Revenue Hub

Twelve months ago, our heads exploded when we tried ChatGPT. Now, AI is a workhorse for writing emails, social media posts, grant submissions, and analysing financials or customer reviews on Google.

We’re all early adopters when something is so intensely useful. So what else is promising big changes for sales, cost control, and productivity?

Self-service kiosks
Stand in McDonald’s and notice how kiosks are part of the scenery for most customers. It’s also their preferred way to order. It’s time to give all our customers the opportunity to order on a big screen or the tiny one in their pocket — they often prefer it. Plus, it allows instant menu changes, crazy upselling opportunities, and tracking customer spending habits — yes, please!

Transformations in the kitchen
Smart kitchen display systems are the new sous chefs. These intelligent assistants prioritise orders, manage inventory, and offer cooking guidance, reducing human error and accelerating service times. Again, your young team see it as normal — it won’t be long before the kitchen printer goes the way of the fax machine. Temperature tracking for refrigeration is everywhere and visible from your phone.

Smart inventory and order management
It’s tied to the POS for sales information and should be connected to your suppliers, who keep you informed on what’s out of stock snd price movements. Less waste and less stock holding.

Deep dive into the numbers
Everyone feels smarter when numbers are presented in a way that’s easy to understand. Restaurants are now data goldmines, with every transaction and customer interaction providing insights.

Analytics transform this data into strategies for menu development, staff management, and better customer satisfaction. AI systems will be able to detect and fix data abnormalities including POS transaction errors.

They monitor kitchen equipment, optimise energy use, and predict maintenance needs. They can also track customer and staff movements to tell you about emotional changes on the floor (perhaps caused by delays or quality problems) and individual staff productivity — how fast does Dan work compared to Donna?

24–7 phone answering and help lines
With automated voice answering that’s almost undetectable, the phone is our friend again. The AI systems use gentle but effective upsells, turning them into orders on the kitchen display system. There is no reason why this can’t also be done with staff requests for roster changes and calling in sick — those are phone calls and messages you will really not miss!

AI for rostering
This has been building for a while. As more and better data is available on current and predicted sales, individual productivity, and equipment performance, you now have better ways to optimise rostering so you’re never short when it’s busy or overstaffed when it’s quiet.

Communication with the team
There’s always been email, SMS, and WhatsApp, but now we can Zoom in people who can’t travel to a staff meeting or the management huddle on Monday morning. You can also share five-minute training videos in a learning app followed by a quiz and a bunch of reminders about upcoming events and staff birthdays. These systems are some of the most straightforward and satisfying to get started.

Digital restaurant systems thrive on integration, with open APIs allowing for a smooth exchange of information and one screen to tell you everything happening. Unfortunately, many systems are still closed as vendors try to keep all the value to themselves — it’s why we still see multiple screens in a kitchen. This will gradually change as operators become savvier and more demanding — let’s hope it’s soon.

Restaurants that embrace the new digital systems will lead the industry, be less subject to economic cycles, be more in touch with customer expectations, and be able to make changes almost immediately.