natives who expect to engage with their favorite
brands via mobile devices—just like they do with
everything else, he says.
“Project managers have to help owners understand the value of the technology,” Mr. Allen says.
“Otherwise they won’t adopt it.”
When Ms. Endicott’s team executed an i Waiter
pilot project at a Texas bar and grill, for example,
the father and son owners took very di;erent
approaches to using the tool.
“When the father ran the restaurant in the morning he didn’t turn the platform on, which meant
customers couldn’t take advantage of the app. But
when the son worked in the evening, he did turn it
on,” she says. ;at kind of inconsistency can cause
a lot of problems, both internally for sta;ers who
don’t know which processes they should follow,
and for customers who may grow frustrated when
customer-facing technologies don’t work from one
day to the next. “Management needs to drive these
projects, and everyone needs to be on board 24/7 for
them to work,” Ms. Endicott says.
;is means project managers have to act as
change agents, as well as IT experts, Mr. Allen says.
Demonstrating how new tech tools can help restaurant owners track KPIs like food, material and
labor costs can help practitioners maintain a high
level of engagement with key stakeholders, which
can make a new system more viable. After showing owners how analytics tools can help them create e;ciencies—through reduced kitchen waste,
calibrated inventory management and smarter
performance management, it’s easier to win buy-in, Mr. Allen says.
“You need to align the value proposition with
business goals, and provide executives with data and
dashboards that let them view progress and see the
impact of the project to win their support,” he says.
“;at’s how you get them invested in a solution.”
“Any project that can help restaurants speed the
accumulation of data to track key performance
indicators (KPI) is seen as a real bene;t,” says Dar-
rel Suderman, president and CEO, Food Technical
Consulting, Denver, Colorado, USA. “Restaurants
today are focused on performance management,
and technologies that can help them achieve that.”
;at was exactly what Tanya Endicott found
when she began developing iWaiter, an app that
allows customers to send requests to servers wher-
ever they are in the restaurant. When she and her
team initially launched the project, which is still
in the pilot stage, they assumed the biggest value
would come from improved customer engagement.
But when they showed early i Waiter prototypes to
restaurant owners across Texas, USA, the feedback
“;ey weren’t very concerned with customer
communication needs, but they all really liked
the idea of getting analytics on what customers
requested to support process improvements,” says
Ms. Endicott, CEO, i Waiter, Dallas, Texas.
Despite the potential bene;ts, restaurant tech
projects must often overcome internal resistance
to change. When there’s a technological divide
separating restaurant owners from their sta; and
clientele, Mr. Allen says, initiatives can hit major
snags. While a chain’s executive leadership may
support using new technology to engage customers, many franchise owners drag their feet because
these projects can be disruptive, time-consuming
and in unfamiliar technical territory. But the core
customer base for many restaurant chains is digital
PHO TO B Y JACOB KEPLER
“You have to
if you want to
chain in today
—Jason Smylie, Capriotti’s