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Hospitality challenges for 2013

Wednesday December 19 2012

With Retail Technology magazine’s November/December hospitality and foodservice feature hot off the press, sector expert Richard Dorf takes a closer look at what specialist challenges the New Year will hold

With Retail Technology magazine’s November/December hospitality and foodservice feature hot off the press, sector expert Richard Dorf takes a closer look at what specialist challenges the New Year will hold


The dawn of a new year is an exciting time for any business, but Dorf said it is also important to remember that a fresh start often comes complete with fresh new challenges. Going into 2013 Dorf, who is managing director of PXtech, an IT, business intelligence and support systems provider for fast food, hospitality and retail companies, admitted the need to innovate and refresh technology remains a challenge for many organisations in the sector.


Efficiency is name of the game


Dorf said: “As the economic climate remains uncertain into 2013, driving efficiencies and improving operational control will be of utmost importance.” And he added that the proper management of electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) driven information, which goes much further than simply helping to make sales and manage stock, is a key starting point for implementing such changes.


“As a business owner, it is impossible to be in a position to oversee all aspects of an operation at all times – especially when responsible for multiple units,” he continued. “Improving operational control by utilising the correct business intelligence tools is an invaluable resource when striving for a comprehensive oversight of all business activity without high management overheads.


“Expansion is a vital part of an ambitious business, but it has to be properly managed and maintained in order to gain the maximum return. In an increasingly competitive market, it is important to choose the correct solution for the needs of the business. In short, technology must deliver on three key fronts to maximise its potential for the industry.”


Delivering on key requirements


The first is accuracy, according to Dorf, as “business intelligence (BI) which is 90% accurate is 100% useless, undermining confident decision making.” Second is timeliness, as the data must enable immediate interventions that improve outcomes. And ease of interpretation comes third, as the data needs to be easily understood in order to be immediately actionable by staff at all levels of the organisation.


“Effective business intelligence is also essential for that all important competitiveness in the marketplace,” he added. “Having an all-round overview of a store’s data allows managers to effectively rota staff at typically busy times, boosting customer service as a consumer attending a well-staffed and efficiently run store is likely to return. Equally, over-staffing at quiet times negatively impacts on a business’ tight profit margins. Having automated solutions to help effectively police this so that the rotas operate in the interest of the business is essential.”


As with any year, but particularly in the current climate where discretionary spend is down, the success of 2013 will be determined by profit margins. “So it is imperative that casual fraud does not eat away at these,” urged Dorf. “A big factor in controlling the onset of fraud is having the technology at hand that can flag up any suspicious till activity.”


Strengthening in-house controls


A large amount of void entries for example, is a classic tactic Dorf said is used by employees who attempt to remove cash from the till without an in-balance when cashing up at the end of his or her shift. An email or text alert – generated by a BI solution and sent direct to management, warning them of suspicious behaviour – will enable senior staff to log in to watch what’s going on and take the appropriate action there and then, rather than waiting to receive a data-heavy report at the end of the week, by which point the damage has already been done.


“Software can also link into other systems or fraud detection methods such as CCTV, so that when something has been flagged for attention, the manager has instant access to view the event,” he added. “The fact that employees know they are potentially being watched also acts as a deterrent to dishonest staff.”


Dorf concluded: “2013 will, without a doubt, pose a number of challenges to the hospitality and foodservice retailing sector – but with the right technology to hand these challenges can be met with efficiency and professionalism, and ultimately help to protect the all-important profit margins which are so integral to overall business success.”