Joy Carter’s career in the restaurant industry started with trial by fire: a mom-and-pop burger joint she opened in 2013. While starting out owning a small restaurant proved to be no easy feat, Joy collected endlessly valuable lessons and experiences along the way. Eventually, Joy sought a calmer lifestyle and moved away from hospitality and into restaurant technology. Now, as Restaurant365’s Senior Manager of Operations Support, Joy quickly learned to lean on her empathy and understanding of the industry to provide customers with outstanding service each time.
We spoke with Joy about her time owning a restaurant, what led her to Restaurant365, and her advice to those still in the business. Read on to learn about her perspective on restaurant technology, how it can positively impact the entire business, and the lessons she carries with her to work each day.
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Wayne’s Sushi, which unfortunately closed. Wayne, the owner, loved getting to know his regulars; we’d sit at the counter and talk about our restaurants when I came in to eat. I loved Wayne’s, not only because of the amazingly fresh and flavorful ingredients, but because he was always willing to make me something creative off the menu. I could just tell him what mood I was in and he would make me a unique dish that perfectly satisfied my craving.
How long have you been with Restaurant365?
This is my fifth year with the company. I originally started at Compeat in 2018 and joined Restaurant365 through the acquisition in 2021.
Finding Joy in the Journey
Tell us about your time working in a restaurant.
In 2013, I jumped headfirst into the deep end of the restaurant industry by opening a small mom-and-pop burger shop with my husband. While this was a huge undertaking, thankfully my husband came into that experience from a career in hospitality. Although we may not have been completely flying blind, I learned way more than I expected.
When we opened in mid-2013, the cost of beef was under $1 per pound. In the fall, the beef market experienced steep inflation and we ended the year paying nearly $5 per pound. Our main inventory item, naturally, was beef. We quickly learned the art of negotiation, the importance of understanding food costs, menu pricing, and menu engineering, all while trying to stay up to date with industry news and how it would impact the business.
To this day, I still remember crying during our first Friday night dinner rush. We had guests lined up out the door and down the sidewalk for hours. I wanted to quit right then; it all seemed so overwhelming and impossible. Undoubtedly, the restaurant industry is a labor of love. It can be both one of the most rewarding and challenging directions you can take your career and it takes grit to show up each day. I never knew how much pure joy and extreme difficulty this experience would bring, but I believe it has made me a better person and worker.
How did your career path lead you to Restaurant365?
Despite the hurdles of being a business owner, I knew I wanted to stay in the restaurant industry. I fell in love with the culture and atmosphere – from the chaos to serving customers, working as a team to provide amazing guest experiences, meeting all types of people, and more.
Originally, I planned for my transition away from the restaurant to take me into management at Starbucks. I was offered a job and ended up turning it down in hopes of branching out into the tech side of the restaurant industry.
Finally, in 2018, I left the day-to-day operation of our restaurant to take on my next challenge at Compeat. It was exactly what my family needed at the time, so it just felt right. I started my journey with Compeat and eventually made it to Restaurant365 through the acquisition in 2021. As I sit here right now, I know that I made the right decision.
The Big Picture
How does your daily work impact our business and the industry?
My job is to do everything in my power to support our teams that service our Radar and Advantage customers. The restaurant industry has changed so much over the last couple of years, so it’s vital that we continue to give all our customers the best service possible. The constant changes in the industry give me the opportunity to help my teams identify individual growth opportunities, leveraging their skills and talents.
What impact can restaurant technology have on the operation of a successful restaurant?
With many restaurants having tight profit margins, I think that restaurant technology is integral in providing operations teams accurate, up-to-date data to make better business decisions on the fly. R365’s Accounting and Operations products allow our customers to maintain timely financials and use operational analytics to help avoid financial losses. Restaurants cannot wait for monthly, quarterly, or year-end review of financials to identify potential issues that can negatively affect the bottom line.
And by adding tools like Workforce and Payroll, operators can streamline internal processes for operations teams. Minimizing administrative busywork can really be a game changer in reducing overall labor costs, which ties back to the need to monitor profit margins.
Doing Good and Being Good
What do you like most about working for Restaurant365?
I have a soft spot for the small mom-and-pop customers because I was once in their shoes. When I started in support, I could relate to almost every situation that a customer might be frustrated with: lost inventory counts, incorrect inventory item pricing, struggling to reduce labor costs, being inundated with reports, checking every invoice and disputing inaccuracies because every penny counts, and so on. I felt like understanding those frustrations through my shared experiences helped me do better for our customers. For that reason, I always prioritize resolving a customer’s issue as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In addition to our customers, I love that I am challenged and learn something new every day. When you marry technology and restaurants, two wildly changing industries, it is exciting —no two days are the same.
What advice do you have for current restaurant industry workers looking to grow their careers?
Take every experience, good and bad, as a learning opportunity. Embrace change, every single day, because you never know where it could lead you. When working with others, remember to show people the best version of yourself because you never know how you can impact someone else.