Restaurant Tech: A Must in Today’s World
Although you may have started your restaurant business in the days of paper menus, paper flyers, and newspaper ads, times have changed. Technology in the restaurant industry is rapidly becoming the new normal, and you could be missing out on many benefits if tech tools aren’t yet on your restaurant’s menu. According to Toast, 79 percent of restaurant-goers say that “restaurant technology improves their experience.” In addition, restaurant operators say using technology – for back-office purposes and for relating to the public – improves productivity, increases sales, and provides a competitive edge.
What is Restaurant Technology?
In today’s digital world, restaurants cannot afford to keep their service, accounting systems, and customer interface back in the last century. Back-office operations – the part of the business that customers generally don’t see, such as bookkeeping, staffing, and food-ordering – has left the pen and paper behind, allowing technology to take over. Streamlining operations through automation and by electronically connecting all facets of the back office has saved restaurants untold amounts of money, despite the initial investment.
Similarly, restaurants can no longer depend on word of mouth and print media to reach their target audience and bring in business. In the age of smartphones and tablets, any restaurant that doesn’t take advantage of the latest technology to interface with customers, is simply losing business with every day that passes.
Back-Office Restaurant Technology
Back-office inventory software alone can reduce costs and deliver more accurate menu pricing and ordering efficiency that isn’t possible with manual systems. For example, more than 81% percent of restaurants use a point-of-service (POS) system, according to a recent study by the National Restaurant Association. More than half of those systems feature card processing, labor management, inventory management, and accounting tools.
An advanced inventory and costing system that minimizes human effort, while integrating with purchase and general ledgers, can help save money by making it possible to monitor itemized purchases and consumption. Regardless of your back-office needs, you can find a system that is almost tailor-made to your business, which will help you manage and run your restaurant more easily and efficiently.
Customer-Interface Restaurant Technology
Technology is changing the way we eat out, from mobile phones, online access, and all-important Facebook pages. If you find yourself fighting back low-level panic just thinking about the various e-options out there, fear not. It’s not hard to grasp these trends to improve your business and to build better relationships with your customers.
For restaurants, showing up at the top of the list in a Google search and featuring prominently on review sites are two important ways to gain new business. Take, for example, business or leisure travelers who find themselves hungry and in an unfamiliar locale. Today, it is simple to go to a site like Tripadvisor, look for the top restaurants, read the ratings, and check out the prices. If the potential customers have time, they may then surf their way to a restaurant’s website to check out the menu, the ambiance, and possibly jump to Open Table to check availability and make a reservation.
Create a Mobile Friendly Website
All these actions – unheard of just a few years ago – are done with great regularity, using a smartphone, which reinforces the importance of having an excellent website that is easily accessible on all mobile devices. Your restaurant’s website is your best chance of directly addressing customers and giving them an idea of what they will experience when they come. Make sure you have a website that is optimized for mobile use, check that you are in Google Location, and ensure that the basics, like your address and phone number, are easily accessible.
Mobile Apps: A Trend to Contend With
People love apps, and your loyal customers are likely to download your restaurant’s app should you have one. Through this application, you can arrange to give your customers awards for ordering through the app, and they can also make reservations and avoid lines. If you have take-out and delivery options, an app can have a significant impact on your total take-out volume while boosting the effectiveness of your loyalty programs.
Creating your restaurant’s app is not as complicated as it sounds. Using online tools like AppInstitute or AppMakr will help get you up and running in no time.
Online Ordering: A Must in Today’s Restaurant Industry
To stay current, many restaurants have made the move to online and digital ordering systems. In an article entitled, “Restaurants Face Digital Dilemma,” Fortune magazine reports that, “the percentage of orders booked online or using a smartphone or tablet app—now 6.6% of the total—exceeded the quantity placed verbally over the telephone (5%).” Additional research indicates that customers who have placed an order online visit the restaurant 67% more frequently than customers who haven’t. OpenDining says that online orders are 22% larger than comparable call-in orders, while a survey shows that digital restaurant ordering is growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic, and that very soon, more delivery orders will be placed online than over the phone.
Put simply, online ordering offers customers the opportunity to skip lines, access delivery options, and peruse menus at their leisure. Online ordering makes restaurants more efficient: there are fewer wrong orders and no frustrating phone calls. In addition, having an online ordering system could tip the scale in your favor, especially if your competition doesn’t have one yet. The best approach is to connect your online orders to your POS system, streamlining the service so that orders can appear in your system as if keyed in by the wait staff.
Restaurant Technology: Embrace It
Use of online technology in the process of eating out has been steadily on the rise, and the stats indicate that it will continue to increase. Customers want to use mobile phones and online media to locate and research restaurants, make reservations, order their meals, pay for those meals, and earn rewards. Keeping up with these technology trends may be daunting at first, especially if you’re not as tech savvy as you’d like to be; however, even the most tech-challenged restaurant owner will quickly see that “going tech” will help reap big rewards with increased traffic, larger order sizes, and greater customer satisfaction.