Innovations from NRA Show 2016

At the NRA Show, the industry's biggest and most dynamic trade show and event, it is an endless sea of exhibitions, educational sessions, products, and new ideas across the 2.6-million-square-foot-space of Chicago's McCormick Place convention center. Needless to say, while every inch is filled with discoveries, it can get a little overwhelming.

In this episode of "Rock My Restaurant," show hosts William Bender and Eric Norman do the leg work for you. After walking the floor, they sit down and product review some of the best innovations they spotted at NRA Show 2016. Trying to figure out the latest software and technology to take your restaurant to the next level? Check out these finds and get ready to rock your restaurant.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 3.56.22 PM.png
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.06.12 PM.png
Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 5.10.04 PM.png

The Lineup

Noodoe: Noodoe could potentially be the next breakthrough in efficiency and speed of service. This device consists of a wristband, which servers wear, and a cube with different icons symbolizing different needs, such as a check or beverage refill, that the table of guests hold onto. These pieces of tech connect wirelessly to the cloud and effortlessly speeds up waiter-to-diner communications, and in the future, could lead to better communications to the back of house.

"I thought that [Noodoe] was pretty cool because it's fully customizable, too, so the owner or operator can put anything they want on there. So, depending on what side the little unit is sitting on, that's what translates to your wristband," Eric said.

Zenreach: Email capture and marketing is one of the most challenging aspects when it comes to improving your restaurant's client base. Through Zenreach, brands can build a database through their Wi-Fi. When guests log in by submitting their email addresses, Zenreach collects this information and brands can use these lists to drive sales in marketing, whether through sent reminders, customer loyalty programs, or other incentives.

HotSchedules: HotSchedules it a revolutionary, restaurant management platform. From talent recruiting, to a continuous training e-learning program, to flexible staff scheduling, to instant message communications, this software does a lot of hard work to make processes a lot easier. Not to mention other features such as inventory and asset management — what can't you accomplish with HotSchedules?

STUBBORN Soda: STUBBORN soda is a paragon of what craft beverage should be all about. Through its natural ingredients and unique flavors (Orange Hibiscus, Lemon Berry Açaí, or Pineapple Cream Soda, anyone?), guests will be thirsty for more.

"What this does is really allow an operator to be better, special, or different," Bill said. "They also have a wonderful dispenser for fast casual restaurants called a pumper."

TradingTable: Whether you are an operator, distributor, or supplier, it doesn't matter what side of the table you sit on — this digital, paperless ordering platform connects each party involved in the transaction. It is a seamless solution and is a total automation of a purchasing agent's duties. The system has algorithms set to help operators find the best prices for products, which they can then order through the platform.

Ovention: Ovention may look like a typical conveyor oven, but this high-capacity, high-speed oven has two shuttles, allowing chefs to cook different food items with similar cooking temperatures. Chicken strips cooking on one side (through closed cooking, which means no need for exhausts or hoods) can then switch over to cookies on the other. This maximizes versatility and speed.

Riage X3: Two words: massage chair. 

"You were able to fit that into your schedule?" Bill asked.

"Ahh, 20 minutes of pure heaven, man. I could hardly get out of the chair" Eric said.

Watch the full episode now!

HotSchedules and PeopleMatter Talk Industry Partnerships, Shifts in the Labor Market

Business partnerships can be a strategic way to combine strengths by those with aligned objectives. In this “On Foodable Weekly” episode, host Paul Barron addresses the labor market as well as the recent partnership between PeopleMatter and HotSchedules. Joining us are Jay Nathan, vice president of customer success at PeopleMatter, a 7-year-old talent management platform company for the foodservice industry, and Anthony Lye, president and CEO at HotSchedules, a company that provides tech solutions for the industry including scheduling, inventory, shift management, and analytics. 

From hot topics like cook shortages, minimum wage changes, and a more public discussion of no tipping policies, there is no denying that labor has become a front-line topic for the industry. There are a few shifts, discussed below, that have gotten us here today.

Priorities Are Shifting

“When I joined the company just under three years ago, people wanted to manage their spend, and everything they did with our product was about reducing their expense,” says Lye. “Making sure that the inventory costs and the labor costs were as low as they possibly could.” 

But in the past year, he says, that’s changed. “As the industry has grown, largely due to the population growing and grocery declining, people have realized that retaining talent is a much stronger and necessary priority for them than just expense.”

Talent Market Becomes Tighter

On the flip side, talent within the foodservice market has become a lot tighter in the past three years, says Nathan. “We [at PeopleMatter] have gone from handling all the volume that was there three years ago, to now, turning around and finding the best candidates and filling the top of the funnel,” he says. As more people in the funnel strive for careers—as opposed to just filler jobs—in the industry, PeopleMatter now uses an assessment engine to better cater and tailor people to the right jobs using data science.

Communication Becomes More Seamless

Both HotSchedules and PeopleMatter are utilizing technology to bridge the gap of seamless communication between talent and team and management and operations.

“As the Millennial generation comes of age and becomes management and leadership in these organizations, they expect to use the same types of tools they use in their everyday lives in their day-to-day job as well,” says Nathan.

Understand the Partnership

There are a lot of similarities within the two companies, but why the partnership? “For us, it’s a very symbiotic relationship,” says Nathan. “There are areas with regard to labor management and some of the back-office expertise that HotSchedules brings to the table that PeopleMatter frankly has taken a run at, and just wasn’t something that we were able to achieve.”

For Lye, it was about taking two industry best products and merging them together for the user. “Rather than making the customer piece this stuff together or make them go to another company that has average in both areas, they’ve come to us and say, ‘Hey guys, I want to use PeopleMatter and HotSchedules together.’”

“[The restaurant industry] is an industry that demands transparency…we can provide our service to customers for a month, a quarter, a year, or many years, but if the service does not work…does not perform, our customers don’t pay us,” says Lye. “So we are driven to serve this industry—an industry that works incredibly hard for little or no money—and so, there’s this fundamental goal of measuring value.”

Insight Series — How Jersey Mike’s & HotSchedules Are Strengthening Team Member Experience

On this On Foodable Insight Series, brought to you by the Foodable Network, Jersey Mike’s Subs Owner/Operator Mac Shimmon and HotSchedules COO Ray Pawlikowski join Host Bill Bender to discuss team member experience. Watch the full episode to learn how Jersey Mike’s engages with customers, what solutions HotSchedules offers to strengthen internal staff relationships and fluency within a brand, and the formula for engaging Millennial employees.