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Restaurant Software : All-in-One or Best-in-Class ? Advice from a Head of Sales

As a restaurant business, should you choose an all-encompassing business solution that covers all your needs averagely – but offers seamless integration and a single stakeholder to answer your requests – or should you pick and choose tailored, best-in-class solutions that solve each of your issues with ease and speed, but at the expense of requiring you to deal with integration issues and numerous spokespersons ?

The answer is… it depends !

Yes, it depends on your organization, your needs, your maturity, and your budget. But  although there is no black and white answer, experience has allowed me to determine which kind of tool would best fit your needs based on certain factors. 

This article aims to shed light on a question I often receive in sales meetings, and the variables to take into consideration when needing to make such a decision.

1. Why Are Restaurant Operators Looking For Software, In The First Place ?

In the past, before the surge of delivery platforms and the subsequent heavy reliance on them by both restaurants and consumers, restaurant businesses could maintain significant profit margins as their sales weren’t subject to the substantial 30% cut. Restaurant owners were making money and could boost profitability more by investing in increasing sales. 

However, in the current landscape, the reliance on delivery aggregators, which take a substantial portion of a restaurant’s sales profits on their platforms, coupled with intense competition, has made it challenging for restaurant operators to stand out and enhance profits solely through increased sales.

This shift in dynamics has prompted restaurant operators to explore alternative strategies for maximizing profits, primarily centered around cost reduction. But reducing costs isn’t a straightforward task; it demands a deep understanding of the restaurant’s operations and finances, necessitating comprehensive data analysis. Restaurant owners now find themselves needing to gain insights into every facet of their business in order to achieve seemingly small, but crucial, 1 or 2% cost savings – optimizations that were once considered insignificant in the past.

It is why restaurant businesses have jumped into looking inwards, and why many large food businesses have gone into considerable digital transformation programs with the aim of digitizing, automating, and optimizing every aspect of their operations. 

So here comes the question again : should you go with a suite of best-in-class tools that help you solve different issues with ease and speed, but have you deal with potential integration challenges and different stakeholders, or should you go with a does-it-all platform that does everything averagely, but provides seamless integration and a single stakeholder ? 

 

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each of these options.

2. All-In-One Business Solutions

By design, all-encompassing business solutions, sometimes referred to as ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning), were built to provide a one stop shop business solution for large F&B institutions. Typically, these restaurant businesses would be on-going a massive digital transformation program and would be in need of a solution that covers the entirety of their business’s operations at once. 

 

A- Pros of end to end platforms : 

 

  • They are complete, integrated systems that manage all aspects of a restaurant business. They typically cover Finance, HR, Sales, Marketing, Inventory, Website, Services, Supply Chain, and Analytics. 

 

  • They provide cohesiveness from the start to the end of a business process and across departments

 

  • They have a seamless integration between departments, and do not require additional work to connect different products.

 

  • 1 contract to sign. 1 stakeholder to talk to.

B- Cons of end to end platforms : 

 

  • The price… yes, ERP are very, very expensive (count for some $150,000/year at least).

 

  • The hidden costs : you will likely need to invest in a full time resource to ensure all operations are running smoothly. Add ons, such as asking for a new report, will cost you several thousands of dollars.

 

  • You pay for things you do not need : many ERPs come with specific packages containing modules you do not need, but will end up needing to pay for.

 

  • The complexity : ERPs are extremely complex by nature, and will require extensive training to get your team going. 

 

  • Slow implementation : Restaurant owners want to get started now, and see results today. Expect a slow implementation, and a significant learning curve.

 

  • Challenging usability : ERPs are old tools, and it takes a considerable amount of effort and investment to change the slightest button. It is hard for ERPs to modernize their solutions, and many of them provide a complex user interface and – if at all – a complex mobile experience, which affects adoption. 

 

  • Customer Support : not always great. ERPs require implementation. This means that even if you’re not happy, switching tools will cost you so much money you’ll think numerous times before pulling the plug. 

3. So, Who Should Go With An All-In-One Solution ?

If you’re an enterprise-sized F&B operator looking to digitize all aspects of your business at once, and have the financial resources to afford the contract and the additional, substantial costs that come with it, then an ERP might be the solution for you. You will gain the benefit of having to manage just a single vendor and not worry about integrations, but you should expect significant training and expenses.

If you’re an enterprise-sized F&B operator looking to modernize a single aspect of your operations, then a best in class tool might be worth looking into. 

If you’re a small, medium, standalone or chain restaurant business, you should stay away from such complex tools, mainly due to the cost and the now known bad value for money.

4. Best-In-Class Business Solutions

Best-in-class solutions will never shy away from saying “sorry, we don’t do that”. The more niche the solution is, the better it is. They typically focus on solving a single issue, and want to be the best at solving it by investing in usability, speed of implementation, speed of adoption, and strong retention. Because these tools are hyper-focused, they tend to evolve rapidly, and are adapted to the modern usability requirement of users, especially in the B2B world. A large part of them were born in the modern era, meaning they have a deep understanding of who their customers are, and they tend to target small to medium businesses who are price sensitive, meaning these tools are rather affordable.

 

 

A- Pros Of Best In Class Tools : 

 

  • Affordable : These restaurant tools are built for small to medium businesses looking to solve a particular issue. These tools tend to typically cost $50 to $1,000 per month.

 

  • No hidden costs. Modern tools know how sneaky larger players can be with pricing, and often adopt a policy of transparency.

 

  • Focused on solving a single issue : They’ll be the best at solving this issue. They’ll address every nuance you could face, in their product. 

 

  • Aware of their ecosystem and provide various integrations : Yes, best in class tools know that they have to place nice with others, which is why they all have a suite of integrations with tech partners. This means you shouldn’t worry about implementing a new tool, and making sure it works with others.

 

  • Fast to implement : No hardware to invest in. These tools tend to be cloud-based, and propose a first-class implementation experience to help you move fast. 

 

  • Easy to adopt : with a mobile-first approach and end-user experience in mind, these tools provide a modern user experience that makes them easy to adopt in no time by your team.

 

  • Excellent customer service : these tools want to keep you as a customer, and know that bigger players aren’t always here when you need them. As a busy restaurant owner, feeling support is important, which is why they provide such quality service. 

 

  • You pay for what you get. 

 

B- Cons Of Best In Class Tools : 

 

  • Integrations can sometimes be tricky : Most will try to play nice with others, but sometimes, some might want to be closed off. This means that you’ll need to find other ways to connect tools together. 

 

  • Customisation is not always an option : because these tools are hyper-focused on a specific issue, they’ll tend to give you the best of what they’ve found works. This is why many of them will give you a turn key solution without much customisation possible. This, believe it or not, is for your own good.

 

  • You’ll need to choose several best in class tools, negotiate several contracts, and will need to align stakeholders on a regular basis. 

5. So, Who Should Go With A Best-In-Class Tool ?

If you’re an enterprise-size restaurant business looking to solve a particular issue, a best in class tool might be your best choice. Best in class solutions provide more in-depth products built to withstand the needs of powerhouses, and the numerous real life nuances your team may face in their daily responsibilities. A best in class restaurant software will be the answer to increase complexity in restaurant operations. And with a series of integrations to most ERPs and other softwares, connecting your products won’t be an issue. 

If you’re a small to medium, standalone or chain restaurant business also looking to solve a particular issue, a best in class solution should be your tool of choice. These tools optimize operations by eliminating extraneous features and distractions, resulting in lean and effective management.

6. Conclusion

To wrap up, the decision between adopting an end-to-end restaurant software solution or opting for best-in-class tools ultimately revolves around your restaurant’s individual circumstances and ambitions. End-to-end solutions, such as ERPs, offer a comprehensive approach but can be quite the investment, with hidden costs and a bit of a learning curve, making them most suitable for those larger F&B establishments with substantial resources at their disposal and looking to digitize their entire operations, all at once. On the flip side, best-in-class tools are all about affordability, ease of use, and quick implementation, making them a great fit for smaller to medium-sized businesses and even larger restaurants or F&B groups aiming to tackle specific challenges head-on. Your choice should be a reflection of your restaurant’s unique needs and budgetary considerations. Keep in mind that the restaurant software landscape isn’t one-size-fits-all, so taking the time to assess your situation carefully is key to elevating your restaurant’s efficiency and bottom line.

7. About Supy

Supy is a best-in-class restaurant inventory management software built to help restaurant boost profits by cutting costs. Our suite of interconnected modules help power your restaurant operations with accurate data and automation, making it easy to save precious hours and take informed decision, at all times.

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