Joe Hannon is Restaurant365’s Group Product Manager of Operations. Joe cut his teeth in restaurants for more than a decade, working his way up in hospitality and into restaurant management before moving into technology. But not just any type of technology – an integrated, all-in-one restaurant software solution designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and managers deliver better guest experiences, profits, and growth.
We sat down with Joe to discuss his professional journey, what led him to Restaurant365, and how his daily work impacts the lives of restaurant leaders across the country.
Read ahead to see what Joe loves most about working each day to help restaurants and how his prior experience helps him provide R365’s customers with a personalized product solution tailored to their needs.
Get to Know Joe
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your favorite restaurant?
That’s a tough one, but I’m going to go with VIA 313 in Austin, Texas. It’s a fairly new restaurant that serves Detroit-style pizza.
As our Group Product Manager of Operations, what type of work do you do?
I oversee R365’s product managers who help build everything from inventory to commissary, to scheduling – everything that has to do with an operator inside of a restaurant. I oversee our product going forward in that direction.
What do you like most about working at Restaurant365?
The number one thing I love about working here is the autonomy. The ability to manage my own schedule and help my team manage theirs each day is huge for me. Second, I love having a seat at the table and being able to make an impact on our customers’ daily lives and processes.
The Journey to R365
Walk us through your career before Restaurant365. How did you get started and what led you to where you are today?
Coming out of college, I waited tables at a local restaurant in Ohio. Eventually, my leadership skills caught their eye and I became a manager. I ended up relocating to Texas and finding another position as a restaurant manager, where I stayed for another seven years. All in all, I managed restaurants for 10 years and then, one day, stumbled across a job posting online for Compeat.
Working for a back-office restaurant software company sounded like my dream job. I was lucky enough to get the position and made the transition to tech. After a few years, I moved over to Restaurant365. It’s been exciting to grow with the company and wear different hats here, starting in Implementation and finding my way to Product.
Tell us about your pivot from the restaurant industry to restaurant technology: what made it a smooth transition and where did you experience a learning curve?
Growing up, my dad was always into technology and really tried to push me in that direction. While I obviously followed suit, I feel very fortunate that I was able to first work in restaurants for so long. I think everyone would benefit from working in the hospitality industry. If you want to learn more about people, yourself, and how a business operates, working in a restaurant will show you all of that and more within a year.
There’s truly no replacement for the experience you gain working in a restaurant. As a restaurant manager, you’re essentially running your own business. My mentors taught me a lot and, moving into the tech industry, I brought a lot of those skills with me. Something that was challenging as I transitioned, however, was getting used to being on a computer and relearning the various programs. When you’re in the weeds of hospitality, you don’t often spend much time at the computer. While it was a new experience at the time, I learned a lot through that switch and I’m really glad everything worked out the way that it did.
From Restaurant Manager to Empowering Restaurants
What inefficiencies did you see in restaurant technology or processes while you were working in them?
In 2010, I worked at a restaurant in Austin, Texas with 150+ locations that was just starting to adopt a point-of-sale system. Before that, we would have to manually key in all our sales and each employee’s time stamps every day. We even had a very old-school Panasonic cash register that we had to close out at the end of the night. It ran a long ticket that we had to physically enter in, every single day. It was incredibly hard to get the actual vs theoretical numbers that I needed since each process was completely manual.
Until I started working in restaurant technology, I had only worked in a couple of restaurants, and I just thought that was how things worked. Once I started working at Restaurant365, I would think to myself, “Man, I wish I had something like this! It would have made life so much easier.” And now, hearing our customers have some of the same pains that come with using a manual process, it’s so rewarding to show them our solutions and make their lives easier.
In your time working here, what have been some of your most memorable moments helping our customers?
I remember being on a call with one of our customers and he told me that our accounting experience was unlike anything he’d ever seen. He was raving about our solutions and even noticed that we took feedback from him to help continue optimizing our product. It was so empowering and invigorating for me and my team to hear someone praise our solutions and acknowledge the thought behind it.
Similiarly, I was speaking with a large commissary customer and he told me that our solution was the best thing that’s come out for commissary. They really appreciated that we spoke with them about their pain points, figured out a solution, and built it into our product. Listening to our customers and understanding their daily struggles are key to solving problems and helping them continue to thrive.
How does your daily work impact both our business as well as the restaurant industry overall?
I tell my team often that, if you haven’t done something today to help a restaurant manager’s life then you haven’t done your job. That’s all we should be focused on; if we keep them at the forefront of our minds and constantly try to add value, we’re going to succeed every time.
What advice do you have for current restaurant workers looking to grow their career?
I think the biggest thing I can say is to really embrace technology. Back in my restaurant days when we were entering everything by hand, that is the number one thing that could have made me a better manager and helped me push much further. If I had technology to back me up, I could’ve spent more of my day managing people and improving the customer experience instead of at the computer trying to reconcile all our numbers.