Sara Kwiatkowski, Digital Product Manager, Gordon Food Service
Since the last few years, the food industry is witnessing a rapid technological revolution that is transforming restaurant management processes. From the cash registers to the kitchens, technology is becoming an integral part of the restaurant operation. Innovators across the market, including trailblazing start-ups, are continually inventing new solutions designed to make restaurant management easier, faster, and profitable. The once out-of-reach digital solutions are becoming everyday necessities for the food and beverage services industry. Restaurant businesses are getting inundated with different vendors and incorporating robust systems to simplify their inventory management and boost profitability while enhancing the consumer experience.
Understanding Where Your Business Stands
However, the multitude of options in the marketplace can sometimes be overwhelming for businesses. They can often be blinded by the packaging of solutions and end up paying excessive prices for functionalities they might never use. Hence, the criticalfactor of success lies in recognizing the inventory levels and making purchase decisions accordingly.
Considering the pace at which the restaurant sector is moving, the turnover rate is still a big problem in the industry. As a result, businesses have to regularly retrain their staff on tracking the inventory, not only for tax purposes but also to refresh the stock orders when they are running low.
In many instances, we have provided clients in the restaurant space with food costing software designed to enhance their inventory processes. Every time the menu details are updated into the system, clients can quickly determine the products that are profitable for the restaurant—differentiating profitable products from those that do not play a crucial role in profitability. When we consider the data at the point of sale and compare the theoretical food cost with the actual food cost, the clients often see significant variances in their inventory results. The main challenge for customers is in reducing the variance in inventory, and this is where we try to make a difference.
Focus on Profitability—Leverage Business Data
Although profit is one of the primary factors for food service businesses, they often miss out on opportunities due to several small factors. It could be wastage of food, poor cost optimization, inventory failure, and so on. In such cases, data analytics can hold the answer to many of the profitability challenges faced by restaurants. Accounting all these different factors will require robust information management systems so that clients can visualize the shortcomings. For instance, if an item on the menu is not selling as expected, it could be because of quality. In this case, the restaurants can switch to another vendor that can deliver better produce.
Adapting to Consumer Preference
Besides inventory optimization, restaurants should possess agility in terms of perceiving consumer behavior as well. Often, businesses undercharge or overcharge particular products without proper analysis to back it up. If we consider appetizers, it is easy to infer the popularity of certain products over others. If this data is plugged into the food costing system, the clients can quickly determine the variance in their current costs compared to what they are supposed to charge for the products. Food popularity fluctuates all the time, and hence, restaurants should be reevaluating their menu on an annual basis and ensure that the products are priced accordingly. This all comes within the umbrella of cost solutions such as ours. We present the data in ‘black and white’ for clients to view the final numbers. Because, in the end, the margin number is what matters to the client.
Paving the Way for Touchless Services
Food costing and inventory is only the tip of the iceberg. Restaurant technology is evolving rapidly, expanding into food packaging and processing. For instance, we have rolled out a voice assistant solution to tackle the upcoming challenges in the sector. Given the pandemic, contactless interfaces are becoming even more valuable in the food sector. I believe voice technology will rapidly flourish in the food industry and permeate into parallel applications. The incorporation of voice inventory, voice recipe costing, voice invoice, and other functionalities will go a long way in reducing contamination in the restaurant workspace, and thus, staunch the spread of the virus. Thus, in the next few years, I am fairly certain contactless technologies will reign the food processing and packaging sector.