Being a manager in a restaurant, or in any hospitality business, is a constant juggling act. From supervising staff to heading business operations, it can be a struggle to keep up. So that ‘s why January’s Hacks Series is all about management tips and tricks. To kick it off, we’re sharing our list of the best apps, online tools, and digital solutions to help streamline your management processes.


Hospitality Tools

Restaurant Reservations Optimization Tool

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  • Optimized restaurant reservations and seating
  • Number of reservations by party size and seating arrangement by table size

Cost: Free

The tool from the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) allows restaurant operators and managers to optimize their reservations and seating by inputting key parameters into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, then using the Solver add-in to view the outputs. The tool’s creator, Gary Thompson, explains that it does so by determining the “best mix of tables in a restaurant, while simultaneously determining which reservations should be accepted from forecasted demand.” The inputs include party size, table size and number, average dining time, and average revenue by party size as well as the degree to which to inflate the amount of time guests will be seated at a table, termed the ‘Round-Up’.

The full description and instructions document depicts the components of the tool and explains how to use the tool by presenting a practical example of table mix optimization for two nights. The tool is provided by CHR free of charge and can be downloaded here.

Restaurant Manager by SeatMe

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  • Table management, online reservations, wait-list organization
  • Maintain an online guestbook to track diner contact info, food preferences, allergies, and more
  • Available for iPad

Cost: Free trial; $99/month

It should be no surprise that Yelp, an industry leader, has developed a restaurant management tool. SeatMe is an advance management system for your front-of-house needs, allowing you to take online reservations, manage seating, keep track of available tables, and even text waiting patrons when their tables are ready.



  • Streamline your online ordering process
  • Enable ordering on your restaurant website, from you Facebook page, or from within the ChowNow app
  • Available online or for iOS and Android

Cost: Free Basic Account; Pro Account from $8.99/month

Online ordering goes fancy with ChowNow, a handy app that gives foodies access to your menu via your own website, Facebook page, or the ChowNow mobile app. Allow diners to customize their orders, so your kitchen knows just what to make, and check out online – orders are beamed straight to your restaurant’s main tablet, where employees can check and complete the order, and finally notify patrons when their orders will be ready.

Food & Beverage Tools

Food Safety Exam Prep

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  • Hundreds of questions cover requirements from the ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Examination, the American Food Safety Institute (AFSI) Food Manager Certification (FMC) exam, and the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals (NRFSP) Certified Food Safety Professional examination
  • Choose study mode or test mode
  • Available online or for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Palm

Cost: $3.99

The Food Safety Exam Prep app from Upward Mobility offers the most comprehensive food prep information, health requirements, and U.S. safety standards of any mobile app. The test module is perfect for keeping your kitchen current on safety standards, and will help anyone prepare for certification or re-certification.

Inventory Tracker


  • Built-in extras include a barcode scanner, multiple currency support, database backup and restore, password protection, and auto-default values
  • Filter by item, category, company, location, supplier/client, payment and shipment
  • Available for Android

Cost: $5.99

For simple inventory tracking – and streamlined bookkeeping and tax reporting – Inventory Tracker delivers with an easy-to-use solution. The handy app makes it easy to track your restaurant inventory, sales, revenues and balance sheet – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Create reports and transfer data to spreadsheet format.



  • Easily track restaurant inventory in real time
  • Streamline order management, and track orders
  • Available online or for iPad

Cost: Free trial; Account from $39/month

Wine pairing, not to mention keeping track of an extensive wine cellar, is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of the restaurant business, especially without a Sommelier. Enter Uncorkd, an iPad-based wine menu that also keeps track of your wine inventory. Customers can get a comprehensive view of your restaurant’s wine menu including a bottle’s origin, vintage and recommended pairings, while you can easily track inventory.

Staff Tools




  • Publicly accessible business pages that display open jobs
  • Multi-admin business accounts
  • Re-usable job listings
  • Applicant tracking system
  • Messaging hub

Cost: Free for the moment

Sirvo helps businesses in the hospitality industry hire by connecting employers and job seekers on a platform that simplifies the hiring process, from posting jobs to reviewing applications. With Sirvo, you don’t have to worry about your job listings getting buried under more recent postings because your business page acts as your own hosted careers site. This makes advertising positions easier on you and finding jobs easier on professionals. Plus, you can invite admins to help manage your business page, search and message candidates, and organize applicants using the applicant tracking system.



  • Unlimited HR form sets
  • Fingertip signature
  • Photo upload
  • Automated reminders

Cost: Free demo; Accounts from $75/month

WorkBright provides businesses that need to onboard new employees rapidly with paperless HR. By reducing the time it takes to collect and process new hire forms and automating the tedious workflows and data entry involved in onboarding new employees, WorkBright virtually eliminates the hiring costs associated with dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Plus, WorkBright ensures that your HR files are compliant, organized, and easily-accessible.



  • Digital access to staff schedule, from anywhere at anytime
  • Forecast labor costs with an as-you-schedule dollar tally
  • Available online from any computer or mobile device

Cost: Free trial; Accounts from $19/month

The purpose of ScheduleFly is to make restaurant staff scheduling easier by simplifying communications between you and your employees. The app turns any mobile device or computer into your communications central: post time schedules, your employees can request shift changes, and you can all coordinate on time off. Best of all, the app makes it easy to avoid costly overtime and forecast labor costs.

Marketing Tools


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  • Manage your social presence across sites, from one platform
  • Log on once to schedule posts throughout the day, week or month
  • Available online or for iOS and Android

Cost: Free Basic Account; Pro Account from $8.99/month

Chances are, your restaurant has gone social and chances are, all that required networking is overwhelming. HootSuite steps in with a simple tool that makes it easy to manage all your social networks, scheduling posts and cross-publishing photos, status updates, and more to multiple social sites. Integrated social profiles include Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Google+ Pages, and others.


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  • Design templates
  • Photo editor including cropping, filters, blur
  • Free icons, stock images, and illustrations
  • Magic resize to automatically create images for all social media platforms (instagram, twitter, google+, etc.)

Cost: Free Basic Account; Canva for Work $119.40/year, $12.95/month

Canva makes designing graphics for social media, presentations, posters, and more exceptionally easy. Included are tons of different layouts to get your design started that are available in pre-set dimensions (for social media) as well as in custom dimensions. Build your designs with Canva’s integrated images, icons and shapes, backgrounds, fonts, and photo filters, many of which are free. Plus, you can upload your own images!

To help businesses produce on-brand marketing materials, Canva recently introduced Canva for Work, which allows teams to collaborate, save brand colors, logos, and fonts, and build their own templates. Also included is automated resizing for various social media images sizes.

Fishbowl Marketing


  • Guest Analytics
  • Menu Management Analytics
  • Enterprise Email
  • SMS Marketing
  • Promotions Manager

Cost: Contact directly for pricing

Fishbowl is not new and is an industry standard, but we wanted to include it anyway because it should definitely be in you business tool repertoire. With several analytics-based solutions available, Fishbowl focusses on helping restaurants optimize their marketing, strategy, and revenue management. From measuring dining behavior and defining target segments to analyzing and optimizing digital marketing efforts, Fishbowl will help maximize your marketing returns.

Integrating digital solutions and apps in your management practices will not only increase efficiency but also improve your processes and save your business money, so take a few minutes to check out your options! Coming up next are tips on business operations, so be sure to check back in.