F&B Heroes | Tools

Digitisation strategies for the catering industry

Billplease enables simple, fast payment, also suitable for individual checkout of groups of guests.
Istock/grafiksalon
Billplease enables simple, fast payment, also suitable for individual checkout of groups of guests.

Everyone talks about digitalization. But how is it done? The hospitality consultancy F&B Heroes has put together strategies and clever tools for the hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry is in the midst of digital transformation. Corona rules, staff shortages, rising costs and changing guest behaviour have massively increased the pressure to digitise. The majority of restaurateurs have recognized this and are ready to invest. But where to start? The selection of tools is large and constantly growing. Those who are not familiar with the topic easily lose the overview.

To help restaurateurs on their way to becoming digital businesses, hospitality consultancy F&B Heroes has put together easy-to-implement recommendations. The team around managing director and mastermind Jean-Georges Ploner follows a strategic approach: effective digitalization is only possible with clear goals and a plan. After all, who wants to invest a lot of time and capital without knowing whether it will pay off later?

Those who want to digitize should orientate themselves on their focal points: Personnel, purchasing, kitchen, service and commercial administration. Companies should ask themselves where they see the highest potential for optimized processes, time and cost savings. And where the productivity and efficiency screw can be turned most effectively. The F&B Heroes recommend the following approach: Make the desired goals quantifiable by means of target figures, determine the selected areas and agree on the approach in the team.

Smart tools can optimize processes, increase guest satisfaction and improve competitiveness. But a digital tool is not a no-brainer. The handling of it has to be explained and trained. A digital tool is comparable to an employee: It needs three months of training. But after three months you have a new employee who can really do something.

Every manager must decide for his or her company in which areas digitization and automation make work easier and which systems or tools offer the greatest added value through savings in time, costs and personnel as well as an increase in security, control and management. High effects for increasing productivity and efficiency can be found in digital employee management, in purchasing, in the kitchen as well as in touchpoints with the guest through digital ordering and payment processes as well as intelligent table reservation systems.

The FB& Heroes show 7 straightforward ways to make your catering business more digital - for little money (except for the system kitchen) and without a big wait.

1 - Increased flexibility and employee satisfaction through digital staff planning

Staffing - planning and time-intensive - places high demands on management. Personnel software support personnel planning and management, duty roster creation and controlling. This benefits both the company and its employees, who can easily enter their preferred working hours, days off, etc. via smartphone.

This form of integration and communication meets the desire of many employees for more appreciation and respect as well as greater flexibility to better plan their work and private lives. Digitized employee communication alone can save up to 50 percent of time. In addition to the market leader WhatsApp, there are a number of alternative messenger services(Slack, Signal, Telegram and others) through which employees and managers can communicate well on various topics.

2 - Digital accounting for more commercial control

After a certain company size, many administrative tasks arise in the back office. Switching to a digital accounting system makes work easier: significantly less effort, but more transparency and control, including mobile working.

3 - Online supplier ordering reduces administrative effort

Most restaurateurs work with 5 to 10 suppliers, each using a different ordering process: Order by phone, fax, by email or online. In practice, this means many communication channels that have to be handled individually and are time-consuming. 

4 - Intelligent reservation systems place guests and offer data sovereignty

Many restaurateurs use reservation systems like OpenTable. The app Aleno(www.aleno.me/de) takes a different approach. Aleno automates the process from reservation to guest evaluation. Here, the placement of guests is done with the help of artificial intelligence without having to program the system. Variable capacity or overbooking can also be automated in Aleno.

In addition, the app offers further digital services in the areas of shift management, branding, controlling and marketing. The data remains with the restaurateur, who can capture, connect and analyze everything digitally across systems and restaurants.

5 - Simplify the payment process for guest groups.

Taking orders and collecting the bill are time-consuming processes - especially under pressure like during busy periods. Digitization measures mean relief, but they want to be well thought out. Order taking is the best opportunity to generate additional sales and turnover through consultation, to build a bond with the guest and thus to leave a positive impression. This touchpoint should not be left out of the hands of full-service restaurants.

6 - Offer service convenience and generate advertising revenue with self-ordering

Through contactless processes  quick-service restaurants can optimize the service experience. Search for a software where guests have the ability to select food and beverages at their table via smartphone, order with few clicks and pay online. 

7 - Lower operating costs, consistent quality and greater efficiency with system kitchens

Restaurateurs looking to launch a new restaurant or remodel their kitchen should consider using a system kitchen. The initial investment is comparable to that for a traditional restaurant kitchen, but the system kitchen offers several advantages. Digital control of operations simplifies processes, ensures consistent food quality, and allows for quick turnaround. A system kitchen can get by with fewer and less skilled cooks and still achieve high efficiency.

When deciding on a system kitchen, the restaurateur must clarify for himself what taste he wants to offer his guests and how efficiency can be reconciled with this. 

A look into the future: AI in the kitchen

Robots are conquering the kitchen. Start-up Goodbytz(www.goodbytz.com) builds robots that autonomously cook healthy, sustainable and delicious food. Robots perform their tasks consistently at a high quality and increase overall efficiency due to their speed. Alternatively, chefs can work hand-in-hand with the robots. The robots are programmed to detect when humans get too close and slow down their speed. By using robots, it is hoped that skilled staff will be relieved of routine tasks and given more time for creativity to develop better quality and healthier food.

Conclusion

There is no stopping the trend: Digitalization, automation and AI will increasingly find their way into the catering industry. Cost and personnel pressures are forcing the development, but there are also changed expectations from the guest side. Many guests have come to know and appreciate the advantages and evaluate digital tools as an increase in service quality. As with any investment, it is important to formulate clear requirements, set quantifiable goals, compare offers and not forget training measures for employees when calculating costs. After all, any digital tool is only as good as the employees' competent handling of it.

Digitalization is not only positive in terms of profitability and guest satisfaction, but also contributes to employer branding. Employees appreciate employers who provide them with a modern work environment so they can perform at their best without disruption or discomfort. Digitization is therefore a win-win situation for everyone.

F&B Heroes GmbH is a leading consulting and management company for the hospitality, retail and real estate industries. The company specializes in the development, optimization and management of sustainably successful gastronomy concepts. With open teams and internationally active specialists, F&B Heroes GmbH plans, realizes and operates gastronomy objects across industries and countries. For this purpose, the company bundles the competence and passion of experienced hospitality professionals into strategically oriented, data-based solutions. For this purpose, the company offers a comprehensive range of services as well as the selection of suitable concepts and partners for gastronomy in shopping centers or real estate objects. www.fbheroes.de

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