We recently collaborated with our friends at Toast POS by trading blog writers for a day. Read on to see what they have to say about technology in the restaurant industry. When you're done, head over to their blog and check out Branchfood's contribution!
Technology is a beautiful thing - I doubt many would dispute that.
However, traditionalists and skeptics see some technology as unnecessary, a waste of money, and/or complicated. In the eyes of your customers, though, this is not the case. In fact, 79% of diners agree that technology improves their guest experience. As a restaurant owner, it’s your job to determine which technologies your business can forgo and which ones actually advance your business, streamline efficiency, and add dollars to your bottom line. Here are five restaurant technology solutions that have both restaurant owners and restaurant goers on the same page,making your life easier and helping your restaurant function in modern times.
1) A Modern POS System
A modern restaurant POS is the first step towards attaining that efficiency and depth of analysis that restaurants so desperately crave. Modern restaurant POS systems allow you to take orders and conduct transactions, sure, but there’s so much more to them than that.
The key lies in efficiency. With a POS system that is easy to use, you save time on each and every single transaction. Plus, when your staff can learn the system faster, less time, effort, and money is spent on training and getting people up to speed. And how could we forget to mention the in-depth data reports you can access in real time to help you better understand your sales and customer preferences?
One restaurant using a modern POS system is New York’s Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors. LaFrieda, who runs the business, actually went through two other POS systems before landing on Toast POS, which he claims made his restaurant run more smoothly. "For anyone opening a restaurant, Toast is the perfect POS system," he says. “Whatever the problem is, Toast has a solution for it and they've thought it through carefully. That's really what meant everything to us — that's what keeps a restaurant in business."
Modern POS systems range in price, technology, and functionality. If you’re in the market for a new restaurant point of sale, use the POS ROI Guide to find out how your restaurant technology will benefit your business in the long run.
2) Integrated Online Ordering
Most restaurant businesses can benefit from online ordering. After all, your customers want to be able to order what they want, wherever they are, on their smartphones in the subway, on their computers at work, and on their tablets in their dorm rooms. What they do not want is to wait on hold, repeat themselves over and over again because of bad reception, or not mention that extra modifier because they feel like they’re taking too much time to ask for no lettuce, extra pickles, and the meat well done.
This is where online ordering comes in.
The only problem is that most online ordering vendors will charge you a per-order commission on every order that comes through their site, making it difficult to reap a profit from these orders.
Alternatively, an integrated online food ordering system allows you to keep all the profit on orders and pay a flat fee instead of a per-order charge. It also allows for a customizable design, which means customers can “buy with their eyes.” One group of restaurants using integrated online ordering saw a 23% higher average ticket size compared to their in-store orders.
One of those restaurants was Zuuk’s Kitchen in Florida. Co-Founder & Executive Chef Daniel Ganem said of his online ordering program:
“Customers who order through our website receive faster service than those who order through a third-party site because it’s connected directly to our kitchen. It takes 4 or 5 minutes longer per ticket if the order comes in through an external vendor.”
More money? More profit? More efficiency? Seems like a no-brainer, right? Online ordering is only growing in popularity and will continue to do so as more restaurants offer it.
3) Tableside Payment
One of the ideas we keep coming back to in this post is efficiency. Think of how much time your servers would save if they could take card payment right at the table instead of bringing the check, waiting for payment method to be decided, coming back, heading to the terminal, running the card(s), and bringing back the receipt.
Restaurants using tableside payment and handheld server tablets are certainly seeing the ROI from it. In fact, restaurants report turning tables 15% faster with these tablets, which sends customers out satisfied and brings more customers into your establishment. By serving more tables in each shift, servers tend to see higher tip amounts thanks to these tablets as well.
Tablets can also be used in a QSR setting. When your line builds up during lunch rush, you can send employees through the line to “line bust” and work down the line to minimize wait times. Boston’s Flour Bakery uses these tablets in this way and has shaved minutes off of their wait times.
Why make your customers wait in line?
Just like tableside ordering and payments are changing the game in the full service industry, self-order kiosks are revolutionizing the way QSRs operate. Some restaurants, like the multi-location businesses Protein Bar and Panera Bread, have installed self-order kiosks where customers can bypass the line and order faster.
Similar to online ordering, this process cuts out the middleman, frees up your staff, and helps to improve order accuracy. Also similar to online ordering is the increased check sizes restaurants using kiosks see. Without the pressure to wrap up their order while a long line waits behind them, your guests can take their time and order what they want.
Kiosks also allow you to incorporate visuals of your menu, which is another great opportunity to upsell, since customers can be specific with their orders.
Jon Arbitman, Sr. Technology Services at Protein Bar, speaks highly on the impact of restaurant kiosks. “Kiosks offer an avenue for customers to forge their own journey – seeing the items as they’re browsing the menu on the kiosk and selecting exactly what they want,” Arbitman says. “Our mission is to change the way people eat on the go and the kiosks support that goal, making the process even faster for our customers who want to get in and out quickly.”
5) Customer Loyalty Program
Want to keep your customers coming back again, and again, and again? Great food and service is a smart way to do that, but sometimes customers could use a little extra push.
Restaurants that offer a reward program tend to see enormously positive results, such as customers increasing their spending amount by 39% when they come close to unlocking their next reward and increasing the frequency of visits to that restaurant.
This is why customer loyalty programs continue to gain popularity. Not only do they help restaurants earn loyal customers, they also paint a positive picture of your restaurant in their eyes.
If your loyalty program ties into your modern restaurant POS, you can manage your entire customer database from your restaurant CRM, making it easy to understand individuals’ needs and preferences in your restaurant. One restaurant, Moonie’s Burger House, has seen 3,000 loyalty accounts open with their integrated loyalty program.
When restaurant profits thin, improving your total revenue is a surefire way of staying in business. While restaurant technology is an investment, the return on investment for this technology is what will lead to your increased revenue. To start, make sure you choose the right modern restaurant POS.
Once you have that secured, start integrating new technologies that will empower your customers based on your concepts, like tablets or kiosks. Finally, make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for your one-time guests to evolve into repeat customers with a loyalty program and the functionality of online ordering.
AJ Beltis is a Content Marketer for Toast POS specializing in blog writing and online content creation. You can follow AJ on Twitter @AJBeltis and demo the Toast platform here!