restaurant technology budgetThe New Year is almost here — and with it, the question of how to boost profits over the next 12 months. Adding new technology is one way to help accomplish your revenue goals, but you must carefully plan your restaurant technology budget for the highest return on your investment. For best results, follow these tips.

1. Solicit employee input.

Making it easier for employees to do their jobs tops the list of reasons to add to your restaurant technology toolbox. The more closely the hardware and software in which you invest matches employees’ pain points, the more it belongs in your technology budget.

Ask employees which pain points they would like to address with technology as a linchpin. For example, are servers and kitchen staff frustrated by inefficient, error-prone order-taking methods? This might mean your 2018 restaurant technology budget should include a tablet-based ordering system. Is quickly inputting orders a problem? Perhaps you should allocate funds for new point of sale (POS) software.

Is the restaurant often out of or short on the ingredients needed to prepare your most popular items? Maybe you need a new inventory management system. Regardless, employee input will help you decide where to earmark your technology dollars.

2. Conduct a SWOT analysis.

“SWOT” stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. “Strengths” are things your restaurant does well and any assets to its business. Think high-quality food, a great location, a brand that’s unique to the community, etc. “Weaknesses” are weaker or undeveloped areas —like poor inventory planning or slow service — that might be turned into strengths via technology. “Opportunities” are ways you can improve your business, like adding online ordering or being more active on social media, and “Threats” to success can include competition or increasing costs.

Such an analysis will allow you to quickly identify the areas on which you should focus this year and where the greatest opportunities lie. And it will shed light on the smartest decisions related to your restaurant technology budget.

3. Anticipate ancillary upfront costs.

There’s more to budgeting for restaurant technology than figuring out which solutions you’re going to implement and allocating the appropriate funds for each one. You also need to factor in all of the costs related to your technology implementation.

For example, your restaurant technology budget should include expenditures for installation and payment processing fees. It should also take into account the cost of training employees on any new system, whether in-house or through your restaurant technology vendors. Additionally, you may need to invest in getting the word out to customers about any new technology that might affect them — for instance, an online ordering system.

4. Consider cost-effective SaaS software and hardware bundles.

Some restaurant technology vendors, including Focus POS, now offer bundles that comprise software delivered via a subscription model (Software as a Subscription or SaaS). POS hardware is part of the package as well.

Opting for SaaS software and hardware bundles lets you pay for software monthly rather than upfront. You’ll have access to a top-notch POS system at a low price of entry that’s easy on your restaurant technology budget. You’ll also have upgrades as a part of your subscription and a system that’s designed to be scalable, so you can quickly add terminals or components as your business changes and grows.

It’s smart to invest in restaurant technology — if you choose wisely and create a viable restaurant technology budget. Careful planning will always set the stage for the greatest ROI.