Restaurant Development & Design

NOV-DEC 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • 1 9 • Surveillance cameras • Wi-Fi access • And more as new technology com- ponents are constantly evolving Phase 2: Research and Interview Once the list of IT necessities has been developed and the layout of the restaurant has been approved, it is time to start researching and interviewing potential IT partners. Take the list of IT components you have developed, and use it to find the company that will be able to supply all of your technology needs. Restaurant owners should not settle for an IT provider that cannot supply each and every item on their list. A good provider should always offer cus- tomized solutions tailored to the specific needs of each restaurant as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Finding an IT partner at this phase of the process will ensure a smooth transition from ground- breaking to grand opening. Some restaurant owners assume they should hire a local IT provider. Lo- cation should never hinder the decision to hire the IT partner that is the right fit for your business. Some providers are headquartered in one location but have trusted teams throughout the country, so they can service clients anywhere. If the IT company desired is located out of state, it is important to ensure that it has a representative or team that is located nearby to provide immediate service, installation, maintenance and issue management. A reliable IT partner should be able to provide services any- where, regardless of geographic location. Additionally, restaurant owners who choose to use multiple IT provid- ers to supply various IT needs are truly doing themselves and their business a disservice. This is a mistake many restaurant owners make that will ulti- mately prove to be an inefficient use of time, resources and money. The use of multiple IT providers is not recom- mended because if the restaurant is experiencing technological difficulties with more than one component, that's two providers you now have to call, two schedules to coordinate and two bills that you must pay. Hiring one trusted provider to handle all IT components will ultimately save time and money. An IT provider should act as a team mem- ber working with the restaurant, striving for mutual success and adapting as the restaurant grows and evolves. Phase 3: Open for Business Once the restaurant is up and run- ning, owners should continue to have consistent and regular communication with their IT provider. New restaurants have kinks to work out during the initial months of being open. A restaurant owner should rely on their IT partner as an extension of their business. It is wrong for a restaurant owner to think otherwise. A common mistake many restau- rant owners make is failing to provide their staff with adequate technology training prior to opening. Before the restaurant opens, have the IT team conduct a technology training ses- sion with all restaurant staff to ensure each individual knows how to work the equipment properly. The more employ- ees know about the IT components within a restaurant, the more prepared they will be to handle a minor glitch if needed. Reputation is everything within the restaurant industry; therefore, it is essential to take every precaution nec- essary to ensure an IT issue does not negatively affect your restaurant. For the first few months the restau- rant is open, schedule weekly check-in calls with your provider to talk through how IT components are working. This is an opportunity for team members to ask any questions they have and work out any issues that can be handled over the phone. After a few months, check-in calls will no longer be necessary; how- ever, this does not mean it is accept- able to lose touch with your provider. It is a restaurant owner's responsibility as a leader to ensure their team has all the tools necessary to succeed. A reliable IT provider should come on-site for a visit once every quarter to take a closer look at all technology components and ensure everything is working correctly. This is also a good time for them to replace or update tech- nology. For example, if the POS system you use has recently been upgraded to include more security features, your IT provider can update all systems when they conduct their quarterly check-in. Restaurant owners who fail to sched- ule quarterly check-ins with their IT provider are at risk of falling behind by operating with out-of-date technology that could harm their business. Additionally, it is beneficial to take the time during your quarterly visit to ask your provider for recommenda- tions as to how you could be running the business more efficiently from a technological perspective. A trusted IT partner should not use this opportunity to sell you more equipment or services but instead should utilize every tool it has to help your restaurant succeed. As the restaurant industry con- tinues to grow, it has never been more important for owners to understand how technology plays a vital role in their ongoing success. Leaders and innovators within the restaurant industry should expect to see technology continue to play a significant role as IT tools are growing in popularity. Ten years ago, we could not fathom half of the IT gadgets we have grown accustomed to using ev- ery day. Now, imagine what innovations will be developed within the technology industry within another 10 years. The amount of technology we use and see in our everyday lives will only continue to grow. Restaurants that prioritize their technology needs and hire an IT partner committed to the longevity of their busi- ness will find success and stand out in the competitive food service industry. +

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