While restaurant operators focus on ways to get customers through their doors, foodservice technology providers continue to develop the tools needed to streamline front- and back-of-house operations.
This year's FSTEC conference, presented by Nation's Restaurant News, Accuvia and Forrester Research, is showcasing the latest in technology solutions that cover all aspects of restaurant operations.
Here's a look at five products on display during the Feb. 21-24 conference held in Long Beach, Calif.:
1. As more companies look to decrease the amount of paper used within their operation, RJS Software Systems' WebDocs product creates a virtual file cabinet for corporate to store-level employees.
The program provides instant Internet access to a host of documents such as vendor bills, HR applications, invoices and corporate documents, among others. The documents can be managed in a variety of formats, including spreadsheets, video and image files, audio files and word processing documents. Operators also have complete control over who can view and edit the files.
2. In addition to POS systems, one big focus of this year's conference is execution management software provided by companies such as RedPrairie. The company's Execution Management product is designed to align priorities at the corporate level and effectively communicate those priorities to employees. It also provides a full view of restaurant activities, compliance issues and performance.
John Carroll, director of strategic accounts for RedPrairie, said restaurant operators will be able to standardize best practices for running their restaurant and ensure no tasks "fall off the plate."
3. From DT Research comes a handheld device that, through a partnership with ParTech, can be used to track and monitor food quality in addition to the handling of payment processing. DT Research also was showcasing its digital menu board solution, which is now being used by 30-unit Specialty CafÃ© & Bakery.
John Lee, manager of strategic accounts for DT Research, said menu boards have been of interest to restaurant operators even though implementation has been slow. However, as concepts open redesigned locations, the adoption of digital menu boards could gain ground.
"I think with more new stores opening up, you'll see more digital menu boards," he said.
4. TakeOut Technologies online ordering solution includes a client-branded online ordering
platform that can integrate with other phone, fax, network printer and POS delivery options. Concepts using the program can make quick menu changes and receive gift card sales and loyalty program support.
The company's client roster includes Potbelly, Which Wich, zpizza and Panera Bread, just to name a few.
5. As restaurant operators focus on getting customers into their doors, the Micros iCare solution can provide a customer relationship management platform for gift cards and point-based loyalty programs. Customer activity can be tracked from a central database so operators can better understand their customers' spending habits.
The program also lets the restaurant operator determine the best methods to attract and retain guests and measure new product success.