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The Simple Restaurant Tech Stack: A Minimalist Operator’s Guide

Restaurant Tech

Restaurants are spending more on technology each year, with 68% of operators believing their tech spend will increase in the future. While technology provides significant advantages to a restaurant environment, it also has the potential to drastically increase operating expenses through monthly or annual subscription fees. 

Restaurant owners interested in adding more technology to the business must be on the lookout for tech bloat – where you wind up paying multiple subscriptions for tools you don’t use in an over-complicated tech stack.

We’ve compiled the essential technology restaurant operators need for a lean restaurant tech stack: the most useful tools to make operations more efficient without adding unnecessary complexity.

In this guide, we’ll show you:

  • Which technology is necessary for efficient and effective front-of-house and back-of-house operations
  • How to build the right tech stack for your restaurant

By the end, you’ll be able to confidently build a lean restaurant tech stack, avoid tech bloat, and save money on subscriptions. 

Let’s get into it.

Essential Restaurant Tech Stack for Streamlined Operations

The trick to avoiding tech bloat is to only invest in systems that offer real value and utility. Ideally, you should invest in the right tech stack from day one and avoid tech bloat altogether. 

(However, if down the road, you find your team isn’t using a piece of technology or it slows down daily operations, cancel that subscription!) 

Let’s take a look at the essential systems and why most fast-paced restaurants consider them indispensable.

POS Systems

Modern POS systems run in the cloud on multiple devices and are essential for a contemporary operation. 

A solid POS system handles everything from day-to-day management tasks, contactless payments, and reporting, to payroll, inventory and marketing. Some of these features may carry additional monthly costs, but they are all usually bundled into one subscription fee. This makes choosing a POS system a key factor in your ongoing quest to reduce tech bloat.

The right POS system can save time on every order, making life easier for your team and giving customers a memorable experience. 

Kitchen Display System (KDS)

Equally as important as the relationship between your restaurant manager and head chef is the technological link between the front and back of house. A kitchen display system (KDS) shows order information to chefs, allowing them to move orders between stations to keep track of every element of an order digitally. 

For a busy pizza restaurant with a large menu, for example, a KDS makes it far easier for chefs to quickly understand and prioritize orders, leading to faster service, fewer mistakes, and happier customers. 

Invest in a POS system with a built-in KDS as this will provide a seamless link between front and back of house and offers two of core tech systems in one subscription payment.

Online Ordering

With handheld devices in everyone’s pockets, customers expect to be able to order from your restaurant as conveniently as possible. However, from a FOH and BOH perspective, online ordering can quickly become tricky if not connected with your POS and KDS systems. 

Using a third-party online ordering system may come at a lower monthly rate, but increases the possibility of tech bloat through each transaction and processing fee. And, depending on the service, it may require different hardware such as a tablet device (taking up vital counter space in the process). 

Connecting your online ordering provider to your POS system allows you to automate the process of entering orders into your restaurant system. The best case scenario is to have orders from all channels automatically flowing into your POS and onwards into your KDS.

With a fully integrated online ordering platform, POS, and KDS system, you’ll provide a great, branded experience for customers and capture guest data to drive loyalty and encourage repeat business.

You can also take your online ordering to the next level by integrating text and voice ordering into your POS system.

Food Delivery Management

Quick-service restaurants must offer delivery options to compete, especially in urban areas. Whether you plan to use your own drivers or a third-party service, delivery orders should be able to come directly into your POS system just like online orders.

If delivery is a significant part of your business, a delivery management tool is a must-have piece of restaurant tech. This allows you to:

  • Consolidate orders from multiple platforms
  • Avoid housing and charging multiple delivery tablets at the restaurant counter
  • Automatically push orders to your POS
  • Manage menus updates for multiple delivery platforms 
  • Centrally organize in-house delivery orders and drivers

Employee and Payroll Management

Many restaurant owners and managers couldn’t imagine life without their digital payroll and employee management systems. These tools make it far easier to plan and distribute weekly schedules and balance labor costs without complex calculations.

A digital employee management system, such as 7Shifts, Homebase, and Flip, can save you the cost of hiring a dedicated team to manage human resources admin. But in the interest of avoiding tech bloat, it would be ideal to have a system already included with your POS subscription.

Inventory Management

Today’s inventory systems are super intuitive. Some tech options include features to automatically order ingredients to PAR levels, access real-time supplier pricing data, and perform automated stock counts. 

Inventory management software also helps you track ingredient costs, costs per plate, and food waste in order to optimize your operations and save pennies on every dollar of ingredient spend.

Next Level Restaurant Tech to Keep Customers Coming Back for More

For those wanting to get even more from their tech stack, while still avoiding tech bloat, these tools make it easy to set up systems that keep customers engaged and hungry for more.

Automated Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to foster new customer relationships and build repeat business. Open rates for restaurant email marketing are around 20%, according to Mailchimp, giving an excellent opportunity to get your offers and special menus in front of your potential guests’ eyes.

Automated email marketing platforms can be set up and left to run, contacting customers based on their previous interactions and preferences. Send out a special birthday discount email, for example, or offer a complimentary reservation if they haven’t booked a table for a few weeks.

Best of all, these automated campaigns are connected to data the customer has consented to sharing, including:

  • Purchase behavior
  • Birthdate
  • Address
  • Payment types

This provides restaurants the opportunity to automatically send highly individualized deals, promotions, and messages to frequent visitors, new customers, and everyone in between.

Although automated email marketing requires upfront effort and resources, this strategy can be an effective tool in attracting new customers and keeping your most loyal patrons coming through the door.

Digital Loyalty Programs

A digital loyalty program tracks customer orders, monitors their purchase behaviors, and offers rewards when they perform specific actions or reach certain thresholds just like a physical punch card.

Digital loyalty systems can go further by reminding customers that one more order will gain them a reward, letting them see their progress online, and showing them relevant offers on their smartphones—all without needing hands-on support from restaurant operators. 

Trim Away the Fat for a Lean Restaurant Tech Stack

Once you’ve taken a good look at your restaurant tech subscriptions and (probably) realized you are spending too much on tools you don’t use, it’s time for a re-think about your most essential tools. 

One of the best ways to ensure you only pay for the tools you need is to invest in a complete restaurant management system: a tool that does everything you need and allows you to pay for only the features you use.

HungerRush 360 is a POS system built for busy restaurants with payment processing, online ordering, loyalty, hardware, and delivery management tools built-in — keeping the threat and expenses of tech bloat far, far away.  

Pare down your tech stack and avoid tech bloat with HungerRush 360. Get a demo today.

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