The software market is extremely buoyant in 2022 and it is an exciting place to be for companies like Favouritetable. The great thing about software is that its development never stops, driven by the demands of diners feeding through to restaurateurs and therefore to us. Software starts with a great product which does the basics, then evolves into a beautiful array of inter-linked functionality designed to meet and exceed the needs of restaurateurs in a changing market.
We live and breathe software but understand that not everyone will think of it as a beautiful thing. To many it is a business-critical tool over which they don’t obsess. Put simply, it has to deliver what it promised to and do its job perfectly. If it is good, it will go almost unnoticed.
Buying restaurant management software for the first time, or switching to a new system is the time when business owners will really drill into the product. Understandably they want the best value for money with functionality which works for them, which is where the trouble starts.
We’re not the type of company to think it is the only player in the market - far from it. Recent years have seen many new entrants to the sector, in part brought about by technologies allowing fast development. Some of these products are very good but perhaps a little unestablished; others are provided by huge multi-national companies via slick sales staff promising a life-changing experience in exchange for a fairly hefty commission.
Then, of course, there is the issue of what the software actually does. Is it for take-away & delivery only? Is it just for online bookings? Maybe it is a full-function management system but without either of these features.
Frankly it can all be a little confusing. So, we have put our non-partisan hats on and had a good think about what we would want if we were looking to buy new software. Here are our Top Five functionality must-haves.
The ability for guests to book directly on the restaurant’s website is vital. Without this, restaurants are forcing their prospective customers to pick up the phone and make a telephone booking. While that’s great for building a rapport, a lack of online booking won’t guarantee that customers select another contact method - they may just go to a different restaurant’s website instead.
In an era where customers expect to transact online, the shift towards menu pre-ordering is perfectly logical. In a modern world just booking a table for a date and time in the future is not enough. Customers want to browse the menu online and make their choices before their transaction is complete.
Customer attitudes are changing and while menu pre-ordering may look like a restaurant version of an online store, the benefits to restaurateurs are clear. By having a transparent view of orders well before service (and we’re talking days, weeks or months before service), pubs and restaurants can plan their staffing, inventory and financial forecasts well in advance.
Did you think we were done with the online bit?
There’s one more vitally important element to the online experience and that is actually taking the money. The no-show phenomena of the last couple of years has hardened the resolve of restaurateurs to the extent that it is now common for them to ask for payment or a deposit, online, before the customer’s web booking experience is completed.
Ok, it isn’t what we’re used to in the sector but the truth is that restaurants are one of the last bastions of having to take no-shows “on the chin”. No other reservation-based sector allows itself to lose income in this way, from car hire, train tickets, cruises, spas and airlines. We think the F&B sector should join them.
By taking deposits or full payments during the online transaction, customer commitment is hugely enhanced and finances bolstered. The great thing is, the public is quickly getting used to this expectation, based on their support for their local favourite eatery.
Recent upheavals in the sector have left restaurant owners seeking new revenue channels for what would otherwise be dark kitchens. Customers, too, have not abandoned their loyalty altogether and have increasingly looked to their favourite brands to supply their wares for consumption at home.
The best restaurant management systems will include this functionality as part of the overall software package - there is no need for restaurants to sign-up to a stand-alone take-away system then fathom out how to link it with their other softwares.
Everyone loves getting new things, don’t they? We certainly do. The problem is that sooner or later we want more from our purchase as we begin to outgrow it. That stems from an initial familiarity with the product becoming proficiency, followed by “wouldn’t it be good if it could do this…”.
At favouritetable we see many customers who have outgrown their current software because it doesn’t go deep enough. For example, a system which online covers online orders is great at online orders, but doesn’t help the restaurant be more efficient, or connect with their customers, or plan their days better.
Think of this as above and below the line. The customer-facing functionality is above the line, hopefully creating a booking. Where that booking goes and what can be done with it should be dealt with by below the line features, such as waiting lists, capacity planners, table rules, interactive floor plans, marketing and inventory scheduling.
There’s no getting away from it: everything is about how customers interact with their favourite brands online. The harsh truth is that restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes without a robust online booking portal - one which takes the customer through the A to Z of the transaction - are missing out on reservations.
But that isn’t the end of the story. If we were a restaurant involved in implementing software, we’d want a full management suite too.
For a demonstration, call us today on 033 0124 4785 or email us at email@example.com and see why favouritetable is the best value full-feature restaurant management system on the market.