Things have been pretty crazy for all of us over the last year or so, and nobody knows this better than the restaurant industry. All of the new problems restaurateurs found themselves suddenly dealing with overnight seemed insurmountable, but thousands managed to adapt and pull through in the end. Luckily, technology was there to help, too – restaurant management systems have perhaps never been as useful and downright necessary as they are now.

What kind of technology is used in restaurants these days to keep everything up and running, from shifts to reservations to placing and receiving orders? A good restaurant management system, that’s what! Software for restaurants is crucial for any 21st century establishment, so today we will explore the many uses of such software and the most popular ones available. Let’s get started!

Restaurant management systems – what they do

Gone are the days that one person or even several people had to stay on top of everything going on at a restaurant wll of the time. Technology has taken over an enormous amount of areas involving organization, calculation and statistics, thus freeing up real people’s minds so they can tackle more ambitious, creative tasks. Restaurant management software automates a slew of monotonous administrative tasks, from workforce management (schedule creation, shift changes, labor law compliance issues) to inventory tracking (tracking expiration dates and food waste, forecasting and purchasing new orders, menu editing based on changing costs), payroll and more, so it’s no wonder the vast majority of modern restaurants can’t imagine life without them.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular restaurant management systems, what their pros and cons are, and what they could offer your business.

The most popular restaurant software solutions

Restaurateurs the world over use tens if not hundreds of such solutions to manage their establishments, but the ones on this list have the biggest following:

HotSchedules: a market leader

This online restaurant management platform seems to truly have it all – it deals with typical issues such as scheduling and other workforce management issues and managing inventory, but also helps recruit new talent and develop and optimize training courses. These e-learning courses can be truly complex, including video tutorials, presentations and much more. The software is available on iPhones and iPads, Android devices, and Blackberry, too – each version is a native solution, to boot. At $49 per month for a location with up to 30 employees, HotSchedules is the cheapest software on this list, all while managing to be a real market leader in terms of the quality of service. The only con consistently brought up by potential users is the lack of free trial, but nobody’s perfect!

Posera: three functions in one app

Posera is made up of 3 distinct parts, each impressive in its own way. There’s a reason for its immense popularity! Posera’s point of sale solution is called the Maitre’D, and fan and as fancy as the word maitre’d might sound, this POS is highly adaptable and works in restaurants of almost any size, from small family restaurants to fine dining establishments, as well as quick serve restaurants. Posera’s Kitchen Display System is also suitable for restaurants of all sizes and types, and aims to make kitchen staff’s lives easier by using colors and fonts to display the contents of orders clearly to all staff members. The company touts the practicality of its solution, which anyone will admit is lightyears better than attempting to make out what is being announced over a microphone or crowding around a grease-spattered piece of paper. Then, there is DataBoard. DataBoard allows restaurateurs to easily analyze and compare sales data, customer counts, promotions and more, and sends alerts to help them stay on top of things. Prices for Posera’s POS bundle start at €49.

Koomi: dedicated software for fast food restaurants

Koomi is a cloud-based solution that was created specifically to meet the needs of smaller, quick-serve and takeaway establishments, and it is a favorite of cafes, pizza parlours, juice bars, bakeries, delis, food trucks and ice cream shops. Koomi users praise the software for its clean, streamlined UX that is free of overcomplicated fancy features and is easy to learn for virtually anyone. Costing $79 monthly, Koomi’s biggest drawback seems to be that there is no Android app, only an iPhone/iPad one. Koomi is also integrated with Square and Moneris, making payments quick and easy. The company offers its users customized onboarding, and its customer service in general has been praised over and over by clients.

SimpleOrder: software to assist the chef

SimpleOrder is very versatile in that it is compatible with both mobile and desktop devices and can handle multiple entire restaurant chains and suppliers. Besides doing all of the things you would expect restaurant management software to do, it also has a built-in cost calculator that adjusts the menu and the prices of the dishes on it based on the current prices of certain ingredients. Users praise the cost-to-quality ratio – even though SimpleOrder costs $79 per month, they feel the 24/7 customer service more than makes up for the price. The tool is also highly compatible with other restaurateur favorites, such as Sage, Xero and Quickbooks.

Upserve POS: software for restaurants, by restaurants

Upserve was created specifically for restaurants and their employees – in fact, it was created by people who spent years in the business before changing career paths to help improve it. If the people at Upserve don’t don’t know this industry, nobody does! Upserve is an indisputable market leader with its 10 years of experience on the market, and its throngs of loyal fans are especially grateful for features such as the daily insights the app generates, allowing restaurateurs to adapt to changing circumstances in real time. This app is also very flexible, as it works on a wide array of the most popular devices, including iPads and iPhones, Android tablets – it has a web-based version, too. What’s more, Upserve’s interface is highly customizable, so each user can arrange it according to their own priorities and preferences. Upserve’s Core plan costs $59 monthly, and it also offers a Pro and Pro Plus option to larger establishments and chains.

Toast POS

Toast POS is an exclusively food service POS system. Other POS systems target various industries, but not Toast –– this one was made especially to make restaurateurs’ lives easier. At $79 per month, its pricing is fairly typical for the industry, and though it does not offer a free trial, you can get a free demo, which is definitely useful for restaurateurs caught between a few options. One drawback is that Toast POS is web-based and does not have an app for either Android or Mac devices. On the upside, business owners deciding to get Toast for their restaurant will benefit from in-person training, regular webinars covering what’s new in the app, as well as 24/7 live rep support. And it is not just about managing inventory, either –– Toast POS deals with other issues such as gift card management, table management, loyalty programs, online ordering, split checks and more.

TouchBistro POS

TouchBistro serves tens of thousands of restaurants big and small in over 100 countries, and one of the reasons for its popularity is its greatly loved 24/7 customer support. It is thanks to this exceptional support that TouchBistro POS has won Business News Daily’s Best POS for Restaurants 4 years in a row! The app helps restaurateurs deal with not only inventory management and ordering, but also table management, analytics, tips and loyalty programs. Numerous restaurant POS systems reviews praise the app for how powerful and user-friendly it is. On the downside, TouchBistro does not offer a free version of its software. The monthly plan may also seem a bit costly at first glance, as it costs $69.99 monthly per device (not per location, like most of the restaurant management software on this list), and there is no Android app, just an iPhone/iPad one, which could be troublesome for some users, especially those outside the US. One of TouchBistro POS’s greatest upsides, on the other hand, is that it offers in-person training as well as live online training.

The choice of restaurant management system is an important one that is sure to impact your restaurant’s performance, no matter whether you run a small corner cafe or an international chain. And that’s why it’s so important to choose the right one! Hopefully this list will help you do that – and if you already have a favorite of your own that’s not on this list, be sure to let us know!

Launch an online food ordering system
on the restaurant website