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Building A Future-Ready Restaurant Business In The UAE: The How-To The restaurant industry has recalibrated itself post the pandemic, and it is emerging stronger with innovations in both business models and service.

By Ashish Tulsian

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted industries across the board, with one of the particularly affected being the restaurant industry. As a result, now, more than ever, restaurants are looking for ways to optimize their costs in a bid to increase their top-line and tackle inefficiency. The pandemic has led many restaurateurs to rethink their business model and look for areas where they can tighten up the budgets such as business structure, overhead facilities and services, and other such operations. And one of the places where we are seeing this happen in real-time is the UAE.

The UAE has established itself as a gastronomic hub with the presence of some of the best restaurant concepts in the world and well-known international chefs. The industry has recalibrated itself post the pandemic, and it is emerging stronger with innovations in both business models and service. Restaurants are now turning to technology more than ever to spring back to growth- our PRIME Report (UAE) 2021 highlighted that seven out of ten restaurants are willing to invest up to 8% of their revenues into technology to improve their customer experience, bring better kitchen operational efficiency, and boost their profitability.

As someone who works in the intersection of restaurants and technology, here are a few of my tips for restauranteurs wanting to future-proof their restaurant operations for the times to come:

1. USE DATA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE A comprehensive analysis of the entire operations of your restaurant is crucial to measure growth and identify opportunities for improvement. With an abundance of restaurant data monitoring systems available today, operators can collect tons of useful data from multiple sources to have a better understanding of business performance. As competition gets tougher, analyzing the metrics and reports associated with your restaurant operations is critical to your success. With the help of data analytics from the point of sale software, restaurants can track their performance and make data-driven decisions which can help achieve better profitability. The F&B industry is a dynamic one, and with the help of data and tech, operators can adapt to and thrive in this volatility.

2. SIMPLIFY INVENTORY MANAGEMENT Setting up tools for managing inventory is the first step that you must take to build a robust restaurant business, as it directly impacts the bottom line. Gone are the days of manually managing a restaurant inventory; today, restaurant operators need inventory management software that can track and minimize food wastage, and help keep a check on changing raw material prices. Using inventory management software aids you to control costs, helps fuel growth using data, and lets you fulfil consumer demands with the least amount of inventory. Data lends greater visibility into trends allowing you to forecast demand, while automation syncs your inventory across multiple sales channels allowing you to maximize sales. It is safe to say that a sound stock management system is the foundation of a profitable restaurant business.

3. FOCUS ON CUSTOMER RETENTION According to our recently released PRIME Report (UAE), 60% of restaurant operators shared that they have introduced loyalty programs and special offers to earn customer loyalty. As the restaurant industry is getting homogenous in terms of multiple restaurants and quick service restaurant chains offering similar cuisines, offering exclusive experiences to customers with rewards is key to retain them in the long term. It is even more important because satisfied repeat customers tend to spend more at a restaurant, and they are also more likely to engage in positive word of mouth about your restaurant. Depending on your restaurant's sales and footfall, run point-based or visit-based loyalty programs to keep your regular customers.

4. EMBRACE DIGITAL MARKETING In the UAE and across the world, customers are constantly turning to online channels to find the desired products or services. Therefore, digital marketing is an important facet of your restaurant sales strategy that should not be ignored. An excellent digital marketing strategy would widen your restaurant's reach to help you stand out from the rest of the competition. Make the most of online marketing mediums such as online review sites, social media, Google My Business Listings, etc. to reach out to potential customers and boost your restaurant sales.

In the restaurant industry, the winning brands have been able to use crises like the present one to innovate and create memorable experiences for their consumers. Restaurants that will focus on these elements will not just adapt to the changing times, but also stay ahead of the curve when it comes to changing market landscape or consumer preferences.

Related: With The Creation Of The Restaurants Business Group, Dubai Chamber Steps Up Its Support Of The City's Restaurateurs

Ashish Tulsian

Co-founder and CEO, POSist

Ashish Tulsian is the co-founder and CEO of POSist, a leading cloud-based restaurant technology platform. A rare combination of a technocrat and restaurateur, Ashish is the product visionary behind the platform that serves more than 9,000+ restaurants across the UAE, USA, UK, Gulf, LATAM, and Southeast Asia.
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