The restaurant and foodservice industry have seen so much change as it forges its’ new normal. The Pandemic moved operators into new streams of revenue. From the growth of takeout & delivery to the addition of off-premises strategies, led by the creation of the food-truck phenomenon, that has enabled restaurant brands to create a new base of customers.
With that growth comes the challenge of how to manage what has become for many operators an expanded portfolio of businesses. At the center of that is how to deploy key personnel and give that team the management tools to maximize the customer experience. To create and maintain profitable growth in today’s restaurant and foodservice market with the price of labor and food and beverage continuing to spiral out of control, finding the right tech solution to manage with has become essential.
As a longtime restaurateur, Ben Simmons could see the frustration associated with maintaining and managing growth and decided to do something about it. “I could see very clearly that as an industry we had antiquated solutions beginning with our Point of Sale (POS) systems that simply couldn’t keep up with the pace of change,” Simmons noted.
With that mission in mind, Simmons built a team focused on creating a portfolio of simple and affordable solutions to many of the key pressure points in a restaurant and foodservice operation. “I was shocked to see just how narrow the focus is of the well known providers in the POS space,” he explained. That became the impetus for Simmons to create and build the Table Needs platform of tech solutions.
The initial Table Needs product was a QR code solution. “We saw that the use of QR codes had taken much of the personal touch out of how operators interacted and built relationships with their dining patrons. We could see early on that in order to implement these changes that we needed a POS system to continue as the hub for the operator,” Simmons said.
“As I went through the process, I was able to call on my experience in running both independent restaurants and franchised chain units,” he said. “By thinking about Table Needs from a franchise’s perspective, we were able to create a plug and play solution that could help to manage everything from accounting to marketing within a single eco-system.”
The University of Alabama graduate also brought a rich background to the venture. “I came from a 12-year career in software development and had the opportunity to focus on business process improvement,” Simmons said. “I fell in love with fixing the problems of businesses.” His tech employers would in fact later become angel investors with his Table Needs venture.
Simmons wrote his next chapter with a return to the restaurant industry. That included both the completion of a hospitality program at Cornell University and investments in a portfolio of restaurants. That combination of a software/tech background and studying and working in the restaurant industry perfectly positioned Simmons to create the groundbreaking Table Needs platform.
From a quick service restaurant’s need to simplify and speed the payment process to a mobile app for a food truck to transact payments, Table Needs offers simple and affordable solutions. “I can see the challenge that comes with needing to manage a series of business that are constantly on the fly,” Simmons said.
Among the more creative features from Table Needs is an innovative Kitchen Display System (KDS). “This enables a simple integration of on-line ordering in which, through the use of Facebook, we can actually create order pacing. This enables the kitchen to manage the flow of orders effectively.”
Simmons also took his operating experience to build an essential accounting integration for the operator. “There is no longer a single POS where all of the restaurant’s transactions occur,” he explained. “With multiple entry points, we could see the need to create a solution to automatically handle the payment of sales tax.” That led Table Needs to a joint venture with industry leader Avalara that handled sales tax seamlessly.
Table Needs understands the growth and impact of online menus. “We support multiple online menus that very few competitors offer,” Simmons added. That feature is also supported with an innovative text messaging function that informs the customer when their order is ready.
Simmons also has a unique feel for how innovations, including food trucks, have changed how the nation dines. “It’s not unusual today to have an event with 30 plus foods trucks and 5000 plus people on hand. You can only imagine how valuable our outbound text program is in that environment. I am also convinced that the food trucks that we are helping to solve challenges for today, may very well be the brick-and-mortar operators with multiple units of the future,” he said.
The veteran entrepreneur also entered the POS space with a keen understanding of the need to make the Table Needs system affordable. “We offer a simple subscription-based program with each of our plans including all of our operational features (POS/Online Ordering/KDS/SMS Text and Digital Menus) included,” he said. The Table Needs subscription also includes the line of financial features including Sales tax automation/Cash discounts and inventory. Simmons and his team also offer complimentary on-demand customer support as part of the program.
Operators seeking more information on the Table Needs POS portfolio are invited to visit the company’s website.