How Independent Restaurants Catch up to Chains on Technology

Chains beat the cr*p out of independents on technology during the pandemic. 

You must now have a technology adoption plan that addresses three areas – guests, unit-level operations, and your office. 

The only people who did not learn that in the last year, distracted themselves just coping.

I used to want to take a time machine so I could live in the era when electricity first became available – to start in candlelight, then gas lighting, and continue to electric light – just so I could know how it felt to experience such great technological change.

Then I realized I have actually lived more change than that during my own lifetime. 

If you’re an independent restaurateur, you’ve experienced a lot of technological change just over the past year. 

Use Your CTO Properly 

Your multi-unit independent restaurant company, while successful, may not be big enough to employ a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). 

If so, you must be your own CTO – or delegate those duties to someone qualified. 

Just having a technology chief at any level is no guarantee of tech success.

Why? Because many of them focus on the wrong things. 

Rather than being the resident expert on offerings new to the market, they just keep everything running.

The highest use of a CTO is explaining the benefits of (and pushing for adoption of) technology – working in partnership with operations. 


Convergence Has Not Happened – So Do This

The promise of convergence from our POS or cloud-based provider – where we would have one-stop for all our technological needs – has not been fulfilled. 

So your organization must evaluate the cost/benefit of each technological add-on and also keep on top of new opportunities that come to the market and eclipse old standards.

You can’t implement all of it at once, but can establish a sequence for implementation.

When you do, each technology piece you want to integrate into your operation looks like a plane lined up on the runway – ready to take off when its turn comes. 

Take Charge of the Future

I know you have endured a lot over the past year. 

And you may not be thrilled that I’m telling you to do one more thing.

But, just like the chains eclipsed independents during the pandemic, forward-looking independents that steadily adopt new technology will prosper according to plan.

The ones that don’t will be left behind – like the people who made phone books, alarm clocks, answering machines, 13-column pads (OK, I know it has been a while), paper guest checks, and anything you had to touch. 

Over to you. Who owns your technology plan and keeps it up to date? What components of tech launch in your company this year and next year?