SimpleOrder chats about their Restaurant Management Software
|Richard Harris in Enterprise Tuesday, October 24, 2017|
How restaurant industry management software can help restaurants automate their inventory system.
Restaurant inventory management software platform SimpleOrder was founded in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2012 by restaurant industry veterans who saw a critical need to bring back-of-house operations into the 21st Century. SimpleOrder’s restaurant industry management software platform provides restaurant operators with an automated inventory system that provides counts and costs recipes in real-time, while simultaneously streamlining the ordering and replenishment process. SimpleOrder is currently reducing waste, cutting costs and streamlining operations in more than 2,100 restaurant kitchens across 25 countries and has set its sights on rapid expansion in key U.S. and Canadian markets, aiming to triple its customer base in North America in 2018.
We had a chat with CEO of SimpleOrder and restaurant investor, Even Ezra, about the SimpleOrder platform.
ADM: Please explain how automated restaurant inventory software works to give real time insight into operations.
Even Ezra: SimpleOrder facilitates the entire 360-degree restaurant process from purchasing to replenishing. Therefore, when the system is implemented, the first thing to be done is to place orders through the platform. Once purchasing has been completed, all of a restaurant’s products are automatically in the system. Therefore, when a restaurant goes to count their inventory they don’t have to write out each product and its price, the information is there, they simply need to input the numbers.
Once the inventory count is done, SimpleOrder can then determine how much (based on that prices paid) it costs a restaurant to make dishes, this makes food costing and menu pricing more accurate. When recipes are input into the system, SimpleOrder can determine the cost of each dish. Finally, a restaurant will integrate their POS system with SimpleOrder and that is what brings the entire operation together. Everything sold is automatically deducted from inventory, everything purchased is automatically replenished, inventory counts and value are accurate and accessible in real time.
Although the platform covers the entire process, features can also be used individually. The point is to alleviate some of restaurant’s burdens, therefore if SimpleOrder can even do that with one aspect, it makes a noticeable difference for the restaurant.
ADM: How does restaurant inventory software help a restaurant to cut costs?
Even Ezra: We found that a significant amount of food waste also comes from mismanaged inventory. Without the right tools and the data, over-ordering, over stocking and losing track of inventory are common pitfalls that restaurants fall into. We think that restaurants hyper focus on getting their food right, on successful marketing and strong service, but often times they overlook their inventory, which is a significant aspect to their success - without focusing on back of house.
We understand that restaurants cannot succeed without proper inventory management, but we know that it’s very difficult to manage inventory while running a restaurant, therefore we really wanted to provide a tool that would help them and that would make the process easier for them. After several years, we have seen many of our restaurants expand and thrive and we have no doubt that it’s because we have given them the right tools to handle the business side of their restaurant.
ADM: What are the benefits to working from bottom up instead of top down to control inventory and ordering?
Even Ezra: The bottom up benefits of SimpleOrder starts with simple purchasing. Once orders are placed through the system, then restaurants can start to build their inventory and recipes. As restaurants begin purchasing through the application, the process of back of house digitization begins immediately, with all items instantly uploaded and costed. Since all items are catalogued, restaurants then have the instant ability to track inventory and add recipes using the application.
If a restaurant is using a platform that requires them to input all their data in order to start experiencing the benefits (top down), then restaurants with less resources will fall behind. As a bottom up system, SimpleOrder is beneficial to a restaurant whether they use one element or every element. Restaurants can go at their own pace and still achieve improvements to their back of house operations.
ADM: What are some of the challenges that owner/operators face while tracking their inventory and how can they be eliminated?
Even Ezra: There are many challenges restaurants face when tracking their inventory, many of which have to do with insufficiencies in the industry in general, which we have personally experienced and we eliminate.
Inventory management has been difficult because there is no blue print for inventory infrastructure for restaurants. So many people get into the restaurant game, without knowing where to start. SimpleOrder is more than a platform for back of house management, it’s a resource for anyone trying to start or run a restaurant business. That’s where we start, guiding restaurants on how to structure their inventory for success.
The other issue with inventory management is that until now there hasn’t been any accessible and affordable system set up to count inventory efficiently. Most restaurants have been using spreadsheets that are not designed for inventory management. Spreadsheets are extremely confusing to use, they are not automatically updated, and they are not accessible to key employees, which makes it difficult to manage inventory as a team.
The way inventory has been managed until now, it hasn’t been integrated into the entire restaurant operations. There is no link between inventory, sales, purchases, or recipes - which is crazy because that’s where it all starts, with your inventory.
SimpleOrder then does several things to eliminate these issues: it provides the proper framework to count inventory, it’s structured in a way for your restaurant to be organized, the data is saved on the cloud and accessible to key employees, it uses data from your inventory and the system automatically does calculations to provide restaurants with key numbers, such as Costs of Goods Sold and Purchases vs. Sales. SimpleOrder’s holistic platform integrates inventory and the value of inventory to the entire operations. This means that restaurants can price their menus correctly, can set par levels, and can streamline their purchases.
ADM: With the increased transparency in inventory, what are the cost saving benefits as it pertains to food waste?
Even Ezra: There are a number of reasons that we realized there was a need inventory management software. One of the most striking reasons is that 15% of waste in landfills come from restaurants. There is a percentage of that waste from over portioning dishes.
ADM: How does SimpleOrder help to simplify inventory management?
Even Ezra: SimpleOrder is a bottom up system, which means that proper inventory management is a byproduct. Just by the virtue of ordering from suppliers through the platform, the products and their value are all added to the system. That’s the first way inventory is simplified, there is no need to add products and their costs individually.
The second way SimpleOrder simplifies inventory, is also what sets the platform apart from many others. Once a restaurant completes each step and integrates their POS system, their inventory is automated, purchases automatically replenish inventory while sales deducts from inventory. This way, when a restaurant counts their inventory and there is any discrepancy between their count and SimpleOrder’s automatic count they are able to spot weak points, such as waste and leakage. This can save restaurants a significant amount of money that often gets lost without restaurant’s noticing until it’s too late.
ADM: What are the biggest challenges you face in communicating the value of your platform to potential partners and how have you worked to overcome those challenges?
Even Ezra: Changing the perception of the time it takes to implement SimpleOrder and the value of that time, is perhaps the biggest challenge when communicating to potential customers.
For restaurant owners and managers, time and energy is spread thin. This is a very challenging and full on industry, therefore restaurant operators have to choose how to prioritize their time. When operators see the system it can seem overwhelming or a large task, so one challenge is having them understand that it actually doesn’t take too much time (we can even do the set up for them) and they can simply start by purchasing with their suppliers through the app and receive benefits immediately.
The other challenge is to make restaurants understand that prioritizing some time to implement SimpleOrder will save them a significant amount of time and capital each month, therefore it’s a small investment for a big return. We know that we are asking for a lot when we ask operators for their time, but we know that it’s worth it.
On our end, we have worked on and continue working on refining our on-boarding system so that restaurants can get fully set up as soon as possible. We focus on having a very strong customer support team, so that restaurants can have guidance throughout the whole process. We offer a thorough knowledge base and we are rolling out a series of articles to help restaurants organize their restaurants to implement SimpleOrder, but also structure it in a way that will help them succeed regardless.
ADM: What do you envision for the future of restaurant inventory automation?
Even Ezra: Moving forward we believe more attention will be placed on tools that improve and enhance the relationship between food service suppliers and their customers. These will tackle issue like... ordering shortfalls, accurate fulfillment and predictive ordering.
About Even Ezra
CEO of SimpleOrder, Even Ezra has been a restaurant investor for several years, using his knowledge and business experience to contribute to the success of his establishments. Even Ezra helped co-found SimpleOrder to utilize his restaurant business knowledge in developing an all-encompassing Back of House tool that aids restaurant success.