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Your IT Team Can Make or Break Your Brand

Whether you’re a Franchisor or a Franchisee, your IT team plays a vital role in the care and feeding of your business’ most important asset: the Brand. IT can be successful brand stewards by making the right software choices for your business.

Like the rest of the hospitality industry, your IT application landscape is going through tremendous changes. To stay successful and competitive amongst an ever-growing list of great competitors, your business needs software systems that are efficient, reliable and capable of supporting complex composite business processes.

From the BOH to the FOH, the business demands speed and agility from IT—being able to quickly deliver applications to support new technologies, run new functionality, bring new menu items to market and take advantage of new opportunities. These demands are putting intense pressure on quality operations and processes.

Compounding the matter, your business also has a franchisor/franchisee dynamic in play. This further complicates the IT application landscape because what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander—at least from the gander’s perspective.

But here’s the bottom-line… your guests don’t care if your stores are company-owned or franchised locations. Guests expect to experience your brand as it was promised to them. Your IT systems are playing a bigger part in the outcome of that brand promise than ever before. Can your brand really afford not to standardize your IT applications?

This is why in today’s business environment, pooh-poohing the importance of IT standardization is so precarious for every operator. For the sake of a guest’s positive experience, it’s critically important that the same brand standards are upheld throughout all locations, regardless of who the parent company is or where in the world the restaurant may be. With so much at stake, there’s never been a better time than now to put forth an IT plan to institute a holistic restaurant management platform or back office system. Aside from seeing bottom-line cost savings of 2-5 percent or more, these BOH systems are especially helpful for embedding disciplined standardization in a centralized, efficient manner to ensure a seamless brand experience for all.

One central standardized back office platform for complete control:

  • One standard to centralize and protect the brand by ensuring operational standards, from recipe prep to scheduling practices, are upheld throughout corporate, franchise and global locations.
  • One daily playbook for the restaurant operator to run the entire business, including forecasting, ordering, receiving, inventory, payroll, and scheduling.
  • One cost analysis console for the procurement team to scrutinize spend, compare vendor bids, negotiate contracts, set up lot tracking, and manage vendor performance… and slash costs in the process.
  • One nutritional console for the culinary team to evaluate menu item nutritionals, perform recipe modeling, and manage one online recipe book.
  • One operational analysis console for the leadership team, with all key performance metrics aggregated onto one master scorecard, and drill-down to each region, restaurant, transaction, and manager.

A back office system institutes a bulletproof plan to ensure a consistent brand experience at both company-owned and franchised locations. First, each business day, at each location, all data (i.e., sales, product mix, timekeeping data, etc.) are collected and stored in a centralized, cloud-based database.

Next, by standardizing systems at a central point, the company has the ability to level-set all operational procedures— from the way the food is procured, received, stored, and prepared to the way the food is served and consumed. Having both company stores and franchise locations using the same set of procedural best practices captured as data points that are monitored from a central location, the company can quickly identify the problem and act when something unusual happens (e.g. large food and/or labor cost variances).

What’s more, because of alert capabilities, back-of-house systems are super-proactive, because they can automatically alert the operator to problems instead of the operators having to look for them in their data. The proactive nature of the back office system acts as a layer of protection for safeguarding brand guidelines and most importantly, your brand’s promise to the guest.

First Published in Restaurant Business Magazine – January 2015