- Restaurant management software is used to manage and optimize operations within different types of food service establishments.
- While the basic type includes a restaurant point-of-sale (POS) system, others offer tools for managing inventory, employee shifts, customer relationships, and more.
- Restaurant management software usually comes with subscription-based prices with the option for monthly or annual payments.
Whether you’re operating a quick service restaurant or a hotel buffet, the right restaurant management software can lighten the workload. Streamlining or even automating certain tasks will help make your restaurant more efficient and ultimately, more profitable and successful.
If just looking through all the available options seems overwhelming, the following article will help. Our team has put together a list of the best restaurant management software available. Learn how each one is able to meet your specific needs.
What Is Restaurant Management Software?
Restaurant management software is the general term for any program used to facilitate or manage operations within a food service establishment.
Most people assume it deals primarily with point-of-sale systems (or POS), but restaurant software also encompasses managing orders, inventory control, employee timesheets, and much more.
You’re already familiar with the many tasks that go into providing patrons with an excellent experience. And as food service grows increasingly complex and competitive, technology has become essential to doing business.
As many as 95% of restaurant owners attest to using technology to improve their overall efficiency, with 81% of restaurants using a restaurant POS or electronic register system, 37% offering online ordering, and 32% accepting mobile payment. Even 73% of diners agree tech in restaurants enhances their dining experience.
Restaurant management software comes at a range of prices, depending on the included features and any additional hardware fees. While larger enterprise versions may come with licensing fees, most software is subscription-based and paid monthly or annually. On average, a complete restaurant management system costs anywhere from $100-$500 a month.
6 Best Restaurant Management Software Options
With almost every food establishment today employing a form of restaurant management software, there are a lot of choices out there. Our team has put together a list of the best ones based on overall functionality, user-friendly features, and customer reviews.
Best All-in-One Platform — Upserve
Upserve (formerly Breadcrumb) offers a full range of products, including tableside ordering, a loyalty program, payment processing, workforce management, and more. With a unique take on hospitality, the Upserve POS is built to fit your specific restaurant and routine. It offers different solutions for everything from bakeries to wineries. Furthermore, its cloud-based system claims to save clients up to 47% on costs, based on its report with research agency Nucleus Research. Pricing starts at $59 a month, with a $60 hardware fee per terminal.
Best for Food Service — Toast
Toast is a complete technology suite built specifically for food service. It offers different components, including Toast POS, payroll and team management, online ordering and delivery, and Toast Go Handheld. Furthermore, the Toast hardware is restaurant-grade, with an IP54 spill-proof rating and twice the RAM of most consumer tablets. Clients also have access to webinars and training and 24/7/365 support. Pricing is customized per client, and starts at $75 per terminal per month.
Best for Reservations — OpenTable for Restaurants
While the OpenTable brand is already familiar to many diners, OpenTable for Restaurants is a management platform intended for businesses. While the software system does include POS integration and analytics, its strengths are in guest management. Features include reservation and waitlist management, and a robust guest feedback system. Pricing starts at $2.50 per online cover for Connect, a basic software package, and $249 a month, plus $1 per seated online cover, for GuestCenter, a more comprehensive platform.
Best for Easy Integration — TouchBistro POS
TouchBistro makes integration easy as it runs on a standard iPad. Its award-winning iPad POS software was developed by a team of industry professionals, and works to help restaurateurs deliver a great customer experience, make more informed business decisions, and increase overall sales. It offers products for all different types of establishments, including full service restaurants, bars, breweries, and food trucks. Prices start at $69 a month for a solo license.
Best for Accounting and Inventory — Restaurant365
This is a perfect choice if you’re looking for software with a finance focus. Restaurant365 puts all your accounting, inventory, scheduling, and reporting on one platform. Plus, its accounting software easily integrates with other restaurant POS software platforms, payroll, banking, and vendor systems to create a centralized management hub for your restaurant. Pricing starts at $129 a month for the basic plan, which is paid annually and allows for unlimited users.
Best for Labor and Human Resources — 7shifts
As the name indicates, 7shifts is designed specifically for optimizing employee schedules. With the mission to “simplify labor management, one shift at a time,” the software offers a drag-and-drop tool to manage schedules and automatically factor in overtime, availability, and even regional labor laws. It also allows restaurant managers to send schedule updates through its built-in chat, direct messages, or employee email and mobile apps. Pricing starts at $19.99 a month for its Appetizer plan, which reduces to $17.99 a month if part of an annual plan.
Restaurant Management Software Features
The number of restaurant management software options can be overwhelming. Knowing all the available features, and deciding which ones will work for your business, can help you make the right choice.
Rather than separate tools for every task, restaurant management software usually comes with a foundational POS system and the option to add on other features according to your specific needs.
The POS system serves as the central hub for the restaurant, connecting inventory, sales, and customer management. It’s the foundational component of a restaurant management platform, and comprises both hardware and software components.
Features are basically divided into front of house and back of house, with an overview of each provided below.
Front of house (FOH) features
FOH is a quick way to refer to the “front” or public part of the restaurant. Several management software tools can help streamline customer-facing operations.
Every purchase made by customers goes through a POS system, which securely keeps track of sales, quickly issues invoices, and accommodates cash or credit card payment options for any number of guests.
Online order management
Increase sales by serving your customers wherever they are. A complete online ordering system enables you to receive orders in real time (through your website, Facebook, or a custom app), save customer and payment profiles, and dispatch deliveries. It can also enable you to set up and update a menu easily, which can be a big benefit for seasonal specials or happy hour deals.
The main FOH objective is to oversee a customer’s entire dining experience. Having a table management system guarantees your customer is seated as soon as possible. The system automatically adapts to custom floor layouts, takes reservations, assigns waitstaff, and optimizes customer seating.
Good managers don’t only focus on sales, they also listen to customers. An automated feedback feature integrates directly into your existing process, and invites customers to share thoughts about their personal experience. By collecting and analyzing this information, you can then make the best decision on how to best grow your business.
Loyalty and rewards programs
In addition to asking for feedback, it’s a good idea for food establishments to reward their best customers. For example, you can offer a gift card when someone signs up for your mailing list, or reward points with every purchase.
Back of house (BOH) features
The BOH is the part of a restaurant customers seldom see, but is where most of their orders are prepped and plated. Its main areas include the kitchen, storage area, staff rooms, and back offices.
A big concern in the food business is that most of the inventory is perishable. A good inventory management tool can monitor on-hand stock, place purchase orders, manage food costs, and reduce food waste. It can also connect certain ingredients to a menu item, allowing you to track exact costs and profit margins.
In the fast-paced food industry, it’s important to secure your restaurant schedule. When someone calls in sick or swaps schedules, it can throw the rest of the workforce off schedule. Furthermore, the hospitality industry in general sees a relatively high employee turnover rate. About 693,000 industry employees quit their jobs every month during the second quarter of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Thankfully, there are great tools like Pared which help you find a professional to fill in the temporary slot. When combined with workforce management software, you can effectively organize and send schedules to the entire team, calculate labor costs, and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Kitchen display systems (KDS)
As a replacement to traditional paper slips, a KDS is a hardware and software solution that allows you to see all ongoing and pending orders on a screen from anywhere in the kitchen. The system syncs the BOH and FOH and keeps the two departments aligned.
Keep Tabs on Your Tables
For a restaurant to meet its bottom line, many different moving parts have to work together. The best way to ensure this happens is to utilize the best technology. Whether you’re running a quick serve location in need of better table management or a coffee shop that wants to optimize employee scheduling, there’s a restaurant management software available that can meet your specific needs.
With the best software in place, you’ll be prepared to accommodate last-minute staffing changes when you need a spot filled in. With a service like Pared, you can find pre-vetted Pros to fill your FOH or BOH needs in as little as two hours. Sign up today and make restaurant life easier.