You know the appeal of technology that enables touch-free interactions at the front of the house. But increasingly there are touch-free options that can help you manage the back of the house as well. If you have already graduated from manual, paper-and-pen checklists to tablets, this takes things a step further by allowing you to use an app to carry out voice-activated, touch-free, time-efficient inventory counting. On Dec. 8, the National Restaurant Association presented a webinar about this topic in conjunction with VoiceStar.ai and Orderscape.com if you’d like to learn more about the technology.
If you don’t regularly use video to promote your food, people and background story, listen up: A Brightcove study found that 76 percent of adults report that they make a purchase after watching a marketing video – and nearly half of consumers watch branded video on social media. As you prepare to ramp your business back up after the pandemic, consider creating a calendar of video content that you can share across your social media channels. There are a multitude of options to try. Record a mini cooking tutorial with your chef – or have him or her share favorite tips for using a seasonal ingredient. Talk about how you source food and make decisions about where to get the items you serve – or record your visit to a local farmer’s market or small supplier. Have a new staffer on board with an interesting life story? Record a brief interview with the person and ask questions that share a bit about his personality, background and professional role. How about your restaurant’s story – or the history behind your restaurant’s location? You can share promotional content too – like a contest to win an appetizer platter for the Superbowl or a house-brewed beer subscription for a month. The key is to find ways to share your restaurant’s authentic self and create useful or entertaining content that viewers will want to share. Look at this winter as a time to build your brand and strengthen customer loyalty for when people feel safe returning in bigger numbers.
Times of challenge spark new ideas and we’re about to see an innovation boom in the restaurant industry – particularly when it comes to ghost kitchens. Technology companies, having assessed how the pandemic has forced restaurants to transform their sales models, streamline delivery and curbside pick-up, address labor challenges and take additional precautions to protect safety, are finding opportunities to help restaurants whittle down their operations so they can excel in those areas. Specifically, look for more opportunities for turnkey restaurant-in-a-box solutions that give operators the hardware, software and management technology to set up a mobile shop in a parking lot (and in the process, decrease the cost and risk of starting a business). Restaurant Technology News reports that companies like Reef Technology are focusing on “proximity-as-a-service” platforms for organizations ranging from restaurants to retailers to even healthcare testing centers. While such solutions lower the barriers to entry for people with little experience, they can also help experienced operators dip their toe in the water with ghost kitchens to determine their ideal sales model going forward.
As we wind down the year (and one for the history books at that), take a moment to review where you are as a business – and what changes need to happen for it to keep pace with the rapidly changing times. As the Spoon reported recently, digital sales will comprise 54 percent of all quick-service and limited-service restaurant sales by 2025, according to research from Incisiv. That’s a 70 percent leap from where we were before the pandemic. If your restaurant has been delaying the adoption of tech – particularly to help streamline guest ordering and fulfillment – it’s no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have feature that will help your restaurant survive. Talk to Team Four about how you can take small steps to adopt technology to bring more efficiencies to order management in 2021.
What kitchen tasks do you wish you could automate? Even if you haven’t contemplated bringing in a robot – or some kind of technology to help with repetitive tasks – a growing number of brands are doing so as a result of the pandemic. As a result, they are creating efficiencies that are likely going to give them a competitive advantage down the line. New research from Research Nester found that the market for cooking robots is likely to grow more than 16 percent between now and 2028 – and have a market valuation (now $86 million) of $322 million by 2028. The good news is that as automation becomes more widespread, it could also become more financially accessible for smaller operators.
From tech-enabled, touch-free food pickups to streamlined mobile ordering, front-of-house technology tends to garner the most headlines. But how you use technology in the back of house is likely even more important – and should be a key area of focus for operators in the next year. It’s all about efficiency. Your back-of-house systems are the foundation of your front-of-house success: They can help you monitor your inventory; build, price and adjust your menu effectively; place orders based on available supply; and predict demand to help you adjust staffing levels. Identify an area of waste in your back-of-house operation and there is likely technology available that can help you measure, monitor and address it before it becomes a serious concern. And at a time as challenging as the one restaurants are experiencing now, every little bit of efficiency helps.
Food subscriptions are on the rise for everything from coffee to donuts to ice cream. More than one-third of Americans say they will increase the number of subscription services they use – and more restaurant operators are embracing them as an additional income stream that can help sustain sales during an uncertain time. Now technology has come to market that can help operators create and manage their own subscription programs. Paytronix, for one, is now offering a platform that includes customer targeting to help boost signups, as well as tracking recurring payments, automating messaging for reminders and managing rewards to help build loyalty.