With labor hard to come by and costs rising, tech solutions that save you time and money become even more valuable
By Sara Perez Webber
What does your technology do for you? If the answer’s not “a lot,” it may be time to invest in new solutions. Employing smart tech products is more important than ever, as operators search for ways to stay profitable while battling rising costs and confronting a tight labor market. Following are profiles of three tech solutions that can help you run your business more efficiently and profitably.
- For caterers, the best thing about Fusion is it’s “all-encompassing,” says Chris Marsh, founder of Synergy International.
- Fusion software—which as of this summer will be completely browser-based—takes an event through the life cycle of an order, from the initial inquiry to a post-event survey. With Fusion, users have the ability to:
- Create eye-catching proposals, including photos
- Turn proposals into contracts with click-through eSignature confirmations
- Facilitate food purchasing
- Allow customers to make payments online
- Share information about the event with the customer online or via the mobile app
- Track equipment and beverage inventory
- Schedule staff members, who can confirm work requests from a mobile app
- Send out automatic scheduling reminders
- Send out payment reminders
- Send out post-event surveys
- Integrate event payments into accounting software
In its 31st year, Synergy International works with many large caterers throughout the country, as well as smaller caterers (three-user minimum), rental companies and staffing companies. “We are willing to put together a solution that fits the organization,” says Marsh.
The automation offered by Fusion saves companies on payroll costs. “We have a lot of automation pieces in the software,” says Marsh, noting that payment reminders and statements can be sent, for instance, with the click of a button. “They become huge time-savers.”
Synergy continues to enhance Fusion, adding functionalities to make users’ lives easier. In December, they rolled out an “inflation-buster,” which applies percentage increases to prices throughout the database. The company has also enhanced the mobile app significantly, improving staffing, scheduling, delivery, inventory and sales functions.
Emilie Corcoran of Corcoran Caterers says her company would not have been able to achieve or sustain its growth without the software. “Synergy has transformed the way our company operates on so many levels,” she says. “Aside from pricing, one of the most impactful tools is the ability to quickly and efficiently put together beautiful proposals…. The Synergy team also created a template to print food tent cards that are generated from each individual event, saving our team hundreds, if not thousands, of hours. There are hundreds of built-in reports which cover most everything, but Chris has also put together customized reports based on our needs. If there are ever any issues, the ticketing system to report them is simple, and the response time is typically extremely quick. The front-end interface is clean and intuitive.”
The leading cloud-based system for food safety compliance, ComplianceMate gives caterers total control over their food safety processes, operational compliance and execution.
The principal ComplianceMate product includes:
HACCP Compliant Workflow Checklists, which are easy to use and customized to the caterer’s business model. They help to streamline the catering workflow, assist in quick onboarding/training of employees, and reduce employee workload while maintaining the caterer’s brand standards. Notifications are also sent if a checklist is not completed within a timely manner.
Temperature Sensor Monitoring Tools and Real-Time Alerts and Notifications, which regulate the food and equipment temperatures to assure compliance in accordance with safety guidelines. They also alert the caterer when temperatures go outside of the pre-determined ranges.
Database Monitoring and Reports, which provide the caterer with a complete view of the organizational performance and the required reporting by location.
According to Thom Schmitt, vice president of sales at ComplianceMate, the system helps caterers run their businesses more profitably by completing food safety processes faster, saving significant labor and time; saving inventory from being lost in the event of equipment failure; preventing the financial and reputational losses related to a foodborne illness outbreak; and reducing infrastructural and facility costs.
ComplianceMate supports customers in more than 25 countries. In 2019, it won both the IoT Innovator of the Year Award and the National Restaurant Association’s Kitchen Innovations Award. According to a spokesperson from City Barbeque, one of ComplianceMate’s customers, not only does the system “help us with food safety, but it helps us train our staff to our standards of safety and quality of our operations.”
With Curate, users can easily create visually appealing proposals that clients can browse on any device, with built-in sign and pay.
The weddings and event software organizes all the details of an event, so team members are accessing the same information. Curate can build a menu with Cost of Goods Sold and margins, so caterers can make sure events are being priced profitably. The software also creates Banquet Event Orders, pack lists and shopping lists.
According to Ryan O’Neil, Curate’s founder and CEO, examples of how Curate helps caterers run their businesses more profitably include:
- Building profitable menus that integrate into the proposal, so you are always pricing properly
- Digital proposal experience with proposal expiration dates to reduce time to book and increase booking rates
- Digital payment portal to automate your office work on account payables with automated payment reminders
- Proposal templates that save hours on proposal creation
- Preventing costly mistakes with one system that tracks all the details of the event and keeps all teams on the same page
- Increasing booking rates by visually demonstrating your value in your proposal
- Profitability reporting by event to show you which events were the most profitable
“Curate streamlines it all for you: from initial inquiry to proposal, menu planning, shopping/packlists to strike,” says O’Neil. “Curate tames the mess, saving you time and making you more profitable.”
According to Michelle Soderquist of the Pinehurst Resort, Curate can adapt for multiple uses. “As part of a large resort, I love how I can create proposals at cost for internal events or full retail for outside business, and it only takes two seconds to make the switch,” she says. “Curate maintains your preferred profit margin, so I do not have to worry about new hires underpricing a centerpiece or rental item while learning the system.”