If you’re in the market for restaurant management software, then you’re one of the 95% of restaurant operators who know the right restaurant technology can improve their business.
But whether you’re shopping for a solution for the first time or re-evaluating your current system, you have to know what questions to ask to find the restaurant software solution that works best for your unique establishment.
Know what needs the restaurant management software is trying to address
Most modern restaurant management software solutions come chock-full of features and tools, but not all of them are critical to running your establishment. For example, you might be more interested in software that helps with back-of-house (BOH) operations rather than online table reservations.
Know your requirements and compare them to the list of available features. Be wary of companies that try to stuff their software with lots of tools that you don’t need. These often end up raising the cost and complicating the interface unnecessarily.
Make sure your staff can easily use it
Restaurants tend to have very high employee turnover and very little formal training. This means your chosen software has to be intuitive and easy to use without having to read the manual or spend hours (or, god forbid, days) training.
Keeping features lean will help with this, but the software’s User Interface (UI) has to be simple, understandable, and consistent. If possible, have some of your staff test out the UI before making the purchase. They’re the ones who will be using the restaurant management software the most, so their opinions take the highest priority.
Ensure the software is simple to set up
Time is money in the restaurant business, and you want to get your establishment onboard with the new system as soon as possible. But who is going to do the setup? Is the company going to send someone to set up the software for you? If so, how quickly will they be able to send someone over and how long will it take?
Determine who will manage updates or changes
If you run off a fixed menu and don’t make a lot of changes to your service offerings, then you can ignore this tip. But if you do make regular menu updates, then you will want to know how easy it is to make changes within the software.
Ideally, your restaurant management software should be flexible enough that you or your staff can make regular changes without having to call customer support for every little thing.
Scope out their support offerings
Speaking of support, you are going to run into a situation where the system is down in the middle of your busy time. You need to know that someone is going to be at the other end of the line (or, even better, can rush over) when you call for help.
Regular phone support should be the minimum level of support they provide. You can’t wait for regular office hours for them to fix your problem.
Don’t pick your restaurant management software based on which is the highest-rated or which is the cheapest. Consider the actual needs of your establishment and see if the software lines up with how you will use it, the skill level of your staff, and your comfort level with the tool. You will end up with a restaurant software solution that fits your restaurant like a glove.