Everybody is talking about FOH innovations such as menu presentation, food delivery, packaging, contactless ordering, and payments. However, nobody is talking about innovations in BOH management: procurement, cost management, and supplier payments. Chefs and managers are left with century old ways to buy food, beverages, and supplies: call suppliers or suppliers’ websites!
Restaurants BOH is the most overlooked part of the business. The majority of restaurant operators don’t have any technology in place for BOH management. That creates a lot of inefficiencies in their operations and negatively affects the bottom line. There are a small number of operators however who do use BOH management system, but hardly realize efficiencies, as they immediately face the problem that somebody needs to manage it (a lot of data entry!). What we have learned over the years is that even if there is a good system in place, many of the features may not be used at all. Let’s try to figure out why is this happening.
Restaurants must stop resisting technology! It is here to stay, and it is here to help! Hats off to those operators who finally understand the importance of technology and are using a computer system to help manage their BOH processes. Systems like Restaurant 365, Compeat, and similar products offer a slew of functionalities from ordering to inventory, to recipe management, to accounting, reports and more. These systems are necessary to create operational efficiencies, and all the money invested into it must be realized over time with savings or other tangible benefits.
In our numerous conversations with restaurant operators who have implemented BOH systems, we have learned that even though systems are in place, not all features end up being used, and so operational efficiencies are hardly realized. Is all Restaurant Management Software bad? I do not think so.
The problem is that operators quickly realize after using their new product, that it requires more than just the software to gain results. The software needs to be supported further by their own labor which in turn, becomes very expensive and very often unaffordable for small restaurants and even small restaurant chains.
Assuming that software is web based, and no installation is required, just to place an order your team must be focused on:
- Item management.
- Supplier management.
- Supplier price management.
- Manufacturing contract (if any) management.
- Identification and connection of the same items from different suppliers (Is that apple from Vendor A the same as the apple from Vendor B?).
Who wants to do that? Nobody! It is difficult and time consuming and probably not feasible in the hectic restaurant environment, unless, again, they have people to do just that! That’s why, in the majority of restaurant operations they may find it difficult to implement these programs for ordering and mostly focus on the accounting and if supported, perhaps inventory as well. Accounting is a “necessary evil”. It can’t be avoided. And inventory is the last hope to get to a food cost and feed accounting with some data. Recipe management becomes challenging without integration with order history.
What’s the solution? Restaurant operators need BOH management as a Service, which comes with the systems, vendor integrations, automations, people, and all the processes in place. These are important features that must be part of the service:
- Integrated order processing eliminates manual order entry on the supplier side and prevents manual order entry mistakes, which, in turns, reduces returns and additional deliveries.
- Receiving updated product list and the prices helps to know what each supplier is selling and their best deals, so well directed purchasing decisions can be made at the time of ordering.
- Receiving invoices and automated reconciliation against Purchase Order helps pay invoices on time and guard against pricing errors.
- Being able to see and analyze purchasing history as well as knowing suppliers’ deadlines and minimums helps with consolidating, eliminate “I forgot”, and produce quality order on time.
In the ideal world, the buyer should simply place an order through the system. The system in turn, should provide enough information so a buyer can make intelligent decisions. When the order is delivered, the receiver should just either confirm the delivery or reflect the delivery reality. Everything else should be done automatically!
Technology for BOH management is a foundation for a successful operator, but very often not in place, creating a lot of inefficiencies in restaurants that negatively affect the bottom line. Restaurant operators should seek out BOH management services to eliminate software labor costs.