How to Say Goodbye to Old Restaurant Technology
From the Desk of NEXTEP Solutions Consultant Bob Padget
I’ve been around for a while (...some would say a long while), and one of the reasons I’ve been successful for all these years is that I embrace change and take advantage of new and better technology. I remember when a mobile phone meant a handset mounted in your car and a 1 TB hard drive was the size of a desk. Things have changed for the better -- my phone is now pocket-sized and more powerful than the Apollo spaceship.
I’ve also seen what happens to people or businesses that don’t innovate or adapt to new technologies and fail. Contrary to some rumors, I was not around to see the dinosaurs fail to adapt, but I do remember Blockbuster and others. Companies that can’t or won’t adapt to changing business climates are destined to fall behind and ultimately become extinct.
A recent conversation with a potential client reminded me how challenging it can be to embrace new technologies. Traditional Point-of-Sale systems were, at one time, the unicorn of restaurant profitability. Many basic metrics like labor cost, menu management and inventory were nearly impossible to implement with a simple cash register. First, the big chains invested in POS, then smaller chains followed, and eventually, even most single locations implemented some version of POS. But that was many years ago, and now the current revolution involves self-order technology. Traditional employee operated POS is now only a small part of the omnichannel ordering experience successful restaurant companies are embracing.
Back to my conversation with a potential client. This person, let’s call her Barb, created a successful micro-chain of about 30 restaurants that’s poised for rapid growth. She noticed our self-order kiosks in use at a local restaurant and in her words, “all the customers were using them.” That’s when she reached out to NEXTEP SYSTEMS to discuss implementing self-order kiosks for her concept.
Barb’s current POS technology company has not really embraced self-order. Although they offer a kiosk option, it isn’t really viable, and they have no plans to improve it in the future. In short, they are all-in on employee-operated POS for the foreseeable future.
That put Barb in a tough spot. Stick with your legacy POS knowing that you are missing out on the benefits of new technology or make a change?
If you are driving to a new destination and you take a wrong turn, would you just keep going the wrong direction? Of course not! You’d turn around or make an adjustment to get on the right path. That’s the advice I’d offer to restaurant groups like Barb’s as well. Even if your legacy POS system has been effective in the past, if it doesn’t provide a clear path to the future, it’s time to think about a change.
Here are some strategies to take advantage of the benefits of self-order technology even if your current POS isn’t up to the task....
1. MAKE A FRESH START - Like the saying goes, “The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging.” When your existing POS doesn’t support self-order technology, it’s time for a change. One of the most effective ways to implement change for growing concepts is to allow new locations to take advantage of the newest technologies like self-order kiosks and drive-thru’s. That provides a perfect opportunity to move your concept forward and prove the value of self-order to existing franchisees who can switch as their equipment ages out or sooner as they see the benefits. There certainly are challenges to having multiple platforms within your organization, but even a chain-wide switchover has to be done over time.
2. NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT - Life is sometimes messy, and so is business. There will NEVER be a perfect time to change course for your organization. The benefits of self-order are so overwhelming that the greater cost is putting off its implementation. If self-order technology from NEXTEP SYSTEMS is a better answer for your restaurants, as it often is, then delaying the process is costlier than making the change. By the time your legacy POS ages out, other nimbler concepts may have passed you by, and your window for growth and expansion may have closed. When you find a better solution embrace it, NOW!
3. THE SILENT TREATMENT – Some concepts are able to incorporate our self-order technology as a stand-alone system within their restaurants. If that makes sense in your operation, that is a quick and easy way to get on the right path. Some extra work may be required for reporting, etc. but once again, the benefits of self-order are so significant that they cannot be ignored.
Your POS decision was an important one and many of your internal systems are built around that decision. Often loyalty programs, mobile ordering, and credit card processing are a part of that decision process. Those are all painful things to revisit and can make it seem attractive to stand pat with your current POS system. However, if your restaurant concept does not have a clear and immediate plan for including self-order technology then you are in danger of falling behind your competitors who are already embracing self-order. Don’t let your legacy POS continue to hold you hostage to the past. It’s time to make a change.