Restaurant management software can streamline restaurant operations, helping you become more efficient and profitable. However, not all restaurant management systems are created equal — and the tools you have access to can play a large role in your success.
Restaurant management software features are constantly evolving, and that growth will continue to speed up in the future. Check out our list of the top 16 features of restaurant management software that are must-haves in 2020.
1. Cloud-based management
In the past, restaurant management systems operated off of local servers, like office desktop computers. This required high installation costs and posed a security and data storage risk. However, modern restaurant management software operates “in the cloud,” from secure remote servers. Cloud-based systems require lower set-up costs, and instead bill monthly service renewal fees.
In addition to cost savings and increased security, cloud-based systems also provide deeper insight by integrating several different functionalities (like accounting, scheduling, inventory, and reporting) across multiple locations, all in one centralized platform.
2. Automated tracking of sales and taxes
Restaurants process a large number of credit card and cash transactions. All transactions should be tracked to the penny, both to create a reliable record for taxes and to comply with local or state business and alcohol tax laws. Aggregating detailed POS data into a central cloud-based repository may be key to mitigating risk and maximizing opportunities.
3. Fully-integrated credit card and NFC processing
With most customers using a credit or debit card, collecting customer payments simply and efficiently is more important than ever. A payment gateway feature authorizes credit card payments, keeping your customers and their cardholder data secure.
Payment processing that includes contactless payments or paying with a smart phone is also a must have for the coming year. Near Field Communication (NFC) payments (i.e., Apple Pay) allow two devices – like a NFC-enabled payment readers terminal, and a smart phone – to talk to each other while they’re close together.
To ensure continuity, consider choosing a restaurant POS system that processes credit cards, rather than a 3rd-party service that needs to be cobbled onto your restaurant management system. A 3rd-party integration may require manual data importing or multiple calls for troubleshooting for customer service issues. This system should be all-in-one, PCI-compliant, and include advanced security methods and fraud management tools.
4. Easy menu design and setup
Especially if you are tracking food costs, you will frequently be making menu item updates or price changes. Some software systems make minor changes difficult, requiring contacting support teams or rebooting terminals. To streamline menu adjustments, be sure to choose restaurant management software that makes menu item changes a simple process.
5. User-friendly order management
Picture this: you’ve added a new restaurant management system to optimize labor costs, but because it is so complex, you’ve multiplied your training costs by ten-fold. While some restaurant management systems may have many features, if order management isn’t intuitive for staff and management, you may have brought an extra headache into your operations.
To make the best choice of order management software, consider trialing a live demo of the software to understand how user-friendly it is. Restaurant management software should enable your front of house staff to efficiently split up table management, process payment, and adjust gratuity or taxes, and allow your management to quickly control refunds, voids, comps, and order status at any point.
6. Streamlined inventory management
Most POS software has the capability to automatically deduct items from inventory when they are sold, but more advanced restaurant inventory management software features can create more streamlined management and analytics. Sheet-to-shelf inventory control features enable you to track actual versus theoretical inventory, suggestive ordering, and real-time “par level” analytics. Other features in end-to-end inventory management allow for counting inventory with on-the-go mobile devices, or automating recipe costing that can inform menu engineering decisions.
7. Secure POS employee management
With multiple employees working different hours, payroll can be complicated, but new restaurant management features offer automated management tools in a restaurant POS system. Automatically protect your labor budget by restricting clocking in/out into certain time windows or monitoring overtime. Tracking features can also help keep managers accountable by comparing labor spend to individual labor goals and metrics by shift, day part, or restaurant location.
8. Reports leveraging big data
“Big data” is a big subject, but ultimately, leveraging big data tools can help you harness the “what” and “why” of customer behavior to increase revenue. Information imported from your restaurant POS, inventory, scheduling, accounting, and marketing systems can help you control food costs and streamline service speed. Other guest management data can help you segment your audience, based on their preferences, and customize promotions, loyalty, and gift card programs.
Big data helps you cut through the noise to get to your customers by using a collection of data from both inside and outside of your company to make strategic decisions. Restaurant management system features that allow you to do deep dives into data sets and reports allow you to start leveraging data about your restaurant to increase revenue.
9. Comprehensive and custom reporting
With all of this data, you need to be able to distill it down into actionable information that is helpful for your restaurant’s bottom line. The ability to create custom restaurant analytics and dashboards allows you to filter data and configure reports about inventory, labor, and sales performance. Custom reporting uses past data to inform future strategic decisions, allowing you to reduce costs and increase profit margins based on accurate, up-to-date numbers.
10. Forecasts using near real-time data to predict future action
In 2020, everything is going to be predictive around food and labor. With sales forecasting, you can make informed adjustments to the menu, review your food costs, and understand how to optimize your labor hours. With the help of big data in forecasting, you can make predictions about inventory, staffing, and menu engineering, based on data-driven insights.
11. Efficient labor costs and restaurant scheduling optimization
New restaurant management system features, like restaurant-staff-specific custom apps, can create efficient employee scheduling by centralizing employee shift requests, enforcing blackout dates, and reusing custom templates. To optimize labor spend, also consider leveraging “smart scheduling” tools, which suggest labor cost based on historical sales records and future forecasts.
12. Simplified restaurant accounting and AP automation
Restaurant-specific accounting software features provide helpful functionality specific to the restaurant business, like full integration between your POS software, payroll processor, vendors, and bank.
Accounting integration and AP Automation allows you to grow without adding overhead, realign resources to higher valued tasks and get data in faster for near real-time information. By automating receivables and payables management, you can create a streamlined workflow with a custom approval process. Finally, restaurant accounting features can help you accelerate and control financial reporting, complete with varying user access levels.
13. Mobile app functionality
With the dining experience increasingly mobile, mobile apps are becoming powerful marketing tools. These apps combine menus, reservations, order placement for takeout or delivery, and other useful features onto mobile—where your customers already are. Apps can help you promote reward programs using targeted coupons and special deals. And with transaction data about customer behavior, preferences, and routines, you are able to build personalized interactions that can grow loyal customer relationships.
14. Delivery service POS
Customers have a lot of dining choices, but with the convenience of online ordering, delivery is growing rapidly. Delivery can be a logistically complicated service to offer, but a delivery service POS dedicated to recording and tracking delivery services can make it easier. A flexible platform can allow you to review customer order histories, duplicate orders, and streamline any order-taking over the phone. A delivery feature should also allow you to transfer orders efficiently to kitchen staff, as well as integrate fully with your inventory management system.
15. GPS tracking of delivery drivers for safety and customer tracking of order
Restaurants need to catch up with their tech-driven customers, who are looking for a fast-paced customer experience both in the store and with delivery. Delivery management features, as part of restaurant management system, smooth out the delivery process for both the delivery driver and customer.
Mobile apps made for delivery drivers, displaying real-time details about delivery routing and zoning, integrated online digital maps, and arrival check-in, can streamline the delivery service. Features that facilitate processing credit card payments, capturing customer signatures, and crediting tips also make the most out of your delivery labor.
For accountability, delivery management features should enable tracking, allowing you to locate your drivers at any point and showing customers predicted times and automatic order updates.
16. Mobile, mobile, mobile
Operators want managers out of the office, and out on the floor of their restaurant – and it’s now possible, with mobile restaurant management system features that fit in the palm of your hand. With automation tools and cloud-based systems, all accessible from a single platform on even a mobile device, managers and operators are freed to spend more time on the go.
Why these key features of restaurant management software are important
There are many different kinds of restaurant management software but taking a closer look at which features are offered — and how they meet upcoming operational challenges — can help you make the best decision for your restaurant.
If you’re among the majority of restaurant owners who consider cloud-based architecture, integration with other systems, visibility into enterprise data and real-time reporting the top priorities in your next restaurant management system, then you’ll want to check out Restaurant365. Restaurant365 is a cloud-based, restaurant-specific management solution that’s fully integrated with your Point-of-Sale system, as well as to your food and beverage vendors, payroll vendor and bank.
If you are looking for more information about streamlining restaurant operations, download our prime cost e-book, Guide to Reducing Restaurant Prime Costs for 10 tactics you can start implementing today to reduce your prime costs.