Top 3 Tips for Independent Restaurants

by Alistair Coats

It’s day one of Restaurant Tech Live, where we are exhibiting Spoonfed and seeing the latest ideas that will be shaping the future of the restaurant industry.

Today, our co-founder and MD Willie Biggart spoke at RTL on a panel about ‘Shaping the Restaurant of Tomorrow’. One of the topics that came up was what independent restaurants can do to compete in such a fast-paced industry, taking into account a minimal budget.

Here are Spoonfed’s top 3 tips for restaurants - based on our own experience running a catering company and now providing software. These tips are great for restaurateurs just starting out, but are good advice for any size of business:

  1. Automate your processes Time and staff are limited. Your fingers might be in all the pies, so avoiding manual processes is crucial to making your business work.
  2. Know what your customers want Track menu popularity, maintain close relationships with your customers and respond to changes in demand. Contact customers that are slipping away or are particularly loyal.
  3. Spend time finding a system that works for you When you’re swamped with work, looking for software can feel like wasted time, but it’s an investment. If you get it right, it’ll pay off in revenues down the line.

This last point is worth expanding on, as a lot will depend on what kind of system you decide on. In both time and money, you need to invest in the chosen solution, so it’s important to get it right first time.

Choosing a Catering Management System

Sometimes the more research you do, the harder making a decision can become. There are a lot of systems on the market, with different capabilities and different prices. Looking at the return on investment from a system, you need to balance its cost with what you will get from it.

There are two main benefits to look at from a system:

  1. How much will it increase sales?

  2. How much will it reduce operating costs?

The first of these could involve marketing to customers, or the introduction of a loyalty scheme, providing valuable customer data to build your business on. The second one could involve avoiding waste, or it could mean introducing efficiencies that make it possible to run the business with fewer staff.

Choosing a system with the right balance of these two benefits can be hard enough to decide on. You then have to consider price as well

The Right Price

Fortunately, there are enough solutions out there to choose from that it probably won’t be necessary to create your own from scratch, like we did. Developing your own system takes more time and money than you’re probably budgeting for.

Most of the options you’ll be looking at will be Software as a Service (SaaS) - systems that are affordable to adopt and easy to back out of if things don’t work out.

Some systems offer convenience and a simple start up, but are likely to charge a lot more than others. Deliveroo and UberEats can be very quick to adopt and get up and running with, but are likely to take a large cut of your transaction value. Some restaurants will find this solution fine long term, others will appreciate it only during the early stages of their business, and others will decide against it altogether.

There’s no one-size-fits-all system for restaurants, but hopefully you’ll now have a better idea of what to look for. If you’d like to chat about whether our system will suit your needs, drop us a line at:

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