EDITED – Growing Your Restaurant: Tools & Services

By Business.com Editorial Staff

As a restaurateur, you’ve made it past the hurdle of getting your business going. Your restaurant is getting busier every day, which is great. But perhaps you are struggling with staying caught up on all the details of running your business, managing employees or tracking inventory. Fortunately, help is available in the form of services, software and business tools that can help you make your restaurant run more efficiently and profitably.

Adding new services and technologies is not free, but it may improve revenue long term by improving efficiencies, satisfying customers and decreasing shrinkage. Below is our pick of the top 14 tools and services you can take advantage of to grow your restaurant further:

Restaurant POS System

Upgrading your point-of-sale (POS) system can help you precisely track sales, food inventory, employees and patrons. A capable POS system can process orders tableside or by touchscreen at the counter quickly and more accurately than handwritten orders. They also help you track sales, voided transactions and gift-card sales. Plus, many restaurant POS systems help you track food inventory, popular menu items and more.

To learn more about restaurant POS, see reviews of restaurant point-of-sale systems.

Payroll Services

If you manage more than 10 employees, you may save time and lower your stress level using a payroll service. Payroll services can process payroll taxes, manage direct deposits and mail W-2s. Further, most are compatible with popular time card services or time clock software. Advanced services (PEOs or HR services) can also assist with employee benefits, legal requirements, workplace safety and liability insurance.

Visit Best Payroll Services to continue your HR solutions research.

Time Clock & Scheduling Software

It is time-consuming to schedule and track employee hours. This type of software helps you create and clone schedules, and it tracks the actual hours worked. Some even send your employees SMS alerts about schedule changes and allow your employees to trade shifts. Incidentally, some POS systems offer these tools. It’s worth checking with your POS service provider whether they offer this feature.

To learn more about how time clock and tracking software can improve your business, see Best Time and Attendance Systems.

Small Business Loans

Perhaps you need new equipment or are adding onto your restaurant. This may require an influx of working capital. Small business loans, often SBA 7(a) loans, are government guaranteed loans and are a good place to start.

Large loans are available, and they may require a down payment. Volumes of paperwork are often required, but the lower rates often make it worth it. Other types of loans may be easier to obtain, but the terms may not be as agreeable.

You can learn more about the top SBA 7(a) loans here.

Security & Monitoring Systems

If you don’t yet have a security system, you should. It can protect your patrons, employees and assets. Though sad but true, a lot of shrinkage that happens in restaurants is often done by employees. Monitoring equipment can help keep your employees more honest, deter patrons from theft and provide evidence should an event occur.

Recordings can also help you discover weak spots in services as well as exemplary employee behavior that would otherwise go unnoticed. Patrons may also feel safer with monitoring systems in place.

Staffing Services

Front-of-the-house crew and entry-level positions are often easy to fill. However, staffing agencies can save you time and effort by helping you fill top positions such as executive chefs, managers, sommeliers, CEOs and general managers.

Some might help you recruit talent from other states, or even outside of the U.S. A staffing service is also a valuable resource when you need help staffing one-time events, such as large catering events like a wedding or business function.

You may want to consult with services such as Restaurant Placement Group, Adecco or VSAG.

Outsourcing Prep Work

Many restaurants outsource the preparation of commonly used food ingredients and items like chicken breast strips or chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic and bacon. This frees up your crew for other work, and it also outsources the safe preparation of these items to the food processing company.

If you have the demand, you can even instruct them on how to create your custom sauces or other unique items. You’ll need to look for a capable food preparation service in your area that suits your needs.

Liquor Monitoring Systems

Even if your restaurant is located in an area that allows for the free pouring of drinks, you’ll still benefit from monitoring your liquor inventory. Liquor control systems help provide consistent drink orders and control overpouring. Some local government agencies may mandate the use of monitoring devices. Accurate liquor inventories can save you from tedious double counts and overpurchasing. Often, you can add a compatible liquor monitoring service to your POS system.

Bookkeeping Services

While your accountant helps with your books and taxes, a bookkeeping service can help with routine tasks like managing accounts payable and receivable, payroll processing, bank account reconciliations, credit card monitoring, balance sheet generation and ledger maintenance. Local and online bookkeeping services are available. When shopping for bookkeeping services, ensure they understand local tax laws and your industry. Ask for references.

Armored Truck Pickups

End trips to the bank and provide secure money transport by employing an armored truck service. Like many services, it’s not free, but it reduces your risk. Plus, you can schedule when and how often you want pickups. These services may also offer cash management, coin processing, ATM cash preparation and check processing too.

Popular services include Loomis, Dunbar, Brinks and Garda.

Linen Services

When you first opened your restaurant, you may have had time to launder your linens, iron napkins and sanitize kitchen towels, but those days are likely over. Plus, your employees may not consistently launder their own smocks and aprons.

A good linen service keeps your staff and restaurant looking professional. Services can be scheduled and provide pickup and dropoff. Some also clean other items, such as drapes or high-traffic rugs. Check in your area for available service.

Cleaning Services

While your staff should still perform routine cleaning tasks, they may not have time for deep cleaning. You may benefit from a cleaning service that does a top to bottom thorough cleaning of your establishment, such as wall and baseboard cleaning, blind and window cleaning, décor dusting, HVAC system cleaning, carpet cleaning, tile whitening, hard water removal and more. You should be able to find local services that can come in outside of your restaurant service hours.

Lot Care & Landscaping

Discarded cigarette butts, faded parking lines, weed-filled parking medians and snow (or ice) removal are things you likely don’t have time to handle. And it’s extremely unlikely your restaurant staff wants these jobs too.

Your parking lot and restaurant exterior are patrons’ first impression of your business. Your business will benefit from contracting with a local company that offers, among other services, seasonal flower planting and weeding, snow removal, parking lot sweeping, etc. You should be able to easily find a local service to help with these tasks.

Equipment Rental

Business is growing, but you may not have $20,000 of capital to upgrade your kitchen equipment right now. There may be services in your area that rent or lease high-quality kitchen equipment for a reasonable rate.

If you can obtain favorable terms, this may save you money in the short term. If you cannot find agreeable lease terms, you may be able to find used equipment to satisfy your needs. Shop in your local area to find what is easily available.

Image from Syda Productions/Shutterstock

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