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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.

Become More Profitable by Building Customer Loyalty

Become More Profitable by Building Customer Loyalty

The Relationship Between Customer Loyalty and Profitability

Customer loyalty and restaurant profitability are intricately tied to one another. According to the Gartner Group, nearly 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers. This means that when deciding how to allocate your resources, priority should be placed on getting to know and retain your current customer base. 

Sure, exciting promotions and events that get new guests in the door help boost daily sales, but long-term, consistent revenue growth comes from your regulars: the family that comes in every week for Taco Tuesday, the couple that celebrates all special occasions in your dining room, and the group of friends that orders takeout every Friday evening. 

Instead of focusing all of your efforts just on customer acquisition, restaurants must prioritize their strategies for how to nurture and build relationships with their current customer base. 

Strengthening customer loyalty brings in more revenue per ticket, as well as an increase in the frequency of visits—a win/win when it comes to growing profitability. Once you’ve gained the trust of your loyal customers, they’ll choose you over the competition, which keeps your revenue flowing long after a promotion or event. 

Want to learn more about creating a customer experience your guests won’t forget? Check out our free ebook here.

Building Restaurant Customer Loyalty that Lasts 

While good cuisine, great customer service, and fair prices are important factors in driving customer loyalty, those alone won’t be enough to keep you competitive. Building real relationships with your restaurant patrons requires a customer-focused mindset.

Here are a few ways to improve yours:

Evolve with Their Needs

Customer behavior is always fluctuating. From time to time, there will be a shift in what your customers are looking for that affects how they want to spend their time and money. 

Take COVID-19, for example. When the pandemic first struck, consumer focus shifted from convenience to safety. Customers traded dine-in for delivery and curbside pickup, and the restaurants that stayed profitable were the ones that quickly accommodated the behavioral shift.

If COVID-19 has taught the industry anything, it’s that restaurant owners must regularly engage with and listen to their customers, which isn’t too difficult with the right technology. 

When all of your ordering channels are integrated, it allows you to keep a close eye on your ordering data, alerting you of trends and shifts in behavior immediately. You can automate data collection and quickly analyze that data if you utilize a comprehensive Restaurant Management System (RMS), which saves valuable time and makes it easier to view. 

With this, you no longer have to manually collect and combine order data from different channels. Everything is integrated, so data can be shared and reviewed across channels. 

Give Back

Restaurants aren’t the only ones hit hard by COVID-19—customers have been hit as well. Because of that, customers are choosing to support businesses that also support their communities and immediate environment. 

For example, many restaurants like Little Pops Pizza donated meals and supplies to healthcare workers and first responders at the onset of COVID-19. Others have taken other avenues, such as organizing fundraisers for local sports teams and clubs or donating gift cards or cash to community events.

No matter how you choose to give back, your customers will notice that you care about them and their community, and will want to offer their support right back.

Develop a Next-Level Customer Loyalty Program

These days, an annual birthday coupon for your customers will likely not bring many people into your restaurant. Such methods are antiquated, and customers have gotten accustomed to bigger and better loyalty programs that offer more unique rewards for their business.

Good loyalty programs keep customers interested—and since this interest is always evolving, so are the programs. Today’s successful programs offer unique rewards that customers may not be able to receive otherwise. Some examples include early access to new dishes, exclusive events and priority reservations, and tiered membership levels with more benefits. 

Some key features of a next-level customer loyalty program are:

  • A simple sign-up process and user experience
  • An easy-to-redeem rewards program
  • Personalized promotions
  • Rewards anytime and anywhere an order is placed

The goal is to connect with your customers meaningfully and reward them for their loyalty to your restaurant. A reward can be anything you think your customers will value. Even donations to customers’ favorite charities can be considered rewards.

A good loyalty program can snowball your restaurant’s success. The more your loyalty program gives your customers what they want, the more data and visibility you receive that help you better understand your customers. As a result, you can make better decisions that let you continually reward your customers and give them amazing brand experiences, and the cycle continues. 

Maximize ROI With a Restaurant Management System Designed for You

Because loyalty programs are incredibly important to the health of your restaurant, they fortunately often come as a standard in a quality restaurant management system. Along with managing your loyalty program, the HungerRush Restaurant Management System offers additional useful features like multi-channel ordering, detailed reporting and insights, and more. These technology solutions are becoming crucial as restaurants shift their focus and plan for their futures. 

Contact HungerRush for a personalized free demo and learn how we can help you enhance your restaurant digitally in 2020 and beyond!

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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!

The Importance of Customer Data to Drive Repeat Business

The Importance of Customer Data to Drive Repeat Business

The past few months have caused massive and rapid changes throughout the restaurant industry, thanks to COVID-19. Restaurant owners are looking to emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever to ensure the longevity of their business. 

As you look for ways to increase your restaurant revenue, work smarter—not harder. Rather than putting all of your effort into trying to find and intrigue new customers, remember that your current customer base spends over 67% more than new customers do. It costs five to ten times more to bring in a new customer than it does to retain a current one. 

The question them becomes: 

How Do I Get my Restaurant Customers to Come Back?

Your current restaurant customers are valuable. You need to be investing effort not only in keeping them satisfied, but keeping them coming back for more. In order to retain customers, it’s important to first take a step back and understand who these customers are. Otherwise, how would you be able to give them what they want? 

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Where do my customers live? 
  • What’s important to them? 
  • How far do they travel to visit your restaurant? 
  • How frequently do they dine out? 
  • What is their average ticket size? 
  • What is the split between low-margin food and high-margin drinks? 

You may already know the answers to some of these questions, but having solid data is necessary if you want to be as accurate and insightful as possible. This is even more important during times of uncertainty, when customer behavior is likely to change

The Importance of Restaurant Customer Data Ownership

Innovative restaurant owners realize the benefits of owning their customer data. They have processes in place to make sure they can optimize their data and put it to the best use possible. They then use this data to: 

Better Understand Customers

Like the above mentions, customer data is critical to help restaurant owners truly understand their customers and learn what motivates them to dine with their business. It goes beyond name and contact information. Customer data can show you what time your customers are most likely to place an online order, how much they’re willing to spend, and which promotions appeal to which types of customers. By recognizing these wants and needs, restaurants can be more strategic with how they spend their efforts and marketing dollars to better retain their guests. 

For restaurant Hometown Pizza and Grill in Rockmart, Georgia, gaining control over their customer data resulted in a decrease in advertising spend through Facebook. Now their restaurant can better understand their customers and market directly to them with targeted, personalized messages—for free! This frees up their budget to focus on other efforts, while growing their bottom line. 

Communicate More Effectively

Armed with data, restaurants can efficiently and effectively communicate and market to their customer base. If you have a solid understanding of when and how your customers prefer to be reached, you can establish stronger communication lines that lead to better customer relationships. Promotions are no longer done blindly. Instead, restaurants can leverage their data to personalize promotions based on customer history and preferences for a significant return. 

For example, you may notice that some of your customers never open your emails, but often place orders after receiving a text message. Or maybe you have certain customers that order the same meal a few times per month that would respond well to a personalized offer. Grouping customers into segments allows you to advertise more strategically, strengthen relationships, and increase sales. 

Not only does data help with promotions, it also helps keep all of your customer information in one place. When Little Pops Pizzeria moved to a curbside and delivery only model in April 2020, they were able to communicate with 5,000+ customers stored in their database. The quick response and outreach helped Little Pops grow revenue when other restaurants were scrambling to stay afloat.

Retain Customers

With any relationship, the foundation of trust is built with effective communication and understanding. To truly connect with customers in a way that appeals to them and meets their needs, you must first understand just what those needs are. Once you do, you can build a loyal relationship with them that encourages them to return to your business to get that same great experience time and time again. A happy, engaged customer is a loyal customer. 

Restaurants can use their customer data to: improve their loyalty program and provide an enhanced customer experience. Without the proper data, it’s more difficult for your loyalty program to produce the results you’re looking for. 

Restaurant franchise PieZoni’s found that members of their loyalty program visit their restaurants four times per month, twice the average of non-loyalty members. They’ve learned to leverage the power of their customer data to boost the effectiveness of their program—keeping customers coming back more often and spending more each visit. 

Automate and Streamline Data Collection with a Restaurant Management System 

The benefits and uses of customer data are vast and widespread, but it’s impossible to unlock these resources without access to this critical data. You’ll need the right technology in place in order to collect and manage your customer information. 

Another major factor to consider is whether or not you own all of your data. Does your system give you exclusive rights to data, or are you using third-party systems that send your customer data to your competitor? 

The best way to ensure you can collect, manage, and own your customer data is to invest in an integrated restaurant management system (RMS). A comprehensive RMS acts as a powerful technology hub that connects all of your systems and solutions. These systems house all of your customer data to simplify data management throughout your entire business. The visibility these systems provide is invaluable. Remember: knowledge is power, after all. 

With an integrated RMS in place, you can capture real-time data and access through the same dashboard, no matter how or from where a customer orders. That means if a customer places an order with a third-party delivery service, you get the ability to own all of your data while still benefiting from the convenience of the third-party integration. Without an RMS, the third-party service would own all of the data. You no longer need to choose between data ownership and third-party services. 

An RMS allows you to even consolidate and leverage customer order history and preferences across multiple channels, helping you better understand subtle differences between order methods. That way you can offer more profitable promotions for each channel to communicate with and retain your customer base more effectively. 

Armed with the right data, you are equipped to provide exceptional customer experiences that increase profitability across channels. For instance, returning customers can reorder their favorite dishes with ease. Provide them with the ability to save their address and payment info and give them access to exclusive loyalty rewards and discounts, and you make it simple, fast, and rewarding for customers to do business with you. 

Make sure to choose a high-quality, expert-backed RMS, like HungerRush. Our restaurant management system provides restaurant owners with a 360-degree view of their operations, allowing you to gain valuable insight, maintain and expand your competitive edge, and enhance your overall customer experience. 

For more information on the HungerRush restaurant management system, request a demo today! 

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Optimizing Your Online Ordering and Loyalty Programs with a Restaurant Management System

Optimizing Your Online Ordering and Loyalty Programs with a Restaurant Management System

You’ve been a responsible business owner, despite the turmoil that the restaurant industry has recently undergone. You’ve put new policies in place, and have done your best to prioritize the safety and health of guests and employees. You may be asking yourself: What now? 

The best thing you can do for your business is to focus on the programs and tools that will maximize your revenue and keep customers coming back. 

Two of the most important tools to focus on should be your online ordering system and your restaurant loyalty program. These are the best tools you have at your disposal to maximize ROI, but you need to optimize these programs in order to do that. 

Here’s how:

Create the Ultimate Restaurant Online Ordering Experience

The importance of an efficient online ordering program cannot be overstated, especially in the current climate. Though customers are beginning to venture out more, they are still wary of resuming dine-in activities. Off-premises dining will continue to remain a top revenue-driver for restaurants in the months to come, which means a large percentage of orders will be coming from an online platform.

Because of this, it’s important that you optimize your online ordering platform by investing in a high-quality restaurant management system. This can integrate online ordering with a number of critical restaurant solutions, such as: 

Loyalty programs: 

Integrating your online ordering system with your loyalty program allows you not only to collect customer data easily and efficiently, but own it as well. You can then leverage it to send more effective, personalized promotions and messaging to the customers that utilize online ordering the most to increase ticket size and ordering frequency. 

Kitchen display systems: 

An integrated system allows online orders to be sent directly to the kitchen as soon as they are submitted. It effectively cuts back on all the different steps an order has to go through between the customer and the kitchen. Because there is no middleman, you can achieve faster and more accurate orders to keep your online customers satisfied.

Mobile apps: 

A restaurant management system easily connects all digital orders and allows them to flow in and out of a single system, regardless of where they originate. If your menu and pricing needs updated, you can make changes and have them reflected on your website and mobile app at the same time. This also streamlines data collection and makes it easy to aggregate data across systems. 

Pickup and delivery: 

An integrated system can track an order from the time it is placed online to the time it is delivered on the customer’s doorstep or picked up from the restaurant. When you integrate your delivery software, you can have more control over your orders, getting them to customers faster and with more accuracy. The same goes for curbside pickup. 

POS and reporting: 

Without an integrated restaurant management system, business owners must manually collect online order data from their website and app, and then combine it with the rest of their sales data. This can lead to inaccuracies and can consume valuable time. With an integrated system, however, all data lives in one place. You can easily pull reports and real-time data on-the-spot, helping you make more informed business decisions. 

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Keep Them Coming Back with a Restaurant Loyalty Program

An efficient loyalty program is necessary for restaurant owners who want to stay competitive. It is one of the most effective ways to build solid relationships with your customers and keep them loyal to your business, which is the ultimate goal for all restaurant owners. You should be utilizing your loyalty program to build trust and strengthen communication with your customers. 

It’s no longer enough to have a simple punch card. Your loyalty program must be fully-optimized for the biggest impact. That means it needs to be integrated with your restaurant management system, so that it can communicate with the rest of your critical software, like: 

Online ordering and mobile app

Members of your loyalty program can log in to their accounts online and view their loyalty reward status online and via app. They can also redeem their loyalty rewards points at the same time. When loyal customers can log into their accounts, you are better able to collect customer data no matter how they order. 

By collecting online ordering data, you will be able to better cater to these customers, and can create more profitable, personalized promotions. So if you have a customer that ordered a pepperoni pizza last Friday at dinnertime, you can easily send a personalized offer for a BOGO deal on pepperoni pizza this Friday at 5 PM to encourage a repeat order. If the customer has your app, you can even send it via push notification to stay top-of-mind. 

Reporting and POS
When you integrate your loyalty program with your RMS, you can collect and manage customer data so that you’ll be able to better connect with them. You’ll have the visibility you need to identify your best customers by frequency and spend, so that you can create more personalized offers that lead to higher sales. 

An integrated system also makes it easier to enroll customers. They can enroll in your program right at the POS when dining in, or online when placing an order. Staff can be trained to encourage and help every dine-in customer to become loyalty program members. Once enrolled, customer information is automatically saved, and is now accessible across all locations and platforms, physical and online. 

Rely on an Integrated Restaurant Management System

To remain ahead of the competition in an industry that evolves so rapidly and relies so heavily on technology, forward-thinking restaurants require the powerful tools that a restaurant management system provides. This can give you access to software that allows you to appeal to the fluctuating demands of today’s consumers, and can integrate your business tools in a way that allows them to work together as a single cohesive unit—maximizing the results and the return on investment for each solution. 

The result? A customer experience like never before. 

Interested in finding out more about a restaurant management system that provides accurate, real-time data to help you make better business decisions and optimize both on- and off-premises sales? Request a demo with HungerRush today. 

Looking for more ways to prepare your restaurant to reopen? Check out some of our additional resources here:

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Top 4 Ways to Ensure Safe Off-Premises Operations and Drive Restaurant Revenue

Top 4 Ways to Ensure Safe Off-Premises Operations and Drive Restaurant Revenue

For restaurants, the pandemic is the start of a new normal. Off-premises dining became the only option for restaurants to bring in sales during COVID-19. It’s wise for restaurants to be set up with off-premises dining options, including no-contact online ordering, pickup, and delivery. Even now, as restrictions and closures begin to lift, restaurants still need to maintain a heavy focus on off-premises dining, since customers may be understandably wary to return to dine-in activities. This presents new challenges, especially since restaurants must keep their customers safe and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to safe and sanitary operations and guidelines. 

1. Offer No Contact Delivery, Payment, and Pickup

Because everyone is aware of the health and safety concerns with COVID-19, it’s essential that your customers feel as safe as possible in their dining experience, from order to fulfillment. There are a few ways you can accomplish this.

The first is a no-contact delivery option, which is perhaps the most effective way to ensure safety. You can do this through your own restaurant, or integrated third-party services. Delivery staff can drop off orders at customers’ doors and let them know when it’s ready by phone call or text. Contact is not only minimized, it is entirely avoided.

The second is a no-contact payment option. Your online ordering system should ideally be set up to take payments through your website or app, making the process quick, easy, and secure— all while ensuring your customers’ safety. If that’s not possible with your business, you can accept credit card orders over the phone. If you must accept cards in person, you may have to alter your processes to limit contact as much as possible. For example, the employee can hold the payment processor, or the processor can be covered, so all the customer has to do is insert their card, no button or signing required. It’s best to avoid cash, but if needed, make sure your employees wear gloves when handling cash, and changing them after every transaction. 

The third is through no-contact curbside pickup and takeout options. Even as restrictions are being lifted, curbside pickup is becoming the norm. It’s important to have an efficient and safe pickup system in place, understanding the best use of the space outside your restaurant. It should have clearly marked entrance and exit paths, with signs and cones, to make it easy for customers and staff to navigate. Include parking spots for customers to wait in their cars and have their food brought to them, and a pickup table for customers to grab their food themselves if preferred. Consider technology that enables customers to notify restaurants upon arrival for no-contact pickup. 

Staff members should be properly trained on all of these options, and on the most efficient and sanitary ways to do so. 

2. Leverage an Integrated Restaurant Loyalty Program

With restrictions in place it hasn’t been an option to communicate directly with customers, as many choose to—or have no choice but to—stay home. This is why a restaurant loyalty program is more crucial now more than ever.

Loyalty programs enable you to stay in contact with your customers. They prevent customer relationships from slipping, since you can use customer data from a loyalty program to send emails, mailers, and text messages to communicate with them. This contact can include updates on business hours, menu changes, ordering and fulfillment options, and ways you are prioritizing safety. 

With data from your loyalty program and POS system, you can create and promote personalized offers to your customers. For example, cater to what they like—don’t offer them the meat lover’s special if they regularly order a veggie burger. The idea is to turn data into actionable insights; tailored offers create much more personal customer experiences that are more likely to be ordered and remembered. Some examples of ideas are spreading the word about specials that you may have newly implemented during COVID-19 to keep customers engaged and excited, such as family bundles and meal kits.

A loyalty program is a tool that can be leveraged to encourage and reward loyal customers. It’s important to make sure your customers know their business is appreciated during this time. Because this is a special time, consider adjusting your loyalty rewards to match your adjusted business model, like giving extra points for delivery and family bundles.

3. Prioritize Safe Food Handling and Packaging

Safety and health are the number-one priorities during this pandemic. To keep your employees and customers safe, proper food handling and packaging is essential.

Ensure food is prepared properly and follows safe time and temperature requirements for optimal safety. Prevent cross-contamination among ingredients, meals, and kitchen supplies, like knives and cutting boards. Properly and regularly follow cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Ensure sick employees stay home and consider screening upon return by checking their temperature before their shift. Lastly, properly seal and minimize tampering for to-go containers, using receipt labels to do so. These are only a few tips to ensure safety and sanitation in your restaurant.

4. Promote Restaurant Gift Cards 

Gift cards can be a great way to immediately generate revenue and interest for your business. This, with your online ordering, pickup, and delivery efforts, should be optimized to drive restaurant sales during the pandemic. 

Gift cards can be promoted and sold during pick-up orders at your restaurant, or even promoted during the order and delivered with an online order. Electronically is the ideal today; customers can purchase gift cards online and have it sent to their email, eliminating contact altogether. This is also a great way to encourage customers to buy them as gifts for others—all they have to do is pre-pay for an electronic gift card and have it sent to friends and family.

Spread the word about gift cards through email and social media, and leverage holidays, such as the upcoming Mother’s Day, as gift opportunities for their loved ones. You can even offer special deals, such as BOGO half-off, and extra loyalty rewards for gift card purchases, like double points on gift card spending.

Thrive Beyond COVID-19

There are still ways to thrive in the new normal of off-premises operations. Off-premises dining is expected to remain the top choice even after restrictions are lifted and doors open back up. Therefore, restaurants should be looking for ways to maximize sales, strengthen customer loyalty, and prepare their businesses for the future. 

HungerRush offers a range of revenue-boosting technology, such as HungerRush Online Ordering and Loyalty Program solutions, which integrate seamlessly into your POS and can assist you in your off-premises operations. For more information, view our Survival Guide Ebook, or contact an expert at HungerRush today! 

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How to Set Up Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Crucial Component During COVID-19

How to Set Up Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Crucial Component During COVID-19

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, online ordering was already a huge and lucrative opportunity for restaurants, with over half of restaurant spending projected to take place off-premise in 2020. Now, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused a shift in consumer behavior, whether mandated by the government or a self-imposed decision to stay away from dine-in restaurants. As the stay-at-home and social distancing directives continue, online ordering and delivery may be the only options restaurants have to remain open and serve guests.

As overall economic activity slows, you have the opportunity to catch up on restaurant technology. Here’s how to set up online ordering for restaurants to future-proof your business. 

Assess Your Restaurant Needs

Every restaurant is different, and before you decide on the specifics of an online ordering system, it’s important to determine your individual needs. Some questions to consider:

  • What will I need to purchase in order to launch online ordering? At a minimum, you’ll need to-go packaging and online ordering technology (including a website and mobile app). If you add in delivery, you’ll need transport bags, drivers, and vehicles (and insurance for them).
  • How much staff will I need to execute an online ordering system? You’ll need people to prep, cook, package, and fulfill the orders (in-store take-out, curbside pickup transactions, or delivery, or all of them). If your dine-in facilities are closed because of the outbreak, you can reallocate staff such as servers or bussers to new positions as needed. As your online business accelerates, you may need to hire more people.
  • Will the online ordering channels integrate with my restaurant point of sale (POS) system? Integration is crucial for efficiency, accuracy, and data capture.

You’ll also need to evaluate your online ordering options:

  • Integrated online ordering with your POS and delivery vehicles branded with your restaurant’s name
  • Pros:  The majority of consumers prefer to order directly from a restaurant. By doing so, you can control all touch points with the customer to ensure you’re creating stronger loyalty and a better experience. Integrated online ordering allows for less order errors and greater revenue per order for owners. You’ll also get to keep 100% of your customer data. 
  • Cons: You may need more staff to handle delivery in-house. However, as online orders increase, phone orders may decrease, freeing up resources and labor. You also may have to devote more attention to marketing in order to promote your online availability and capture a wider audience. 
  • Third-party online ordering using providers such as DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, etc.
  • Pros: You can reach more consumers who may not be aware of your restaurant until they see it on the third-party site or app. Additionally, delivery tasks are out of your hands with third-party providers—they’ll pick up and deliver the food for you.
  • Cons: You’ll keep less of your profits—some third-party providers take as much as 30% in fees. You may have technology integration issues. For example, if your systems aren’t integrated, you may receive orders through Uber Eats and have to manually enter them into your POS system. Juggling multiple systems or doing double entries during peak hours is not ideal. And, if your systems aren’t integrated, you often don’t own the customer data, making it harder to grow  loyalty.

There are good and bad aspects for each option. Ultimately, you need to choose the one that’s right for you. The best solution may be to partner with a third-party for overflow during peak hours when you are short on drivers, or to help expand outside of your normal delivery areas.

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Plan to Maximize Your Exposure 

When determining if and how to set up online ordering for restaurants, owners should know that one of the main benefits is the increased audience and opportunities for sales. To maximize your exposure and online ordering strategy when offering it through your restaurant, be sure to:

  • Optimize Your Website: Make sure your website is set up to have an updated, detailed digital menu that reflects your brand and showcases your food—especially because there is more space online for appealing photos, descriptions, and nutritional information. Set up and test the online ordering process prior to launch to ensure it’s working smoothly and delivering the best user experience. The process should be responsive, secure, and require minimal steps for the customer to place their order and checkout.
  • Consider a Mobile App: Branded mobile apps complement your website to provide an optimal online ordering strategy and is  especially important if you operate a franchise or multi-unit business. Not only does an app give you an even greater online reach, it also strengthens customer relationships, accessibility and enhances brand loyalty. 

Establish an Integrated Customer Loyalty Program

If you don’t have one already, launching a customer loyalty program integrated with your online ordering platform is a great way to motivate customers to try it out. If you do have one, now is the time to encourage customers to log in and collect/redeem rewards online. With an integrated loyalty program, you can better collect and manage your customer data, which is crucial as you add more ordering channels. You want to maximize data collected from customers no matter which ordering path they choose in order to create and execute more personalized marketing messaging

A loyalty program also keeps customers even more connected with your brand, and increases the chance they will order again—even up to four times more per month. It can be a crucial tool in encouraging online ordering by rewarding customers for doing so (by offering discounts and specials online for rewards members). It’s especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, since you can only interact digitally for now. 

The Next Steps Toward Restaurant Online Ordering Implementation

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way restaurants operate. Without the proper online ordering platform, your restaurant could have difficulties getting your food to your customers. Amid anxieties about grocery shortages and food availability, customers are flocking to restaurants that are offering online ordering for takeout, curbside pickup or delivery. They’re especially interested in restaurants who can offer unique fulfillment options during this time, such as contact less delivery and curbside pickup. Because of these new needs, this is an opportune time to assess technology investments that will help your restaurant or chain survive and take it to the next level when the pandemic has passed. The best strategy is to implement an integrated point of sale, loyalty, and delivery support with the HungerRush online ordering solution. When you use the same provider for all of your restaurant tech needs, everything is automated and efficient, making it easier than ever to scale your business to address the current situation while preparing for the future. 

To learn more about the HungerRush online ordering solution, request a demo today. You can also download our free ebook of strategies to protect your revenue and reduce costs while surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Join us on the morning of April 14 for a free webinar on how restaurants can protect their revenue and profitability during these unexpected times. Click here to save your spot! 

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. 

Survive and Thrive

The Next 30 Days and Beyond

Offer online ordering and on-demand delivery services with this limited time starter bundle to keep your restaurant running today and future-proof for tomorrow!

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