Harnessing technology can help improve efficiency, as Gillian McKenzie reports
TECHNOLOGY is playing an increasingly important role in bars, restaurants and hotels as operators face growing competition for the consumer pound.
That was the message from technology firms contacted by SLTN last week, who said outlets without the latest systems and equipment in place risk falling behind.
It seems electronic point of sale (EPOS) is one area operators can reap the rewards from investment.
Richard Heitmann, head of UK sales for touch-screen EPOS manufacturer J2 Retail Systems, said such systems are “critical” to efficiency in pubs and bars. Highlighting the management information an EPOS system can supply, allowing the owner or manager to see margins, handle stock and reduce operational costs, Heitmann said it plays a key role in helping operators control their business.
“The richness of EPOS-generated information provides a complete trading picture,” he said.
“Use of EPOS can save a pub thousands of pounds by eliminating or greatly reducing anomalies such as incorrect charging, till shrinkage, not producing bills and inaccurate change giving. Use of EPOS simplifies food ordering and ensures customers are billed correctly.
“The trade now understands that deploying contemporary EPOS technology sends out a message that a pub or bar is efficient and is investing in its business.”
It’s a view shared by Kevin Coetzee, managing director of EPOS provider TISSL, who said many operators are now moving beyond ‘traditional’ EPOS systems to those which can run on tablet computers and smartphones.
“With more and more smartphones coming in to use and the power of the smartphone increasing, EPOS providers and users alike realise they can put that capability to good use with sales transactions integrated with EPOS,” he said.
“Pubs without the latest technology run the risk of falling behind if they are unable to run their business to maximum efficiency and provide customers with what they expect.
“The minimum expectation is a fast streamlined service, delivering quality food and beverages; but, increasingly, customers want more, such as the ability to pay by phone and use iPads.
“The right EPOS solution will allow pub operators to focus on what they are good at – serving food and drink and providing excellent customer service – whilst the EPOS solution runs the business.”
And it’s not just in EPOS that advancements in technology can help bar, restaurant and hotel operators improve efficiency.
David Barrett of Call Systems Technology said communications technology, from simple call buttons to automated management systems, can play a key role in the smooth running of an outlet by improving efficiency and customer service.
“Consumers are also increasingly accepting and expecting technology to play a part in their pub and restaurant experience,” he said. “Technology can improve communication between staff and customers, helping staff serve customers promptly to provide a better service.”
The latest systems make hospitality businesses more efficient, increasing the amount of customers they are able to serve and improving food quality.
“This has a direct effect in raising profits in restaurants, hotels and bars.”
Technology also seems to be playing a key role behind the bar.
Bill Tripp, key account manager at dispense solutions firm Innserve, said operators should look for technology which “improves efficiency and product quality whilst reducing costs without requiring a change in behaviour from employees”.
“The benefits associated with certain technologies are immense,” he said.
“Not only do they save time and money, but they also enable operators to gain a better grasp on all areas of the business.”
Steve Brand, director of Aberdeen-based IT and cloud computing firm G5 Technologies, said hospitality operators have embraced technology.
“Technology, when implemented correctly, can always help to streamline processes and drive efficiencies by reducing or removing the human error factor,” he said. “Some can also generate revenue; for example, G5 Zone wi-fi also has a profit share model.”