Neil Westwater discusses How new tech is giving you back lost time – Article featured in the BII Magazine (Winter 2021)

Written by Vic Hamblin

Polaris Elements helps enable you to run a better, more efficient business through its tailored and relevant technology, says director Neil Westwater

Bill gates said (apparently): “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Halloween may have been and gone, but I would urge all operators to beware, when it comes to reviewing your technology offering. Buying the dream but creating a nightmare is all too often the reality, and some of the horror stories we come across daily include:

  • Overpaying for software that could run the Disneyland hospitality suite
  • Having to engage with multiple providers, many of which do similar things, just so you can achieve the desired outcome
  • Numerous data locations
  • Lack of scalability
  • Needing further investment to cope with legislative changes when incumbent providers should handle the changes

Ask any good operator in the hospitality sector what they want from their software, and they are most likely to tell you: “to simplify complex labour-intensive tasks, thereby maximising efficiencies for my team – which in turn provides the optimum output allowing informed decisions.”

Put simply, tech should help you make more money in several ways:

  • Avoiding investment in short-term, bolt-on software to address legislative changes because the incumbent is not future-proofed
  • Reducing the time your most expensive team members spend doing non-guest related tasks (labour optimisation)
  • Allowing team members to focus on the guest experience within the location (increase revenue)
  • Increase net profit from an already optimised workforce and guest centric location (margin control)

When speaking to our customers, I often refer to a conversation I had with a client, who once told me: “when i see your costs on my P&L at the end of every month, I know that the ROI is so significant that i am almost happy to see it there.” So, when looking to invest in technology, always look to a partner that ticks at least one of those boxes and realises a mental ROI immediately, and an actual ROI in the short-term. If they don’t and you are not happy seeing them on your P&L, walk away.

Polaris Quantum, our latest software release to the market, has been developed to tick all the boxes, including these areas:

  • Two legislative changes that everyone will be aware of are Natasha’s Law (introduced on October 1, 2021) and the UK being chosen by the world health organisation to lead the global initiative on tackling global obesity, which has led to calorie labelling on all dishes in a bid to reduce sugar and calorie intake. Having to pay for additional software to prepare for such changes is an unnecessary burden that no hospitality business should have to shoulder, especially not now.
  • Typically, the most expensive assets with the highest levels of skill in the business (your people) will perform tasks such as stock counting, recipe creation and costing, menu design, nutrition management, etc, as the importance of these tasks and benefit to the business is significant. However, whilst they are important, they are also time-consuming tasks that must be done in all business. So, the important thing is to keep it all simple through process and automation. You should demand simplicity to allow your team to work at their optimum levels, to allow them more time to focus on revenue generation and margin control. “you will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Buxton, partner at Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & co brewery (1822 – 1871).
    • The guest is at the centre of everything – this is the mantra at the heart of hospitality. And investment in attracting new and hopefully loyal customers is infinite. By creating more time for your key team members you will allow them to switch their focus to:
    • Increase revenue, through quality and variety of the product offering
    • Invest in training for the team
    • Improve customer engagement
    • Invest more time in recruitment and developing career pathways for your staff, which will lead to employing the best candidates and improving staff retention.

In short, would you want your chef/bar supervisor talking to a supplier about a delivery for an hour, or training a new team member to be the best they can be?

By introducing Polaris Quantum to your business, you will not only tick all the boxes but also have the support of our onboarding team to:

  • Import ingredient and supplier lists
  • Build recipes through the recipe management platform
  • Integrate your ePoS software
  • Factor in wastage and shrinkage on all raw ingredients, to ensure accurate reporting
  • Produce recipe cards
  • Automate your nutritional and allergen information on all dishes.

As a result, your team will be working well and focusing on your customers’ needs, while providing them with a fabulous experience. In addition, your staff will be better informed, have greater job satisfaction and be more motivated.

What would a 4% margin be worth to you over a year? For a business taking £12k net a week with a 50/50 liquor/food split, it could be worth £25,000! Whilst this is fag packet maths, it doesn’t consider any improvement in revenue, optimisation in labour, or improved training plans for new/existing staff due to having more time / reducing staff turnover. It also doesn’t consider that it may simply give you more time to take your kids to school in the morning and pick them up, it’s money you can choose to invest in more staff.

So, what next? Everyone’s motivation and situations are different, but at Polaris Elements we consider ourselves to be enablers through technology that aims to allow users to take back the time they never knew they could have, through relevant, automated, simplified software.

For any sceptics out there, you are correct we don’t sell magic wands, the bottled time that we ordered is on a container ship coming from China. Polaris Quantum has not reinvented the wheel, we have just added all the spokes, without the spooks, and new relevant tyre.

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