Over the last several weeks, I have been researching software and technology solutions available for restaurants. The results are not too encouraging - most of the vendors who offer solutions for the restaurant business have simply taken a product they have for the retail segment, made some changes to suit the needs of the restaurant industry and are marketing the solution currently. Plus, since they need to build a product that needs to work for every kind of restaurant, they have added a lot of features and functionality that are not mission critical. Above all this, the thing that really struck me was the poor User Interface and lack of focus on the "Ease of Use" factor. In my mind, whatever application is being designed for the restaurant industry has to be highly intuitive and exceptionally easy for the staff (waiters, kitchen staff, cashier, manager etc.) to learn and use. In some ways, the real requirement of the restaurant industry is a solution that can simply replace the pen and paper methods currently being used. As you can see, I have been spoilt by the iPad. For context, I hate "Touch", but have been fascinated by the iPad and am able to use it easily. The feature I love the most - If I get stuck anywhere, I can simply press the only button on the iPad and it brings me to the familiar home page.
Getting back to the topic under discussion, I have been quite disappointed with my research and have been surprised that I have not been able to find a single solution that I can intuitively see as being "PERFECT" for Restaurant Businsesses and does all the basics really well. No wonder all the big guys have developed their own software - McDonalds, Dominos, Pizza Hut etc. Not to take-away any credit from the existing vendors who offer Restaurant Software, they offer pretty good solutions for the price they charge (a one-time license fee between 15K and 30K), but not the kind that makes me go "Wow! This is Perfect". Maybe it can't be done at the price points the restaurant businesses wnat to pay.
I have initiated a project to create a solution that is designed specifically for restaurant businesses with the primary focus on "Ease of Use" for the restaurant staff, and have found a bunch of seemingly skilled programmers who are willing to develop this application for me at a ridiculously low price, based on the screen design, process flow charts and requirements I have given them, If I can actually get this solution developed at the price they are asking for, I will make it available for "Free" on this blog. Maybe, I am simply dreaming about the "Ideal" solution.