Six Steps to Implementing Technology
To increase the chances of successfully integrating technology into your foodservice operation, follow this action plan.
Now that you have decided on a technology solution, the next step is to implement it.
It doesn’t matter which technology solution you chose. Whether a social media management platform, scheduling software, point-of-sale (POS) system or something else, the basics of integration remain the same. Follow these six steps and your new technology will be up and running in no time.
1. Assign a Technology Lead
The first step is to appoint one person on your team to take on the role of Technology Lead. This person will be responsible for training, communication, initiating issue resolution and everything else associated with the piece of tech. If you are implementing multiple solutions, assign multiple leads.
When you assign a point person, you gain accountability, create staff buy-in and encourage leadership development. Doing so also allows you to remain focused on your business versus the technology. Without someone in this role, implementing the solution will be difficult at best and unsuccessful at worst, and you’ll get mired in managing it.
2. Establish strong vendor relationships
As a leader, you have chosen the technology solution and lead. Now, you must introduce your Technology Lead to your vendor support partners and encourage them to build a strong relationship. Your lead should know who on the vendor’s team to turn to for onboarding, ongoing training and issues resolution. Likely, the vendor will have different people supporting these tasks and your lead should know all of them.
3. Initiate lead training and documentation
Your Technology Lead should know all the ins and outs of using the technology before it’s rolled out to the rest of your team. Carve out time from their regular duties so they can train and practice using it. During training, share your business goals for the solution and ensure your lead can accurately communicate those goals to the rest of the team.
Also train your Technology Lead on documenting things about the technology that fall outside of what they vendor supplied. This documentation should include what is or isn’t working, updates or modifications made and tips and tricks that make using the technology easier. An example might be implementing a POS system, but deciding not to use it for data. If your Technology Lead moves to another role or another job, you won’t be left with a knowledge gap or major learning curve.
4. Set up a feedback loop
Establish regular touch points with your Technology Lead. Spend this time talking about how the technology solution is moving you closer to or further from your goals. These meetings should happen more frequently during the launch and if there are issues making positive progress.
5. Communicate the “why”
Start by talking to your staff. Without understanding why you’re implementing the technology solution, employees are less likely to adopt it. As part of your why, be sure to explain the benefit to them. Here are some technology examples and benefits you can convey to give you an idea of what to say.
Cloud-based POS system
“We’re going to a cloud-based POS system so we can manage items faster and so you can take orders tableside, which will reduce your workload and improve the guest experience. And an improved guest experience could translate to better tips.”
Social-media management program
“Think of how you like to interact on social media. We’ve added a social media management program so we can better understand and engage with our guests in a way they want to communicate.”
“We’ve added scheduling software to make checking, swapping and adding shifts easier for you.”
Any new technology solution will impact your guests on some level. For any solution with a direct effect, “the why” should be communicated to guests as well. Define what that “why” is and have your front-of-house staff work it into their greeting. Keep in mind that this “why” should focus on what’s in it for the guest and therefore differ from “the why” for your employees.
6. Train the team
Most technology packages include staff training and onboarding, but sometimes these require an additional investment. While every effort should be made to control costs, this is one area where you should spend. Consider training an investment. And with the turnover in our industry and the pace at which technology changes, it is one you will need to continually make.
During team training, your Technology Lead should share all the best practices your vendor has gleaned from other operations. If this information isn’t provided, it is your lead’s responsibility to reach out and get it.
As a leader, you will be bringing technology into your foodservice operation to improve business and guest engagement. The key will be not only in selecting the right technology solution, but implementing it. Employ the steps above and you’ll increase your chances of a successful integration.