Mobile Apps Extend the Foodservice Back-Office to the Team and Beyond
April 3, 2020 food operations management, labor operations management, data analytics and reporting
From inventory management and scheduling to cloud-enablement and automation, mobile innovations are operational drivers for speed and efficiency.
Restaurant operators and c-stores offering foodservice have made great strides in the past few years to leverage individual technology solutions that power the back-of-house. New tech initiatives are driving significant efficiency and cost-savings through better inventory and supply chain management, shift scheduling and sales forecasting, while ensuring menu and foot prep consistency and safety. We’ve seen the back-office evolve, as individual restaurant technology has merged into more integrated restaurant management systems that create more efficiency.
Mobile inventory management is a key driver of technology maturity
An overwhelming majority of restaurant owners and managers agree that their guest-facing mobile apps promote loyalty, improve speed of service and drive repeat business. Yet key indicators show that integrated mobile inventory management is a key indicator of mobile maturity. Restaurant operators should explore automation and cloud-enablement of the back-of-house.
A recent Oracle Food & Beverage research study to Benchmark Mobility Maturity in the Restaurant Industry asked restaurant owners and operators to rate their mobile strategy. Oracle found that:
- 89% of respondents believe their mobile strategy will drive sales growth.
- 84% believe it reduces their labor costs.
- 96% believe mobile will save time and money on back end functions.
The top-scoring responses dealing with the use of mobile inventory management, however, Oracle’s research found that only 35% of respondents were confident in their ability to prepare for a mobile tomorrow while meeting the demands of their customers today. Oracle concluded that this shift may signal a change in approach, where instead of targeting granular improvements in speed of service or ticket averages individually, food and beverage executives are taking a more holistic view. Mobile initiatives are shifting to address large-scale improvements that can yield larger shifts in bottom line efficiency. For instance, expanded mobile inventory management is expected to drive time and money savings, with 96% of respondents agreeing and 40% strongly agreeing with the sentiment.
Expanded mobile inventory management is expected to drive time and money savings, with 96% of respondents agreeing and 40% strongly agreeing with the sentiment.
Decentralizing information and mobile's shift to real-world, team-based operations
The evolution of foodservice mobile strategy is shifting to focus upon operations. Brands are taking all the centralized knowledge of a restaurant management system and distributing that knowledge into mobile solutions. This puts the decentralized information into the hands of the people who need it most, when and where they need it, to do their jobs faster, more accurately, and with greater control. Mobile is creating better workflows with more visibility and better efficiencies, streamlining each individual staff member’s daily tasks.
Mobile innovations are helping restaurants to stay in control and run a more efficient and profitable operation from the front of house to the back. At the brand level, standards can be implemented, flowing down from the corporate office to individual store locations. Mobile brings a steady flow of critical information out from the back office and into the hands of general managers, so they know what’s happening in their stores right now—and can act immediately to take action when it makes sense.
GMs are better informed to make key decisions for their restaurant based upon real-time information pushed right to their mobile device. They identify and act upon opportunities to save on costs and make improvements in every aspect of the business: from supplier management; to inventory counting; ordering and receiving goods; food preparation and safety; sales forecasting; and even labor and shift scheduling. GMs can leverage mobile dashboards to truly understand their business, measuring performance of real-time KPIs for sales, food and labor costs, forecast variance, and more.
GMs are better informed to make key decisions for their restaurant based upon real-time information pushed right to their mobile device.
Managers can run sales reports while on the floor, reviewing sales for their location and comparing them to other locations with consolidated, real-time mobile access. In addition to consistency and cost savings, mobile apps create efficiencies that extend out to the floor, benefitting both staff and customers. In fact, the newest generation of restaurant workers have a mobile-first mentality and have fully embraced the move to mobile. They are rising through the ranks, and a mobile app on their phone is not only more efficient, it’s how they want to work and communicate.
So where are the best opportunities to embrace mobile technology in restaurants and c-stores offering foodservice?
We touched upon labor, where mobile solutions help to create optimized schedules. Schedules can be uploaded immediately to the back-end by managers, and then pushed out to staff members individually. Changes are made in real-time for calling in sick or scheduling a day off, as a good mobile scheduling solution makes everything visible and dynamic. Staff can see who they are working with. Managers can talk directly to employees through the app rather than playing telephone tag or reaching out by email. The labor app becomes an employee portal and a vital communication platform, delivered right to employees personal smartphones, in the format they want to use it.
Mobile also makes it so much easier to do inventory that the whole back of house depends upon, to really drive value for the business. Take the most up-to-date PARs with you into the walk-in, and those inventory counts are updated immediately and automatically into the back end. This gets orders in faster, and avoids downfalls of losing count, or even losing a full count sheet. It eliminates the extra work of entering hundreds, or even thousands of items after the count. Greater efficiency means inventory can be done more often, or the job can be split up and completed simultaneously by two or three staff at a single location.
Reconciliation is another opportunity, as mobile inventory will streamline restaurant operations. Quickly and accurately receive vendor deliveries with a cost-saving mobile app that receives vendor orders and adds to inventory, as vendor reconciliation can be done all from the convenience of a mobile device. Take photos of product, and invoices, or scan them directly with a UPC barcode scanner.
To ensure safe and consistent product, leverage a mobile food safety solution to quickly guide staff through important restaurant food safety tasks and checklists. This simplifies the process for employees to do line checks. Customized checks ensure that restaurant staff is consistent with cleanliness, food temps, quality standards, delivery time, and more. Updates are easy to incorporate when new laws, regulations or standards are implemented, and a digital solution provides a trail of compliance.
Handheld devices for payment drive faster turnover, and digital solutions mean no need for paper and printing. It saves time for both staff AND guests, who seldom pay with cash, but want the convenience and speed of paying by credit cards or digital wallets like Apple Pay.
The Oracle study concluded that integrating guest service and inventory management on the same device allows food and beverage organizations to streamline processes, integrate front and back of house functions, and increase the ROI of their mobile utilization. Mobile innovations are indeed driving an evolution of back-office technology, extending key aspects of restaurant management right into the hands of the employees doing the work on the floor. It’s time to empower your staff with technology to do their jobs better, with mobile solutions that make life easier for employees, and more profitable for the business.
# # #
Learn more about CrunchTime’s suite of mobile solutions and how to empower your back-office operations by putting the power of CrunchTime in employees’ hands. Get real-time mobile updates and alerts from the CrunchTime Impact app. Keep inventory operations running smoothly with the easy-to-use Counter and Reconciler apps. Deploy Line Check to ensure food safety standards are met consistently across all your restaurants. And keep employees happy with CrunchTime’s mobile labor solutions that simplify scheduling and shift-swapping, right from the convenience of staff members’ own smartphones.