Restaurants of today are infused with technology in many new ways, and it’s making a difference.
The ripple effects of the pandemic continue: the National Restaurant Association finds that off-premises dining continues to happen much more frequently than before, with 66% of consumers more likely to order takeout in 2023 than they were before the pandemic. A full 55% of consumers consider takeout and delivery essential to their restaurant experience.
Restaurants turned to restaurant management apps to navigate this change, and it appears there’s no going back.
With the right tech tools, managers can ease their workloads, employees enjoy a much smoother scheduling process, and guests benefit in countless ways — from mobile ordering to digital menus to better ways of making and managing reservations.
Most managers are familiar (and frustrated) with traditional paper scheduling techniques. 7shifts provides a cloud-based team management and scheduling solution, allowing owners and managers to schedule restaurant employees, approve shift trades, and communicate with staff from one easy-to-use mobile app.
The app is useful for both your front- and back-of-house staff, allowing them to check upcoming shifts, submit availability, request shift trades, and more.
7shifts is a major player in the restaurant industry, serving more than 30,000 restaurants and 1 million restaurant pros and offering the most important restaurant management tools all in a single platform. In addition to scheduling, 7shifts handles staff payroll, tip management, hiring and application management, employee training, and much more.
Whether you have a single location of 100+ locations, 7shifts can be your team management solution, helping you streamline and automate scheduling, tip pooling, and more. Try 7shifts for free.
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The Team Communication tool from 7shifts fixes the chaos of disconnected conversations, text threads, and email chains that seem to go nowhere. With Team Communication, you can message individual staff members or the whole team about announcements or shift changes. You can even share important documents, like updated policies or tax forms.
Staff gets automatic alerts for upcoming breaks and newly published schedules so they can stay in the know. The app also lets employees take their scheduling changes into their own hands by making approved shift swaps and securely communicating with each other.
By cutting down on chaotic and hard-to-track communication (by as much as 50%), restaurants using 7shifts’ Team Communication tool increase team collaboration and accountability and decrease the time managers spend solving scheduling conflicts.
Manager Log Book
Synced with 7shifts employee management software, the Manager Log Book is the perfect place to take shift notes on the go and centralize them in one place. Whether it's kudos for an employee's job well done or a reminder to restock for tomorrow's shift, this is the ideal solution for those of us who are a little… forgetful.
As an added bonus, you can share these notes with other managers so that everyone has the context they need when on the floor.
ChowNow is a customized online ordering app for restaurants. When you sign up for either the monthly or annual plan, the ChowNow team will build an iPhone app tailored specifically to your business and made available via the iTunes App Store, free for your customers to download and enjoy.
They've also configured the software so that your thousands of Facebook followers can browse through mouth-watering product photos and place an order directly from your business page or website.
Apple | Android
Restaurateurs are no strangers to QuickBooks accounting software. Payroll can be a huge chore in this industry due to its time-sucking nature, and other accounting needs like inventory and budget management aren't exactly easy (or exciting).
But QuickBooks makes these financial obligations more manageable and more insightful. With it, you can make better decisions about your restaurant, scheduling, and cost structure. Plus, QuickBooks integrates with 7shifts, syncing employee scheduling and attendance with payroll without any added steps. You can quickly export reports and view overtime hours with just a few clicks.
Apple | Android
As diners’ habits and preferences evolve, reservations are more important than ever for many full-service restaurants. OpenTable seats around 1.6 billion diners every year and serves as a reservation provider for around 60,000 restaurants and venues. It's arguably the go-to platform for diners looking to make a reservation.
Diners can use OpenTable to search for available reservations at any restaurant near them. For newer restaurants hoping to bring in new customers, this app can be an effective way to get found by area visitors and locals alike.
OpenTable offers unique back-end benefits to restaurants, too, providing a customer management system, seating optimization tools, and monetizable experiences restaurants can use to grow their reach, turn guests into regulars, and reduce chaotic peaks and valleys.
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5. Toast Order & Pay
Restaurants across the country continue to struggle with staffing. If that’s true for you, consider whether Toast Order & Pay could help alleviate the pressure. An extension for restaurants using Toast POS, this feature of the popular restaurant management platform is actually for your guests as much as it is for you.
With Order & Pay, guests can scan a QR code at their table and order a round of drinks or a full meal — paying for it on the spot. As a result, according to Toast, ticket sizes can increase by 12% with this app, and that's in addition to the saved labor costs. Once you sign up for this add-on, guests can pay from their phone browser and don't need to download an app.
Toast Order & Pay supports Apple Pay, so your iPhone-using customers can order and pay in around 10 seconds! You’ll also gain powerful data into your guests’ behavior and preferences, which you can feed back into your marketing efforts or your loyalty program.
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6. RUN Powered by ADP
ADP's RUN is another payroll option used by SMBs. RUN also acts as an HR software, connecting payroll to core employee functions like training, record keeping, and onboarding.
Unlike 7shifts Payroll, however, it isn't built specifically for restaurants. 7shifts Payroll pulls time-clocking, tips, PTO and labor/compliance data and employees can access their paystubs within the mobile app.
7. Eat App
Eat App is a guest experience platform used by thousands of restaurants, primarily for reservation management. However, Eat App's capabilities touch so much more than reservations: payments, email marketing, and streamlined operations all come with this app.
EatApp increases profits by helping restaurants retain more customers and providing businesses with actionable data about their guests.
There’s no commission on reservations from Instagram, Google, and your restaurant’s website, which keeps costs low even as the platform simplifies your operations. Restaurants can also use Eat App for table management, building a guest database, and brand management.
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Speakap is a branded employee app that brings staff together in a social media-like tool that provides onboarding, task management, and workplace messaging features. It was a helpful way for giants like Dominos to bring team members together during the pandemic.
Speakap is also a king of integrations and works with plenty of other apps, including 7shifts, to keep your team engaged and productive while on the job. And even when employees are off, you can use Speakap to reach them from anywhere to ensure they're up to date on essential workplace news.
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BevSpot is a food and beverage management software that handles inventory management, ordering, invoicing, and sales data. With BevSpot, restaurants can take inventory “any time, anywhere.” Multi-location businesses can manage inventory centrally, with staff at each restaurant adding to the same database.
BevSpot helps restaurants reduce the time spent on inventory and the amount of inventory sitting in each restaurant. Thanks to its recipe editor, BevSpot also helps you understand and track cost percentages.
If your restaurant wants to start offering online ordering (or you need a better system than the one you have in place now), try Chowly. It’s a suite of tools for restaurants that includes online ordering, order integration, menu management, smart pricing, and more.
One of the most powerful features is direct integration with Google. Used to the fullest, Chowly allows customers to place food orders directly from your Google page.
The menu management and smart pricing tools are a nice one-two combo: as soon as you identify changes you need to make to pricing, menu management lets you push those updates throughout your digital ecosystem.
Want more accurate sales forecasts? Look no further than Tenzo, which uses AI forecasting to “create forecasts that are 30-50% more accurate than a typical 4-week average.” More accurate forecasts result in less food waste, more accurate labor costs, and an overall better guest experience.
Plus, with data available in real time, you can make immediate decisions about your business with confidence (and the numbers to back it up). Tenzo's reporting is robust but easy to digest, so you'll be spending less time analyzing reports and more time acting on them.
Apple | Android
Is there anything Upserve's restaurant management software doesn't do? Point-of-sale, inventory, loyalty, online ordering, and marketing software rolled into one app — just to name a few.
Upserve's POS software makes it easy to place and send orders to the kitchen, keeping your entire staff productive and improving table turn times. With powerful reporting, Upserve users gain valuable insights to keep their restaurant well-positioned to delight guests time after time.
Apple | Android
Resy is the go-to solution for many restaurants looking for a way to level up their guest experience and broaden their restaurant’s reach. More than just a reservation service, Resy (and its restaurant-facing Resy OS) is an end-to-end restaurant technology solution that majors on guest experience and customer touchpoints.
With Resy, restaurants can create curated experiences, one-off events, original content, and more. And simply by being present on Resy, restaurants can grow their discoverability, especially among higher-end diners looking for unique experiences.
With a two-question SMS-based survey, restaurants use Ovation to obtain higher-quality guest feedback in real time. Ovation helps win over unsatisfied guests by giving you a better opportunity to solve their problems — and even ways to reach out to them after they leave. It also integrates well with several online ordering platforms, helping you grow revenue and garner better reviews even as you improve the guest experience.
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Inventory woes plague every restaurant professional. That's where BlueCart comes in. An online ordering platform for the hospitality space, BlueCart allows restaurants to order all of their necessary inventory from all of their suppliers at once.
This simple app can help ease the struggles of printed order forms, email requests, and back-and-forth phone calls, which keeps kitchens well stocked. With built-in inventory tracking, re-orders are just a click away on the BlueCart app when stock is low.
An added perk? BlueCart's digital catalog is filled with wholesale food distributors to meet your need for every ingredient!
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16. Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) & Bing Places
Hours change for holiday weekends. Menu items might not be available. Maybe you have a new online ordering solution. For all these reasons, you need the right apps to manage your presence on search engines. Diners don't want to head to your restaurant only to find that you're closed and your hours haven't been updated. Conversely, if you are open and Google doesn't reflect it, you might be losing out on business. Getting set up on these pages is one thing — maintaining your presence is another.
For those reasons, keep track of both of these services for quick access when needed. Also, learn how to add your restaurant to Google Maps.
When Alphabet rebranded Google My Business as Google Business Profile, it did away with the standalone app. But you can still access everything you need at the Google Business Profile website.
Bing Places (Apple | Android)
ExpandShare is a platform that helps restaurants to build consistent, effective digital training materials along with workflows that funnel new hires and existing staff through the right set of training materials, with accountability and visibility baked in.
Designed for the needs of the single operator all the way up to national franchises, ExpandShare has the tools needed to create training for front-line staff, managers, and operators alike.
There’s also a powerful Checklists tool: in the fast-paced environment of a restaurant, relying on checklists is a great way to make sure stuff doesn’t slip through the cracks. ExpandShare digitizes the checklist experience, delivering better accountability and organization.
Apple | Android
Like ExpandShare, Opus delivers on-the-job training, but Opus focuses on your frontline employees. With Opus, you can create media-rich, mobile-friendly training that employees can access from any device.
Opus is designed to be multilingual, auto-translating your content into more than 100 languages so you can create and share content in the languages that provide the best experience for all your employees.
It’s a learning management system built for the way frontline restaurant staff actually operate, and it’s got plenty of power behind the scenes (like AI Assist for building better training faster).
Apple | Android
1huddle takes employee training and motivation to the next level with gamification, turning learning into something fun and engaging. It’s a great solution for providing training that employees will want to do.
The app claims to harness cognitive psychology and learning science in its design, earning the praise of experts in those fields. Anthony Valletta of bartaco says they use 1huddle to teach in "a way that resonates better with our employees and our leaders and our managers".
Best of all, 1huddle integrates seamlessly with 7shifts, allowing you to put gamified training and employee scheduling in the same location.
Apple | Android
If you’re looking for an upgrade to the way you organize recipes, build menus, and handle food costing, Meez could be the solution. This platform provides a secure, seamless way to transfer knowledge on executing your brand’s food and drink standards, making it perfect for multi-location hospitality groups.
Meez also helps restaurants understand their food costs and engineer menus that deliver reliable profits based on those costs. The platform also handles kitchen training, invoice processing, and nutrition labeling.
21. Revel Systems
POS system Revel is beloved by thousands of individual units, small chains, and enterprise restaurant businesses. One of Revel's strong suits is its open API, which allows for third-party app integrations (like 7shifts) and tailored solutions for key digital elements like loyalty and online ordering.
The app also extends to other important areas of your restaurant, like self-order kiosks and drive-thru management — all while offering flexible payments. For managers, the app provides cloud-based insights into the entire business's performance, enabling decisions based on real-time data.
Apple | Android
Delivery and online orders have seen massive growth in the past few years and even as eaters return to dine in person, delivery continues to grow. Otter helps restaurants track and manage these channels by integrating orders with point of sale and syncing menus across platforms.
Once you sign up for Otter, the team will ship you tablets with the apps preloaded or work with you to set up the software and integrations on existing devices. Designed to simplify and grow your delivery business, thousands of restaurants use Otter to increase sales, save time, and deliver better.
23. Yelp Manage My Business
Yelp is the world's largest user-generated review site, and it's important to stake your restaurant's claim online. Having the app on hand allows you to monitor and respond to customer reviews in real time and check out your competitors to see how they rank compared to you. Best of all, the app and database are 100% FREE — no strings attached.
Yelp Manage My Business is the restaurant-facing portal Yelp provides for restaurants to take ownership of their Yelp pages. From this service, you can engage in brand management, set up Yelp ads, and engage with customers and potential customers.
24. POS systems
Point of sale systems, or POS systems, are the machines restaurants use to take payments and handle transactions. Every restaurant needs some form of POS system, whether a classic PC-based system or something more portable, like the many phone- and iPad-based POS platforms released in the last decade.
These are seven of the POS systems that integrate with 7shifts:
- Square: Widely popular solution with powerful features and wide-ranging integrations
- GoTab: POS popular among breweries and hotels; integrated KDS and mobile ordering systems
- Clover: Scalable POS solutions popular with smaller operators
- TouchBistro: POS system with accompanying restaurant management software
- Revel: Cloud-based POS with real-time analytics
- Lightspeed: POS system with focus on customer experience
- Rezku: Highly customizable POS with unlimited support
25. Social media apps
Your restaurant needs apps for social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok — but what about apps to manage your social media presence and performance? Some popular options to monitor your mentions and post engagement include:
Bonus: 6 general-purpose apps useful for restaurants
Those 25 restaurant-specific app recommendations are a great place to start — but there are plenty of general-purpose apps you should be using, too!
- Google Workspace: This cloud-based productivity suite includes email, storage, documents, spreadsheets, and more, serving as the foundation for your everyday office work.
- Notion: A combination of a super-powered notepad and lightweight project management software, Notion is a great place to store notes, create plans, and house all that data and information that doesn’t fit anywhere else.
- Evernote: If Notion feels too open-ended, Evernote provides similar capabilities with a different feel.
- Canva: This “graphic design for regular people” platform is great for creating graphics, advertisements, posters, and other restaurant collateral quickly, even if you don’t have a design background.
- ChatGPT: This generative AI tool can craft written content based on your inputs. You could use it to create menu descriptions and other blurbs of content. Just be sure to check the results for accuracy!
- 1Password: This password manager keeps your business data secure by eliminating the use and reuse of simple, easy-to-crack passwords.
More restaurant technology resources to supercharge your business
Restaurant management apps are some of the best ways to keep yourself organized, your staff productive, and your guests satisfied. Each one can improve your bottom line and profit margins by delivering better insights into your restaurant and customer data and increasing efficiency (in part through integrations with other software).
While most of these apps require an account and cost money to use to their full extent, they all have the potential to help you better manage your restaurant. Many of the entries on this list have free trials or demos, so if any caught your eye, check them out and see if they're as good a fit for your restaurant's tech stack as we think they could be.
Ready to keep learning? Check out these additional restaurant technology resources you can use to take your restaurant business to the next level.
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