If you’re anything like me, you don’t own just one Apple product – you have an entire barrel full of them. From iPhones to iPads to iMacs, technology is an important and evolving way to effectively manage our time and resources, packing our restaurants full of smiling, satisfied customers. Let’s face it: most of us have our smartphones within arm’s reach at any given moment, so why not put these handy, handheld devices to work for us?
Below are five of the best Apple-friendly mobile apps for restaurant management. Presented in no particular order, these apps are sure to boost your productivity (and even allow for a bit of after-hours breathing room):
(Fear not, Android users; I have not forgotten about you! While most of these apps are available in both the Google Play and Apple App Store, I have an Android-specific post that will be on its way shortly.)
In my last post I offered some trade tips on how to boost your Yelp restaurant reviews. 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 is 100% FREE – no strings attached.
Gone are the days of lingering at a restaurant’s high-traffic entryway to pay for your meal. TouchBistro – a point of sale (POS) app for iPads – allows servers to take payments tableside, managers to monitor sales activities, and accountants and administrators quick access to valuable performance trends. Their impressive list of features also includes the ability to make real-time menu and inventory changes and to split bills – a task that often produces splitting headaches – with ease.
As online shopping continues to grow, make sure your restaurant is on board by signing up with ChowNow, 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 and/or website.
Most managers are familiar (and frustrated) with traditional paper scheduling techniques. 7shifts provides an online solution, allowing managers to schedule restaurant employees, approve shift trades, and communicate with staff from one easy-to-use app. The app is also useful for your front and back end staff, giving them the ability to check upcoming shifts, submit availability, request shift trades, and more. When a corporate account is registered with 7shifts, restaurant staff automatically gain free access to the full range of employee features.
7punches is a time clocking app that integrates seamlessly with the 7shifts employee scheduling software. Available for both the iPhone and iPad (and Android, too!), 7punches eliminates overpayment by providing instant and accurate information about when your employees are arriving to and leaving work. In order to access its time clocking capabilities, users must ensure they’ve activated 7punches as part of their 7shifts account (see #4).
There you have it – five apps equipping you with the information you need at the touch of a finger.
To address the issue of cost: while all of the apps discussed above are FREE to download, all (except Yelp) require you to first register a paid corporate account. Doing so gets you access to the full range of services, including support from each company’s line-up of experienced and knowledgeable customer service agents and software engineers.
Not sure if you’re ready for that level of commitment? That’s okay; these software companies offer new clients a “try-before-you-buy” option to ensure their product meets the unique needs of your business.
This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but rather a step in the right direction. Please share in the Comment box below other iPhone/iPad apps that have helped you and your restaurant thrive!