It’s exciting to be in the restaurant space. Food, drink, and technology trends have people excited. You’re excited. I’m excited. We’re all really excited. But we’re also all getting exhausted. As the trends in dining and drinking shift and reshape every few months, it’s important to think about what changes are happening in the business of managing a restaurant. How are the duties and responsibilities of restaurant managers changing, too. What new ideas and tools are coming out that are important for managers to have a grasp on and use. What does the future mean for restaurant managers? Let’s take a look.
Changes in Communication
How managers communicate with their staff is changing significantly. It’s no longer just about pre-shift notes and the odd conversation on the pick-up line or at the drink well when service is slow. The prevalence of email, scheduling and communication apps like HotSchedules or When I Work , are all changing how restaurant managers share important information with employees. The best part is that management is no longer restricted on when they can send out vital information.
Benefits of online communication
Though communicating through a screen may mean more time sitting at your desk, it allows you to communicate better. Sure, nothing is more impactful than speaking to an individual in person; but we’re talking about communicating with your entire staff at the click of a button. You can get more information out to more people faster when using these communication platforms. And it can be more timely. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, you don’t need to wait until the next day, or the next time an employee is scheduled to work. Instant communication means what is important, doesn’t have to wait.
Ways to make the most of app based communication
The ability to share important information is necessary to keep staff informed, aware of service issues, and well trained. Here are a few useful ways to fully utilize digital communication.
- After Service Notes: Part of a manager’s closing duties should be to send off a quick message detailing any issues that popped up during service or a congratulations for a good night. The post-shift message benefits from the stresses or successes of that night’s service being fresh in everyone’s mind.
- Event Details: A big element of a successful restaurants often comes in the form of private dining. Buy-outs or corporate events will require specific styles of service, restricted product offerings, and an overall change to the normal service that staff provides. Nothing frustrates servers more than coming into work being hit with a 50 person party that has a custom cocktail. Circumvent this frustration by getting event details out ahead of time with an email or message that breaks down the components of the event.
- Product Information: Using email or app communication to send out tasting notes for new wines, details on a new food menu, or quizes on new cocktails will help keep your staff better informed and trained. Being well trained will lead to better sales for the restaurant.
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As both sterile corporate chains idiosyncratic indie hot spots embrace new technologies to improve their day to day operations, it’s important to stay up to date on new technology and what software or service could actually help your restaurant.
It’s important to recognize that not every app or service will be useful for you, you’ve got to make sure you get the right return on the restaurant technology you invest in.
Analyzing the restaurant tech space
It’s really important to understand new tech services and how they relate to your restaurant. What is the role of restaurant manager? On the highest level? To progress the quality and profitability of your restaurant. As new tech integrates itself into the machinery of daily restaurant operations, it’s the duty of good managers to be aware of what new technologies are available to progress the quality and profitability of their restaurant.
Consider your style of service, what characteristics does it have? Do you have a large wine and beverage program that takes a lot of aches and pains to maintain? Maybe a service like Uncorkd beverage management can help you manage your program and increase wine and beverage sales.
Do you have difficulty retaining customers and turning them into repeat visitors? Do you lack marketing outreach? Maybe a service like Upserve that compiles data on customers can help stabilize your store traffic.
The point is, you need to consider what technology will work best for you. Be discerning. Be smart. Don’t swoon at the release of the latest “disruptive” idea.
Resources to find the latest tech trends
To keep up on tech in the restaurant space, it takes some effort. But there are insightul (and free!) resources to stay current on the latest trends. Here are just a few.
- Modern Restaurant Management is a great website that covers every aspect of managing a restaurant. MRM is broken up into different sections like Operations, Finance, and Marketing so you can easily find the latest insights on any management topic you want guidance on.
- SkiftTable f/k/a Chefs+Tech is a great newsletter for keeping up on the cutting edge tech and novel ideas that are looking to reshape the way restaurants do business. The newsletter provides short analysis on headline worthy stories and also provides links to interesting stories in different corners of the web.
- Toast POS hosts a company blog that excels in providing great content for restaurateurs looking to gain an edge in business and progress along with the restaurant industry.
- Uncorkd and our newsletter Amuse Busch will provide you with original content each week as well as tech features and news stories that will impact your restaurant. (What is time really worth if you aren’t plugging your own stuff?)
A cousin of technology, or really, the offspring of restaurant technology, is data. Familiarizing yourself with how you can use data to influence your decision will help you understand how to use data to your advantage. You don’t need to be a data scientist or analyst to glean useful insights from the numbers and trends that populate data reports.
A Simple Data Parable
For example, Uncorkd tracks menu analytics through customer behavior on the digital menus that our customers use. Restaurant managers using Uncorkd can see which menu items their customers clicked on.
If there is an item that isn’t selling, you can see how many clicks it’s getting. If it has a low number of clicks, then consider why that might be. Will moving the item further up on the menu generate more views? Is this price too high? Is it something that your customer base just isn’t interested in?
Restaurant data isn’t the end point. It’s really the launching pad for your strategy and decision making. Understanding how to utilize these numbers will only help you become a more effective decision maker. As restaurants of all types become more adept at making data-driven decisions, your ability or inability to successful consult data will play a big role in your future.
Your suppliers are at your front door. That isn’t a tagline for a new restaurant themed horror movie. It means that your beer producers, wine makers, produce farmers, and beef purveyors are becoming more local. It’s been that way for a while now.
It has also changed how restaurants interact with their communities and market their restaurant identity. You don’t need to be a community organizer, but it pays to be in touch and build relationship with your local producers.
Restaurants and bars are working more directly with the brewers that make the beer running through their tap lines and filling their coolers, or the ranchers that provide the meat for charcuterie boards. It’s important to make connections with these producers because it allows you make in roads with their own loyal customers and followers.
We mentioned above that private dining and events are a great way to generate more sales and build your customer base. Well, partnering with other local business by throwing beer pairing dinners, or wine tastings, or even music themed nights is a fun way to build partnerships and reach more customers.
Part of your job as a restaurant manager will be to cultivate and explore these relationships, utilizing them to benefit yourself and the brands you believe in.
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