There are a nearly limitless number of digital tools available to restaurateurs these days. On the surface, this is a massive boon for restaurant owners – no matter your needs, there’s a tool to accommodate them. But with endless options, determining which tools are right for you can seem impossible. Don’t panic! Enclosed here are some of the best digital tools in the game, and learning how to implement them in your restaurant can bring your business’s operations to the next level.
Graphic design requires a particular level of talent that can seem daunting to approach from the outside. Often, the easiest solution is to hire a graphic designer or a firm to curate your restaurant’s branding. But designers can be expensive and often require time to produce a polished piece of work. If you’ve got some initial branding done already, consider using a digital tool to turn out some slick work in no time.
MustHaveMenus is a dream come true when it comes to saving time and money on design. The design website has literally thousands of templates just for menus. On top of that, they have templates for digital menus, a QR code creator, a link page tool, plus templates for flyers, posters, social media posts, and more. The website even provides custom tools for making holiday special menus and promotions.
MustHaveMenus also starts at the low, low price of free, with a paid subscription only costing $16 monthly for an effectively limitless amount of content. If you’re hoping to churn out branded content consistently and need a quick and user-friendly solution, MustHaveMenus is the best arrow in your quiver by a mile.
Point of Sale Systems
Your POS system is your restaurant’s beating heart. After all, if you can’t make sales, you’re not running a business! In the current climate, it’s best to have a cloud-based POS system integrated into online usage. There are lots of options for cloud-based computing, but Toast is among the cream of the crop.
Conventional wisdom warns against tools that do it all, but whoever started that particular line of logic probably never got their hands on Toast. Toast is an easy and adaptable cloud-based POS system with a connected kitchen display and management platform, but this barely scratches the surface. Toast has proprietary handheld ordering hardware for your servers, self-ordering kiosks for your guests, a payment processing system, an online ordering platform, integration with third-party delivery platforms, and even integrated tools for payroll management and staff scheduling. Based purely on versatility, it’s nearly impossible to beat Toast; there are many cloud-based POS platforms, some of which are great, but Toast is staggeringly versatile and multifaceted.
Digitized reservation systems are nothing new; in fact, they’ve been around for nearly twenty years now. But in the same way that the internet has radically altered POS systems (have you heard about Toast?), it’s had a colossal impact on reservation platforms as well. There are a host of different reservation systems powered by cloud-based platforms, but Resy is one of the best.
As reservation platforms go, Resy is hard to beat on both the customer-facing and internal fronts. From a diner’s perspective, Resy brings the convenience of easy booking online and shows all available reservation times for a specific party size. It also features reminders and a saved profile that travels from one restaurant to another, which can be incredibly useful for crucial details like allergies, birthdays, or anniversaries. But the restaurant end is where Resy shines.
Resy’s app provides a mapping system that ensures dining times don’t overlap (unless guests simply linger for an extended period) and a system that automatically assigns reservations based on capacity within a specific time frame. It also has special management tools that allow you to restrict reservations to a particular group of diners (very helpful for events). On top of that, you can manage your waitlist and call-aheads, ensure servers stay in a seating rotation with similar guest counts, and utilize analytics to ensure you become even more efficient over time.
While OpenTable, SevenRooms, and Tock all provide similar features, Resy’s suite of capabilities and the ways they synergize is above and beyond.
Online Ordering Platforms
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ordering online from favorite local restaurants is more popular than ever before. Having a presence on a third-party platform like UberEats is all well and good, but ideally, you should have a place for your guests to order when they visit your website. Several different services offer this functionality, but many are clunky and bare-bones. Bentobox, by contrast, is highly polished and easily integrates into most POS systems.
One of the best features of Bentobox is its adaptability to fit your restaurant’s branding, which helps lend a personal touch to the online ordering experience that it’s easy to lose with lesser platforms. It’s also built for a variety of different digital payment systems, including Apple Pay, Squarepay, Google Pay, and more. It also includes analytic software that lets you take note of what your takeout diners enjoy most often. Bentobox includes email confirmations and feedback to reduce miscommunications between you and your hungry guests. With additional features like built-in loyalty programs and real-time inventory management, Bentobox stands above its competitors for its ease of use and wide variety of features.
Third-Party Delivery Services
Feeling a little apprehensive about delivery through third-party services is not unusual. While they provide a valuable service, the number of horror stories that have come out about third-party services has exploded since the COVID pandemic began. To temper this apprehension, it’s best to accept a straightforward fact: third-party delivery services are going nowhere. Furthermore, they’re one of the primary forms of restaurant usage for many diners. Bearing that in mind, choosing the right platform becomes a pretty important endeavor.
DoorDash is worth picking up primarily based on name recognition. It doesn’t offer an unusually adaptable suite of features, but between in-app promotions and advertisements, DoorDash is likely to pump up your takeout revenue pretty significantly. You’ll also have agency over your to-go orders so that you can easily switch them on or off to accommodate in-house dining needs. It’s worth knowing that DoorDash, like most other third-party platforms, will negotiate commission prices, so there’s no reason to let the initial quote ward you off from using their services. Between online advertising and accessibility for your diners, having DoorDash in your arsenal is a smart move.
All Roads Lead To Rome
Bearing all of this advice in mind, your mileage may indeed vary. These solutions might not be perfect for you, but they can help you figure out what you’re looking for. Each of these categories has a host of different options designed to fit different needs. But the vital detail to take away is how useful these digital tools are for running a business that’s keeping up with the times. Add a few digital tools to your quiver and give them a little time to integrate into service, and they’ll propel you into the future in no time.