There are two kinds of back offices in a restaurant.
There's the one that's so uncomfortably crowded it barely fits the manager, a desk and a Blu-ray copy of Chef. Then, there's the virtual back office – this is the restaurant operations system that literally creates the playbook and task lists for the manager on a daily basis.
There's no doubt that a manager’s back office is a necessity. An operator needs a private, secure place for a slew of reasons. But, there's a reason why franchise floor plans call for them to be so tiny – they cost the business valuable square-footage where more tables with paying guests could be.
The virtual back office, however, is SaaS (Software as a Service) which means it is a web-based application and has a "zero-footprint". SaaS ensures a low cost of ownership (they're subscription-based) and a high degree of scalability for your growing business. Operating a "zero-footprint" back office software system means your business requires no local components to download or install. There's no additional hardware or software needed from what you already own, assuming the restaurant already has a computer with access to the Internet and a web browser to get there.
Profiting from the BOH
When the physical and virtual back offices collide, they combine into something very special: significant profit increases.
A well-designed back office solution will generate between a 2-to-5% reduction of costs shortly after their implementation.
For example: $1,000,000 in annual sales multiplied by 300 units multiplied by a conservative 2.5% labor and food cost savings will generate $7,500,000 per year to the company bottom line. Now, that is how you maximize your back office value!
While not all systems are equal in terms of their depth and breadth of problem solving, most will work with just about any existing POS system, even if you have multiple types of POS throughout your enterprise. The best back office systems will also connect your accounting, HR and payroll systems as well as all your vendors for seamless ordering, receiving, and reconciliation.
A restaurant's back office system should include all the operation modules - food inventory, labor, supply chain, production, vendor, etc. - within the solution. This makes training, roll-out and operation faster and less of a resource burden. Consolidating your virtual back office functions into a streamlined workflow is just as important as ensuring that your physical back office is clean, clutter-free, and well-organized. Because there's no additional hardware that needs to take up space and all systems integrate together seamlessly, there’s a streamlining effect that makes that tiny back room feel a lot more spacious.
There is one other trait that both physical and virtual back offices share: corporate headquarters want neither to dominate a manager's valuable time. They want managers out in the front of the house and making each of their guest's experience a spectacular one -- just like Jon Favreau. After all, your team was hired because they’re restaurant people, not accountants.