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What Makes ‘Real-time’ so Valuable for Restaurant Executives?

‘Real-time’ is one of those neat phrases applied to technology in UK hospitality. But what should it mean exactly – and what’s the business value?

‘Real-time’ is one of those neat phrases applied to technology in UK hospitality. But what should it mean exactly – and what’s the business value? Let’s put some meat on the bones.

Life happens in real-time. Every action we take every day could have a time-stamp, in theory. Recording some events would be pointless. But in other cases, it’s essential.

For instance, when did you park the car? This tells us how much time is left on the meter – at any given moment – and when you should be heading back. Suddenly, some rather mundane details become real-time, actionable data.

Similarly, restaurants are awash with datapoints bubbling with potential business value.

The best ‘real-time’ restaurant technology will manage five critical processes for you:

1: Figuring out which data is relevant 

So much happens within a restaurant that isn’t recorded properly, it’s written down on paper, or the event just passes by. For example, useful information can include the time when suppliers deliver your vegetables, when staff arrive, when meals are ready, and how much food is wasted. That’s just a flavour – as there are thousands of moments that will matter from a business perspective. These all need to be recorded digitally.

2: Making it very easy to capture data 

Much of this information could be recorded automatically or captured in a swipe – at the time it happens, rather than days later. Leading real-time technology won’t leave corners of your business in the dark. It will provide fast and intuitive ways to record everything that counts, end to end, continually. For example, with the right tools, it’s easy for staff to record ‘ins’, recipes, ‘outs’ and corrections instantly – as part of every day duties.

3: Updating a central record of data automatically 

Once fresh data arrives, a real-time system will update its records automatically. There’s no disconnects between the front of house and back office, or data hand-offs between legacy technologies. Orders made on a handheld device at the table can flash onto a kitchen display screen immediately. A dropped bottle of wine will be reflected in the inventory — within seconds of it happening. Every inventory movement can be tracked. This data can be made available to the right person at the right level, whether it’s the head chef, store manager, or company director. The impact of this data ripples throughout the business.

4: Making information actionable 

A smart system won’t just tell you how many eggs you have. If you wish, it’ll generate an order for you – and send this automatically to a supplier when stocks get low. It’ll automatically create kitchen prep plans so your staff know exactly what to prepare throughout the day. It will guide your staff scheduling so you can accurately assign the right personnel to shifts. The system can also flag key performance indicators (KPIs), send reminders, or trigger alerts if something looks amiss. It can also use data analytics to create accurate business forecasts or let you try out ‘what if’ scenarios and model any changes to your menu, suppliers or other costs, for example.

5: Providing a true picture of your business 

If you want your latest operational Profit & Loss (P&L) figures, there’s no need to wait for the accountant to get back to you with numbers that are out-of-date already. The system will provide ‘live’ reports instantly. You can also drill down – or step back – and see all the reasons why business is heading up or down. With instant insights, you can improve quality and fix bottlenecks.

The outcome? 

When restaurant operations move in real-time, you’re no longer operating in the dark. You’re presented with data that’s relevant, timely, transparent and meaningful. You can make swift decisions when they matter most – based on today’s facts and accurate predictions about tomorrow.

Put simply, restaurants operating in real-time have the potential to run like clockwork.

Discover more

Find out how a real-time restaurant system could benefit your business. Contact our UK team