This is a follow up to my last post about the top 5 things that restaurants should be doing online. There are several good reasons for using online applications or software as a service (SaaS) as it's sometimes called.
  • Save Money - First, you'll have lower IT costs since you no longer need to employ people to worry about servers and software. Second, there are economies of scale at work. The vendor can allow several clients to share servers and resources resulting in a lower cost to the end users. Finally, most services are pay-as-you-go. There's no big investment in new hardware and software as with the typical on-premise systems. Just pay your monthly application fee and you're off to the races.

  • Save Time - Let's face it, any new software system is going to take some time to get setup and in place, but with many web applications, you can start using it the first day.

  • The Latest and Greatest Innovations - Most online services are being upgraded every few months if not every few weeks. With online software, you get all the new features as soon as they are ready. This is one of the things I really enjoy at WhenToManage, we get some great opportunities to delight our clients. Someone may make a suggestion to us on Friday and by Monday they could see it in production.

  • Global Availability - You can access your data from anywhere at anytime. And furthermore, your data is typically much safer in your vendor's world-class data center, than it is in your overcrowded office/closet in the back of the store. Most vendors provide highly available systems with several backups of your data.

  • Community - The companies providing these services are typically very close with their customers. With a product that gets updates so frequently, there is usually an online dialogue or conversation between the company and its clients that results in a type of collaboration. This public back and forth really opens things up and allows the client be involved in the direction of the company.
I'm sure there are a few more reasons that I have left off my list, but in the end, it's simply a choice between embracing the future and hanging on to the past. Those who board the train early will have the competitive advantage. Don't wait too long.
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  • Hi David,
    You're absolutely heading in the right direction. It can sometimes be tough to cobble together the technologies for POS, payroll, supply chain management, marketing, human resources, and accounting (although that's our goal at WhenToManage). Letting a third-party expert work with you and help support your IT and operations can be a tremendous benefit to independents and even multi-unit companies. I think your "virtual restaurant management company" is a great idea.
  • Jeff,
    You are absolutely spot on with this post and your previous post top 5 things that restaurants should be doing online. Online / outsourced services and SaaS are two things that we at Ted's have invested in and are looking at for future needs. Truly neither Ted's nor any other restaurant is in the business to develop technology for running their business, they are in it to run a successful restaurant operation. Using these types of offerings can put a restaurant in a position to leverage leading edge technologies and stay current for significantly less cost and with a guaranteed stream of improvements and new developments.
    Reading these two articles, made think further on my comments on Jim Kohn's comments in Today's Rant: Deciding which new technology is right for you. These services and products are exactly what the independent or small chain operator should be looking at to meet their needs for better operations management tools. They eliminate the need to build out a technology infrastructure beyond the terminals in the store and the office PC and a broadband connection. In other discussions I have been having with some investors, we have been discussing the concept of building a virtual restaurant management company around these types of tools to eliminate the cost and expense of a home office physical plant to support restaurant operations. The savings for even a small independent chain or small franshise operation could be significant and provide greater flexibility to manage "in the field".
  • HI Jeff,

    Sorry we didn't connect this week. How about next week?
  • I agree with Sarah! Jeff I have enjoyed your blogs and have added your blog Restaurant Alley to my google reader. Thank you and great stuff!
  • Hey Jeff, welcome to the community! Im really enjoying your blogs....keep em' coming!
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