Hospitality New Site Openings: The IT expert’s Dos and Don'ts

Swati Deshpande

New restaurant site openings are the perfect opportunity to incorporate technology into your hospitality operations and enhance both the customer and employee experience.

Draftsman's visualisation of a new restaurant layout in wireframe

The hospitality industry in the UK is undergoing a shift in the way they operate, and open new sites, following the challenges over the last three years. Major restaurant groups are starting to slowly grow again or are looking to expand their footprint into newer regions - opening new sites within the UK, where they have previously not operated.

Wanstor have partnered with large restaurant groups like The Restaurant Group, wagamama, D&D London Restaurants, Loungers, Popeyes and more, helping them open new sites – so many that we’ve now got this down to an art. Working closely with these multi-site operators has given us an in-depth knowledge of the hospitality industry and we can now offer solutions for various technology challenges in this sector.

Opening a new restaurant is always daunting. While operators focus on getting the operational aspects like recruitment, marketing, and menus right, it is important not to neglect the technology set up. The right technology solutions can set your new restaurant up for operational success, offer a sleek customer experience, streamline your operations, provide a fantastic employee experience, and keep costs efficient. We hope this list of dos and don’ts can serve as a good guide.

The Dos: Actions we recommend taking while planning and deploying new restaurant openings

  • Choose a reliable Managed Services Provider with Hospitality expertise. Define the scope of the project to them including networks, hardware, payment integration, online integrations. Ensure they know what is expected from them with timelines. Advise them if you require assistance with additional tasks like setting up marketing integrations, inventory management, programming POS or payment integration.
  • Check connectivity solutions available in the area. Broadband connectivity is integral to any IT set up and can sometimes take the longest to set up and may require involvement of several stakeholders within and outside the business – like legal, landlords, property managers etc. Also ensure that your chosen solution can cope with the load you expect to put on it.
  • Help your MSP understand your operating model. Understanding your business, constraints of the site and budgets before they start helps them recommend relevant technology solutions and devices - for example, your MSP would recommend installing order at table or mobile POS terminals as opposed to fixed terminals if that means a better customer experience.
  • Always encourage all your suppliers to complete site visits. This is great for collecting intel that may not be available on building plans – the environment around you can determine choice of technology – e.g. placement of access points taking into consideration venue density, parallel connections, signal strength.
  • Incorporate security measures from the get-go. Building your hospitality technology solutions to comply with the highest security standards is a good way to safeguard your business – this can include firewalls, setting PINs on payment devices, issuing staff cards for POS and cybersecurity awareness training, in addition to the security measures implemented across your business.
  • Test, test, test. Internal testing helps iron out any set up issues or hardware malfunction; This can be done before stress testing in live environment (like soft opening or preview nights) and gets your teams familiarised with the technology. You can also identify and fix any integration errors at this stage.

Building your hospitality technology solutions to comply with the highest security standards is a good way to safeguard your business, including configuring firewalls, setting PINs on payment devices and issuing staff cards for POS and cybersecurity awareness training - in addition to the security measures implemented across your business.

The Don'ts: Actions that we recommend avoiding

  • Making assumptions: There are several different ways of solving technical challenges and implementing solutions. If you have a specific vision, share it with your IT provider so that they understand what you’re expecting and deliver exactly what you’re expecting.
  • Underinvesting in engineering time: Testing and documentation of your critical processes is integral to developing a robust IT solution – don’t skip this step in favour of quicker outcomes.
  • Leaving third-party integrations to the last minute due to subscription costs: Third parties like delivery aggregators often take longer to respond and may mean unplanned downtime.
  • Cutting corners on equipment: Invest wisely with devices. cheaper devices often accrue long term costs associated with outages, and upgrades. They may also disrupt service or lead to loss of revenue.

The one recommendation that Wanstor has for you

Create a collaborative atmosphere where all vendors can meet and work together. Organise project updates and meetings, and keep all parties informed of any changes to the project plan.

Wanstor offer a full-featured New Site Opening technology solution for scaling hospitality businesses that covers a wide range of technologies and services needed to successfully operate a new restaurant. From essentials like IT support, connectivity, networks, POS, Wi-Fi and payment solutions to integrations with third-party technology solutions including delivery and labour – we offer a one-stop solution for all technology needs. We can also help standardise technology across sites for seamless operations, optimise costs and provide 24/7/365 IT support.

Contact us today to discuss your next restaurant opening.