It’s never been more important for restaurants to embrace trends in new technology. Of course, there’s greater competition in today’s fast-paced, modern world and we all need to get our message across quickly and constantly strive to improve performance. That goes for small, local restaurants as well as big chain outlets. Great food can take you so far – adding in a little technology can push you much further.
The Benefits of Tech for Restaurants
People expect tech to inform and facilitate a lot of what they do today and that includes engaging with businesses such as restaurants.
The story in 2017 is not just about the quality of food you produce in your restaurant and the ambience you create, it’s also about how you deliver an enhanced experience. Almost 80% of diners believe that technology improves their experience and over half of regular restaurant customers take advantage of online ordering facilities when they find it available. Fortunately, it’s something that restaurants are embracing – according to webrestaurantstore.com, more than 50% are currently using technology to improve the experience.
So what are customers realistically expecting from your restaurant this year?
Reservations and Online Ordering
If your customer is looking for fast service, then the quicker you operate the better. Online ordering, where customers can view your menu via their mobiles and then make their selection, cuts a large swathe of time spent waiting to be served and explaining the order.
When asked to list technology that would help them, customers rated being able to make reservations online and free Wi-Fi as the most important. Mobile services that help keep track of the cost can also make a big difference, especially for those dining out on a budget.
The improved technology for ordering online also opens up delivery options and the potential to diversify to a carryout menu – something that can work for more traditional, sit down restaurants as well as fast food outlets.
As a species, we’ve really come to love our apps (the average user has 60-90 on their smartphone) and if we have a favourite restaurant we’ll undoubtedly want to download their app to keep us up to date. This means a customer can readily access information about your restaurant and even make a reservation on the spur of the moment. App development has come down dramatically in price in the last five years or so and it’s something that many restaurants are investing in.
For restaurants that already operate a takeaway menu, incorporating an app, free to download means that you are always presented as a choice as soon as any customer decides it’s time to get some food delivered. It can help encourage loyalty and improve that bottom line delivering a good return on investment for any initial app development.
Payment Methods including Bill Splitting
A greater range of payment methods also makes things easier for the customer. Many restaurants are upgrading their POS systems to include options such as Apple Pay and wireless card payments. Others are introducing technology that allows customers to monitor how much they are spending and the facility split any bill when in a large group.
Putting Tablets Tableside
Another innovation in recent times has been physically bringing the technology to the customer’s table. Diners sit down and pick up a tablet rather than a menu and order online rather than depend on the waiter or waitress.
You can add tablet extras to keep the kids busy including games. If you run a sports-themed restaurant, customers can use the tablet to decide which game they want to watch. The tablets can also link into your entire POS and CRM system and the kitchen to provide a seamless and efficient serving operation.
Better Data Capture
Okay, so it may not be at the top of your customer’s personal list but data capture and how you use it is becoming increasingly important for all sorts of businesses. While it has naturally arisen out of the growing Internet of Things, where every device seems to be interconnected, it also means that you should be able to integrate all that information better into your marketing, service and menu development in the future and deliver more of what your customers want.
Of course, much depends on the type of restaurant you run when you consider which technology to introduce. A Michelin style outfit will have much different needs compared to a fast food restaurant or takeaway. Nearly 80% of customers still try a restaurant after a recommendation from friends or family. And the majority of diners say the quality of food is still the most important thing, way ahead of the service quality.
Despite that, technology matters and it can set you apart from your competitors. When it comes to ordering and ease of payment, tech can open up a whole host of possibilities, not least the potential to expand into take away delivery as well as streamline service across the board.