Hot Tech Trends at the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo

Yes, there were tasty treats. But our team is all about that tech!

We were very excited to chat with everyone who stopped by our booth during the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo. It was held from August 19th – 21st at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Downtown LA.

Let’s take a look at some of the hot trends people were discussing at the show.

Big Data & Data Analytics

In some of our previous blog posts, we’ve talked about how big data is changing how owners and operators look at data and the impact it can make on your business.

Having aggregated data helps you see overall trends in your business and the industry. Detailed guest tracking and CRM let you keep tabs on your most important regulars and their habits.

We showcased GuestChex our complete guest CRM at the show. This package includes FOCUSGift, FOCUSRewards, and FOCUSAnalytics to give you a complete overview of your guest’s spending trends.

Pay at the Table

As the industry struggles to figure out where technology fits in at dining room tables, it’s important to note this is a trend that is growing and saving lots of precious time for staff.

At the show, we displayed multiple types of pay at the table devices, from table kiosks to server tablets and simple digital check presenters. Our team talked about all the different ways you can conquer payments at the table.

Cloud-Based Managment

You need to be able to manage your business from wherever you may be, not just at your store locations.

We debuted MyFocus Backoffice the cloud-based management tool from FOCUS. Edit menus, time cards, employees and more from one web portal for all your locations.

Point of Sale and the Cloud

The biggest trends everyone seems to be talking about are Big Data and The Cloud.

Both concepts are not new in the technology world, however, the buzzwords are getting thrown around a lot recently by companies offering web-based reporting and point of sale to restaurants and bars.

Still a little fuzzy on what these two terms mean? Check out our other posts on The Cloud and Big Data to learn more.

If a POS system was 100% cloud-based, you would not be able to utilize it when your internet goes down. So instead, most point of sale companies that market themselves as cloud-based have built solutions that allow you to operate offline. In most cases, data is always stored somewhere locally before being sent across the internet to a remote data storage facility.

Most major point of sale systems currently have the capabilities for their data to be accessed in one way or another from the web. FOCUS, for instance, has MyFocus Central that provides real-time web reporting, manager log, and a mobile application for quick access from your phone. The newest addition to the MyFocus Suite is MyFocus Office, which allows you to manage your menu and employees directly from a web portal.

So then, what are the major differences between systems marketed as cloud-based and those typically thought of as “legacy”? The biggest difference is the pricing model.

Subscription-based services make sense for start-ups that don’t have a lot of capital, however, over time the cost adds up meaning you end up putting more of an investment into technology than if you outright purchased the whole system up front (and you never own it, you literally pay for it forever).

Our team introduced FOCUSCloud this year so businesses could have the best of both worlds. This monthly subscription service gets you a stable on-premises point of sale system along with cloud-based services such as reporting, online ordering, gift cards, loyalty rewards, remote management and 24/7 helpdesk support. We even have options for subscription hardware to dramatically reduce your upfront cost.

What can Big Data do for restaurants and bars?

For years businesses have been able to pull reporting to analyze sales, inventory, financials and labor. The benefit to this data being in the cloud is not just the quick access to this reporting, it is the ability to use all of the data together for broader trend watching using AI and advanced analysis. This reporting on steroids will allow business owners and operators to make faster and more informed decisions.

The cloud, big data, and all other subscription-based services help augment point of sale to take your business to the next level.

Reach out to a FOCUS Solution Consultant to take advantage of these solutions.

Visiting the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo? Meet with our team in booth 1121 to talk about all things cloud.

Big Data and Restaurants

Big Data sounds like something complicated and expensive, but really, what it means is data being stored in a manner that is easy to access and manipulate for reporting.

Data is pooled and analyzed to be able to provide a broader trend analysis than what you would normally get from traditional reporting. Your data may also be anonymized and combined with other restaurants data to provide industry-wide analytics.

Yes, it’s just reporting. But it can be a little more complex than that, and that’s where things get a little hazy for most people.

It used to be if you wanted to see a report, you had to rely on the software applications running on your local computers to provide the data and analysis. This made it so you really only had access to canned or generic reports that everyone else using the same software saw. For most businesses, this works perfectly fine. You get the data and reports you need to run your business, simply and easily.

What happens if you want a report that is not available in the software and what about comparing it with data from another location? This is where the terms like Big Data and Above Store Reporting come into play. Data can be stored in the cloud from each business location so that reporting can be offered and customized based on your business needs. Since this data would be stored in the cloud, it could be accessed from anywhere.

The majority of POS systems on the market today, including FOCUS, have Above Store Reporting solutions and integrations that allow you to have your business data at your fingertips. You do not need to necessarily have business systems that are 100% web-based to take advantage of cloud solutions and big data analytics.

While restaurants and bars are no strangers to doing data analysis, the growing ease of use and access to these web-based tools is making it a no-brainer investment. The hours spent in the office pulling reports and plugging numbers into spreadsheets is quickly being replaced by web pages that can be accessed anywhere that do the heavy lifting for you. Having reports at a click up a button or automatically emailed can save precious time

Learn more about how Point of Sale, Big Data, and the Cloud work together!

What is the “The Cloud”?

Everyone is talking about cloud this and cloud that, but what is The Cloud?

“The Cloud” is a blanket term for data or applications stored on Internet-based servers instead of on local computers. While the technology itself is nothing new, it has become more accessible and affordable for small businesses.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways cloud-based solutions are benefiting businesses.


The benefit to apps that are cloud-based is the ease of access from anywhere with an internet connection. Information can be moved back and forth or accessed on computers, tablets and phones. This, of course, introduces the necessity for stable internet and network connectivity to access the cloud if being used for critical operations tasks.


When using the cloud, you no longer have to worry about data loss on your system at the store due to technical failure or catastrophic events since everything is stored across the Internet. Most services also offer data backup to ensure you never lose anything.


Most cloud-based apps give you access to regular updates of their services automatically. This means you always have access to the latest and greatest features without doing anything.

What are the downsides of using cloud-based solutions?


That same accessibility that is a benefit can also be an issue if you have unstable or slow internet connectivity. If you do not have access to the internet, some apps will either not work or work in a reduced function mode.


All of that data you have quick access to can also be accessed by hackers if not stored securely. It is important to understand the security procedures for any web-based services you utilize.

Data Ownership

When your data is on a local computer you own, you control it. If that data is in the cloud you don’t really have full control of who can see or access it. If you stop using their services you most likely lose access to the data you had.

Learn more about the role “The Cloud” plays with Big Data and Point of Sale.

3 Restaurant Technologies that Make an Impact at Your Table Service or Quick Service Restaurant

3 Restaurant Technologies that Make an Impact at Your Table Service or Quick Service Restaurant

Restaurant technologies are all about streamlining processes, increasing sales and most importantly, improving the dining in—or out as it may be—experience at your table service or quick service restaurant. The three restaurant technologies that we see having the biggest impact on restaurant operations are mobile reporting, online ordering and integrated loyalty and rewards programs.

1. Mobile Reporting

Mobile reporting is a restaurant technology that is starting to come standard with many restaurant point of sale software options on the market.  Maybe the ability to access your restaurant’s reports and data doesn’t seem like a game changer but it definitely is.

Being able to access food and beverage sales numbers, table turnover times, and average ticket times from a mobile app gives managers freedom and more importantly, real-time visibility. This is especially vital for managers or owners that need to bounce between locations or can’t be onsite all the time.

2. Online Ordering

An online ordering portal opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for quick service and table service establishments and is one of the main restaurant technologies to consider adopting if you haven’t already. Millennials and now even Gen Z, who incidentally spent $78 billion on dining out in 2016 according to a report by Technomic, are driving the trend for restaurants to offer more delivery and take out options that can be ordered ahead of time from their laptop or phone. They want to eat whenever and wherever they want.

The upside for you is that orders submitted online can totally bypass a server and go directly to your point of sale system and into production. Third-party ordering apps like ToGo  are making this kind of integration possible.

3. Integrated Loyalty and Rewards Program

Restaurant technologies that support loyalty and rewards programs integrate with your point of sale system fairly simply. You can participate in standalone programs that essentially plug into your current POS software or your point of sale service provider may offer a program you can enroll in.

Either way, implementing and maintaining a rewards program is easier than it’s ever been, and they usually offer added marketing components like list segmentation and demographic reports, email and social marketing aspects—and some even loop gift cards into the same system so you have one central location from which to generate and manage all your cards.

Some of the many benefits of investing in a loyalty or rewards program for your restaurant are:

  • Creating repeat customers
  • Offering targeted promotions and coupons
  • Using data analytics to refine your marketing strategy

If you are at the point where your table service or quick service restaurant is ready to invest in new restaurant technologies like mobile reporting, online ordering or a rewards program, make an appointment to talk with a Focus POS California expert to discuss exactly how easy it is to implement a time-saving and revenue-generating restaurant technology.  

3 Steps to Being a Restaurant Data Guru

Likely you have volumes and volumes of data from your point of sale, loyalty, gift card programs and marketing systems, possibly going back decades or maybe just weeks. Regardless, you have at your fingertips, a wealth of data just sitting there waiting to be tapped.

The question then becomes: what do you do with the vast amounts of info you have collected and how can you use it to impact your restaurant business? There are three steps you can take to master the repository of numbers you have at your disposal.

Step 1. Gather Your Data

Aggregating your restaurant data and knowing where to find it is the first step. Make a list of all the data you collect, the source of the data and how to pull the data from your various systems. Then, decide which data points would be most helpful to you in making business decisions. Some obvious first choices are:

  • Ticket and turn times
  • Labor and wage costs
  • Food and beverage sales
  • Winner and Loser items
  • Per-Person Averages (PPA) and Per-Check Averages (PCA)

Before you move to the next step, it is wise to take a moment to make sure your data is “clean”. That means that duplicate information is removed, that it’s accurate and that it is from the correct time frame and in a usable format.

Step 2. Analyze Your Data

Now that you have gathered your data, determined exactly what you want to track and “cleaned” your data, it’s analysis time. When you start tracking and analyzing your restaurant data, you are creating a baseline that gives you a starting point that you can use to measure performance. Ideally, you have integrated systems that all talk to each other. A point of sale system that can do this and then analyze the data for you is a huge asset and time saver that allows you to quickly jump to Step 3.

Step 3. Apply Your Data

The goal of gathering your data and analyzing your data is to ultimately apply what you know to control costs and make good decisions that will benefit your restaurant or bar. For example, once you know your average ticket times you will be able to take steps to reduce the time by making the kitchen more efficient. You can also use the data to make menu decisions. If you find an item is hardly ever ordered, it might be time to cut it from the menu.

Restaurant Data is Your Friend
Size is not an issue when it comes to data. The smallest bistro to the largest multilocation restaurant chain can benefit from having a restaurant data guru with the ability to harness the power of the data your operations spit out each day. Making it a priority to gather, analyze and apply the data you have on hand will pay off big time when you start to see your sales increase, your costs go down, and your spending under control.

How to Use Your Restaurant POS Reports to Make Business Decisions

While we all wish we had an IBM Watson on hand to help us make business decisions, it will probably be a few years before AI makes its way into the hospitality industry. In the meantime, using your POS reports to make crucial business decisions across areas of your operations is fundamental to fiscal management.

The reports can only get you so far. Once you have data in hand, owners and managers need to divine the numbers to make smart moves within their restaurant or bar. Here are three decision areas that greatly benefit from POS report information.

♦ Inventory Decisions
As food waste becomes a hot button topic in the industry and eateries in the greater Los Angeles area look for ways to be greener and just more environmentally conscious in general, the best way to decrease surplus is to optimize inventory. Using your POS reports compare kitchen inventory levels with items sold reveals areas where you are overstocking. To go even further, many cloud based inventory programs integrate POS data to do this analysis for you along with helping you manage inventory control.

♦ Marketing Decisions
Pulling customer demographics from your POS reports gives great insight into your key audience. You can see who and when they are visiting your restaurant or bar. Use this intelligence when making decisions on promotions and marketing initiatives. Then use the data to evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. If you have a loyalty program in place, there is an opportunity for you to determine dining trends and motivators.

♦ Labor Decisions
Scheduling is a key area where your POS reports can aid in decision making from how many bartenders to put on the clock on a busy holiday weekend to the number of line cooks you’ll need for a slow Monday night shift.

Historical data and forecasting is the place most restaurant managers start for making staffing decisions and drawing up schedules. On a day-to-day basis pulling hourly sales reports and daily attendance reports to show how many FOH and BOH staff you have on the clock and who is going into overtime is a great decision-making tool to have when you are trying to determine when to make cuts and send people home.

Take Advantage of Web-Based Reporting
Having a web-based reporting system takes it to the next level for busy operators who are bouncing from location to location or can’t be tied down to a terminal. Having access on your smart phone or your laptop makes life a lot easier.

As you get more dependent on reports to aid your business decisions, it will become almost second nature. Hopefully, you also will find more areas in your operations that can benefit from data contained in your repertoire of reports.