The right restaurant management software system can play an essential role in your business. Running a restaurant is hard enough without using the right tools.
Luckily, you can replace manual processes, like shift scheduling, with software solutions. This can make restaurant operations management less subject to human error and more efficient.
There are many different restaurant management systems available. Each one offers different features. So, how do you choose the right system for your restaurant?
In this guide, we’ll cover some of the most important features to look out for in restaurant management software. Be sure to keep these features in mind when choosing a software system for your business.
What is Restaurant Management Software?
Restaurant management software refers to any software tools that you can use to run your restaurant more efficiently. This could include software to help you manage your restaurant’s order processing, payments, inventory, staffing, day-to-day reconciliation, and more.
Some restaurant management software solutions include all the tools your restaurant needs to operate. Other solutions focus on specific areas of operation: marketing, reservations management, event management, and more. If you choose multiple software options, they must work together seamlessly for more efficient restaurant management.
Many tasks go into running a restaurant, and the right software tools can help you save time, reduce manual efforts, and gain better visibility into your restaurant operations.
Using this software is important if you want to run your business smarter. See our complete guide to restaurant management systems for reviews on some of the top platforms.
What Features of Restaurant Management Software Should You Look For?
Many different restaurant management software systems exist, each offering unique features and functions. However, if you’re looking for a comprehensive software solution, here are some of the most important features of restaurant management software to look out for.
Restaurants deal with a lot of transactions each day. One of the most important features of restaurant management software is sales tracking.
As a restaurant owner or manager, you must monitor all of your daily sales, and easily access this data when you need it. You want to know exactly what menu items are selling, when they’re selling, and what isn’t selling. This information will help you understand trends in your business operations.
By accessing sales data, you can make more informed decisions on how to change your menu, when to run specials, what menu items need more marketing, and so on.
Transparent sales data is also necessary for monitoring your inventory and profits. You need to compare your sales to your stock every day to ensure that everything is aligning properly. This will help you understand just how profitable certain menu items are, and whether your inventory costs make sense against your sales data.
You also need to keep clear sales records for your taxes. There’s a sales tax that needs to be recorded with each transaction, and some states have mixed beverage sales tax.
If you don't use restaurant management software that records this data, you’ll have a very tricky time accurately filing your taxes.
Any good restaurant POS system offers these software features. Accessing accurate sales data is the first essential thing any restaurant needs out of its management software.
When it comes to features of restaurant management software, having a good inventory control system is a must. Restaurants deal with large amounts of inventory and keeping track of every item can be a real challenge if you don’t use software to help.
The right inventory control system should work alongside your sales tracking tool.
For example, let’s say you note that 100 burger patties are available on the system. You sell a burger, and one burger patty is subtracted from your inventory. At the end of the shift, you can compare your tracked inventory to your actual inventory count to see how things line up.
Inventory control tools help you understand what your profit margins and wastage look like. They also help you understand how much inventory you need for different shifts, which helps you order more efficiently.
Straightforward Menu Setup
Being able to set up your menu on the system easily is one of the most vital features of restaurant management software.
Restaurants are always adding new menu items, updating prices, and making changes to their menus. If you can’t easily make these changes on your POS system, you’ll have a hard time running your business.
Make sure you choose a system that lets you make menu changes quickly and easily. This is especially important if you need to make these changes during a busy service.
Easy Order Management
Order management software is the driving force behind your restaurant operations. Make sure that the order management system you use is easy for everyone to manage, and that it includes the specific features your restaurant requires.
First, orders need to be simple to input and process. This means servers should be able to easily input orders, the kitchen should be able to receive orders without any issues, and management should be able to access order data when they need it.
Second, you need to have the right ordering features to match your service style. This could include features for changing tickets and switching tables, keeping a bar tab open, splitting checks, changing menu item quantities, managing reservations, adjusting tips and tax, and more.
Make sure to also consider online ordering, or self-ordering systems, if your restaurant offers this.
You also need to ensure the order management system offers enough security, and that only certain users can perform certain functions - like voiding orders.
As a restaurant owner, you don’t want to spend hours going through paper documents and trying to figure out how your business is performing. Instead, you want to gain fast and easy insights from your software.
One of the most useful features of restaurant management software is accessible reporting.
Your system should generate automatic reports after each shift or day. You should also be able to access on-demand insights into your sales performance when you need them.
This can help you make informed decisions, save time, and discover obstacles or challenges that your restaurant might be facing.
Your restaurant needs to accept payments. Make sure your restaurant management system includes a good solution for payment processing.
Payment processing should be convenient, allowing you to accept the different payment methods your customers want to use. Of course, this all needs to be linked to your POS system and sales tracking software.
When considering what payment processing provider you’ll use, it’s important to understand the hardware that comes with this. Whatever payment hardware your business uses needs to work seamlessly with your order management system.
Restaurants can have a large staff base, and staying on track with each individual can be a real challenge. Some of the best features of restaurant management software include employee management tools. This can help you to update employee details, manage and plan shifts, and optimize employee scheduling.
Tools like this help ensure you always have the right staff on hand for smooth business operations. It also helps you with payroll, and accurately tracks employee hours.
If you manage employee timesheets and scheduling manually, you’ll have to dedicate a good portion of your time to doing this. Using software that can automate the process will make your life a lot easier.
Your reservation system should do two things: offer a seamless customer experience, and make it a lot easier to manage guest reservations each shift.
One of the most popular features of restaurant management software right now is online reservation tools. Try to choose a system that makes it easy for guests to make reservations online. This will help you manage your restaurant seating arrangements, as well as ensure you have the right number of staff available.
Some features of restaurant management software include marketing tools to help you improve customer experiences and engagement. This can include tools for capturing customer data and understanding your customer base. It can also include tools for loyalty programs, offering discounts and customer rewards, and more.
No matter how great your restaurant is, it will struggle to be a success if you don’t use the right marketing strategies to create awareness around it. Integrating marketing tools will make a big difference in how many potential customers you reach.
Technical Support and Setup
You need great technical support when choosing a restaurant management system. No matter how great the system is, there’s always the chance you’ll run into an issue somewhere down the line. If this happens during a busy service, you’ll want to make sure you can access support straight away.
It's also important to consider what kind of setup options the software provider offers. Ideally, they’ll walk you through the setup process and ensure your business is on the right path to success with the software system.
Your restaurant management system should help you learn about your guests, their habits, and how they interact with your business. This is important for understanding what guest experiences look like and how you can optimize your restaurant to offer better guest experiences.
The system should let you see things like your guests’ favorite dishes, average spending, visit frequency, and more. The more customer data you have available, the better your guest interactions, marketing, and experiences can be.
You won't always get all the restaurant software features you need in one system. Your different software tools should integrate with each other for a more seamless experience.
For example, your POS system should integrate with your accounting software to seamlessly share data between the two platforms. This will make it a lot easier and more accurate to manage your sales reports and bookkeeping.
Always check what software integrations are available when choosing a software tool to ensure it will work with whatever existing systems you have in place.
Choosing the right restaurant software features and systems will play a major role in how your business operates. With the right features, you’ll be able to work a lot smarter, and ultimately improve the chances of your restaurant’s success.
If your restaurant hosts events, then using the right event management system is also essential. This will help you manage events more easily and improve the way your venue attracts and deals with clients.
Consider Perfect Venue, a complete event management system. You can watch a demo to understand the software in more detail.