4 Questions You Should Have When Buying Back-of-House Software

Beginning the process of finding a new back-office software vendor can feel overwhelming. Simply finding the companies can feel like a lot, much less ensuring they have the right capabilities and fit in your price range. But sometimes that overwhelming feeling is because what you need hasn’t been well defined from the start.

Here are four questions you should ask yourself when beginning the process of buying back-of-house software for restaurants.

1. What problems am I trying to solve?

Sometimes the beginning of the process can be as vague as, “I just know we could be doing things better.” You may not have a firm idea of what you’re looking for when you start looking, and that’s a recipe for disaster. Without knowing what problems you’re trying to solve, you won’t be able to find a system to solve them.

To really get to the root of this, answer questions like, “What keeps me up at night?” or “When I see my boss, what are the things that keep coming up?” Being able to answer those will help you define your problems, so you can begin defining a solution.

2. How much is this problem worth solving?

Too often, we default to finding the lowest price possible as our starting point for budget. But this takes into account neither your true budget, nor the savings you could see from an effective solution. As a result, you may overlook solutions that could solve your problems in favor of a lower-cost solution that doesn’t have the capabilities you need.

So think realistically about how much per month or year your owners would be willing to pay to solve the problems you identified. If these problems are particularly painful, being able to solve them would be worth more than fixing some minor irritations.

Don’t forget to think about how the ROI factors into your price considerations. If your new vendor saves your GMs 7 hours a week, then you might be willing to pay $270/month instead of $200 for a vendor that gives you more.

3. What are my key performance indicators?

Tying into the problem-solving question, make sure you know how improvement will be measured. Is it time saved, lower food costs, customer feedback scores? Whatever the case may be, ensure that you know what those KPIs are and how they’ll be measured, and ask the vendors you’re considering how they’ll be able to help you measure those.

4. Are there any must-keep systems?

What other solutions do you already have in place, and are any of them ones you need to keep? What is your POS? How do you handle clocking in and out? Do you use a specific commissary labeling solution? All of these could narrow down the field of vendors you’re looking at. If you have a POS you love and want to keep, you now know a dealbreaker as you look for vendors.

However, if you’ve been iffy on your POS and are willing to consider a technology overhaul, there are benefits to choosing a back-of-house solution and POS at the same time. You can craft a cohesive system you really want, rather than one that was built piecemeal.

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