Let’s face it. The restaurant industry is not easy. You’re putting out fires daily, dealing with suppliers, filling in when people call out sick, and you’re dealing with marketing and all those crazy reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor. This means that you need to save time wherever possible. Luckily, there are some awesome apps for restaurants to help you save time, money (and sometimes cut back on unnecessary staff). Here are some of the best apps for restaurants, managers, and owners to help you do all this.
Best Apps for Restaurants
Reservation Apps with OpenTable.
If you haven’t already paired up with one of the many reservation apps out there, you should do so now. Customers prefer to make reservations online via programs like OpenTable. It’s easy, they get a confirmation right away, and they don’t have to wait on the phone until someone flips through a book to find them a time. The OpenTable restaurant management software lets guests make reservations 24/7 from your website, your Facebook page, or via Twitter. You don’t miss bookings because guests can’t reach you, and your staff spends less time on the phone. Every reservation booked online is instantly visible to you and your staff.
OpenTable minimizes over and underbooking. Since you’re taking phone conversations out of the loop, you won’t miss out on reservations that could be missed by long wait times and missed emails. Meanwhile, your staff can access any information, anytime — so they’re prepared for surprises. OpenTable also makes it easy to send out great-looking marketing emails, using key information to target each diner. You can give first-time customers a reason to try you again, offer steak lovers a deal on filet mignon, or send out birthday specials.
If you are not a fan of OpenTable, there are plenty of alternatives to OpenTable you can try, but OpenTable is one of the most trusted by customers all over the world.
Digital Menu Apps
Why order and print new menus and signs whenever there’s a change when you can easily change your digital menus and signs from one location. You will eliminate staff and printing errors and decrease expenses by managing and controlling your entire menu board system from a central location. You can confirm which menu boards are running in each location as well as control what messages you are displaying to your customers. Digital menu boards can help your business by altering consumer behaviors at the point of sale, enhancing your brand, and scheduling your promotions during peak periods. Ok Menu is a great option to check out.
Instead of spending time on the phone taking orders, you can utilize an online ordering system for restaurants like 247 Waiter, Seamless and Delivery. With these apps, customers can see your menu and schedule orders any time day or night. Your fax machine or printer will print out your customer’s order (E-mails are also sent). You’ll get an automated call or a text message alert to let you know as soon as an order is placed. Your customers really don’t want to make a call and deal with repeating things over and over, make it easy for them with one of these systems. On top of this, many of these apps are compatible with social media sites like Facebook which recently announced they were activating food ordering on their mobile app.
Apps to Track Guest Wait Times and Manage Floor
With a program like SeatMe, you can eliminate the need for pagers and buzzers. Send guests an SMS message when a table opens up, and let your guests wander while they wait. You can provide your guests with accurate time quotes, and receive a warning when real waits exceed the quoted times.
You can also keep track of your entire floor at a glance, so you’re always running at full capacity. Easily assign servers to tables, and make sure guests are equally distributed. You can keep track of dining preferences, allergies, special occasions, and more. Guests can elect to be messaged if a reservation slot they want opens up. And guests can book the reservation on the spot, so your tables get filled automatically.
SeatMe sends reservation reminders via email and SMS. Guests can confirm or cancel reservations by simply responding, freeing your host from hours on the phone and turning what would have been a no-show into a cancellation. All the helpful features of online reservations are also available for your normal in-house or phone reservations. Add credit card holds, keep track of every detail, send confirmation emails, and have guests automatically receive reminders.
Last year, Applebee’s announced plans to install a tablet at every table in its restaurants across the United States. Instead of ordering from a waiter, customers will be able to use the devices to order food, pay the bill, and play video games. Chili’s unveiled basically the same plan. Palo Alto, California-based startup called E La Carte has produced a souped-up iPad that lets you order and pay right at your table. It’s known as the Presto. The tablet could show you nutritional information, ingredients lists, and photographs.
You can make special requests, like dressing on the side or double bacon. “When you’re done, the order zings over to the kitchen, and the Presto tells you how long it will take for your items to come out. Want a margarita in the meantime? Just add it to the console, and wait for the waiter to bring it.” Even just a few tables equipped with Tablets could cut down on wait staff in favor of a few “table runners” per shift who could double at busing tables.
As a side note, all waiters at Inamo, a restaurant in Soho, London, have been replaced by overhead projectors and computers. Diners place orders from an illustrated food and drinks menu projected on their table surface. You place an order from the table’s touchpad top, which is sent to the kitchen. A food server delivers your meal and the check. The digital dining menu includes computer games and a map of the local subway system.
Social Media Management Tools for Restaurants
Use a social media management tool for restaurants like Socialdraft to schedule to all your social networks.
On top of that, Socialdraft has plenty of time-saving features designed just for restaurants:
- One time posts
- Recurring posts: Great for specials and press
- Duplicate: Lets you clone a post for a date in the future.
- CSV Bulk Uploading: Achieves the same results, just a little different. You can create a spreadsheet with all your content and upload it for whatever dates you want.
- You can set up multiple people at the restaurant with accounts and different permissions
- You can pull reports
- Keep an eye of whenever your restaurant, chef and bartender are mentioned online
- tons more.