Granbury Solutions provides technology for the wine, pizza & delivery, specialty coffee and restaurant markets including products such as Thr!ve POS, Coffee Shop Manager and vinSUITE. In this edition of Tech Talk, Granbury’s Chief Product Officer Duessa Holscher discusses the firm’s motto, efficiency in hospitality and the increasing value of online ordering and loyalty marketing solutions with Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine.
In her role at Granbury, Holscher sets the overall direction for product development and is responsible for defining the company’s market strategy and product roadmap. She began working in restaurant technology marketing in 1994 with posts at RapidFire Software and Radiant Systems, prior to founding FireFly Technologies in 2001. As Managing Partner at FireFly, Holscher managed the development of the company’s flagship POS product until Granbury Solutions acquired the company in 2010.
What does the phrase “Where Technology Meets People” mean to you and the company?
Technology is a complicated industry. Lots of people can feel overwhelmed very quickly if a company starts talking technically when explaining a product or certain features. Our products are superior technology solutions designed to help our customers excel in their businesses, but software is just a means to an end for our clients, and we know that.
Ultimately, the core of our business, as well as our customers’ businesses, is service. We want our customers and anyone looking at our products to understand that our team is, first and foremost, here to help them understand and feel confident with the technology we’re providing them. A part of our corporate values states, “We believe in our people, providing them with the tools they need to be excellent, and empowering them to make a difference in the customer experience.” This relates to both our company and the customers we serve.
What are the different challenges of finding solutions for different types of restaurants?
There are a lot of solutions out there, so it can really get confusing trying to figure out which ones do what and how well they really do it. In reality, many of them are generic “all-purpose” solutions that don’t fit the special needs of a specific type of restaurant, or are running on software that hasn’t been actively developed in years. Do you just need a point of sale, or do you also need other solutions like online ordering? What features are important for your business? It’s important for restaurant owners to understand the challenges and needs of their particular business, and find a solution that’s really the best fit for them.
Independent restaurants are also competing with large chains that have a lot more resources to invest in technology. Some restaurant owners might feel like they have to invest a ton of money into their technology when, in reality, there are solutions out there that give them the tools they need that fit right in their budget.
What do you view as challenges these industries are facing and how can technology help?
Most restaurants and coffee shops don’t stay open very long since the industry is so competitive. The “big chains” make it exceedingly difficult for independents to be successful. Technology offers an arsenal of tools to help business owners not only compete, but thrive (pun intended) in such an insanely dog-eat-dog industry. A cash register can’t provide you any insight into your business except for literally how much money is in the drawer, and can’t provide any opportunities for the business to grow. Today’s consumers demand convenience, speed, and a great experience not just with the food, but with the entire ordering process, so technology can become a real competitive advantage. By investing in solutions like a POS system, online ordering and delivery, restaurants can stay both competitive and profitable.
How does technology promote efficiency in hospitality?
Technology is all about efficiency in the food, beverage and retail industries. Everything from order entry to high-level analytics and reports are all made with simplicity in mind. The ultimate goal of tech is to help owners, managers, and staff spend less time crunching numbers or pushing buttons on a screen and more time creating food and interacting with customers.
Technology is all about efficiency in the food, beverage and retail industries.
Let’s take delivery, for example. It’s a complicated piece of the business, but having the right technology tools in place can really set the restaurant up for success. A good delivery system can follow the delivery flow from when an order comes in through an integration with the POS all the way to a driver management app that restaurants can use to track and compensate their drivers easily and accurately.
Technology’s impact is all very measurable, too. An owner can see direct ticket average increases when they add suggestive selling modules to their online ordering, or a reduced amount of order-related errors, or shorter order times. Those are all numbers that can be tracked and used as a very concrete answer to the age-old question, “Is it actually helping?” Of course, the ROI can be measured simply by watching sales numbers grow with online ordering and loyalty marketing solutions, too.
What trends are you seeing from diners in what they expect from technology in hospitality?
A couple of the biggest tech expectations in the food industry are delivery and online ordering capabilities. We continually see data that shows consumers, particularly millennials, expect restaurants to offer both these services, so they’ve become competitive no-brainers.
For pizza restaurants especially, where delivery has been such a prominent part of the industry for so long, the larger chains are continuing to use their mobile apps to create seamless online and delivery experiences. Third-party delivery services like Eat24 and UberEats are popping up everywhere and growing quickly, which leaves restaurants struggling to catch up and integrate these solutions into their operations to meet expectations.
Loyalty marketing is another solution diners have come to expect. We’re all so used to being asked if we’d like to join a company’s rewards program these days that if someone doesn’t have one, it seems a little strange. Loyalty marketing is really a win-win scenario for both restaurants and customers. They encourage customers to come back more frequently, which is great for business, and after a certain number of visits, the customer is rewarded with free or discounted items, which is exactly what they want.
What are the advantages of increasing technology use in the hospitality industry?
Technology gives owners a lot more insight into their business than they ever had before. Being able to access up-to-date analytics at just the touch of a button gives owners the numbers right when they need them, without having to compile data or crunch numbers on their own. It’s one less thing they have to do on their own when planning budgets or considering whether an upgrade or redesign is a viable option. The more powerful the technology, the more information and data you can get.
Increased technology also helps streamline a lot of processes that were otherwise filled with opportunities for human error. By connecting your POS system directly to your order printer in the kitchen, you don’t have to worry about a server having illegible chicken scratch writing or getting distracted and forgetting to get the ticket to the cooks. Integrating online and mobile ordering takes it one step further, seamlessly adding customer orders into the queue without relying on a staff member to input the order just to get it in the system.
How tech savvy do restaurant owners and operators need to be?
A good system will be intuitive and allow owners and operators to manage their tech easily. It should be as simple as reading what pops up on the screen and hitting the corresponding button. Making sure everything is modern and fully integrated eliminates endless levels of hassle that can happen with seemingly low cost or older technology solutions. And even if owners don’t feel like the most tech savvy person in the world, a good tech company will be ready to help answer any questions they may have.
How are fears allayed regarding technology taking away from hospitality?
Fears around technology always seem to center around losing a human connection, of some sort. However, when it comes to the food and beverage industry, technology’s primary function is to help assist with the more mundane inter-workings of a restaurant, leaving staff to focus more on customer service and face-to-face interactions.
A good example of this would be how built-in analytics do all of the number-crunching for owners and managers. Having technology that automatically generates reports helps them spend less time in the back office, punching in figures into a calculator and gives them more time to work with their staff or engage with customers. Inventory management systems connected to a POS can help predict when certain items or ingredients are going to get low, so restaurants can know to order more before they run out, eliminating the dreaded, “I’m sorry, but we’re currently out of that,” conversation.
What do you envision the restaurant of the future looking like?
Technology will definitely play a big factor in restaurants’ futures. Food is something that people will always need and as technology changes and evolves, so will customer preferences and expectations. Whether that means an even bigger focus on delivery solutions or looking how to integrate the latest technology into a in-store setting, the key is to give the restaurant’s customers the choice to experience service in a way that they prefer. Some will always want the personal touch of a friendly server, while some prefer to skip the face-to-face and order on their phone. The restaurant of the future will continue to deliver convenience and service with a comprehensive technology experience.
In what ways can independent restaurants, who might have less resources, use technology to their advantage?
The good news for independent restaurant owners is that they don’t need a big budget to invest in full-featured technology resources. Being a one-location shop that still can afford to offer the same services as the larger competitors is a huge advantage in such a fierce market. Since technology is scalable, independent restaurants can invest in their technology with a budget that fits their revenue and still grow their ROI and their business.
In fact, the numbers show that not investing enough in restaurant tech can actually hurt a business as much as investing too much. There’s a magic percentage, which we explained more in depth in one of our recent blogs, that owners should be looking to spend on their technology.