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Is Technology The Saviour Of The Indie Restaurant?

Wifi, smart supply chains and social ordering are all part of the mix

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Wifi, smart supply chains and social ordering are all part of the mix

Opinions

Is Technology The Saviour Of The Indie Restaurant?

Wifi, smart supply chains and social ordering are all part of the mix

Share this article

The years of the latest recession has taken a toll on non-essential industries, affecting the likes of health and beauty, fashion, technology and entertainment, among others.

One of the industries that continues to feel the hefty impact of ever-rising cost of living, and stagnant wage rates, is the restaurant business, with many people forced to minimise the amount they treat themselves to a meal outside the house.

The emaciation of the high street has seen some of the industry leaders struggling to stay afloat recently, with big franchise restaurants such as Byron Burger, Prezzo and several of Jamie Oliver’s establishments facing a strip-down, or even complete closure.

This begs the question of just how independent restaurants can possibly compete, and survive, in the face of such difficulty. With Local Business Week underway, industry expert and GoKart founder Anx Patel gives his suggestions on how independents can strengthen their business model and work around the issues currently facing restaurants.

Facebook Ordering

The modern marketplace demands that any company with expansion on its mind have a quick, user-friendly online platform for placing orders - with a purpose-built website an absolute must, and a mobile app preferable. However, for independents, this costly process is often not a viable option.

But Facebook has recently developed an ordering system that is affordable and completely customisable, which makes the perfect platform for independents. Research has found that restaurants using the service have seen a 10% increase in sales, while prominent social media presence is one of the best ways of getting an emerging business’s name out there and attracting new customers.

Free Wi-Fi

Just like the expectation for easy online ordering platforms, modern customers expect to be able to connect to the internet wherever they are, and the less they have to use their data, the better. That means free Wi-Fi in-house.

This doesn’t tend to be a huge expense - have a browse for the most competitive rates for a business connection  - and is sure to bring in a steadier stream of custom who spend more on your premises as a result.

A sticker in the window advertising your free wi-fi services, and a sign in the restaurant offering the wi-fi password and inviting diners to take advantage of the service will soon alert customers to everything on offer, and will make them more likely to choose to dine there.

Extend Your Reach

Restaurants of all kinds have been given a new lease on life by delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, allowing them to expand their reach without having to accommodate any additional diners in-house.

Research has found that such services bring in as much as 30% additional business, and this approach can be paired with a local voucher company, such as City Munch, to tempt customers during quieter periods. These can also be a good way of drumming up extra income from existing customers, by attaching vouchers to their orders, or offering them on birthdays.

Smarter Supply Chains

Supply chains remain one of the biggest challenges faced by independent restaurants: with ever-fluctuating value of ingredients, suppliers who only specialise in certain goods, and the need to shop around as a result of these factors, it can be difficult for independents to know they are getting the best rates - not to mention the logistical struggles of ordering from a number of different suppliers.

Figures found that by combining buying power, independent restaurants can save around 20% on their supply bills alone.

Some innovators have recognised this niche, and filled it with app technology. GoKart is an app built specifically for independent restaurateurs, that allows them to browse products, compare prices, place orders, and get all supplies delivered the next day for free.

Apps such as GoKart effectively level the playing field, and give restaurants the tools they need to rival the big players, establish themselves within their demographic, and enjoy a long and prosperous life.

The restaurant industry is among the most competitive out there, with considerable overheads applying constant pressure to running costs and making it difficult to turn a decent profit, let alone make a real empire out of an independent eatery.

The industry demands long working days, with a lot of out-of-hours prep and meagre payoff for the people who are required to put in so much effort; it also involves many unavoidable expenses, including the likes of leases, wages and taxes, which are non-negotiable.

Although initial costs can be cut somewhat by downsizing premises and selling off unwanted fixtures in the early days or during refurbishments, maintaining an affordable restaurant business hinges heavily on establishing an efficient supply chain as part of the business model.

Only once these important factors have been aligned will an independent restaurant have everything it needs to thrive.

Anx Patel is CEO of GoKart.

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Is Technology The Saviour Of The Indie Restaurant?

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