Ask an Expert: What Management Software Do Restaurants Need Right Now?
Over 100,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term during the pandemic, and the prospects of desperately needed government relief aren’t looking good. With reduced staff and higher operational costs, flexible restaurant management software helps restaurateurs adapt quickly to new challenges. We tapped a restaurant software expert, G2 Research Analyst Dominick Duda, to get his view on the tools that operators need.
The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How has the pandemic changed how restaurants are using software?
The biggest factor that we’ve seen is a huge spike in restaurant delivery and takeout software. Just looking at G2’s data, that category tripled its traffic from February to May.
Across the market, we’re seeing that restaurants that had some sort of off-premise delivery and takeout infrastructure in place are faring way better. They didn’t have to scramble to get that together. Platforms like ChowNow and Uber Eats and Grubhub have been important for businesses to tread water right now.
What restaurant management software will be critical for restaurants in 2021?
Now more than ever, restaurants need to build up a loyalty program if they don’t already have it. There will be customers that support their local businesses, but restaurants should go that extra mile to not only reward customers, but to also dig into each customer’s preferences. Making the effort to really understand their customer base, especially at a time when they’re trying to retain and attract new ones, will be really important.
Which digital tools will be popular for on-premise dining?
Contactless will be big—a lot of industries are going to be more contactless, with contactless payments and self-order kiosks. A few restaurants have already had that in place prior to this, but that’s going to be important going forward.
A smaller mom-and-pop restaurant won’t have the kind of budget as Applebee’s or Olive Garden. Those chains have had contactless ordering and kiosks in place. Smaller restaurants that don’t have these technologies may now feel a pressure to catch up.
It’s a huge expense because that’s both hardware and software that you’re having to buy now. Then you need to really learn it from a staff side, and hope that those staff members can help customers.
I’ve also seen a lot of QR code technology popping up, and that is going to be the newer way to order and pay. Given that we can access things a lot faster through our phones, more restaurants are going to have to go the Google Pay, Apple Pay, or mobile pay route.
How can restaurateurs prepare their back of house?
As restaurants are scaling back and becoming more critical about staffing, it’ll be important to have a kitchen display system to save time on labor and help them with allocating. This will help to keep staff out of each other’s way more and eliminate the need for paper ticketing by having that digital infrastructure in place to sync together all of their ordering platforms.
The latest data shows that over 50 million people next year will be using mobile apps to order food. We’re going more and more towards digital ordering. Restaurant-goers are going to want the quickest, most efficient experience with their meal, especially with takeout and delivery.
Your Restaurant Management Software Reading List
Get more recommendations from ChowNow for managing your restaurant during this unprecedented time.
- 5 Tips for Safely Running Your Restaurant in 2020
- How to Find the Best Online Ordering System for Your Restaurant
- Introducing Contactless Dine-In from ChowNow
- Meet ChowNow’s Free Loyalty Program for Restaurants, Loyal Local