Six Restaurant Management Software Features that Drive Operating Results
They’re simple questions… What are our goals? How do we get there? How are we doing? But when everyone in a company knows the answers, the results can be revolutionary. Restaurant management software has been a business-scaling revelation to thousands of chains. Restaurant operations dashboards, a key component of these systems, made available across the organization is the fastest, most efficient way to provide that information to a team.
Conversely, without an easy-to-access dashboard that relays timely information about sales, costs, and operating issues, it’s much harder to make well-informed decisions quickly, to continuously improve sales and cut costs, and to maintain a consistent execution in the field. In the hyper-competitive restaurant industry, that can be a fatal weakness.
Restaurant Management Software: “The 6 Must Haves”
Following are 6 traits common to highly effective operating dashboards.
1. One view of the truth
The answer to “How are we doing?” shouldn’t be debatable. An operating dashboard should pull all of its information about purchases, inventories, sales, labor and so on from a single source whenever possible.
When leadership can trust that they have the facts about their business performance, they can quickly make the right decisions necessary to improve. As a plus, when performance is measured in an agreed-upon, factual way, it dramatically reduces defensiveness on the part of those being measured, and leads to a more collaborative culture.
More Consistent Operations
A comprehensive, dynamic task list that can be monitored and modified by management may be the single most powerful tool in creating a culture of operational excellence.
2. KPIs in sharp focus
A dashboard should make it easy to modify which Key Performance Indicators apply to each user, so that managers can make it clear to each employee what success looks like. The system should also have a broad assortment of KPIs to choose from, so that any important company initiative can be measured and supported with appropriate indicators.
For a group manager, the ability to spot issues at a group level, and then easily drill down into the data to review performance in individual restaurants is incredibly powerful.
A tip: It’s easy to end up with too much information displayed on a dashboard, which often results in users mentally filtering out whatever they deem to be least important. For example, when there are 12 Key Performance Indicators displayed, most users will guess at and focus on the 3 or 4 they believe the boss will ask about next. That undermines one of the most powerful functions of a dashboard, which is to make sure that each person knows exactly what the company wants them to focus on, so they can do their part to help the organization hit its goals.
3. The right information to the right people
Reporting hierarchies make it possible to determine which information in a system is available to each user. A simple example would be a restaurant manager who might see labor costs only for his store, while a district manager would see labor costs for all stores under her control. This ability to limit access helps users focus on their most critical priorities.
Another means of grouping data is consolidated reporting, which aggregates performance data for any group, whether it’s made up of stores, districts, concepts, or geographic regions.
For a group manager, the ability to spot issues at a group level, and then easily drill down into the data to review performance in individual restaurants is incredibly powerful. Without a dashboard, it’s terribly difficult to quickly spot a cost problem in a region, pinpoint which stores are most responsible, and then review the menu mix, inventories, or actual vs. theoretical reports to discover the root of the problem. With a well-designed dashboard it can be done in seconds, and the results may pay for the entire system.
Data that will ultimately inform the dashboard should be entered in one place only, e.g. a vendor order should never be entered on the vendor’s website, and into a back office system… doing so creates exactly twice as many opportunities for errors.
4. Opportunities Spotlighted
In addition to important sales data, the dashboard should feature reports that reveal potential cost savings and top line sales opportunities. Examples might include reports showing Actual vs. Theoretical costs, most and least profitable items, best sellers, labor performance, or any other information the people running the business might desire. These reports form the basis for coaching conversations: they establish factual performance data, allow ongoing performance to be tracked, and create opportunities for feedback in real time to speed improvement.
A dashboard should make it easy to modify which Key Performance Indicators apply to each user, so that supervisors can make it completely clear to each employee what success looks like.
5. Duties Detailed
An indispensable feature of the most powerful dashboards is a dynamic task list: a centrally controlled means for managing task assignment and execution. It’s essentially a time management device, which is hugely valuable since so many people struggle with time management.
Teams struggle with tasks because:
- They neglect to create to-do lists that map their progress towards long-term goals
- They fail to set deadlines for their tasks
- Their supervisors have little or no visibility into the process
A centrally-controlled dashboard task list solves those problems by detailing exactly what the user must do to support the company’s goals, and by specifying deadlines. The task list is dynamically created for the user by the system, and is based on the business rules that the company has established. For example, the system may generate a task requiring that a scheduled inventory be taken, but based on business rules it won’t accept newer data if older inventories haven’t yet been entered.
Functionally, each item on a task list should also be a link to the screen necessary to complete the task. For example, clicking on a task that says, “Place vendor order with X Company”, should take the user to the order entry screen for that vendor. That’s not just good design- it’s the way people expect software to work.
Finally, no task list is complete without deadlines, and having someone else know those deadlines is a powerful motivator. Better systems will monitor the completion of tasks, and send alerts to supervisors (if desired) when deadlines are passed.
A comprehensive, dynamic task list that can be monitored and modified by supervisors may be the single most powerful tool for creating a culture of operational excellence.
When there are too many Key Performance Indicators displayed, most users will guess at and focus on the 3 or 4 they believe the boss will ask about next.
A dashboard helps each user support a company’s efforts to reach its goals, and since both users and goals change, configurability is key. Examples include the ability to customize KPIs for each user, to determine which reports are defaults, or to set a language default by user. “Custom fitting” the dashboard to the user makes the company’s expectations clear, and provides the tools necessary for success.
The 6 “must have” restaurant management software capabilities listed above are critical components for truly powerful dashboards that can act like a lens and focus a company on its most vital priorities. When properly constructed, the dashboard provides not just the path to success, but the timely feedback that allows for course-correction, which saves untold amounts of time and energy. By using uniform factual data, it makes it easy to see the truth about a business, and provides a solid foundation on which all serious improvements are built. Contact CrunchTime to learn more.