Choosing the right technology for your restaurant can appear overwhelming and often becomes your worst nightmare. With most providers regurgitating the same information, and with so little time to find out who’s the real deal and who’s taking you for a ride, you end up having to ‘trust’ what they say. Sometimes you get lucky, but day in and day out I see restaurants blindly selecting a provider who ultimately creates a technology headache. A provider who fails to support their growth plans and causes damage to their bottom line.
The good news is that knowing exactly what to look for will help you find the provider that delivers what you actually need to reach your business goals. So you don’t have to become a tech expert to ensure you’re not sold the wrong solution.
Here are my tips to get you to the right decision; as painlessly as possible.
Go through your entire operation and list the features you require from your tech. What do you you need it to do? This is probably the most obvious part of this checklist. But, whatever you do, don’t stop there. Use it as an essential starting point and an initial qualifier, certainly, but it’s absolutely vital that you also ask the following questions! I’ve seen so many people who don’t and then make a massively uninformed decision leaving them burned.
Before you start looking at your options, it’s vital to have a crystal clear vision of the direction of your restaurant. While it’s important that your new tech supports your business today, the future is bound to look different. If the solution you choose doesn’t grow with you, you’ll be forced to change tech again later – a painful and costly move.
If you want to grow, you’ll need tech that spans multiple sites. If you envisage introducing a mobile app or online ordering, your solution will need to support it.
A great supplier will help you think through your future needs. If they aren’t talking about tomorrow today, don’t even hesitate to walk away.
To get a precise insight into your business and technological needs for now and for the future, a provider has to properly understand the challenges and opportunities you face. You’ll have more confidence in their expertise if they can demonstrate that they have actually walked in your shoes because they’ll have the expertise to translate your business challenges into technical requirements. Not everyone can do this and that lack of knowledge is something I see all the time. It manifests itself in technology that simply doesn’t fit the requirement. Think square peg, round hole.
For an added plus look for a provider that can demonstrate that they have restaurateurs in their business. It shows that they are not blindly developing for the sake of it. And they’ll be close to the ground answering your real-world problems.
Ask potential providers which other businesses are using the tech they have recommended for you. Take a look at these businesses. Make a visit. See that the tech is being used in the same way you’ll be using it.
This will prove two important things: that the supplier can actually deliver, and that they have properly understood your businesses. If they refer you to a living case study that is in no way similar to you, they just haven’t got it.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to tech. You’ll be told that the features they boast will fit your needs, but it’s not until you actually use them in your own business setting that you can properly judge for yourself. Which is hard to do. So shift your focus from the actual tech and look instead at who will deliver it.
For example, while great tech is indeed important it becomes worthless if it has been badly implemented or if you haven’t received decent training. Ask the provider how they will deliver the solution and how much time will be dedicated to doing so. Speak with their current customers and partners, and read independent reviews to gauge their credibility.
The right supplier will make it their priority to see you succeed. But it’s hard for them to do this if you insist on removing important aspects of the solution in the name of saving cash.
It’s tempting to skimp on the initial price tag by opting to install your new tech yourself. But unless you are a pro, it’s going to eat up more time than you think. While you’re tied up trying to figure it all out you won’t be able to do the important things that your business needs you to do. And we all know the implications of taking your eye off the ball. So consider the opportunity cost of this decision.
Remember, if you allow the experts to install the tech (in a fraction of the time you’ll be able to) they are accountable if something doesn’t work as it should. If you’ve done it yourself, you’ll have to pay to get it put right.
Hospitality tech is a necessary outlay to run and grow your business, but, if chosen correctly, will give a return. If you’re looking at it as a long-term investment so should your provider. What you don’t need is a flash-in-the-pan supplier who quickly burns out and leaves you without the support you need to morph or grow.
Don’t hesitate to ask what their future plans are. Where do they want to be in 5 years and how will they get there? A serious player will respect your forward-thinking approach. They too are looking to create a great relationship. Due diligence and transparency can help cement that.