of employees making major mistakes in most cases. People just forget to do things sometimes, or they may misplace or misremember important information. The integration of task automation in any form is likely to have positive benefits for your companies.
Using electronic forms streamlines activity around offices. They also allow workers to do their jobs on the run. A store manager sitting outside on his break, for example, could easily send the day’s data for corporate review without manually gathering the information from distributed teams or forms. Just the same, as action items shift from day to day, mobile solutions provide a flexible method of delivering information to the right parties. There’s always going to be a bit of legwork and scrambling involved with managing every store. However, a lack of information should no longer be the root of future problems with mobile-driven operations.
Automating consumer-facing processes
There are further solutions available that can be applied to customer-facing aspects of the business in ways that won’t too heavily detract from the uniform experience you work so hard to ensure. Primarily, these have to deal with the integration of optional services for ordering products. Two great examples are the integration of both mobile apps and in-store touchscreens for ordering. Mobile apps that allow users to send orders into the store and come pick them up simplifies the process even further, which is an aspect of that familiarity some, especially eager tech adopters or those short of time, are willing to sacrifice. Alternatively, in-store touchscreens that allow users to quickly punch in their orders limit the possibility of an incorrect order and allows workers to focus on efficient product delivery.
All of these possibilities for deploying and leveraging mobile technology come with myriad benefits. However, the biggest contributions are the increased focus on accountability and greater efficiency they provide. Freeing up employees to focus on the customer experience in the restaurant and with your food means you can deliver the familiar brand experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Topics: Systems / Technology