Mobile apps are changing everything. In fact, there are over 2 million apps now available on the App Store to download. The vast majority of these are free. And hundreds are made specifically for restaurants.
Yep, there’s a renaissance of restaurant technology happening right under your nose. The apps and software available to restaurants today automate processes that suck up valuable time. Processes like inventory. Right now, inventory is dominated by spreadsheets, data entry and price lookup. It’s a time eating beast. And if you do use technology, it’s clunky, hard-to-use, and expensive. That’s where a restaurant inventory app comes in.
These restaurant inventory apps drastically increase the accuracy and efficiency of your inventory taking process. They are easy to use, take little-to-no-time to set up, and cost next to nothing. But how do you choose the right restaurant inventory app for your business? We put together a short guide that will help you look for inventory apps and weigh the pros and cons of each one.
What You Should Look For In A Restaurant Inventory App
It’s important to have a list of must-have criteria before you choose an inventory app. As you vet options, be critical. Consider some key elements that will impact your long-term satisfaction.
1. Setup Time
Always factor setup time into your decision-making process. No matter what inventory app you choose, setup time won’t be less than 30 days. You do have to get all of your locations and ingredients in the app, after all.
But setup time is manageable. Just commit to setting aside a certain amount of time every day and every week to the setup process. Then verify that the inventory app you choose can meet the timeline you’ve established to get up and running.
2. Easy to Use
It’s worth your time to poke around different inventory apps. Sit on demos. Think about how easy the app will be not just for you to use, but the team members you trust with your inventory taking.
Inventory systems aren’t one-size-fits-all. There’s an array of solutions on the market. Consider your business’ size and your workers’ needs. How will your existing technology and processes change for the better because of the inventory app you choose?
The features that are important to you aren’t necessarily the same ones that are important to the owner of the restaurant down the block. What features are important to your business? Don’t settle for an inventory app that doesn’t include all of them.
At the same time, consider what features don’t really matter to you. Bells and whistles are great. But do you need them? Why pay for an inventory app that offers much more than you’ll ever use? Try to find the ideal fit for you. Or look for something scalable that can grow with your business.
A good restaurant inventory app won’t be free. But it should pay for itself. Do the math. The inventory app you choose should reduce labor costs and limit food waste, saving you enough money to pay for the technology.
In deciding what you can afford, look at your current food waste and your current cost of staffing an inventory taker. If it looks like you’re wasting quite a bit and racking up some major man-hours, divide these figures by two. You’ll see what you’d save if you cut waste and time in half. Can you afford to invest this amount into your new inventory app?
5. Training & Support
It’s always nice to talk to a human being when you have a problem with technology. And it’s always nice to have someone to turn to when you want to learn how a feature works.
Be sure that the inventory solution you choose has a fully functioning support team who has your back. Post-install training, online videos, on-site training… think about which of these options would be most useful to your business.
Also, research each company’s reputation. Look specifically for product feedback and reports of customer service experience. Restaurant technology rip-offs are all too common. Watch out for bait-and-switch schemes or situations where you’ll wind up being nickeled and dimed for every little thing.
Maybe it was the dream of creating the perfect dish. Or perhaps it was the joy of hospitality. Whatever first enticed you to enter the restaurant industry, it probably wasn’t the allure of taking inventory. But even though inventory has historically been an area of struggle for restaurants, it no longer needs to be.
It’s a digital age, and technology is at its best. There’s a whole slew of restaurant inventory apps and software to choose from. They’re easy to use, take no time to set up, and pay for themselves. Let this short guide be a starting point for finding the inventory app that will make your business more efficient and profitable.
Orderly helps independent restaurants and chains implement better processes for managing invoices, inventory, and food spend with the LEAST amount of time, effort and expense. We’ve built the Orderly App as an easy-to-use app that helps restaurants move away from the manual, time consuming processes that exist today. The result is paperless invoicing, automated accounting, painless inventory, and food spending dashboards that help restaurants save time and save money. Our customers are cutting their inventory time by 50%, eliminating 100% of the data entry for accounting, and reducing their quarterly food spend by thousands of dollars… all in an app that pays for itself. To learn more, visit our website.