The dinner rush has begun, and once again, your kitchen is struggling to get plates out on time. You’re short-staffed because a server forgot their shift, and the cooks are worried there aren’t enough ingredients to serve the daily special until closing. Everyone is scrambling, and for good reason. You can’t afford another bad revenue day or negative Yelp review in this competitive market.
Such is the life of managing a restaurant, where a thousand things need to go right to keep you afloat, but one thing going wrong can sink you immediately. If you find yourself struggling to keep on top of day-to-day operations, or you don’t have an accurate picture of the road ahead, restaurant management software can help.
If you’ve never researched or purchased a restaurant management system before, that’s OK. This Buyer’s Guide highlights everything you need to know to help find the right solution.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What Is Restaurant Management Software?
Common Functionality of Restaurant Management Systems
5 Benefits of Restaurant Management Software
How Much Does Restaurant Management Software Cost?
Additional Restaurant Management Software Resources
Restaurant management software is designed specifically to help users manage their food service establishment. Some platforms have functionality related to customer interactions, such as that found in a point of sale (POS) system, but more often restaurant management software focuses on behind-the-scenes processes such as restaurant employee scheduling, inventory management and accounting.
Restaurant management software exists in two forms. Systems like HotSchedules are best-of-breed applications that focus on one particular need. But, there are also all-encompassing suites like PeachWorks, which are designed to take care of everything related to managing your restaurant.
Though products vary, here are some examples of common functions you can find in restaurant management systems:
|Labor management||Create and manage employee schedules, calculate labor costs and track compliance with laws and regulations.|
|Inventory management||Keep running counts of what’s in stock and create custom reports.|
|Recipe management||Create and maintain recipes based on inventory, set menu prices and analyze historical trends.|
|Accounting||Manage your general ledger, compare financials against budget and generate reports.|
|Logbook||Collaborate with other users, store customer feedback, take notes and create to-do lists.|
|POS integration||Collect sales data from your POS system and track how it affects other areas of your restaurant.|
Using dedicated software to manage your restaurant offers a number of benefits over manual methods like pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets. These include:
The cost of a restaurant management software system largely depends on the complexity of the system’s functionality and how many locations you need to manage with it.
A basic restaurant POS system to manage your sales and accounting needs may only cost $150 a year, while a more complex restaurant management suite to track every aspect of multiple locations may run you thousands of dollars a month. If you need integrated hardware, such as a tablet or cash register, that will bump up the price as well.
Your payment schedule is also going to vary depending on whether the software is sold with perpetual or subscription licensing.
With perpetual licensing, you pay one large fee upfront to use the software indefinitely. Recurring costs are lower, but the initial cost is substantial. With subscription licensing, you pay a smaller monthly or annual fee as you go along. The upfront cost is lower, but the recurring costs are higher than those with a perpetual license. Costs associated with each licensing option tend to equal out over time.
Ask vendors about the specifics of their particular pricing structure so you can budget for the system accordingly.
The information found in this Buyer’s Guide offers a good baseline to help you begin researching restaurant management software vendors. Here are some additional Software Advice resources to check out as you decide on a system and learn how to get the best use out of it for your business:
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