Restaurant Management Software – an overview
Restaurant management software tools are designed to automate the processes involved in running restaurants, cafes and other food outlets. Management of restaurants may require solutions such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) for marketing, HRM (Human Relationship Management) for staffing and human resources, and inventory management. However, there is also the need for more operational functionality, such as POS (point of sale) technology, billing and payment integration, and scheduling.
Automation of these tasks help ease the burden of management, whilst improving sales and the customer experience.
The 10 most popular Restaurant Management Software solutions
1. Toast POS is a robust solution for all types of food service business, including bars, quick service, and full-service restaurants.
For restaurants with table service, handheld tablets allow servers to easily take orders and process payments. Bars can track tabs, as well as look up drink receipts, helping to improve overall client satisfaction.
Toast POS presents each customer with fair tip percentages, encouraging them to tip fairly and more often. The system also creates an easy way for servers to split a bill. By creating a simple means of supporting multiple check preferences, servers are better able to accommodate the needs of each guest.
The software also comes fully equipped with a built-in loyalty program, making it simple for restaurants to reward their most frequent customers. In addition, the system can support physical and digital gift cards.
2. Touch Bistro is a mobile POS solution on the iPad designed for the restaurant industry. Staff can manage reservations, view the menu, and review sales reports with a few simple touches. Rather than servers having to move between clients and terminals for order management, they can stay with customers and submit orders instantly online to the kitchen and bar. This reduces errors and increases efficiency.
3. BlueCart streamlines and modernises the entire procurement process from end-to-end, reducing errors whilst improving the bottom line for restaurants and suppliers. Chefs use BlueCart to manage their whole back of house process from one web and mobile platform, with features like inventory management, budgeting and order check-in. Suppliers use BlueCart to automatically organise their incoming orders, manage their customers and organise deliveries.
The software is easy to use and comes with a range of analytical tools. Orders can be tracked in real-time, and supplier performance measured and compared.
BlueCart integrates with applications like QuickBooks.
4. OpenTable is a cloud-based restaurant management system that enables restaurant managers to accept online reservations and optimise seating arrangements. It is suitable for restaurants of all sizes.
The solution is available in two modules – Connect and Guest Center.
The Connect module records reservations, and can be configured to give guests information about offers and promotions. Automatic email and text notifications are sent to guests when they make a reservation. The tool also captures guest details like seating preferences, special occasions and other personal requirements.
The Guest Center module allows restaurant owners to replicate a floor plan on their mobile device. Managers can track table availability and monitor the turnaround time for each guest.
OpenTable also offers add-on modules to manage gifts, payments and private dining.
The gifts module allows guests to receive and send restaurant gift cards, whilst the payments module allows guests to make online payments through their mobile phone.
5. Zomato Base is a cloud-based Android POS system. The product has been launched by Zomato, better known as a restaurant search and discovery app and website, providing in-depth information for over 1.4 million restaurants across 25 countries. It is used by consumers to discover, rate and review restaurants, as well as create their own personal network of “foodies” for trusted recommendations.
As part of its plan to venture beyond the food listings/discovery space, Zomato Base allows restaurants to process debit and credit card payments, and manage their inventory.
6. Clover is an integrated POS system with custom hardware designed for several types of retailers. Businesses are able to run thousands of transactions safely and securely, access reports remotely on a merchant dashboard, and manage their inventory through a single solution. Clover replaces cash registers, terminals, receipt and label printers, and barcode scanners, and allows merchants to read Chip and PIN cards, swipe credit cards, and process Apple Pay and other mobile payment apps.
With the Clover dashboard a business can visualise key daily metrics in real-time. Other features include accounting, order tracking, menu editing and data reporting.
The program integrates with QuickBooks to help streamline the accounting process, includes a time clock to track clock-ins and outs, and manages purchase orders and vendor maintenance.
Clover is available in both web-based and server-based deployment versions, and offers a mobile POS option, as well as countertop units.
7. Shopkeep is an iPad-based POS for restaurants, bars, franchises and retail businesses. It is a multi-feature solution which offers tools to manage reservations, bookings, marketing, inventory, staff and payments. The touchscreen interface allows users to add and remove orders from a wish list. Users can also scan barcodes to add items to a shopping cart.
The software provides a built-in register to keep track of cheques and payments. Users can maintain multiple payment registers and split, merge, or transfer payments between different accounts. Retailers can manage large inventories and configure alerts to ensure they never run out of essential stock.
Shopkeep also offers tools to track employee working hours, and calculate their weekly and monthly payroll, as well as offering the provision to generate and add gift cards and promo tools.
The software integrates with multiple marketing tools, and has extensive reporting functionality.
8. Falcon.io is a cloud-based social media marketing and customer experience management solution which features tools for social media listening, engagement, publishing, measuring and customised data management.
The software helps marketers and companies deliver a personalised brand experience across touchpoints, based on customer profiles.
Falcon.io provides users with a content calendar that allows them to plan, create and schedule, content in collaboration with marketing teams. It also facilitates the creation of pages using the campaign builder which consists of predesigned templates.
The solution provides APIs which deliver social data, audience and content metrics, and integrates with existing CRM, CMS (Customer Management Systems) and analytical systems.
9. HotSchedules is an online management platform specifically designed for the restaurant industry that delivers scheduling, employee, talent and inventory management. The software enables restaurant owners to recruit employees, develop and share training courses with staff, track business productivity, and manage day-to-day operations.
HotSchedules’ logbook records employees’ check-in, and check-out times, daily notes, shift summaries and restaurant checklists in one place.
The software is mobile friendly and can be accessed on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices by downloading a mobile app from the appropriate online store.
10. Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based POS solution for restaurants with key features that include floor management, customer tracking, inventory tracking, gift card support, offline mode, and an iOS mobile app. It is suitable for full or quick-service restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cafes, and more.
The solution enables users to create and update their menus with photos and descriptions, and incorporate cooking options and toppings, which will automatically factor into the cost of a product. The system links communication between the kitchen, wait and host staff in real-time, so managers can control stock levels, track labour, and monitor sales reports.
Each customer can be assigned to their own seat, and staff can marge or move tables in real-time. Users can generate detailed sales and performance reports to track employee productivity, and monitor best-selling items, trends and customer habits.
How to choose the best Restaurant Management Software
Whilst there are a wide number of software solutions available on the market, some catering to one or more aspects of restaurant management, and others looking to provide a more end-to-end service, it is necessary to realise that restaurant POS systems can be expensive, not only in terms of cost, but in terms of set-up and training time. They can also detract from the main business of providing services to guests.
So it is important to decide on needs, requirements and affordability before choosing any solution. Insist on free trails and demos from vendors to test features and benefits, and look for online reviews from other restaurateurs. They provide valuable feedback as to how such systems actually work in practice, and can give indications regarding hidden costs and disadvantages, which the software provider is not willing to give.
Types of Restaurant Management Software
Restaurant management software is available in two types: solutions like HotSchedules which are designed to address one specific need, and more comprehensive products like BlueCart which aim to take care of all aspects of restaurant management.
Restaurant management software solutions are designed to automate processes involved in running restaurants, bars, cafes, night clubs and the like. Such programs offer a gamut of technological solutions from operational matters like table management, employee scheduling, billing, and menu ordering, to more comprehensive suites which encompass processes like CRM procurement and inventory management.
Although there are a wide range of industry specific applications available, they can be expensive and beyond the reach of smaller restaurants, bars and other such outlets. Therefore, make sure any proposed solution is both fit for purpose and within budget before committing to purchase.