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10 Powerful Apps for the Modern Restaurant Owner

Management 16 minute read 16 August 2019

If you’ve been in the restaurant business for a while, you’ll know that one of the biggest areas of change relates to technology.

There was a time when, if you needed a new POS system, you’d need to take out a bank loan to cover not just the equipment cost, but also the training and on-going support.

Thankfully, we live in a very different world now.

Thanks to cloud computing and the continuing democratisation of what was once technology only for those with deep pockets, there’s a wealth of solutions out there which are perfectly affordable.

The best news? With one in three people having their first job experience in restaurants, you can satisfy an increasingly tech-literate staff base without spending a fortune on restaurant management apps.

Disclaimer - this is on us

We have nothing against advertorials or sponsored posts, but we’d like to highlight the fact that this blog post is neither of those things.

Every app we list below has been carefully chosen either because we’ve used it ourselves or have heard from countless restaurateurs that it rocks.

We’ve not been paid a penny for any of the recommendations, and don’t earn from the clicks - so, dive into our completely impartial advice and supercharge your restaurant!

1. Finally take control of social

Hootsuite

Any restaurateur worth their salt knows that social media is a vital channel for both marketing and customer interaction.

There’s just one problem - there are too many channels to manage without a dedicated social media manager.

And who has one of those?

Thankfully, Hootsuite takes social media management and makes it super-simple by enabling users to combine all their social media accounts under one roof, schedule posts, interact with followers and keep an eye on specific hashtags and searches.

This is a vital restaurant manager app, but one you might not realise immediately that you need.

What users think

Hootsuite makes creating posts once and sending to multiple social media sites a breeze! Scheduling and attaching files is also easy. I wouldn't do them much justice if I also didn't add that the mobile app is just as easy as the web version!

2. Become the master of your reviews

ReviewTrackers

There’s no getting away from it, people are saying things about your restaurant online - good, and bad.

But that’s ok. It’s part of the biz these days, and the trick lies in keeping on top of your reviews and ensuring you become the master of them rather than the other way around.

There’s plenty of reputation management systems out there, but ReviewTrackers wins in our opinion due to its ease of use and the fact it pulls reviews from Google, TripAdvisor, Fourspace, Facebook and more.

It even uses machine learning to help you understand customers better by looking at and analysing the keywords they use.

This isn’t a free tool, but when it comes to must-have apps for restaurant owners, reputation management should be right at the top of your list.

 Related Article: Dealing with the Dreaded: How to Handle Bad TripAdvisor Reviews

What users think

I love Review Tracker. We had to cancel our subscription to this and other social tools at one point and it is the software I missed the most. It streamlines my day to day responsibilities and allows me to report to my team easily and effectively with pre-designed reports that provide all of the necessary information

3. Email: automated

Mailchimp

Email remains a brilliant way to communicate with previous, future and potential restaurant guests.

However, you’ll need email marketing software if you’re to use it effectively and ethically, and MailChimp remains one of the best tools for this.

Pitched now as an all-round marketing platform, MailChimp has still retained its roots as a brilliant tool for collecting email addresses, organising targeted lists of subscribers and sending out personalised, beautiful emails that demand engagement.

What users think

Arguably the only Email Marketing and Survey tool you will ever need

4. The HR companion

Zenefits

“Manage your people with ease”, claims the Zenefits website. And that’s a beautiful thought if you work in the hustle and bustle of the restaurant industry.

Zenefits takes payroll, benefits, rota scheduling and the myriad of other HR-related tasks demanded by this sector and makes them a joy to undertake.

No, really. This will transform what you think about, and how you approach, HR.

 Related Article: How to Reduce Staff Tension in a Busy Hospitality Business

What users think

It has saved us a lot of time over the past couple of years, particularly with the elimination of paper forms and the fact that it communicates with our healthcare provider

5. Stay on the pulse

Feedly

The way we find and consume news has changed so much in recent years.

Can you remember the last time you stayed up specifically to watch the news at 10?

News now filters through into our smartphones from a variety of sources, and Feedly is one of the best tools for collating all of those sources into one simple reading platform.

If you want to keep on top of the latest menu trends, restaurant industry news and opinion, you need this on your phone.

What users think

It is just great and helps me save time on so many news and information these days! The design is also beautiful. It is also friendly to free users

6. Keep your notes always to hand

Evernote

There’s nothing wrong with taking notes the old-fashioned way (remember pen and paper?), but there’s no escaping how useful it can be to grab your phone, laptop or tablet and create a note.

With Evernote, you can create rich notes that include text, snippets from websites, attachments, audio recordings, drawings and far more.

It’ll sync your notes across virtually every platform you can’t think of and even allow team members to collaborate on notes if you opt for Evernote Business.

What users think

I just call it My Digital Memory

7. Cloud accounting made easy

Freshbooks

Of all the apps for restaurant owners in this list, Freshbooks is arguably the one you absolutely cannot do without.

No modern business should be undertaking its accountancy tasks on pen and paper or multiple spreadsheets any more.

Yep, these apps are yet another monthly outgoing, but they deliver so much in time saved and helping you comply with the latest tax rules and regulations.

Freshbooks remains one of the simplest and most affordable options out there and includes everything from time tracking to reports that actually make sense (and which your accountant will love).

What users think

The basic setup is simple and straight-forward, but as my business has grown, I've been impressed with little tricks built into FreshBooks that helps me save time and get a better overall view of my business

8. The POS for everyone

Square

As we noted at the start of this guide, POS used to be a particular bone of contention for restaurant owners.

Sure, you can still spend big on POS systems, but for the savvy restaurateurs out there, POS is now available as a restaurant management app rather than a colossal, enterprise level system.

There are loads of affordable POS systems out there to explore, but Square remains one of the most highly regarded.

It’ll work on pretty much any existing tablet or smartphone you have to hand and is brilliant at both order taking and payment processing.

The lack of setup and monthly fees also makes it blindingly easy to get into if you don’t have a big POS budget.

What users think

I love Square! Excellent customer service, knowledgeable staff and easy to use! I’ve used so many different ones in the past, stuck with square the longest

9. Schedule… and grow

7shifts

Managing employee schedules and labour costs shouldn’t be a chore in a modern restaurant.

With 7shifts, you can easily set up shifts with a drag-and-drop interface and ensure employees receive instant notifications about when they’re next expected to work.

It links nicely with Square, too (see app number 8, above), and promises to help you grow your restaurant by spending more time focusing on your business than managing employee movements.

 Related Article: You’ve Built the Best Restaurant Team - Here’s How to Keep Them

What users think

The software has helped clean up so many of my payroll processes, allows my staff to switch shifts with only others of the same experience level or higher

10. Next level waitlisting

Hostme

Waitlists are a critical part of restaurant management, and this list simply wouldn’t be complete without a restaurant management app that enables you to look after yours effectively.

Pop this on your tablet, and you can move diners with ease, send them notifications when a table becomes ready and even enable them to get in line on-the-go when they’re en route to your restaurant.

A loyalty scheme that rewards diners who wait completes a brilliant waitlist app.

What users think

It has also helped assign table to servers which honestly was a nightmare for us and a source of conflict. Support is quite fantastic, they probably never sleep. I love Hostme

Wrapping up

We hope you enjoyed our round-up of the best apps for restaurant owners.

Have we missed anything? Let us know if you have a must-have restaurant manager app that you simply can’t do without!

 Related Article: The Ultimate Guide: Growing Your Venue with Food Delivery Apps

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