Mobile Computing – Practical Tips for Caterers
June 29th, 2016
Technology now touches every facet of our lives, and as a result every industry must continually go through technology-driven transformations. For the hospitality industry and many others, this has meant having to adapt to mobility – the new face of computing.
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets – revolutionise the way we interact with technology and others. It’s more than just wireless connectivity. Mobility makes business more immediate, more relevant, and more intelligent.
For those in catering, mobile computing has created a customer demand for real-time information. It’s meant changing how business processes are designed, to better suit mobile systems and a mobile workforce. It’s meant utilising social media, and ensuring business reputations are at the best they can possibly be. The connected customer is everywhere, so you’ve continually got to be at the top of your game.
While this all sounds a little intimidating, keeping up with technological change is not all that hard. In fact, for most caterers that have embraced mobility, it’s made business life a whole lot easier.
How mobility benefits caterers
Everything from bookings, orders, stocktaking, website management, employee management, property management, equipment maintenance, and more can now be done with great ease thanks to mobile computing. The customer experience has also been transformed, thanks to mobile services from companies like FoodStorm, which empower customers to order, pay and manage their catering from the palm of their hand..
Mobile optimised catering systems such as FoodStorm also benefit your back-of-house processes, such as tablet-based production reports, delivery logs and even CRM functions via your smart phone. Functions such as these enable a mobile workforce; saving time and reducing paper waste.
Elsewhere, the catering industry has undergone an Uber-style transformation thanks to apps such as Just Eat, Hungry House and Deliveroo, the latter of which has just received $100 million to help it expand. These apps have led to massive industry development, especially in the takeaway sector.
Services which started off as websites and have become highly popular apps like OpenTable, FourSquare and Tripadvisor, and mapping apps have also contributed to increases in restaurant bookings and takings. According to Bookatable, 50% of online bookings are made on a smartphone or tablet.
In other words, it’s never been easier to find, order or pay for food online.
Social media and the catering industry
Social networking sites have played a huge role in shaping the views of society on a myriad of issues, and catering is no exception. Customers can instantly share their thoughts about a caterer online – good or bad – influencing a large number of users with just one update. This is great if those thoughts are good, but as we all know, bad news has a habit of travelling faster than the good.
Social media sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn can send powerful messages and create huge brand awareness. They can assist management in ensuring everyone is treated equal, and give even more reason for staff to be friendly at all times.
Through the power of social media, everyone’s a critic – caterers must be vigilant about the service they are offering.
Mobile devices allow customers to locate catering faster than ever before. Customers can browse through a variety of options, read reviews, view menus, download packages, and decide where they want to spend their hard-earned money before they’ve even left the house. Mobile computing allows you to put yourself right in front of your potential customers, and when used correctly can propel you to larger success.
Tips for making the most of mobile
1. Mobile e-commerce
Catering systems such as FoodStorm provide a mobile-optimised online shopping cart for your customers to place, pay and manage their catering orders on-the-go. Mobile e-commerce acts as a sales channel for generating more business, and customers love the power of managing their own catering.
What’s more, the more customers that order online – the less customers that call or email your team to place their next catering order.
2. Simplify order management
No longer do you need to be tied to your desk to manage your incoming catering orders. Add, amend and view your orders from anywhere with apps such as FoodStorm available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
Your production, dispatch & delivery staff can benefit too – with real-time order updates appearing on rugged tablet devices. You could eliminate printing, saving money and trees!
3. Organise staff
Designed to solve the age old problem of staff rosters, apps such as Deputy allow managers and staff to set and access rosters so that everyone can see where and when they are expected to work. These apps are perfect for the hospitality industry, which has long struggled with the management of shifts and communication.
4. Embrace social media
For any catering business to not at least monitor social media is tantamount to willingly flying blind. Social media is one of the main sources of information people use when researching where to eat and how to spend their money, and the online reputation of a business is crucial. Swift, appropriate action should be taken to comments both good and bad, and relationships with clientele must be built via mobile interaction.
And don’t just stick to one site! To really maximise the benefits of social media it’s important to cross-promote yourself over various platforms – think Facebook, online review sites, Twitter, blogging sites, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Remember, ratings equate to revenue.
Thanks to mobile computing, integration of various systems has never been easier. By integrating your payment systems, your customer relationship management (CRM) systems, your inventory management tools, reservation systems, loyalty programs and more, you can add a level of convenience to your business you never thought possible.
Catering systems such as FoodStorm can serve as an integration hub for a range of other systems. For example, FoodStorm integrates with payment gateways, accounting software, email marketing, rostering systems and much more – all of which are mobile optimised.
6. Marketing automation
Marketing automation allows personalised emails to be sent to customers and prospects, based on their activities and personal information. A basic example is to automatically send a discount email to customers on their birthdays.