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Goodbye, POS: The Restaurant Management System (RMS) is the Future

When McDonalds became the first restaurant in the world to adopt the digital point of sale (POS) system in 1973, it was a game-changing moment. In the fifty years since, POS systems have evolved to encompass a wide array of features, used by almost every restaurant in the United States.

But the POS model has hit a brick wall it cannot overcome, and as the restaurant industry evolves to demand greater interoperability with other essential systems, it’s time we make the next leap in restaurant technology innovation.

We’re proud to enable restaurants to achieve a more profitable future with the next evolution of the POS: the Restaurant Management System, or RMS for short.

This represents a paradigm shift in how owners manage restaurants—from single-unit locations to large enterprise businesses—and it’s going to unlock countless new doors. We’ll get into the details, including… 

  • Why the POS system has met its natural end (we honor the life it lived!)
  • A new framework for data-driven restaurant management
  • 5 brand new opportunities that an RMS enables for restaurants

The grass really is greener, and we’re excited to share why.

It’s The End Of The Road For The Restaurant POS 

Think of your POS as a doorway between your business and customers. Customers walk through the door (make a transaction) to access your food. In this limited sense, the POS is an incredible tool for creating better customer experiences.

Over time, however, the POS system has become bloated with features and tools that are only loosely connected—and those loose connections come with notable limitations.

  • Reporting data in your POS is incomplete. Your POS primarily tracks sales that happen through that doorway. But what about online sales, third-party delivery, or bulk orders from catering customers? The ways customers buy are changing rapidly, and the POS doorway just isn’t designed to fit them all.
  • Marketing and loyalty opportunities are cut short. POS systems only communicate with customers that have walked through that doorway, and are often limited to single locations (a big yikes for multi-unit operators). Most restaurants use more than one tool to manage rewards, loyalty, and marketing—and those tools rarely play nice together, so you’re left with incomplete data in each system and inefficient growth.
  • Inventory tracking is inefficient. Some POS systems remove items from inventory when they’re sold via that doorway (which seems handy at first), but what about other ways you use food? Corporate catering, waste and spoilage, moving ingredients from one location to another—POS inventory systems can’t handle all this variation.

And we haven’t even touched on employee scheduling, human resources, payroll, delivery driver management, and other business workflows. You’ll have to find external tools to manage those systems, and most of them don’t integrate completely with POS software, leaving you with no way to see, learn from, and make decisions based on all your business data.

When the POS system is used as if it’s the center of gravity for your business, and all the other tools revolve around it, you’re left with disjointed functionality, messy data, and limited growth potential.

But when you have clean data that flows freely from one system to the next—without having to be funneled through the small POS system doorway—you’re able to see clearly, make connections, and implement improvements like never before.

We’re hosting a webinar that walks through real-world examples of how an RMS bypasses these data limitations to help you take command of your business in unprecedented ways. 👉 Sign up to join us right here.

The RMS Re-Imagines Information Flow In Your Business

The POS doorway analogy is well-understood, but we want to take it further. The point of sale may be an important door for customers who want to engage with your business, however it’s not the only door to your business.

Your restaurant is a palace of doors, with all kinds of information flowing in and out from them.

  • Online orders, handheld tablets, and third-party delivery platforms represent additional ordering doorways
  • Food and supplies enter your business through the inventory and purchasing doors
  • Employees come in through scheduling and HR
  • In-house delivery drivers have a door of their own
  • And your reporting and analytics need to see all those doors in one place

The Restaurant Management System removes the POS as the center of gravity and puts it where it belongs: a module within your greater business ecosystem.

It’s no longer behaving as the primary doorway of your business to the outside world, but a doorway among many.

So what then is the new center of gravity for your restaurant business?

All your business data in the cloud.

The RMS model creates a common language that all your business systems speak, then hosts all that data in the cloud so that every system is constantly giving and receiving new information.

Your sales, ingredients, customers, staff, finances—all of it together makes up the hub. The spokes are the tools that let you manage those various systems and workflows with seamless integration.

5 New Opportunities The RMS Model Enables

With a Restaurant Management System, all the spokes of your business have a way to communicate perfectly with each other. This means you can connect and gain insights from tools in whole new ways.

Here are a few examples.

  • Digital, delivery, and in-person orders all go to the same place. The dreaded “wall of tablets” from order sources is a nightmare for order accuracy and back-of-house efficiency. With an RMS, all your point-of-sale doorways lead to the same kitchen workflow, ensuring orders don’t get lost, your kitchen staff doesn’t have to juggle ten order sources, and sales reporting always shows you the full picture.
  • You can fully own the delivery experience (and stop giving away 30% of every order). Third-party delivery platforms charge hefty commissions, then rob you of customer data, so you’re left crossing your fingers that they order again. With an RMS that has a delivery driver module, you’re able to accept and fulfill your own delivery orders, then market to those customers later—you’re in complete control.
  • Customers get a personalized experience everywhere. Whether they’re ordering in-store, from a mobile app, or your website, customers can receive personalized experiences that increase spend and loyalty—all because those various doorways are connected to the hub and sharing customer data in real-time.
  • Optimize inventory and purchasing to reduce waste and increase margins. Food waste and over-purchasing are the silent killers of profit margins. With an RMS that connects inventory, purchasing, and all your points of sales, you can understand trends and predict demand with greater confidence.
  • All your business intelligence lives in one space. Once all your business data is funneled to the hub, it can be organized, viewed, and acted upon without roadblocks. No more separate spreadsheets for twelve locations, or comparing POS data, loyalty data, and online sales data from different sources. It’s all there, from single store reports to business-wide growth, ready to be accessed from anywhere.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The power of the RMS is so wide-reaching that it’s impossible to cover all the ways it can transform your business in a single article.

That’s why we’re hosting a webinar that walks through real-world examples of how an RMS helps you integrate systems in new ways and take command of your business like never before. 
Want to see an RMS in action? 👉 Sign up to join us right here.

How to Drive More Revenue with Your Customers’ Ordering Data

How to Drive More Revenue with Your Customers’ Ordering Data

Customer Data is a Goldmine

Restaurant owners nationwide are brainstorming strategies on how to not only survive the pandemic, but create real, long-term relationships and income by increasing focus on customer data. Customer ordering data, specifically, is playing a critical role in how restaurant owners determine what strategies to implement and drive additional revenue. 

Data is incredibly valuable. It tells you exactly who your customers are, what they love, and what drives their behaviors. Using this data allows restaurant owners to maximize their offerings and drive repeat business. In the competitive restaurant industry, customers are becoming increasingly selective with their spending, and with their limited disposable income. Understanding and leveraging customer data should not be overlooked. 

Here’s where to start: 

Make More Sales by Adjusting Your Menu to Focus on What’s Hot Versus What’s Not

Remove Menu Items that Aren’t Popular

Customer order data allows you to gauge your menu items based on popularity, so you can see customer favorites as well as the ones that might be worth nixing. Use your sales data to trim down your menu to remove the meal options that customers aren’t choosing often, or ones with hard to source ingredients that don’t always get used up before they spoil. By focusing on what your customers really love to eat at your establishment, you can keep inventory costs low and profitability high. 

Maximize Items that are Most Popular

Wondering what’s hot at your restaurant? Dive into your data to find out. By finding out what your customers order the most, you can tailor your promotions to maximize sales. If your Taco Tuesday is bringing in crowds, consider adding a Tex-Mex Thursday to entice customers while using up leftover inventory. 

Or, if your homemade marinara sauce is a community favorite, bottle it up and offer it to-go for families who want to recreate their favorite meals, from your restaurant, at home. Adjust your menu by days of the week to optimize inventory and capitalize on what your customers are already craving. 

Increase Customer Spending by Determining When and How to Run Promotions 

When are Your Slow Times? 

While you may already have a feel for which days of the week and what times are slowest for your restaurant, it’s better to have the data to back it up. With this data, you can launch new promotions for those days and times, giving you new opportunities to increase sales. You can also use this information to adjust staffing levels as needed to decrease labor costs. 

Combined with menu data, this information can help you truly maximize your sales. So if, for instance, you see that Monday evenings are slower than the rest of the week, but your boneless wings appetizers are particularly popular with customers, you can offer a discount on wings with any meal purchase every Monday evening. This brings in revenue on days where you may have previously experienced slow business.  

What Drives Customer Response?

Have you been putting all your marketing eggs in one basket? Maybe you’ve been sending out mailer coupons or including coupons in customer orders. How many of those customers actually bring them in to redeem? 

On the surface, customer data can seem difficult to decipher, but when you take a closer look, it can be a virtual window into past efforts and how they’ve worked out, so you can better predict what you need to do in the future. 

By looking into your customer data, you can see which promotions you’ve run in the past, identify how many sales resulted from it, and use your findings to determine which promotions would be the most profitable. That way, you can eliminate outdated promotions that don’t offer up a significant ROI (like mailed coupons) and focus more on the ones that do (like mobile app promotions, for instance). This allows you to stretch your marketing budget further and see a greater return over time. 

Increase Ticket Size by Personalizing the Customer Experience 

Everyone’s familiar with standard loyalty promotional perks, like birthday coupons. Those are great and still valuable. But, you can take your customer experience so much further than just a special day once a year. All it takes is the right restaurant technology tools and customer data. 

If a customer regularly orders family meals and dinner kits, you’ll be much more likely to see them come back if you send them personalized promotions for a dine-in family special or a kids meal coupon than you would if you offered half-priced drinks for two. 

Likewise, you’d drive way more loyalty and profits by offering deals on at-home cocktail kits with online orders for customers that usually take you up on your dine-in cocktail specials. Data gives you the power to harness your customer’s order history and preferences so you can send customized promotions for things they actually like.  

Don’t Let Third-Party Services Own Your Customer Data

Many restaurants partner with third-party online ordering and delivery platforms to increase their operative capacity and expand their reach. While these services are great if you don’t have the in-house resources to offer them on your own, they often come with a caveat: they are in control over the customer data. 

By integrating all of your ordering channels into a restaurant management system (RMS), including third-party services, you can ensure that all of the customer data remains your own. This also gives you the benefit of consolidating it all into one place. 

HungerRush has a robust RMS that includes a digital ordering platform, a strong loyalty program coupled with group ordering, third party integrations, and driver logistics, not to mention a killer coupon and reward management system that delivers results. With it, returning customers can easily place orders and have the option to save their addresses, payments, and even vehicle type for a more streamlined experience. They also get instant and exclusive access to loyalty rewards and discounts. 

HungerRush automates the process of collecting data on all of your ordering platforms, both on- and off-premises, and makes all of this data easier to manage and understand so that you can gain critical insight without spending hours poring over spreadsheets. This gives you a 360-degree view of your customer data, allowing you to make more informed business decisions that drive additional revenue. 

For more information on the HungerRush Restaurant Management System, request a demo with us today

Unifying Operations with a Restaurant Management System

Unifying Operations with a Restaurant Management System

The financial and economic impact that COVID-19 has placed on restaurants cannot be overstated. Virtually every restaurant owner has been forced to adjust their operations in some way. Restaurants have slowly begun reopening, but with a heavy focus on off-premises options and limited in-house dining. 

It isn’t just restaurants that have been affected. Customers now desire drastically different things than they did before. In the current restaurant environment, it’s critical that independent restaurant operators adapt their strategies based on incoming information about altered customer behavior and expectations. 

These changes to restaurant strategies will need to be implemented throughout your restaurant, from front to back, curbside pickup to delivery.

As your restaurant evolves, owning your customer data should be top of mind. Restaurants collect so many types of data, from the operational front to back of the house, and across wide-variety of categories, and then some:

  • Customer data: customer contacts, loyalty program enrollment, dining frequency, customer preferences, average order amount
  • Kitchen data: menu items, recipe data, cook times, and average cook times, plate-to-table times, items that have been 86’d
  • Guest management information: reservations, wait times, turnaround times, peak traffic times, pickup and delivery times
  • Staff data: scheduling, hours worked, training completed, labor costs
  • Inventory management data: food tracking and management, average food waste

The Importance of Unified Restaurant Operations

Between front-of-house, back-of-house, and off-premises operations, your restaurant has many moving parts. Even though these components’ functions are different, they all must be working together in harmony towards the same goals:

Better performance and guest experiences

With seamless connected front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) integrations, guests have a great dining experience, and curbside and delivery orders are hot, fresh, and roll out with ease. All this data transparency helps operators and employees remain cool, calm, and collected during the most demanding shifts and dining hours.

Operators who use integrated restaurant management technology can say goodbye to frustrated employees and “Hello” to awesome guest experiences.

Streamlining operations for maximum efficiency

When you unify your operations, you also unify your data, which means you can begin putting initiatives in place to streamline your operations. Whether it’s online ordering, dine-in, or curbside pickup, all of your services need to be on the same page. The tools used for communicating among these different areas must be user-friendly and centralized.

Best-in-class technology can help to streamline communication between parties, especially for tasks like ordering. For example, orders should be sent directly from the source to the kitchen, and the kitchen should be directly in touch with the wait staff. Keeping everything connected and working together cohesively helps prevent delayed, missed, or incorrect orders. 

Streamlining your operations can also improve your inventory management. Having access to a broader set of inventory data helps ensure all products, ingredients, and necessary items are always in-stock, and can easily be removed from menus if anything should run out unexpectedly. 

Keeping data in one place 

Every action within your restaurant generates data. Your technology is continually collecting and tracking data from delivery, online ordering, dine-in, loyalty programs, payments, and transactions. This data is incredibly powerful if harnessed and used correctly, so it is vital that you own all of your data and that it is accurate. 

Capturing data is just the first step. Once you have that covered, operators must be able to analyze it effectively. Piecing together fragmented and elusive information is difficult and time-consuming. It’s critical that you can organize and access all that data in one place so that you can ensure accuracy and create more informed decisions. 

How a Restaurant Management System Can Help

Without solid plans in place to unify all aspects of your operations, you may have an even harder time adapting your restaurant to changes brought by COVID-19. Luckily, tools and technologies have been developed that can help. 

With multiple, disparate technology systems, restaurant owners won’t be getting the efficiency and ROI they’re looking for. Data will be disconnected, which means that operators won’t be able to spot correlations, causations, and opportunities for growth. 

An integrated restaurant management system (RMS) can help. This solution acts as a comprehensive command center that unifies your restaurant operation. Systems like this come with features that help you become and remain competitive, offer valuable insight, and help you master your overall operations. 

With an RMS, you can benefit from integrating online orderingdelivery and takeout (including no-contact delivery and curbside pickup), loyalty and rewards programs, reporting, and management capabilities throughout your restaurant.

There are many advantages to an unified restaurant management system, including: 

Strengthened communication 

You can effortlessly connect your front-of-house, back-of-house, and delivery operations for maximum communication. Better communication means a server can enter in a customer order from the back patio, and the kitchen staff can receive it instantly. 

Better inventory management

Achieve better visibility and control over your inventory by unifying your data. When a prep staff member realizes they’re out of mac ‘n’ cheese, they can 86 the item in the system and reflect the update everywhere instantly.

Improved order accuracy and speed of service

Integrated online ordering improves order accuracy and speed of delivery, both to the restaurateur and guest. A restaurant management system keeps track of order time, details, and fulfillment, so orders are never lost and errors are reduced. 

More strategic employee management

When systems are integrated, managers can access real-time reports that allow them to schedule the appropriate number of front-of-house and back-of-house employees for each shift, saving on labor costs.

Finding the Right System

Restaurants gain success when everyone is on the same page and everything is working together cohesively. To truly accomplish this, restaurant operators must unify their systems to share data, streamline communication, and optimize workflow from the front-of-house, to the back-of-house, to delivery and pickup. 

The first step is finding an expert provider of restaurant management systems like HungerRush. Our RMS systems are designed to help restaurant owners like you become more agile and efficient in overcoming your current industry challenges and achieving better restaurant success. For more information, request a demo with the experts at HungerRush today!

How Three Restaurants Thrived During Uncertain Times

How Three Restaurants Thrived During Uncertain Times

Just a few months ago, no restaurant owner could have imagined we’d be here, having been dealt a swift, heavy blow by COVID-19. Not only have operations been severely limited because of COVID-19 restrictions, but in some ways, they changed completely. 

At first, consumer behavior was wildly unpredictable and no one knew what was going to happen. Eventually, some patterns began emerging, which fortunate restaurant owners picked up on and quickly adjusted their strategies to match. Not only did these restaurants survive the worst of the pandemic, they were actually able to come out ahead and increase sales. 

We spoke with three different restaurants—Hometown Pizza, Giovanni’s, and JB Alberto’s—to see how they beat the odds and remained profitable even through unprecedented times like COVID-19.

Expanded Restaurant Delivery and Fulfillment Services

What they did:

Fresh Pizza HungerRush

When disaster struck, these restaurant owners were agile. Rather than focusing only on how to cut costs, they looked for opportunities to expand other services to meet the needs of their customers. 

“We increased our delivery area and hired more drivers to accommodate the growth in the delivery business,” said Rick Smith, owner of Hometown Pizza. 

Giovanni’s restaurants had a customer-focused strategy. They knew their customers wanted to feel safe, so they offered services though which they could address that need. 

“Our customers feel safer when they can remain in their vehicle,” said Brent Cordial, VP of Operations for Giovanni’s. “Curbside pick-up and drive-through services help them do that.”

Why it worked:

It’s no secret that off-premises dining is in high demand right now. In fact, according to a recent Datassential report, 92% of restaurant traffic is now off-premises. Even in the safest locations, many customers are still wary of dining in. These restaurant owners were quick to predict this, and optimized their delivery and pickup services to fulfill customers’ needs for safe alternatives—such as curbside pickup—to keep them coming back. 

Tips for success:

Many customers live outside of standard delivery zones, so like Hometown Pizza, consider increasing your delivery area to increase your customer base. If you’re a restaurant owner that does not currently use delivery, third-party services such as Doordash can get you started without the burden of managing your own in-house delivery team. Implementing safe options like no contact delivery lets customers know it’s safe doing business with you. Promote your delivery and curbside services to spread the word to your community. 

Lastly, optimize your delivery success by integrating a powerful restaurant management system that allows you to track orders and delivery drivers closely no matter how busy the rush.

Want to see HungerRush in action?

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Optimized Online Ordering

What they did:

Since customers have been stuck at home, online orders have been increasing. With 110 restaurants across six states, Giovanni’s seized an opportunity to deploy the HungerRush online ordering platform stores that were still using legacy systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the deployment as more stores are clamoring for online ordering capability,” said Brent Cordial. 

Hometown Pizza also took this opportunity to promote their loyalty program, stating that “the number of HungerRush loyalty program members has doubled since the beginning as more customers have adopted online ordering.”

Why it worked:

When dining in was no longer an option and grocery shelves were mostly empty, customers turned to online ordering to get their meals. Thanks to the convenience and ease of ordering online, this service is still in high demand for many customers, even now as restaurants are reopening their dining rooms and grocery store stocking levels are returning to normal. It provides a safe, easy option for consumers who may be wary of venturing out into public.

Tips for success:

Leverage a mobile app to enhance your online ordering experience, and integrate your loyalty program with your system. This can drive higher sales and encourage repeat orders. 

Take a look at your top sellers. You may want to offer a limited online ordering menu with just those items so that you can optimize your inventory and maximize profits.

Implemented New Safety Policies

What they did:

safety-first

Efforts to improve safety amid COVID-19 were widespread, and many restaurants amped up their standards to meet and exceed those set by local governments. 

“We stayed on top of ever-changing guidelines throughout our six-state footprint. Guidelines and protocols are different,” said Brent Cordial at Giovanni’s. Now all of our cleaning products are labeled to show the proper concentration, and we have cleaning schedules posted above the systems to state what products are to be used where. All stores have elected to keep buffets closed, some have limited dine-in now, but most are not even doing that. Almost every store is up in volume. They are providing food safely, so they don’t feel like there is a big push to change what is working.” 

JB Alberto’s restaurant focused heavily on increasing safety within their delivery operations, going as far as keeping their drivers from entering the store. 

“We rented a party tent near the back door to hold the drivers to keep them out of the restaurant. We also added a handwashing sink for them to use when coming and going,” stated owner Tony Troiano. 

Hometown Pizza experienced operational challenges when they were mandated to reduce their occupancy by half, but have managed to still find success, stating “our dining room is open at the 50% occupancy level, and still has been full every night.”

Why it worked:

For both consumers and restaurant employees, the top priority is safety. The proper measures must be taken in order to earn the trust of customers and staff. These restaurant owners went above and beyond to ensure everyone feels comfortable leaving their homes.

Tips for success:

Your greatest resource is your customers, so ask for their opinions if you’re able. Send out a customer survey to see what health measures are most important to them, and then implement those into your restaurant. 

Switch to disposable, single-use items like menus, dinnerware, and condiments to minimize cross-contamination. Bonus points if these are sustainably sourced. 

Promote your new safety regulations via signage, social media, and email marketing to let customers know that it’s safe to return and help them feel more confident about the safety measures you are taking.

Leveraged an Integrated Restaurant Management System

What they did:

It was easy to feel out of control with all the uncertainty, but instead of panicking, these restaurants remained level-headed and focused on what they could control. They utilized an integrated restaurant management system, which allowed them to stay informed of how the pandemic situation was affecting their business and view a comprehensive picture of their data. 

“Monitoring every day has stabilized now, but it was hectic for a while,” stated Giovanni’s. 

“At one time, we were using five third party providers,” said Tony at JB Alberto’s. “We’ve eliminated them all in favor of the HungerRush RMS.” An integrated system like HungerRush allowed JB Alberto’s to view all of their customer data across all channels so that they could gain accuracy and greater control. They could then make changes and have them reflected across all their systems, as well as better communicate with customers. 

“We were able to communicate with our customers very quickly as we adjusted store hours, provided them with special offers, and encouraged them to order online,” they added.

Why it worked:

The owners of Giovanni’s, JB Alberto’s, and Hometown Pizza found success by leveraging an integrated restaurant management system that allowed them to collect and manage all their data in one place. Before this, monitoring operations was difficult and there wasn’t much visibility or organization of data. With it, these restaurants were able to effectively communicate with their entire customer base to let them know what changes had been made and what they should expect moving forward. 

Restaurants that use a restaurant management system are able to view sales and employee data across all platforms and locations, helping them not only communicate better, but make more informed business decisions. This is crucial, as successful restaurants must constantly monitor and adapt their strategies as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Tips for success:

It’s critical that you have the data you need to make smarter business decisions. It’s also critical that these business decisions are aligned with CDC guidelines for how restaurants should operate.

A restaurant management system will be integral as the restaurant industry redefines itself. When choosing this technology, make sure you rely on industry experts that know and understand exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes. Look for technology providers like HungerRush that are committed to developing the tools that help you adapt to changing circumstances so that you can stay on top. From the front-of-house to back-of-house, delivery, loyalty, and more, HungerRush provides the tech you need to navigate COVID-19 and beyond. Interested in learning more? Talk to the experts at HungerRush and request a demo today! 

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How to Increase Delivery Sales with Integrated Delivery Management Technology

How to Increase Delivery Sales with Integrated Delivery Management Technology

Because of state-mandated closures and social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the wake of COVID-19, 92% of restaurant business has taken place off-premises. For the consumer, even a pandemic was not enough to decrease the demand for convenience and delicious food, and restaurant online ordering and delivery has increased at a growth rate surpassing that of pre-coronavirus. Even as restrictions loosen and dine-in traffic reopens, off-premises services show no signs of slowing down—in fact, they are predicted to increase further as consumer behavior permanently shifts. 

Restaurant delivery technology will be the next catalyst that helps restaurant owners increase revenue during the new normal. The viability of third-party delivery services will also be put to the test as restaurants work to recoup profits, as well as mitigate the risk of dissatisfied customers due to delivery logistics out of the restaurant’s control. 

If your restaurant has seen success with online ordering, consider the benefits that integrated delivery management technology will provide for maximizing delivery sales and profit margins both today and tomorrow.  Here’s how:

Eliminate Manual Order and Delivery Entry

For some restaurants, online orders have successfully recouped and at times surpassed dine-in sales revenue. Leveraging the right technology, these restaurants have been able to shift labor to accommodate the online order increase. Restaurant owners can now take the next step and further automate processes that will allow more orders to be received and delivered. With  delivery management technology integrated into your restaurant management system (RMS) you’ll be able to successfully grow business while ensuring accurate and timely execution of deliveries. 

Consider this scenario: A customer places an order via your website and requests delivery. Your employee must now manually enter the order into your restaurant management system (RMS), and then manually assign the order to a driver that they can only guess will be available at the time the order is ready. 

At the same time, an online order for delivery comes through but gets held up in a third-party queue. Your employee has to re-enter this order into the point of sale as that is the only way to assign a driver. Meanwhile, the mobile app order is ready, and one of your delivery drivers leaves with it. Turns out, the online order was within the same location and could have gone out as well had it not been delayed due to order re-entry. Another driver returns and takes the online order, but takes a wrong turn delaying the delivery, which you’ll find out is incorrect due to mis-keying it into the point of sale. It’s a nightmare—and that’s just two orders. 

However, with delivery management technology, orders flow seamlessly into one system, no matter if they come from online or your mobile app, and are then automatically assigned to drivers. Customer addresses are also automatically pulled into the order, ensuring accuracy, while also saving valuable time, and providing the visibility required to batch orders and deliver more meals in less time. 

Optimize Driver Delivery Times

Integrating delivery management technology into your restaurant management system allows your business to increase productivity and efficiency. This means that as a restaurant owner, you’ll be able to keep a closer eye on delivery staff. An integrated map view gives you the ability to track delivery progress in real-time. This helps ensure that drivers are staying the course. Additionally, the map view shows clusters of orders, helping you maximize resources by assigning orders from similar locations to a single driver. 

The more efficient you can make the delivery, the less staff will be required, allowing your business to maximize profitability. Some food concepts leverage the power of Google Maps integration to their system to assign and triage orders before they are even dispatched. With Google Maps, the fastest routes can be identified in real-time, mitigating the unexpected, like heavy traffic and construction zones. 

Keep Better Track of Orders

Manually placing orders and assigning and tracking deliveries is not as effective as using delivery management software. With manual processes, errors occur, orders are lost, and customers never return. 

Delivery management technology provides the automation that modern food concepts need to: 

  • Ensure all delivery orders are accounted for and tracked through delivery.
  • Track order delivery time and alert management of orders in danger of being delivered late, or that were fulfilled over the time allotted for delivery.
  • Enhance the customer experience by providing the opportunity for special requests such as leave with the doorman, or use the back door. 

Accurate Reporting for Improved Business Decisions

Restaurant owners can’t identify what is working without proper data collection and analysis. Manual processes don’t provide the insight required to grow business. Integrated delivery management technology allows all orders to flow into one central restaurant management system where data can then be cross-referenced with sales to help you make better, more profitable business decisions. 

For example, maybe your burger and fries meal combo have been a hit for dine-in customers, but rarely get ordered for delivery. Being able to collect and analyze this type of data helps your business decide what offers you should promote to delivery customers to increase sales, and what items should be eliminated from your delivery menu altogether. Additionally, robust reporting allows you to determine benchmarks and track improvements in delivery time, accuracy, profitability, and more.

Industry-Crafted Software That Helps You Master Your Delivery Operations

Keep profits maximized with delivery management technology that integrates into your RMS. HungerRush is the best option for savvy restaurateurs looking to amp up off-premises sales. Easy-to-use, HungerRush was designed for restaurants looking for feature-rich delivery software that helps them master services including centralizing orders, present and past trip segmentation, route resourcing, late order prevention, and timestamps for robust metrics and reporting. 

With HungerRush, give your restaurant the tools it needs to grow business, increase profits, keep customers happy, and build a brighter tomorrow. Request a demo today!

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How to Set Up and Train Your Staff to Optimize Restaurant Delivery During COVID-19

How to Set Up and Train Your Staff to Optimize Restaurant Delivery During COVID-19

With  the COVID-19 pandemic causing restaurants in most areas to close in-house dining facilities, choosing to add online ordering and delivery has become critical for business survival. Third-party and/or on-demand delivery services can be beneficial if they are integrated into your systems to help streamline ordering and retain ownership of your customer’s information. However, increased reliance on third-party delivery services impacts restaurant profitability, driving restaurant owners to set up their own delivery services to protect profits and reach more customers. Additionally, it’s more profitable to cut out the middle-man. When setting up in-house delivery, restaurant owners need to consider the following five things to protect and optimize their business—and their staff—during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Properly Allocate Staff to New Delivery-Oriented Functions 

Since dine-in traffic is nonexistent during the pandemic, analyze the best way to reallocate your staff to offer delivery. First, determine the volume of delivery staff needed and what your schedule will look like (are you keeping the same operating hours, expanding, or reducing them?). Next, determine which staff members have the best fit, experience, and compatibility for what you are looking for in the new roles. Next, determine your top-performing staff and ask if they would be willing to switch job tasks until dine-in traffic resumes. Set up and execute a training program to teach these employees their new job functions and expectations. They will likely appreciate the hours and their skills being used in other ways until the pandemic passes.

If delivery demand is greater than what you can execute with current staff, hiring new delivery drivers may be necessary. Look for people with delivery experience, a good driving record, and the flexibility and willingness to work the hours you allocated

Ensure Protection with Insurance

New business avenues and staff requirements mean new risks and liabilities. Review your insurance policies to make sure you are covered for changing job tasks and expanding delivery options. Insurance that will be crucial for delivery operations includes:

  • Commercial General Liability Insurance: It’s important to cover a wide range of common liabilities such as slips and falls, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.
  • Auto Insurance: It’s critical for delivery since this is how your staff will fulfill orders. You’ll need to protect your business when using company vehicles, to cover any potential accidents or injuries. 

Provide Training and Security Measures to Protect Delivery Drivers

Staff training should include best practices to ensure that delivery is as safe as possible for your staff as well as your customers. 

  • For Delivery: No contact delivery is a growing trend amid COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Offering this option is not only appealing to customers but helps protect the health of your staff. Train staff fulfilling orders in this way—leaving the items on the doorstep or in the apartment lobby and letting the customer know when it has arrived via text or call. 
  • For Payment Collection: As with the delivery hand-off, customers and staff should avoid as much contact as possible when collecting payment. The best way to do this is by no contact payment: requesting that the order be paid by debit or credit card when it is placed. If this isn’t an option or you are also still collecting cash/curbside payments, train your staff on the best way to handle the process: wearing gloves, keeping their distance, keeping cash in a separate sealed container, and sanitizing the payment processor after each use.

Discuss and Encourage Delivery Driver Etiquette

Drivers should be sensitive to customer concerns over safety and remain as careful as possible. In addition to contactless delivery and maintaining social distancing, staff should be willing to wear masks and gloves if/when necessary. They should also make sure food is handled and packaged safely—with the smallest possible number of people involved in handling each order. Use wrapped silverware, napkins, and sealed drinks whenever possible. Look for label printers that can be used to seal orders to ensure it is secure and untampered with. Finally, have them wipe and sanitize their devices, packaging, and car after each shift. Providing masks, gloves, wipes, and sanitizer is a great way to ensure the safety of your staff and customers, as well as strengthening the message that you are doing everything you can to maximize safety. 

Encourage your staff to be patient and flexible with customers during this time of uncertainty. They need to be willing to make adjustments as the situation evolves. 

Streamline the Delivery Process with Technology

With the restaurant industry being impacted heavily by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to remain as efficient as possible. To best optimize delivery, leverage technology that will give you the visibility and control needed to maximize productivity. An integrated restaurant management system with point of sale (POS), online ordering, delivery, and loyalty built-in is the best choice. If it also integrates with third-party provider platforms, that’s even better. 

Another useful feature is Google Maps integration, which can provide an operator view of all drivers, give drivers the fastest and shortest routes, and triage/speed up deliveries in real time. An integrated system will not only help you maximize needed revenue during the current crisis, but will also set you up for continued success when life becomes more normal again.

But even the best tech is only useful if you have good employees to do the work. Show your appreciation for staff who are willingly and diligently working during this national pandemic. A little appreciation goes a long way in retaining talented staff

HungerRush is a leading provider of technology solutions designed specifically for restaurant needs. To find out more about how our solutions can keep you afloat through the pandemic and help you thrive afterward, request a demo today. And for more tips on getting your business through these changing times, check out our free Restaurant Survival Guide e-book. 

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Four Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Open New Doors During COVID-19

Four Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Open New Doors During COVID-19

The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major impact on all sectors of public life. The need for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus has led to voluntary and mandatory shutdowns in many industries. As people avoid contact with each other (and especially crowds), restaurant dining has declined. Sales have decreased anywhere from 32% to 90% in some cases. Concern over losing major revenue during this time of unexpected change in consumer behavior means restaurants must re-evaluate their business and marketing strategies and focus on the areas that they can control. Here are four restaurant marketing strategies to help you survive until this crisis has passed.

1. Heavy Focus on Online Ordering and Delivery 

Although some restaurants have closed, most have guidelines stating that they cannot offer dine in, but delivery and take-out are still allowed. Capitalize on this lifeline by putting a heavy focus on your online ordering and delivery services. Delivery options can include in-person delivery and “no-contact delivery,” where the driver leaves the order at the customer’s doorstep or in their apartment lobby. Take-out options can include in-person pickup or curbside – having the order brought out to the customer’s car. 

Many consumers are worried about (or are currently experiencing) grocery store shortages as “panic buying” peaks. One restaurant marketing strategy is to use this concern in your messaging: assure consumers that you are still in business and can provide the delicious food they are used to having. For customers who are self-quarantined, a reliable food source can be a great relief; and income from delivery can be a great relief for your business.

If you don’t have in-house delivery, or if you find you need to cut staff or reduce overhead, you can partner with a third-party provider such as DoorDash. Having an integrated restaurant point of sale (POS) system will allow you to leverage third-party drivers to get your food to your customers while still retaining control of your customer data. 

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2. Encouraging Gift Card Purchases

Another way that patrons can infuse cash into restaurants while still adhering to social distancing guidelines is to purchase gift cards (preferably online) for future use. These purchases act almost as a “microloan” for consumers to support their favorite restaurants during this time of need. And the cards can stimulate additional income when they are redeemed: one survey found that 59% of consumers spend more than the card’s face value. Digital gift cards are the perfect way for your most loyal customers to support you without leaving the safety of their homes—and to help ensure you’re still operating normally when they can resume normal dining-out activities. 

3. Modifying Your Restaurant Loyalty Program 

A restaurant marketing strategy that can encourage customers to use online ordering and delivery and to purchase gift cards is to modify your existing loyalty program and ramp up rewards for these behaviors. For example, you could offer double points for gift card purchases, or a free drink with an online order. This tactic will help businesses reshape how patrons do business with their organizations and encourage them to continue supporting you during this abnormal time.

4. Leverage Digital Marketing to Spread the Word

Before the pandemic, you may have used a combination of traditional and digital marketing for your restaurant. Now, however, traditional methods such as in-store signage, billboards, and flyers will be less effective. Social distancing and self-isolation will make consumers even more dependent on their smartphones and devices to stay connected to the world and seek some form of normalcy. Digital will be the best restaurant marketing strategy to keep in touch with your customers and promote your new focuses. You can use a combination of social media and email marketing to spread the message that you are still available to provide customers with their favorite meals. Make sure your website and mobile app are up to date (especially your online menus!) and optimized for an exceptional customer experience. Do not forget to update your Google My Business listing with current hours of operation. Businesses may also adjust their services to reflect their current state of business. You may also leverage GMB posts to share important updates that customers will find helpful.

Stay Prepared with an Integrated Restaurant Management System

All restaurant marketing strategies can be made easier with the right technology. An integrated restaurant management system is the key to keeping your restaurant prepared no matter the changes in consumer behavior. 

HungerRush is a leading provider of restaurant technology that is continually tailored to meet evolving customer needs—such as our latest “no-contact delivery” feature updates available in our POS and online ordering platforms and coming soon for our mobile app customers. Request a demo today to learn how HungerRush can help your restaurant get through the Coronavirus pandemic and continue to grow beyond it. 

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How Restaurants Can Diversify to Account for Unexpected and Sudden Changes in Consumer Behavior

How Restaurants Can Diversify to Account for Unexpected and Sudden Changes in Consumer Behavior

In the restaurant business, sometimes unpredictable events can occur that disrupt everyday life. Things like pandemics, natural disasters, and other types of crises can turn everything on its head and present significant and unforeseen challenges to both consumers and businesses, not to mention a further toll on the economy. 

When unexpected events like this arise and restaurants are caught without a plan in place, it affects more than just profits. You can face a loss of customers, food safety concerns or serious inventory waste. If it is serious enough, you could end up unable to pay employees who depend on you for their living, or unable to serve customers who depend on you for meals.

In 2016, 55 people were infected in two E. coli outbreaks after eating at Chipotle. While the outbreaks were confined to those two locations, the widespread public fear caused significant losses in profits to the industry, let alone that particular chain. It resulted in significant damage to the brand, leading to a long and difficult recovery process.

Now is the perfect time to consider how your restaurant can operate should an unexpected event hinder or discourage people from visiting your store.

Consider the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and previous outbreaks of unfamiliar diseases. While the current chances of being infected by the virus are low, the fear of the unknown is causing a consumer panic that may have very real repercussions upon the economy. 

Are you prepared for what can happen when consumer confidence is low and unexpected issues cause sudden changes in consumer behavior? If not, here are a few ways you can diversify your business and be prepared:

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Offer a Variety of Ordering and Delivery Options

Regardless of the scenario, customers today want options. Providing these options not only makes your customers happy, but also protects your business should unexpected events arise that cause changes in consumer behavior. Protect revenue and drive customer loyalty during these uncertain times with these changing guest ordering expectations. View our on-demand webinar now.

The more options and different avenues you offer, the more of a chance you have in case of a sudden incident disrupting your restaurant.

Ordering

The goal here is to reach the widest audience possible, and offering a variety of ordering options does just that. Customers should be able to order their food:

  • In your restaurant
  • Over the phone
  • On your website
  • On your app
  • On third-party ordering platforms

The more options you offer, the more likely you are of not only increasing sales and broadening your audience, but also protecting your businesses in case sudden shifts in behaviors arise.

What would happen if your third-party partners put a halt to their services because of an unexpected event? You’d still want to give your customers multiple options so they can order from you in other ways, like pickup or take out. If you only offer one option, you will be without a solution if that option is no longer viable.

Delivery

It’s no secret that delivery is booming. Restaurant delivery is projected to grow at more than three times the rate of on-premise sales by 2023. The convenience and ability for customers to remain at home is very appealing to consumers today, and can be even more significant in case of a sudden event.

Similar to ordering, customers should have options for receiving their food:

  • Eat in your restaurant
  • Pickup at your restaurant
  • Get orders delivered

Should an unexpected event arise that causes customers to not want to leave their homes—like in the case of poor weather or an outbreak of a disease—you need to have a backup plan to serve these customers. Offering delivery both in-house and through third-party services can also help increase your reach and protect your business.

As the coronavirus becomes more of a nuisance, HungerRush has implemented a  “no-contact delivery”  feature updates available in our POS, Online Ordering platform and soon available for our mobile app customers, we also partner with DoorDash – which offers restaurants the ability to leverage DoorDash drivers to deliver to their customers as a white labeled service – this is especially helpful for those that may have to let go staff or need to reduce overhead due to the current crisis. The best part is you retain your customer data.   

Leverage a Restaurant Mobile App

An integrated mobile app provides an additional ordering avenue for your customers. It also is a great way to stay connected with your customers and remain top of mind. You can use it to send push notifications when you have important announcements or updates, like letting customers know your business is still open and operating during a crisis.

For example, after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, many customers struggled to find information on which restaurants were open for business. Push notifications and app updates can ensure your customers are never left guessing if your business is open or closed during abnormal times.

You can also use this method to send personalized promotions and offers to customers and stay relevant to strengthen your relationships with them. Loyal customers will want to do business with you when times are both good and bad.

An Integrated Restaurant POS is Crucial

The more options you offer to customers, the more important it becomes to implement an integrated restaurant point of sale system. Without an integrated solution, orders can be difficult to keep track of and customer data can be lost.

Make sure your POS system integrates with necessary solutions, like:

  • Online ordering platforms
  • Delivery services and delivery drivers
  • Your website and mobile app
  • Tablet POS
  • Kitchen display systems

Disorganization can wreak havoc upon your operation. It’s critical that you invest in an integrated, comprehensive system that allows you to manage all of your different avenues from one platform. An integrated system helps you stay organized, remain in control, and can safeguard your business from disruption. With these tools you can overcome unexpected or unforeseen challenges and keep yourself afloat during even the hardest times.

The experts at HungerRush are ready to help you prepare for the future of your business. We offer technology that is hand-tailored to fit the needs of your restaurant. Request a demo today to learn how our industry-leading technology can benefit your restaurant in good times and in bad.

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How 2020 Restaurant Trends are Transforming the Way Pizzerias Operate

How 2020 Restaurant Trends are Transforming the Way Pizzerias Operate

Ever since the first U.S. pizzeria opened in Manhattan in 1905, customer preferences—both in the pizzas themselves and how they’re obtained—have continually evolved. By the 1940s, pizzerias were opening all over the country, thanks in part to returning World War II soldiers who wanted to keep enjoying the food they’d been introduced to overseas. In the 1960s, pizza delivery took off as the hot trend. The rise of the internet in the 1990s led to the possibility of ordering pizza online from a website; and in 2009, the first mobile app for pizza ordering appeared. Future developments now being tested include drone delivery, driverless cars, and robot delivery, to make getting pizza easier than ever before.

Throughout all of these changes (and innovations in pizzas themselves, from deep dish to flavored crusts), pizzerias have had to keep adapting to meet customers’ shifting expectations in order to remain profitable. According to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA)  Restaurant Industry 2030 report, the restaurant industry is in the midst of a radical transformation, and a greater proportion of meals will no longer be cooked at home. This shift will provide huge opportunities for pizzerias, as long as owners are strategic. Here are how three key 2020 restaurant trends will affect how pizzerias run their business: 

Customer Demand for Delivery Continues to Rise

Modern consumers lead busy, on-the-go lifestyles, and one of their top needs is convenience. For restaurants, that means delivery. According to the recent NRA report, “Delivery orders are booming, and business models are shifting fast to find ways to serve that customer base.” Data firm Second Measure revealed that U.S. restaurant delivery sales grew 52 percent year-over-year in 2019. Over a third of adults in the U.S. and half of millennials are more likely to order food for delivery, compared to two years ago. 

Pizzeria restaurants need to recognize this demand and implement delivery in order to:

  • Remain Competitive: A recent Forbes article reports that nearly every U.S. zip code is now serviced by at least two delivery companies. If your pizzeria doesn’t offer delivery, it will likely be passed in favor of one that does.
  • Grow Profitability: When customers place their own orders online or through a mobile app for delivery, the ticket sizes tend to be higher than in-store sales. And if you use a third-party provider for delivery services, you can allocate more of your in-house labor for fulfilling the increased number of orders you’ll receive.
  • Improve the Customer Experience: Convenience is a top desire for today’s diners. The easier you can make it for them to get food from you, the more likely they’ll  order,  and order again.
  • Expand/Capture a Bigger Customer Base: Tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z customers live on their phones, so if you offer delivery options through a mobile app, you’ll be more likely to get their attention. Using a third-party provider can also help you reach a wider range of customers, because you’ll be tapping into their base; and they might cover a greater delivery area then you can. 

The growing demand for delivery has led to another trend: the expansion of “ghost kitchens” (also called virtual or cloud kitchens). These locations do not have any dine-in facilities, or even carry-out in most cases; instead, they are devoted exclusively to fulfilling and delivering online orders. Ghost kitchens are booming because they offer lower operational costs and upfront expenses: they don’t require the floor space, staff, etc. of dine-in restaurants, and need only online advertising. 

There’s an App for That 

Whether you have a ghost kitchen or not, mobile apps are necessary to remain competitive in today’s delivery-driven market. In one study, 42% of customers said that the ability to order online would make them choose one restaurant over another (and that number has likely grown since then). Mobile apps represent 60% of all digital orders, and The NPD Group forecasts that digital orders will keep growing by double digits through 2020. Mobile apps can especially connect you to millennials and Gen Z—groups who are most likely to order food for delivery, and whose buying power will continue to increase in the years ahead. According to NPD, Gen Z accounted for 24% of all foodservice traffic in the year ending in July 2019. You need to reach these digital natives through the channels they use most, especially including mobile apps.

Integrated Pizza POS Systems Have the Advantage

The point of sale (POS) system has evolved beyond a simple payment terminal to become the hub of a restaurant’s operations. An integrated pizza POS system will bring together sales from your brick-and-mortar locations and any of the virtual ordering channels. It will also provide a consistent experience for your customers, whichever way they choose to do business with you. Orders from all platforms are incorporated directly into the kitchen queue as they are received, ensuring timely fulfillment. Because the pizza POS is integrated with all ordering platforms, including third-party systems, your customer data is collected and owned by you (rather than the third-party provider). With this data, you can manage your loyalty program and create targeted marketing offers and promotions, further growing your business. 

Choosing the right pizza POS system also means choosing a provider who understands the unique needs of the pizza industry. With in-depth industry expertise, integrated solutions, and 24/7/365 support, HungerRush is the ideal partner for pizzeria tech solutions. You can also find out more about how our solutions can help you manage these 2020 restaurant trends by requesting a demo today.

Survive and Thrive

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