Ask the Expert - How can hospitality technology help reduce costs and manage waste?

With managing and reducing costs front-of-mind for every hospitality operator right now, it’s important to understand the role technology can play, however finding the right tech and knowing what functionality to look out for amongst a sea of different suppliers and solutions can feel like a daunting task.

To help you navigate the world of hospitality tech and identify which solutions you should consider implementing in your business, we sat down with Joel Wilson, Technical Sales Manager at Zonal, to explore how technology can help businesses more effectively manage costs through greater control of their purchasing, improved stock accuracy and greater stock visibility.

  1. How can technology reduce wastage and costs?

Tech’s main role in this area is to help provide visibility. By providing visibility we can help increase accuracy, and having those two things in place will naturally start to reduce waste and costs.

With products in particular, having a procurement or purchase-to-pay platform in-place can really help, by giving full visibility of your cost prices, all the way from the point of ordering to the point of receipt of the goods, to the point of invoicing. Sometimes the cost price we see when we order something and the cost price we’re invoiced for can be two different things, so having the visibility and auditability of that is really important. What’s more, if there’s a difference between the cost price that you’ve ordered and the cost price that you’ve been invoiced for, having a system that flags these so you only need to look at particular invoices, means you can spend less time on the auditing process and more time on the credit resolution stage.

Another area it can help is with digital count sheets, so if we think about the stock audit process, the really annoying and time consuming bit once you’ve done the count is then having to add all of that up, add your count up and then manually enter it in. If you have digital count sheets that let you just automate that process, and import all of those figures in, you then get to spend more time on the important bit which is the analysis side of things – pinpointing where those variances are and why those variances might’ve happened.

  1. How can tech help operators more accurately manage their stock?

An integrated stock system needs to be able to provide real-time visibility of stock holding and then have the ability to manage, maintain and communicate that. One of the key ways of being able to do this is through line checks. They provide a granular view of your stock, and of your stock variances, so you can start to be able to pinpoint where these are occurring and be able to respond immediately to any issues – you’re not having to wait until the end of the week or the end of the month to find out what your stock result is, you can get a real-time view there-and-then and respond.

Having that data in real-time doesn’t restrict your operations either, so you can build it naturally into your working day. If you’re having to wait for data to process overnight you might then only have a set window to do these analysis tasks, but the fact you can do this as and when you need to is really important.

  1. Are there other tech solutions that operators should look at if they’re trying to cut wastage and costs?

Other solutions operators could look at include recipe modelling, or menu management tools – systems that help you to model your menu items and dishes and provide full visibility over your GPs and your margins, with a full cost-breakdown , including each individual ingredient. So sometimes we know what the overall GP of a dish is, but we don’t necessarily know the makeup of that – but once you know the impact of each ingredient to a dish, you could tweak those  to see if there are any potential savings that can be made.

Another key benefit of these tools is the standardisation of your operations. We can spend a lot of time modelling our costs and our dishes, and from a theoretical point of view we know what to expect GP-wise, but sometimes that isn’t delivered at a site level. Building in things such as specification cards, methodology statements and dish photos, gives us the knowledge that when this is passed on to the sites – they not only know what to buy and where from, but they also know how to produce the dishes and ensure things are being executed properly and consistently.

Development menus and temporary stock items can also be built in these tools so, when faced with supply chain issues, you know that if you’re having issues with a current supplier or particular product line, you can start to do the work in the background to help mitigate the impact on your business. Then, once a switch is needed, you can make the ingredients in your dishes live so the switch is seamless.

If you’d like to find out more about how Zonal’s solutions can help you better manage costs and minimise wastage in your business, get in touch today for a technology consultation and one of our experts will be happy to talk you through what’s possible!

By Joel Wilson

Technical Sales Manager at Zonal

Joel has been with Zonal for over 10 years, working across a number of customer-focussed roles including training, systems implementation and account management before joining our sales team to apply his expertise as part of our consultative sales processes. Prior to joining Zonal, Joel spent almost 10 years working in hospitality, managing pubs in and around London, providing him with a breadth of knowledge of the sector.

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