How Your Coffee Shop or Restaurant Can Improve Efficiency

Last week, we were pleased to attend the Coffee Shop Innovation Expo, and let me answer what I’m sure is your first question: yes, there was free coffee. And yes, there were free pastries. Oh, and yes, they were delicious. Now we’ve got that out of the way, we’re free to tackle one of the hottest discussions at the show: how your coffee shop or restaurant can improve efficiency.

At the event, NCR Silver UK General Manager Leigh Saunders sat on a panel to discuss efficiency, and how digital innovation can help address many of the issues costing restaurateurs their time and money. Joining him were luminaries in the POS and cash handling sectors as they tackled such topics as counterfeiters, whether we’re heading for a cashless society (eventually, seemed to be the conclusion), and the challenges facing modern restaurateurs.

NCR Silver UK GM Leigh Saunders speaks on a panel at the Coffee Shop Innovation Expo in London.

These were some of the key takeaways from our panel.

Keep the customer at heart when future proofing your business

There’s a lot of talk about ‘future proofing’ your business, regardless of the sector. This is unsurprising because technology is constantly changing and for SMBs, it can be hard to keep up. So how do you ensure you future proof your business in a way that avoids adopting every shiny new solution that hits the digital shelves?

The answer is by keeping your customers in mind at all times. And the more you know about your customers’ buying habits, the better you’re equipped to adapt your business to serve them in the future. Are your customers buying coffee or cakes? Are they using cash, card or Apple Pay? It’s vital to find a solution that provides you with actionable data on what goods your customers are buying, why they’re buying them and how.

Related: Here’s How Your SMB Can Make It Personal for Customers

You can then use this data to tailor your business to what your customers want, stocking the more popular items, adapting your payment services to better suit their preferences, and making any other tweaks to ensure those tills keep ringing.

Context is key when improving staff planning

Any solution you opt for should include labour management capabilities, helping to optimise scheduling and shifts and ensure that your café or restaurant is always equipped with the help needed. Context is key in staff planning, so be sure to opt for a solution that considers this.

Take NCR Silver, for example: it can predict staffing levels by considering outside factors, integrating events happening in your area to pick peak customer times, and even taking into account the weather. So, if your restaurant has an enticing beer garden and it’s a hot day, the platform will flag up that you’ll need more staff to accommodate the additional demand.

Related: Three Ways To Improve SMB Efficiency

This is key because it will both help you run your restaurant or coffee shop more efficiently, and improve the customer experience. As any restaurateur knows, prolonged waits can lead to some fairly miffed patrons whose next stop may be a scathing review on Trip Advisor. You need a solution that will take into account different events to maximise a merchant’s efficiency during staff planning.

Prioritise planning when solution shopping…

During the panel, Leigh was asked by a restaurant owner just what they should be looking for in a solution. They had been overwhelmed by the choice on offer but wanted to improve efficiency as they expanded their operation and opened new branches.

His first piece of advice was simple: make yourself a checklist. There’s so much choice that you have to be sure you’re choosing the right solution for your environment. So, what are the six key metrics you’re trying to hit, or the six problems you’re hoping to solve? Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can enter into this process with far more confidence. Instead of being bamboozled by a flashy demo, you can simply say how you want reporting to look, or what data you want available, and how a product should be integrated with existing systems. By drawing vendors into helping you solve these specific problems, you’re more likely to find the solution that’s right for you.

…And remember the importance of end-to-end scale

Leigh’s second piece of advice was more specific: when looking to improve efficiency in your restaurant, any solution you choose needs to have end-to-end scale. Put simply: it’s no use having a solution that only makes one aspect of your life easier.

You need a system that’ll provide you with actionable insight into real-time customer data, predict future sales volumes and provide insight into your inventory. It should also calculate your tax, and deal with payroll. Essentially, you need a one-stop shop that will free up your time – removing the need to deal with painstaking administrative duties and giving you these hours back. This will give you the time to invent that innovative new menu that will put a smile on customers’ faces.

Innovation has never been more accessible for SMBs, and coffee shop owners and restaurateurs can absolutely benefit from this. Solutions like NCR Silver are available and affordable and can enhance your efficiency, time management and customer experience, and let you focus on what you do best: running your business.

Related: Free ePOS Hardware is Back

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