Here’s a question for you: What’s the most important business driver for a multi-site restaurant chain?

The answer has nothing to do with food, equipment or even personnel. Hands-down, the most important element is connectivity.

Think about it.

In today’s ultra-connected world, a multi-site restaurant could not last 10 minutes without connectivity. When the network goes down, business stops, plain and simple.

If you’re responsible for IT at a restaurant chain, you can take a stand against network downtime by deploying software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN)—a methodology that involves decoupling networking hardware from its control mechanism, drastically simplifying WAN management.

Simply put, SD-WAN will keep your business online all the time, ensuring that your sites have the critical connectivity they need to remain running.

Let’s take a look at all of the various processes that require connectivity to function.

Restaurant Processes Dependent on Connectivity

PoS systems: Without connectivity, it becomes extremely difficult to process transactions and move customers out the door. Businesses typically have three options when connectivity is lost: Accept payment without a credit card authorization (which is risky); call to authorize each card transaction (which is time consuming); or accept only cash (which is bad for business). In one study, it should be noted, 50 percent of respondents said they carry cash less than half the time they are out. When they do carry cash, 76 percent keep less than $50 while about half keep less than $20.

What’s more, corporations typically have policies in place barring any of these options.

Submitting orders: Without connectivity, it can be very difficult for servers to communicate with kitchen workers.

Almost all restaurants today use electronic ticketing systems to process orders. When connectivity is lost, businesses have to resort to paper-based ordering systems, which can slow down operations considerably. Some companies may even have HR policies in place to prohibit paper-based ticketing systems from being used.

Data loss: Further issues can arise if a branch continues operating without access to a centralized management system that tracks marketing, sales, research and inventory data.

It’s very important that companies access correct information, so that they can make accurate and informed decisions. Connectivity loss can lead to skewed reports, and lapses in market research.

Health and safety issues: Imagine headquarters receives notice of a product recall, and needs to halt lettuce from being distributed at 20 different locations. There’s no time, in this situation, to manually call or visit each location. Alerts need to be immediately distributed from a centralized system, received and notarized. Without connectivity, it’s very difficult to ensure this takes place.

Ultimately, a restaurant chain needs to act like a single unit. Individual franchises can’t go rogue and start doing whatever they want. Connectivity is the glue that keeps a string of restaurants working together—and when it stops, things can unravel very quickly. It can lead to major losses in revenue, unhappy customers and angry franchise owners.

Fortunately, it’s getting easier for companies to manage their connectivity and prevent downtime. In fact, companies today have more control than ever before.

How SD-WAN fits into the Restaurant Industry

Over the last few decades, the food service industry—like every other industry—has been in undergoing digital transformation. First, restaurants started using computers and local area networks to manage internal operations. Then we saw wide area networks, the internet and eventually the cloud come into play.

The latest iteration is SD-WAN, which enables restaurants to create robust WANs made up of multiple connections, from multiple carriers.

Multapplied’s white-label SD-WAN solution essentially allows a company like McDonalds, for instance, to act as a service provider. Multapplied can provide premium connectivity, as well as the freedom to deploy and manage it as needed—with no strings attached.

A restaurant chain can use Multapplied’s white label SD-WAN offering to:

  • Control margins: Unlike third party vendors, Multapplied grants customers complete control over distributing and monetizing connectivity. So a restaurant, for instance, could charge individual franchises for connectivity—as much or as little as desired.
  • Prevent downtime: Multapplied’s technology is designed to route traffic over numerous circuits, and switch between them as needed. So if one link starts experiencing performance issues (like dropped packets), traffic can be automatically sent over another. With this system in place, it’s possible to establish seamless failover, preventing individual branch locations from losing connectivity and eliminating the above-mentioned pain points.
  • Control bandwidth: Restaurants will experience sudden spikes and lulls in traffic at various points of the day. Network administrators can use SD-WAN to apply quality of service (QoS) on a global scale, ensuring business critical applications remain up and running as needed while also preventing bandwidth from being wasted during off-peak hours.

To learn more about how your company can leverage SD-WAN, contact Multapplied today.