Most restaurateurs dream of one day expanding their operations to new locations, putting their cuisine and vision within reach of new communities and diners.
Opening a new restaurant location is a big undertaking and requires a lot of research and planning, as we wrote in our post Considering Opening a Second Restaurant Location? Here's What You Should Know.
But even if you’re not ready to expand anytime soon, choosing software programs that are equipped to handle an eventual expansion is a smart move. Trying to switch your POS, accounting, and inventory software to accommodate your growth in the midst of an expansion is an unnecessary headache — especially because there are so many top-of-the-line, growth-friendly programs on the market today.
Cloud systems, in particular, have plenty of advantages over legacy software or ERP systems, which are usually too complex and expensive for the needs of the average restaurateur. By contrast, with cloud-based software, restaurateurs can get started without any significant upfront costs and can add more features over time.
So, if you’re searching for restaurant software that’s growth-friendly, here are five questions to ask as you evaluate your options:
How easy is it to add a new restaurant location?
This is perhaps the simplest step in evaluating a software program’s ability to handle your restaurant’s operations as you scale up. Even though you’ll only have to add each new location one time, it can be a big undertaking if the task isn’t automated. Some restaurateurs may even find themselves in a period of rapid growth, adding many locations at once. They’ll find the ability to quickly add new locations especially valuable.
In fact, one of our Cloudscape Technologies clients who started with a single location and has since grown to 16 locations in just a few years told us that setting up the tech for a new store used to take a full day — and now it just takes 20 minutes.
The restaurant POS programs on the market make it possible to duplicate everything (menus, hours, inventory, etc.) from your existing location to the new one, then make modifications for each new location as necessary.
Can managers access data from all locations in one place?
We’ve come a long way from the days when transaction records were stored on individual cash registers. With that kind of hardware, data and cash had to be reconciled with the other registers for managers to get a clear idea of how much money they were making.
These days, the best POS software on the market for restaurants makes it easy to not only see how each register and employee is doing in real-time, but how each restaurant location is doing.
Managers should be able to see financial and operational data from multiple restaurant locations in real-time easily, both combined and individually, and see how locations compare to one another for any given metric.
As you’re checking out software options, ask to see samples of dashboards for restaurants with multiple locations.
How are common management tasks handled across multiple locations?
Thanks to modern software, today’s restaurateurs are able to make changes to their restaurants across the board for every location they own.
And because modern software is hosted by professional hosting companies and accessible via the internet, owners and managers can make these changes from anywhere — whether they’re sitting on their couch at home or even across the ocean from their restaurants.
Managers should be able to make changes to menus, or to employee and vendor data, easily across the board. For example, when an employee account is added or removed, it should also be added or removed completely from all locations or just from single locations.
Related post: 5 Mistakes Restaurateurs Make When Choosing a POS System
Managers from any location should be able to access employee details such as contact information, training records, hourly pay rate, evaluation history, and special skills. Employees should indicate which locations they are available to work, and see one schedule for all locations (and not separate schedules for each one).
For their part, managers of any location should be able to access any employee details that could affect their scheduling, such as experience level or age.
How consistent is the customer experience across multiple locations?
Especially if your locations are located within a reasonable distance of each other, your customers may visit various locations throughout their relationship with your company.
If you have a marketing system in place for your customers, they should be able to earn loyalty points and rewards from any location. If you track their activity, they should also be able to view their purchases and dining histories for all locations in the same place. (This is also helpful for managers and marketers trying to get a clearer idea of each customer’s relationship with your restaurant).
A consistent customer experience is also important when it comes to gift cards. Your customers should be able to purchase a gift card online or at any individual restaurant location with confidence that they can use it at any location.
Don’t forget that with growth often comes new ideas about how to diversify your income. If you ever hope to sell a few retail retail products in your restaurants(such as branded apparel and merchandise or signature food and beverage products), your customers should also get a consistent experience for those purchases. That means being able to see retail purchases alongside dining purchases, and being able to use gift cards for retail purchases in addition to dining purchases.
Someday you might also want to be able to sell your signature products online, too — and modern software should be able to handle that easily when the time comes.
Choosing Software Can be a Challenge
The bottom line is that scalability and growth are an inherent part of a restaurant business. Technology should facilitate that and not impede it.
Technology changes all the time, and sifting through various options available to find the right system for your restaurant can be a huge distraction. That’s why more restaurant owners are choosing to leverage the expertise of cloud system experts like those at Cloudscape Technologies.
Scalability and growth are an inherent part of a restaurant business. Technology should facilitate that and not impede it.
Cloudscape was built with love in Dubai by retail veterans on a mission: helping inventory based business owners do more with modern technology. Our team is certified with industry leading software vendors to make sure that your new cloud-based systems are fully up and running, and that your staff knows exactly how to use them.
We love to help restaurant owners see the enormous time savings that cloud-based software can provide. Click here to get in touch with us.