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Restaurant Changes Amidst COVID-19

COVID-19, or the corona virus, has become an international pandemic, causing health concerns for the American public in every single state. This has resulted in sweeping changes in consumer habits, especially for our industry: the restaurant industry.
Alex Canter

CEO & Co-Founder, Ordermark

Jim Roddy

VP Sales & Marketing RSPA

Jeremy Julian

COO Custom Business Solutions

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Q: Some restaurants are keeping their doors open, but with very reduced staff. Does this work? Is this something that is sustainable?

Alex Canter: I think the longer that this lasts, the harder it will be to make that sustainable. There are some restaurants that were already far-advanced when it comes to understanding their delivery flow and food prep and what was needed for their staff.

For those that already had a good understanding of their delivery flow, it’s a lot easier to in hyperspeed make that shift to the Skeleton Crew that can support it. But for a lot of restaurants, it’s a very hard thing to figure out fast. It takes a lot of trial and error and experimentation, especially for restaurants that have large seating capacities.

They have a lot of fixed costs, like rent and food costs, so you need enough volume to sustain it and, therefore plugging into all of the different revenue streams that are available is more important than ever right now. There are restaurants who are doing a great job surviving and can stay in this mode for an extended period of time, especially as delivery volume has surged over the last month in some markets upwards of 60%. The good news is: more orders are happening on these delivery and take out apps. But if that was ten percent of your total revenue before, and now it’s 20 or 30 percent, you’re still operating at a massive loss compared to before COVID.

Q: What do you think is the most important piece of technology to have in place right now for restaurant staff?

Jim Roddy: I think there are the fundamentals of having a transaction system, a point-of-sale system, that you can capture your sales, and having a POS system that’s open to innovate.

The amount of innovation that restaurants have gone through in these last eight weeks rivals any in my 25 years in the industry, and it has been nothing short of remarkable.

Having a point of sale system is hugely beneficial, and having a partnership with your provider to ask questions and say “How can I do the things that make it safe, make it easier for my consumers, make it easier for my guests?”.

[Sales/order] volumes have changed from day to day. Normally, everything used to be a Saturday Sunday. Now, it might be a Tuesday night that’s your busiest night. So how do you staff for that? How do you prepare for that? How do you do food prep for that?

Without the transactional data to know this information, as time goes on, it becomes almost impossible to predict what your staffing levels need to look like, what your food preparation needs to look like.

Having an integrated Point of Sale solution that allows you to see that transactional data, which you get to interact with is paramount today. You can add on the Labor Management systems and The Delivery Systems and the third-party Integrations and all of those different things that we’ve been talking about thus far.

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Q: Hindsight is always 20/20 and when we look back: what piece of technology do you think could have really helped restaurants during this time had it been in place before COVID hit?

Jeremy Julian: A solution like Ordermark that allows you to pull orders in and helps with onboarding these different platforms. Having the ability to onboard these platforms easily and quickly and get them through to your standard systems. You have to have that online presence.

So many guests are ordering from their mobile device or ordering from their tablet or ordering from their PC and without having that, you lose out on a significant portion of the population that is not going to call your restaurant to order. That will probably be the biggest thing that people are kicking themselves on the backside: that they didn’t implement it 8, 10, 12 weeks ago prior to this. If they had an online presence, they would have been able to be online to serve those customers.

The biggest piece that I found when talking to our clients is that they don’t have an online presence. The ones that do are finding success:Dominoes and Wingstop sales are up significantly and they’re killing it because they were digital-first companies that then transitioned. Their stock and their sales are through the roof, whereas those people that didn’t have it are dying.

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Alex Canter

Alex is a restaurant industry innovator, in-demand speaker, and passionate advocate for restaurant operators and workers. He was raised in the kitchen of the world-famous Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles, where he invented Ordermark. A fourth-generation restaurateur, the restaurant business has been in Alex’s blood for over 85 years. In addition to being the visionary and leader of Ordermark, Alex is active with the Techstars network and enjoys mentoring other restaurant technology entrepreneurs. A 2019 recipient of the Forbes 30 Under 30, Alex has previously led several technology ventures.