In a February 2009 article that ran in the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) on customer restaurant spending habits, Barclays Capital economist Ethan Harris explains how consumers are cutting back. "In recent years a lot of discretionary income has gone into buying fancier food, whether it was Starbucks coffee, or prepared dinners or restaurant meals." That trend, according to Harris, is now being replaced by a focus on home-made meals and budget-friendly restaurants.
As a result, restaurant operators are now forced into the position of analyzing business metrics in search of cost-cutting strategies. On the IT front, this unfortunately can mean dedicating less revenue to technology. Yet when money is spent on technology, it is done so with the goal of long-term savings through solutions that are promised to increase operational efficiency. In fact, according Hospitality Technology's 11th Annual Restaurant Technology Study, 71 percent of readers report that the number one IT driver when it comes to technology selection is cost saving measures.
For restaurants, these technology selections can come in many forms. Solutions that promise to reduce labor and food and beverage costs through efficiency are examples of just two ways that operators are harnessing technology in their battle to cut costs. Noodles and Company (www.noodles.com), for example, has just completed a rollout of the Aloha Command Center, a hosted software solution from Radiant Systems (www.radiantsystems.com) that reduces the amount of time management spends on point-of-sale system support, among other things.
"Since the rollout, we have been able to simplify our support processes and reduce operational costs," says David Lehn, VP of IT for Noodles and Co.
For its part, the Lion and the Rose British Restaurant & Pub (www.thelionandrose.com) is using a RFID-based beverage tracking solution from Capton (www.captoninc.com) to check bartender pouring accuracy and improve liquor costs. "Mistakes in our free pour bar operation changed dramatically with the implementation of the Capton solution. Our missing drink rate dropped to practically nothing, which certainly improves liquor costs," says James Mackay, COO for the Lion and Rose.
To read more about the cost saving technology measures and strategies at place at these restaurants and more, visit htmagazine.com.