Not feeling confident with your restaurant operations? With new apps and software systems entering the market everyday, it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s a quick guide to the biggest changes.

Restaurants continue to have the highest rate of failure amongst new small business endeavors. Why? Razor-thin margins, huge competition, and the million things that can and do go wrong with equipment, suppliers, staff, and more. The good news is that there is new technology out there that will help you connect with customers, control costs, and predict problems before they happen. Let’s have a look:

Big Data

Words like “analytics” and “big data” are thrown around frequently these days, leaving many small business entrepreneurs either confused and disinterested, or scared and running in the opposite direction. So, besides for the obvious that you can surmise from the term, what exactly is big data? In short, it refers to business and market data that is too large to simply analyze over spreadsheets and plain documents as in the past. It means data that you can review to help you better understand how your business works, how your customers think, and the overall market in which you operate – hopefully leading you to smarter, more impactful decisions. Big data helps all businesses that concern themselves with it, but restaurants in particular, need not be intimidated by this concept, but rather utilize it to make the most effective decisions. Some examples are data about your customers and their preferences, purchase intent, and habits that come from surveys, observations, and… you guessed it – your restaurant point of sale system. It also includes data on your social media followers and website visitors. All of this sound intimidating? It shouldn’t. This data can drastically help your restaurant operations. The best big-data software providers are as obsessed with simplicity as they are with numbers. The idea is to take those millions of rows of data and provide simple, actionable advice, in context. This can take the form of inventory reorder triggers based on stock levels, or even in-app reminders that the dinner at Table 4 is celebrating their anniversary. Learn to love big data and you will increase business revenue and control your business costs more efficiently.

Cloud-based Business Reports

Let’s not forget that business operations historically required a ton of paper. You had to track everything about your business on paper, and your “data” existed in the form of file cabinets. Many years later, expensive computer software emerged that let you automate a lot of these painful paperwork processes. You simply had to install a gigantic computer server in the basement of your restaurant, run wires up to your front of house and kitchen – and you had your reports. Well, today you can consider both of those tools obsolete. It’s time to welcome the cloud into your business. It is no longer a great business decision to spend thousands of dollars on old-school computer restaurant systems that require you to be there physically to access information, and force you to rely on your equipment functioning altogether. The cloud is the better decision for many reasons, including but not limited to: it’s relatively inexpensive for restaurants; it creates flexibility for restaurant managers and owners, as they can now access their reports from anywhere; and they’re no longer susceptible to costly hardware and server crashes.

iPad Point of Sale

It’s difficult to have imagined the iPad being the revolutionary business and lifestyle tool that it is today, when it was first introduced back in April of 2010. I, like many other passive technology adopters, really didn’t understand the need for the product. I argued that we already have smartphones and computers that do everything that the iPad will. Well, just less than 5 years later, the needs for the iPad are more than clear. So much, that our founder took the time recently to explain to our readers why ShopKeep works with the iPad. iPads serve so many different restaurant operations, from adding new reservations and managing existing ones, to business analytics on the go, and most importantly for restaurants – the point of sale. Of all the technology and equipment in restaurants, point of sale used to be closer to the top of the list in terms of cost. iPads have made point of sale systems super affordable and more flexible. iPad POS systems like ShopKeep allow you to keep tabs at the bar or take orders right at the table to print to the kitchen instantly. That sort of efficiency and flexibility is a must for improving restaurant operations today.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a POS

Mobile Ordering & Scheduling

I know, you’re tired of hearing about mobile. The truth is though, we’re just scratching the surface in terms of capabilities with mobile devices. Large organizations and small businesses alike are using mobile to reach and engage their customers. The opportunities for restaurants that abound from mobile are endless. Whether it’s registering your restaurant with a table reservation system for customers such as OpenTable, or developing a simple proprietary ordering app that your customers can use to pre-order at your establishment, restaurants are coming up with more and more ways to leverage mobile to improve their operations and the customer experience.

Don’t get left behind on these new and useful tech developments. Apply them to your restaurant today and enjoy more peace of mind. We’d love to hear about any other great technology solutions that help you out with your restaurant operations. Please share them in the comments section below!

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.