8 Free Apps to Help Your Restaurant Succeed

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13.09.2021 Business tips Wellness and Productivity

8 Free Apps to Help Your Restaurant Succeed

Attract customers and manage your venue with a swipe of your finger. 

A reality of the modern age is that everyone has a mobile phone, and more often than not it’s on their person. Though often a source of distraction, your mobile phone can help to manage your business and streamline day-to-day tasks — if used correctly. 

Whether you run a fine-dining restaurant, sandwich shop, fish and chipper, or franchise, there are a number of free apps available to help propel your business to the next level. Each of the below mobile apps is available for free, and can help hospitality merchants with different tasks such as staff rostering, social media, general venue management, and more.

Keep reading to discover eight free apps that will make your life easier. 

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1. Canva

Tasks: Marketing, social media content

Devices: Android, iOS and desktop

Price: Freel, with the option to upgrade to Pro for $165 a year

Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design program that gives you the tools to whip up social media posts, posters, flyers, business cards, logos and more. The app includes ready-made templates, which you can drop your own imagery and other visual assets into. Or, tap into Canva's extensive library. You can also upgrade to the premium version, which gives access to design services.

This app can help you get more consistent social posts and signage, doing the work of a marketing professional for free. It even has templates for designing your restaurant menu. They provide video tutorials on how to use each feature even if you’re a design novice.

2. Homebase

Tasks: Rostering, staff communication, clocking on/off

Devices: Android and iOS

Price: Free, with subscriptions starting from $26.95 a month

This handy app allows you to schedule and track work schedules for every employee on your roster. At its most basic level, Homebase provides a visual tool for building flexible and interactive rosters that can be sent out to employees and synced with their own calendars.

Homebase can also provide you, as an employer, visibility of everyone’s total hours — as well as overtime and breaks. The app automatically calculates labour costs up to the minute, to help you understand your staffing expenses and identify opportunities to improve operations and overall efficiency.  

Another key feature of the app is that it provides a space for communicating with your whole team — making it easy for employees to swap shifts, where required. The headache of finding staff last minute is not an easy one to fix, but by providing a space for staff to communicate, it is one you can streamline. This will be especially important as businesses reopen after lockdown, as staff need to feel supported to call in sick when they are unwell.

3. Sprout Social

Tasks: Social media management

Devices: Android, iOS, and desktop

Price: Free, with membership plans starting from $99 per month

Sprout Social provides one core place to carry out all of your social media activity. If your business has an active presence on a few social media platforms, Sprout Social will likely save you time (and frustrating) clicking from one to another.

Not only does this app allow you to schedule, publish and manage social media posts across multiple channels, it also provides an analysis of how your social media marketing is performing. 

Sprout Social’s analytic tools let you compare your business page’s success against the competition, and suggests ways to engage with more consumers. This is will ensure you are reaching the right diners, in the best way possible.

4. SurveyMonkey

Tasks: Market research

Devices: Android and iOS

Price: Free, with team plans available from $23 a month

Get real-time feedback on what diners think about your venue, staff and food with SurveyMonkey’s simple survey app. There are templates you can use to gain insight into their favourite dish or what meal deal they'd like to see — or you can create your very own questions to send off via email, text or on social media.

This app also allows you to search and compare the results of your surveys, charting data in charts and tables to help you easily understand the results and use them in a meaningful way for your business.

SurveyMonkey is particularly useful for those merchants considering growing their restaurant or cafe business, and have accrued a list of customer emails or have another way of reaching engaged customers — such as via social media. You might consider asking customers at which price point they would upgrade to a meal deal, or if they would participate in a loyalty card program, and then use the answers to improve the way you market your business.

5. Mailchimp

For: Email marketing

Devices: Android and iOS

Price: Free, with premium plans from $13 a month

Mailchimp is an email marketing platform that allows you to schedule and monitor your ongoing communication strategy. In a nutshell, Mailchimp enables you to reach your customers in a quick and cost-effective manner – you can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers each month for free – and also provides detailed insights about who is opening your emails and what is capturing their interest.

Never used an email marketing platform before? Mailchimp is a great place to start. Built-in templates are available for you to tweak to suit your brand colours, and you can even download email sign-up forms to share via your social channels to grow your audience.

Once you've grown an engaged list of email subscribers, it's a great way to send regular announcements — or a monthly newsletter with news from the kitchen, special recipes and the like.

6. Australian Taxation Office

Tasks: Tax and super management

Devices: Android and iOS

Price: Free

End of financial year is a tedious time for merchants, however the Australian Tax Office app can help alleviate some of the pressure. It allows you to record and manage your income and expenses, keep track of your super, documents your deductions, and set up notifications for key lodgement and payment dates for your business.

Small business benchmarks are built in to the app, making it easy to compare your performance against others in the hospitality industry. Or, if you've just started operations, these figures can help in setting goals. 

7. Asana

Tasks: Task management

Devices: Android, iOS and desktop

Price: Free, with subscriptions for premium features starting at $14.99 per month

Whether you're focussed on a big project (such as opening a new restaurant or expanding your business), or you have regular tasks you want help managing (such as processing staff pay), Asana can help you stay on top of it. It acts like a virtual, collaborative to-do list available to everyone involved in the action.

The Asana app allows you to plan, organise and keep track of how you're progressing towards your goals, as well as providing a forum for all relevant communication and updates, all in one place. It will benefit your business by letting you organise tasks by priority, assign different jobs to different employees, and providing a visual timeline of how the project is going.

8. Dropbox

Tasks: File storage and sharing

Devices: Android, iOS and desktop

Price: Free up to 2GB of storage, or $17.50 per month for up to 2TB of storage

There might be any number of files you wish to share with staff – from workplace health and safety guidelines, your sick leave policy, draft menus and more. Installing the Dropbox app will allow you to provide access to documents, images and videos with anyone else in the business. 

You can edit files even when offline, and changes can be seen across the business. For example, upload your roster as a spreadsheet to allow employees to see when a shift is changed. The app also allows for photos and videos to be automatically backed up and saved for easy organisation.

There’s an app for almost everything. While it’s not necessary to rely on an app for every single aspect of running your business, there are certain apps that can help improve efficiency and ease workload — which can help you grow your business in the long run.

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