The difference between success and failure in Australia’s restaurant industry is paper thin. With an average pre-pandemic profit margin of just 4.2 per cent, many restaurants continually walk the knife’s edge between profitability and financial strife. That balance has become even more delicate since COVID-19 restrictions put even more stress on restaurant profit margins.
When all is said and done, there are really only two ways to boost your profit margin: increase revenue or decrease costs. Achieve one of those things and you’ll be off to a good start. But do both and you’ll set your restaurant up for sustainable long-term profitability.
Many restaurateurs are turning to technology to help solve the profitability puzzle. Restaurant management software such as OpenTable offer restaurant owners a range of innovative tools to help them provide better guest experiences and speed up their operations.
But even the best restaurant management software is of limited use if it’s trapped solely on a back-office computer screen. Your profit margin is won and lost in the small details of each and every service. That’s why giving your front-of-house wait staff access to key customer data on the floor, during service is vital.
This is known as point-of-sales (POS) integration. And it means that every front-of-house employee will know returning guests’ dining preferences, be able to identify up-sell opportunities for each returning guest, and improve turn times across the board.
Know your guests better
An OpenTable POS integration enables you to get to know your guests on a deeper level so you can deliver more personalised dining experiences.
For example, you can quickly view each guests’ average and lifetime spend, and check booking notes from current and past visits to personalise service.
Serena Ang is a Co-Owner and the General Manager of Sydney modern Japanese favourite, Zushi. She oversees two busy venues in inner-city Surry Hills and Barangaroo, and says this kind of easy-to-access customer data in the OpenTable system helps her team personalise every service.
“Our Customer Experience Manager looks at each booking daily before the guest comes in,” she says. “We can see booking notes from previous visits, and if they’ve dined with us a few times previously, we’ll see the customer’s average spend, and any seating or general dining preferences that were noted.”
Ang explains that the Customer Experience Manager briefs all wait staff on guest preferences before every service.
“For example, we might know that a certain guest likes a particular table and a certain beverage,” says Ang. “So we can seat them at their favourite table and offer them their usual drink. This adds a real personal touch to our service.”
Identify high-value VIPs with POS systems
Getting to know your guests on a deeper level can help you deliver more personalised customer service experiences. But it’s not just about improving the guest experience. OpenTable also helps restaurant managers recognise valuable guests and identify up-sell opportunities.
With POS integrations, you can spot high spenders and frequent visitors to recognise and reward their loyalty.
“We can tag frequent visitors or higher spenders as VIPs in OpenTable so our wait staff know when to offer something extra special,” Ang explains.
Tracking dining preferences also gives our wait staff a selling feature. For example, if we know a guest liked the tasting menu last time, we can use that as a basis to up-sell to some special dishes.”
Speed up your operation
Up-selling customers is a great way to boost revenue. So is improving turn times to open up more bookings. OpenTable helps achieve this by automatically releasing inventory based on turn times allocated to party sizes. But POS integrations help you enhance that even further by showing the tables likely to leave earlier.
With an POS integrations, for example, when a guest pays their bill, that data is fed from the POS back to the OpenTable system. This makes it easier to identify how soon that table will be available to seat other guests.
Ang explains that for bookings that look like they use the table for shorter durations than expected, the hosts can update the turn times on OpenTable. “This enables us to open up further bookings online as tables become available throughout the service,” Ang says.
Integrating OpenTable with the POS system also helps speed up operations by automating table statusing to further improve turn times.
“For example, if the average turn time is 90 minutes but a table is out in an hour, we still have to manually change those turn times to maximise our bookings,” she says. “Whereas, when OpenTable is integrated with your POS, the host can see when the customer is already on desserts and there’s probably only 30 minutes left of their meal, which makes it easier for the host to update turn times and enable us to bring more bookings in.”
The POS imperative
POS integrations also make it easier to keep track of your revenue. You can get a snapshot of how your restaurant is performing any time and from anywhere with the OpenTable mobile app.
You can also compare shift revenue against averages, visualise each shift’s average spend per cover and party, and use interactive reports to break down revenue and trace spend back to every reservation.
Combined with the ability to deliver more personalised guest experiences, easily identify up-sell opportunities, and speed up your operations to increase booking capacity, integrating OpenTable with your POS system can help you increase your profit margin and power your post-pandemic recovery.