8 Types of Software Restaurants Typically Use

Can restaurant software save you time and money? Yes! Learn how the right tools help you oversee sales, loyalty, inventory, and payroll data.

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The right restaurant software automates repetitive tasks and lightens your workload. But your food and beverage business also uses tools to manage or schedule employees, oversee inventory, and drive brand loyalty.

While some point of sale (POS) systems provide all-in-one services, in many cases, restaurateurs purchase software subscriptions to bolster specific aspects of operations from training to payroll. Learn how business owners select and use standard software services.

The 8 types of software restaurants typically use:

  • Point-of-sale systems
  • Accounting software
  • Loyalty programs
  • Online ordering platforms
  • Third-party delivery apps
  • Employee training applications
  • Scheduling software
  • Payroll programs

1. Point-of-sale systems

POS systems are the heart of your business and are used by employees, management, and owners. Many provide an intuitive user interface that makes it easy for staff to enter food orders, track special instructions, and print receipts.

However, a restaurant POS system also gives you access to a range of features and tools that help you predict future sales, make decisions based on real-time labor reports, and oversee restaurant inventory management.

Although restaurant management software is critical to optimizing your business, it’s pricey. So it’s crucial to request a demo or attend an industry event where you can test different systems in person.

The best restaurant POS systems offer a free trial:

  • TouchBistro: Try out TouchBistro software with its 28-day free trial and schedule a live tour for an online demo.
  • Lightspeed: Lightspeed offers a 14-day free trial with unlimited access to all features, and no credit card required.
  • Square: Download Square’s free software without needing POS hardware, and test out features before upgrading to a paid plan.

2. Accounting software

Between slim profit margins and fluctuating supply costs, knowing where your restaurant stands financially is essential, especially when most businesses fail due to cash flow problems.

While you can use spreadsheets or free software, accounting programs that integrate with your POS system deliver a clear view of your finances. Your POS software can send payment details to your accounting system for accurate cash flow predictions.

Top restaurant accounting programs include:

  • Xero: The Xero dashboard gives you instant access to real-time data, while its POS inventory management and customer relationship management (CRM) integrations bring your data to one spot.
  • Restaurant365: With Restaurant365, you get all-in-one, cloud-based services consisting of accounting, payroll, inventory, scheduling, and human resources (HR).
  • QuickBooks: Sync to your scheduling software or POS system using QuickBooks Online to get reports that include data from your restaurant software programs.
The QuickBooks restaurant accounting dashboard.

Use QuickBooks to track cash flow, expenses, and sales. Source: QuickBooks software.


3. Loyalty programs

Few customers want to carry around punch cards. Restaurant apps give customers access to account and reward details while alerting them to exclusive offers. Business owners combine loyalty and POS reporting data to get a clear view of their target market.

While some POS software offers add-on loyalty services, you can also purchase standalone systems such as:

  • TapMango: Fully customize the information you want from customers while giving them a choice of enrolling in TapMango via an in-restaurant tablet, mobile app, website, or text messaging.
  • Movylo: Put your customer engagement program on autopilot using Movylo software to automate birthday messages, review requests, and communicate daily deals.
  • Preferred Patron: Use Preferred Patron to deliver incentive promotions, plus it provides gift card processing capabilities.

4. Online ordering platforms

Adding online ordering to your website is an easy way to boost sales by giving restaurant customers more ways to buy your food and beverages. POS features may include online ordering solutions or integrate with popular restaurant software. But, many times, restaurant owners turn to a ready-made solution to quickly accept online orders.

Popular online ordering platforms include:

  • ChowNow: Integrate ChowNow with your website or customize a branded app to start accepting online orders. You can also take orders from Yelp, Instagram, and Google search.
  • GloriaFood: Use the GloriaFood application to accept online orders from your website or Facebook. Or take advantage of the company’s website builder services.
An example of a Facebook business page integrated with GloriaFood ordering software.

Add a tab to your Facebook business page so customers can order directly from there. Source: GloriaFood software.


5. Third-party delivery apps

Third-party delivery services are customer-friendly but fee-heavy for restaurant owners. If you have an onsite delivery service, you may not need third-party apps. Still, most businesses situated in larger areas use third-party services as a different way to market their restaurant.

Consider services that offer POS integrations. Otherwise, your staff will enter each order individually in your POS terminal.

Research the delivery apps your customers use, including:

  • DoorDash: Connect your DoorDash account to POS and payment software such as Toast, Square, and Chowly.
  • Uber Eats: You can integrate your software using existing integrations, or Uber Eats will design a custom solution.
  • GrubHub: Add GrubHub to your software mix for integrations with Toast, Upserve, and Oracle.

6. Employee training applications

Restaurant turnover is generally high, making it critical to quickly onboard new employees while taking steps to retain existing team members. Since your staff members spend most of their time engaging via smartphones, it makes sense to use mobile-responsive training software.

Add a learning management system (LMS) to your training program, such as:

  • Wisetail: Your staff can use Android or iOS devices to access Wisetail training materials with real-time feedback, while the app updates your management and ownership teams.
  • Expand Share: Use learning tracks or build your own courses using Expand Share’s intuitive software training services.
  • Waitrainer: Track compliance and get initial paperwork completed using Waitrainer software that works on smartphones and computers.

7. Scheduling software

Finding restaurant workers is tough, but offering flexible scheduling options and letting crew members control some parts of their schedule is a way to satisfy employees. However, that’s hard to do without restaurant software dedicated to labor management.

Use scheduling services to eliminate paper time-off requests, make it easy for employees to trade shifts, and optimize schedules based on projected sales data.

Consider software for restaurants such as:

  • 7Shifts: With a free mobile app, POS integrations, and a free two-month trial, 7Shifts helps you streamline labor scheduling activities and use POS data to create schedules based on sales projections.
  • When I Work: This easy-to-use mobile app is free for features such as one-click scheduling, team management, and overtime alerts. When I Work also offers applicant sourcing and tracking software.
  • Deputy: Get employee scheduling software with POS and payroll integrations while also keeping your teams and customers safe with Deputy’s COVID-19 safety tools.

8. Payroll programs

If you dread sitting down to handle payroll, consider investing in a system such as ShopKeep POS that provides a labor-tracking report to run your numbers efficiently. Or integrate your payroll system with your POS for advanced reporting features in a standalone system.

Great payroll software options include:

  • QuickBooks Payroll: Offer same-day direct deposits; automatically calculate, pay, and file payroll taxes; and get access to QuickBooks’ advanced reporting features.
  • OnPay: Integrate your accounting and time-tracking software while accurately calculating tipped wages. OnPay even prepares Form 8846 for minimum wage tip makeup.
  • Wage Point: Give employees access to a Wage Point personal dashboard and never get asked to reprint a pay stub or W-2 form again.

Stay connected with integrated restaurant software solutions

If you’re starting fresh with new restaurant software, look for services that play nicely together. Start by considering any all-in-one solutions like a restaurant POS iPad service that includes inventory management, loyalty programs, and online ordering.

However, if you use existing software, it’s essential to find solutions in each area, from payroll to scheduling, that integrates with your POS and accounting programs. By connecting your restaurant systems, you’ll get a clear view of what’s happening behind the scenes, even if you’re on vacation or at home.

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