Many of the older-generation bar and restaurant owners can be set in their ways and use traditional, paper-based methods to take customer orders, track time and inventory, and pay employees. But these same businesses often lose money every month, without really understanding why or where the loss is coming from.
Many restaurants and bars are private, family-owned businesses, and may be owned and operated by multiple generations at the same time. Many of the older-generation owners can be set in their ways and use traditional, paper-based methods to take customer orders, track time and inventory, and pay employees. The logic often used is “that is the way that we have always done it here,” so they continue to use the same, familiar methods. But these same businesses often lose money every month, without really understanding why or where the loss is coming from.
According to celebrity chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur Robert Irvine, “Part of the problem is that they don’t have the systems and processes in place to track the key aspects of their business – not only their costs and their revenue, but what items sell the best (and by how much), what items are most profitable, who are the most productive employees, and so on.”
For many owners – such as the chef-owner whose passion is cooking or the bar owner who thrives on customer interaction and keeping his “regulars” happy – tracking these business operations is not their forte. But a restaurant or bar is a business and – like any other business – it needs to make money if it is going to survive. Keeping a close eye on where the money goes, and where it comes from, is an important part of running a profitable business.
Fortunately, there are many software packages and systems that are specifically designed to help manage restaurants and bars more easily and efficiently. These tools can bring a level of automation to the business and help operations run more smoothly. Real-time inventory management systems enable owners to use mobile devices to automatically re-order items when the supply gets low; this prevents shortages of key ingredients while minimizing over-ordering. Food orders and supplier payments can now be done directly online, making accounts payable faster and easier, and also making suppliers happier in the process. Online time cards and schedule management software can improve employee management – servers can log in to a secure site to see their schedules and changes are immediately updated. And employee announcements can be delivered through the system so that important information, such as changes to the menu, can be quickly communicated to the entire staff.
Technology can also improve order-taking. Many restaurants and bars now take orders on tablets and other mobile devices – no paper is involved – and those orders are sent to the kitchen immediately over the network. As a result, the process moves faster, there are fewer errors and there is less chance of an order being lost.