Equipment: Cool Tech Tools

Today's high-tech software and supporting systems can streamline management functions, ensure consistency in multi-unit operations and improve unit level and company profits.

It takes a lot to manage restaurants efficiently. Controls are a big part of the job, controlling risk, labor and costs of all types, among other things. But take heart. Today's high-tech software and supporting systems can streamline management functions, ensure consistency and improve profits. Here are some of the more innovative tech solutions currently available.

Web-based maintenance
Even the best cooking, refrigeration, warewashing, dispensing and prep equipment breaks down or requires periodic maintenance. A systematic program of preventive maintenance can reduce the risk and cost of untimely breakdowns (i.e. during the evening rush) and extend equipment life.

MobileTRAQ offers a web-based software package designed to track and schedule preventive maintenance service for equipment at multiple locations. It centralizes equipment specifications, warranty status and service history and acts as a command center for scheduling all maintenance and repairs. This software system can save management time, reduce costly equipment downtime and extend the useful life of major equipment.

Where to search for vendors
There is no shortage of foodservice management technology vendors. To save you a few mouse clicks, there are two excellent web-based source directories that can narrow your e-search. Capterra runs a site called The Enterprise Software Center (www.capterra.com). It has a master menu broken out by management category (such as Workforce Management, Human Resources, etc.) and also by industry, including Food & Beverage. A click on the Restaurant Management category leads to 73 different vendor sources, each with a link to individual company websites. The site's Restaurant Management Software Directory listings include enough description to narrow your search.

The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration is another good Internet directory source when you're out hunting for technology providers. After going to the homepage (http://www.hotelschool.cornell.edu), click on the Hospitality Links, then Foodservice Industry and finally Technology. You will be rewarded with a 13-page list of software and system providers, complete with a short product/ service description and a direct link to all those web sites.