The coronavirus has severely affected restaurant operations and profitability, but point-of-sale software company Lavu Inc. has concocted new digital dishes to maintain food and cash flow.
Lavu, which launched in Albuquerque in 2010, offers subscription-based software systems that allow restaurants to manage internal operations online with mobile devices like iPads and smartphones. The software makes it easy to take everything from taking customer orders using instant communications with kitchen staff to automatically recording and processing payments on a tablet cash register.
But at the worst of the pandemic, when restaurants in New Mexico and elsewhere closed their dining rooms, Lavu began strongly promoting an online restaurant delivery software system to quickly establish a digital doorstep service. door-to-door for customers. Thanks to MenuDrive – a Pennsylvania-based company Lavu acquired in 2019 – Lavu has now installed the system in 3,500 restaurants.
âMenuDrive provided a lifeline for restaurants that lacked take-out and online delivery,â Lavu CEO Saleem Khatri told the Journal.
Most of the dining rooms have since reopened. But with the pandemic continuing to eat into profits, Lavu has also built a new, patent-pending software system to allow restaurants to share credit card transaction fees with customers. Normally, restaurants unilaterally pay a 3% royalty to financial companies. But a change in federal law in 2019 allows retailers to pass credit card fees on to consumers.
âIt’s a small fee for an individual customer, but for restaurateurs, credit card transactions are often added to their second or third largest expense,â Khatri said.
Lavu deployed this system in August.
And more recently, Lavu has built a new software system for gift cards, which often adds value for restaurants, as consumers tend to spend more than the cash amount on a card when they go back to eat, said. Lavu vice president of marketing Brandon Micko.
âWe are providing this software for free to restaurants,â said Micko. âIt’s good value for money for them and it allows us to recognize customer loyalty.
Lavu’s growing suite of digital services has helped boost its bottom line, Khatri said.
During last year’s coronavirus-induced recession, Lavu downsized in Albuquerque from 75 before the pandemic to 27 in January 2021. It also went from a 17,000-square-foot suite downtown to a 3,000 square foot office in Uptown.
But now Lavu is hiring again, bringing its global employee count in the US and elsewhere to 130 today. Khatri, however, wouldn’t say how many people she currently employs in Albuquerque.
âWe are not disclosing the exact number here, but it is increasing,â Khatri said. ââ¦ I am proud to say that Lavu as an organization has been profitable throughout the year. We had positive cash flow throughout 2021. â
In fact, Lavu has launched a new marketing campaign in Mexico.
âWe are growing rapidly there,â Khatri said. “Mexico is about 10 years behind the United States in terms of foodservice technology needs, so we see a lot of opportunity.”