While there’s still a part of me that misses the simplicity of using pens, paper, napkin notes and phone calls to manage a multi-unit restaurant company, no one can deny that the use of technology has brought operational efficiencies into every aspect of our organizations. This article is designed to provide insight into how to easily navigate a stream of savvy sales people, peddling 100’s of different pieces of hospitality technology.
How do you pick the right solution/partners for your business? Let me start by stating, there is no “one size” fits all approach. There are many aspects to consider in the entirety of restaurant operations and every company does it differently. To simplify and organize this complex and often convoluted process, I’ve come up with the following metrics, that you as the buyer can focus on…You, What, Who and How
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Tzu Sun's to the rescue! For the sake of this conversation, assume “the enemy” is your business challenges and “yourself” is your organization as a whole. I’ll go ahead and jump on the sword here, (pun intended) I’ve made the wrong purchases for my organizations in the past by not following these fundamentals. So step one, dive deep into your challenges, understand your capabilities, and respect resource restraints both financially and operationally.
Less is more! Less is more! Less is more! Why have 10 providers when 3 will do. I’ll tell you why, because we want the best, we want the absolute best solution for each one of our challenges. And guess what, we are wrong! Having the absolute best company for each area of your restaurant technology will leave you with a singular provider for each piece and an integration, resource sucking, nightmare. Consolidate, but consolidate well. Shop for providers that handle multiple aspects of your needs, such as a FOH provider that handles, POS, Loyalty, Gift Cards, Table Management, Real Time Reporting and Online Ordering. Choose a BOH provider that bundles, HR, Payroll, Inventory, Analytics, Demand Planning, Staffing ect..Find providers that excel in your main concerns yet adequately handle others. Weigh the options and understand their impact. For example, if you are doing massive amounts of revenue on carry out, and very little on dine-in, find a POS provider that handles carry out orders really well, don’t get hung up on inadequacies in other areas of their solution that won’t impact your bottom line. That said, future proofing is equally important, focus not only on now, but also on where you plan to be in the next few years. Future Proof your technology!
“People buy from people.”
It’s a common phrase, but don’t take it lightly. Who are you talking to? Are you talking to someone who is trying to sell you a commodity? Where do their motivations lie? Are they looking at you as a $ sign or are they looking at ways they can help your business? What happens after the sale? Who takes over? Find out the WHO’s! Question the people you’re about to work with. Learn their backgrounds, find out what makes them tick, and most importantly, make sure the company’s culture, and your companies culture are a good fit. People change, but cultures rarely do.
Simple yet often overlooked. How? How is this product/service going to help me? How user friendly is it? How much training does it take to make someone proficient? How will it communicate/integrate across my organization? Ask the How’s. In relationship to the how’s, demand a value proposition. Almost every company claims averages of percents saved or revenues increased. “My product will save you, on average, 1-4% on your cost of goods sold and increase your revenue by 5%?” Don’t buy it…a company that actually cares will do in-depth, in-store scoping in order to provide a “value proposition” on how it relates to the real life scenario’s in your business. Moreover, assuming all is agreed upon during the value proposition, demand a statement of work. A formal “statement of work” should outline, in detail, who will be responsible for what during implementation. This document should be agreed upon by all parties involved and will help minimizes any surprises around how the technology is implemented.
There are many other parameters to consider when making any major purchase, however following these guidelines should at least help minimize inadequate providers. As always, feel free to message me to further the discussion, always happy to help.