How back-office restaurant software enhances the guest experience
December 5, 2018 food operations management, labor operations management
Restaurant management software's role in connecting back office operations with front of house guest experiences is bigger than you might think.
When you think about restaurant software for the guest experience, you think about customer engagement tools. Online ordering and loyalty platforms are more in line with the guest experience than back office solutions for labor and inventory management. If your 2019 initiatives involve improving the guest experience, your technology investments might align more with the front-of-house than the back office. But your back office tools have more to do with the guest experience than you realize.
Investing in tools that make it easier for guests to order, receive, and pay for their meals is certainly important. The thought is simple: better guest-facing tools produce better experiences. This is true, and your software investments should be made with guest engagement in mind. But back of house systems control the restaurant's guts. Without a solid infrastructure, your back office becomes chaotic, and guests will pick up on that. In short, if your back office is in disarray, guests will have bad experiences.
How Labor and Inventory Management Tools Enhance the Guest Experience
I visited a popular coffee shop for breakfast earlier this year on the first Friday of Lent. I ordered a vegetarian breakfast wrap since I couldn't eat meat that day. Although my mobile order was accepted and I paid for the wrap, it was unavailable when I arrived to pick it up. The coffee shop had run out of vegetarian breakfast wraps by 9:00 that morning. I had to now wait in line to receive a refund, even though I placed the mobile order because I didn't have time to wait in line. This was not a good guest experience.
I explained to the barista that many people weren't eating meat today. She responded, "now I know why they sold so quickly, I wish we were better prepared". Had the coffee shop used tools to better manage its inventory, it would not have run out so quickly. Instead, guests had a bad experience because sales forecasts and inventory levels were off.
Labor management tools also fall under the realm of restaurant software for the guest experience. Last week we shared stories about visiting understaffed restaurants over the holidays. Restaurants that don't optimize their schedules tend to produce bad guest experiences. Guest traffic is erratic during the holiday season, which makes your forecast data critical. Identifying how many hours each team member should have worked can improve forecast accuracy reduce staffing nightmares.
Ultimately, when you think about restaurant software for the guest experience, you should be thinking about your data. Using data to target guests with relevant engagement can nurture relationships. Your data can also help improve BOH operations. When you have easy access to accurate information, you will run a more efficient back office. This will almost always translate to a better front of house, and a more pleasant guest experience.