Restaurant Point-of-Sales systems are a constantly evolving form of food tech. From the days when servers had to memorize dozens of codes for menu items in order to place a guest order to systems that are growing ever more sophisticated, allowing timekeeping applications and inventory recollection reports, restaurant technology has undergone many iterations.
With that said, updating POS systems has always been one of the largest capital outlays for restaurant owners, whether it's a single owner operation that may not be able to spend $20,000 or more for the latest system to chain resultants that seek consistent POS software for restaurants across the country. Enter the latest cloud-based innovation – ghost kitchen software that streamlines dining service, including making online ordering and delivery easier for customers and operators alike.
Let's explore Restaurant SaaS and its impact on the emerging trends in the hospitality industry.
SaaS stands for Software as a Service.
It's a subscription-based point of sales system that utilizes cloud technology for more flexible operations.
The software is internet-based, and many of the more advanced operations have inventory management and scheduling modules. Putting all the information you need in one place, with the ability to check labor and product use in real-time gives managers the ability to be more responsive in ordering supplies or changing staffing levels as needed.
Like many industries, restaurants are moving toward internet solutions, over the old-school hardwired versions. Variations of SaaS applications include mobile point of sales devices, reducing wait times for customer orders, and reducing employee mistakes. Other advantages include an ordering and inventory system that's synced up, with alerts that can indicate low product levels or excess waste.
Will SaaS replace traditional POS software? It's highly likely.
While each individual system is different, the good ones share many common advantages.
Most of these are centered around ease of use and increased safety and security, with end-to-end encryption for credit card transactions and remote access for authorized users that are protected from hackers. In the past, restaurants may have had one type of software for inventory, one for scheduling and labor, and one for sales, in addition to the different types of order forms they may use for vendors. New SaaS systems can combine many of these systems into one dashboard, easily navigable from different devices.
Any experienced restaurant manager can tell stories of POS systems that crash in the middle of service or slowly develop quirks due to excessive use (plus a few food spills). The cost of having a technician visit the restaurant, especially one that has to visit after-hours, is expensive. Beyond the cost of fixing a POS when the system crashes or having regular maintenance to reduce those occasions, restaurants have to purchase all the equipment upfront, plus pay an annual licensing fee.
Cloud-based operating systems have a smaller learning curve, as well. Many restaurant workers now are very familiar with different types of applications, so the "technology curve' is virtually nonexistent. Plus, the operations side resembles timekeeping and inventory software that many managers and owners are already familiar with and can run on devices like iPads or other tablets and handhelds.
Updating software for a ghost kitchen is much easier when the entirety of operations are internet-based. Business owners can choose to download the updates on their time when the restaurant is closed. SaaS platforms tend to be scalable, too, allowing businesses to grow, change their menu and table layouts more easily, and access upgraded technology without the need to install an entirely new set up of computers, cash drawers, printers, and wiring.
Managers or chefs can load the ingredients and portions for each menu item, and therefore compare usage for each item ordered with the inventory. This applies to beverage sales, as well, providing tighter control over items that are frequently spilled or otherwise misappropriated.
POS and operations software that has a smaller physical profile can make it easier for ghost kitchens, or "dark kitchens" to operate. The pandemic situation of restaurants opening, closing, re-opening again, or having limited hours and menu items have given rise to more take-out and online ordering. With remote updates and repairs for POS systems, there's less need for on-site maintenance visits. Plus the newer Saas systems are much more customizable and can be created to meet the needs of the kitchen that operate essentially without a front-of-house order taking department.
Regardless of when the pandemic situation is lifted, the restaurant industry, when it emerges, may never be back to the old normal. Many single-owner concepts have closed or changed their concepts to fit online ordering and sheltering in place. Larger chains are affected, too, and many casual dine-in chains may move away from a full-service operation and more towards using technology to streamline service and turn tables faster.
For chefs and smaller business owners, reducing the overhead and expense of the POS system and everything that goes with it can help make operations easier, by generating necessary tracking and income reports at the touch of a few screens. Plus, these operations may be able to have greater flexibility over menu offerings or even running different concepts with the same software.
Social media is another area where better technology can have a positive impact on a restaurant's performance. Being able to upload photos to a restaurant's social media accounts and integrate those sites with the business's own website, in real time, can add a layer of authenticity to the business, something that more and more consumers desire.
Software as a Service may not be the right choice for every type of restaurant concept, but the appeal for many owners and managers is growing. With the pandemic forcing closures of many on-premise businesses, delivery, carryout, and ghost kitchens are on the rise. Enabling managers and owners to conduct business using cloud-based software that integrates with many online applications makes it easier for virtual customers to order. Plus, the ease of updates for these advanced POS networks and the ability to track inventory and labor in real-time allow businesses that have notoriously low-profit margins the ability to track every penny.
If you think Saas is right for you, we can help! Give our sales team a call or visit us online to learn more about our suite of Service as a Subscription restaurant management software products.