20 MINUTES WITH – GREG HARRISON, EXTRAORDER

Technology is an integral part of how foodservice businesses operate today. From the cash register to the kitchen, it is a vital tool that helps restaurants and cafes to run smoothly. Innovators like Greg Harrison are continually coming up with new digital solutions to help restaurants function efficiently and become more profitable. Harrison’s latest innovation is a foodservice technology called Extraorder.

After working as a chartered accountant in the hospitality industry for 30 years, Harrison found himself having the same discussions with managers and restaurant operators time and time again. Conversations around improving margin control, motivating staff to capture extra orders and managing host responsibilities, led him to come up with Extraorder.

“I could see that all of the common problems businesses run into could be solved by flipping the traditional POS system on its head,” began Harrison. “The answer is to have customers use their own device and do away with the restrictions of a printed menu.”

Harrison was quick to bring a team of experts together to bring his idea to life. He first pitched it to family friend and hospitality software development expert, Richard Warburton, who came on shortly after seeing its potential. Following Warburton’s joining, they brought on Gary Christieson, a commercial software sales and support guru, to lead the team in Australia. They also recently hired industry legend Andrew McClurg as the New Zealand sales director. With a team of experienced operators on board, Harrison believes that the app will deliver a total solution and simplified operations to the foodservice business.

When asked what he thinks the future of dining is, Harrison described it using two words: seamless experience. “Guests take a seat, browse pictures of their food, order and pay without having to queue behind the till for service or payment,” he explained.

Although some people would argue that a total digital occupation in restaurants would get rid of waitstaff, Harrison believes differently. If anything, he says it will allow for a better and more personalised dining experience as waiters have more time to clear tables and interact with guests.

“Extraorder was built on the principle of simplifying business by providing a user-friendly app for customers, and a straightforward and simple back end system for the staff,” continued Harrison.

The friendly service and entertainment of guests which are the bricks and mortar of foodservice is here to stay but will be enhanced with the technology nearly all of us carry around these days.

However, to realise the technology’s benefits fully, a fundamental shift in thinking needs to happen. This means taking away some traditional elements in the business and replacing it with modern cloud technology. It might seem like a scary notion to some operators, but Harrison believes the benefits far outweigh the fears.

Despite the major upsides to the app, the challenge in encouraging restaurants to adopt the new technology is not lost on Harrison.

“One of the biggest obstacles we have to face is restaurants saying ‘it’s just another investment I have to make. We can’t afford the cost.’” However, Extraorder overcomes this by making the installation free of charge and having no term contracts.”

The founder explained that apart from the little time spent setting up the menu, there is no additional cost to implementing Extraorder. The app can also be integrated with existing POS systems as an augmentation to it.

Adam Carey, owner of the bustling Applejacks restaurant, will host the initial pilot of the app. “We’re excited to have Extraorder in Applejacks,” said Adam. “We’re expecting the app to help in providing quicker service and also free up the staff’s time so they have a chance to interact with guests.”

It truly is an exciting time for the Extraorder team. The app is expected to have its initial pilot at Pakuranga-based restaurant Applejack’s Steakhouse, which is soon to be followed by more undisclosed restaurants in New Zealand and Australia. They are also integrating with the Tevalis system to expand their international reach.