Restaurants are notoriously slow to adapt to new technology. It’s an industry full of “we’ve always done it this way” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I get it. Generally speaking, the latest technological innovations haven’t really affected how a restaurant makes great food or how they provide great customer service.
Then came the pandemic. Suddenly all these traditionally-minded restaurateurs were forced to add online ordering, QR menus, and contactless Order & Pay options to stay afloat. For many these tech adoptions were viewed as Band-aids to weather the extreme circumstances and certainly not meant to stick around long term.
Why are restaurants resistant to new technology?
Independent restaurant owners are passionate people. They love food, they love their communities, and they love their restaurant. What they don’t love is spending countless hours updating tricky online menus, coordinating between online ordering platforms, and losing personal interactions with their customers.
But our world is evolving and that includes the restaurant industry. The most profitable restaurants understand that adapting new tech opens the door to more efficient businesses, additional revenue streams, and more customers. Read on for 6 insights into how successful restaurants use technology to boost their businesses.
6 insights from profitable restaurants
There’s more than one way to provide excellent service
In the hospitality industry, we think of good service as human interaction. But the real marker of good service is how the guest feels after leaving your restaurant and their perception of your restaurant. They may not remember exactly what they ate or the name of the server or the menu design – all of which is important – but guests will remember how they felt. If they felt comfortable and taken care of and had an enjoyable experience, then you’re winning.
Where we’ve seen restaurants fall flat is when they force one way of doing things on their customers. Some customers will want a physical menu or be able to call in a take-out order but others are way more comfortable using a QR menu and ordering online. At the end of the day, that’s what matters – making customers comfortable and happy.
Restaurant guest demographics are changing
A new generation is taking over as the most frequent visitor of restaurants and this generation relies on technology to power their lives. The National Restaurant Association states that 37% of frequent quick service restaurant users are in the 18-34 age demographic. Millennials and Gen Z grew up with the internet, with cell phones, with computers that they use every single day. Sending themselves a digital receipt, ordering nearly everything online, and receiving texts and email confirmations are totally normal parts of their lives.
This same technological expectation doesn’t stop the moment people get hungry and want to get take-out or eat at a restaurant.
The younger generations are totally comfortable ordering online, paying at a kiosk, and using a QR menu. In fact, many of them (especially Gen Z) are MORE comfortable using these technologies than having to interact face-to-face with your staff. You might not like it but if that’s how a growing segment of your guests wants to buy your food, then it’s smart to cater to their wants.
Restaurants are more than a menu
Most people start a restaurant because they love food, they love to cook, and they want to serve their community. These are emotional reasons and totally valid but the more successful restaurant owners know that this is a small piece of the puzzle. There are dozens of other aspects that go into running a successful food truck or restaurant, such as staffing and hiring, managing workflow, permits and licenses, taxes and accounting, and integrating a point of sale system to run the whole operation.
The good news is that a point of sale with menu management built in, like we offer at Table Needs, helps you tend to your menu, make updates, try out new dishes and track their popularity, all while running the business-side of your restaurant.
Finding the right POS saves money
Speaking of point of sale systems, most restaurants don’t love their POS but they think if it works well enough to get by then it’s better than starting over. The problem is that settling for a sub-par POS is losing them money, big money. If you’re stitching together a bunch of tools, it’s wasting your time and probably costing you an arm and a leg. If you’re just using a simple card reader, you’re missing out on additional revenue streams.
Finding a point of sale system that’s built for your specific type of restaurant makes a huge difference in terms of ease and revenue. For example, at Table Needs we built our POS for independent quick service restaurants and food trucks. These are restaurants that have outgrown a simple card reader but don’t need or can’t afford a behemoth system built for full-service franchises. Table Needs offers that middle ground that can help you now and well into the future as your business grows and evolves.
Online ordering is a serious money maker
Successful quick service restaurants thrive when they treat online ordering as a serious revenue stream. If your current menu doesn’t lend itself well for take-out, offer a special subset or create a specialty take-out menu. If the tech is a big hurdle, know that services like Table Needs Online Ordering is totally commission free and we handle all the setup. Your customers are getting tired of paying astronomical fees on third-party apps and will seriously welcome ordering directly from you.
Food trucks also hugely benefit from offering online ordering. Make an announcement on social media so that your followers can order online and then pick-up wherever you are that day. This works great at food truck festivals or events where there are going to be crowds and long lines. Let your customers know that they can avoid the line entirely by ordering online and then swing by your truck when their order is ready or at an appointed time.
Establish an online presence
Something like 90% of people look up a restaurant online before they decide to go there. And they do a lot of research. That’s why things like Yelp remain popular. People make buying decisions before they even walk into your restaurant or up to your food truck window. And so if you don’t have your menu posted online with images of your food, you’re potentially losing sales. That window shopping through our devices is essential in today’s world and why the Big Chains spend so much energy on their online presence.
Your online presence also extends to social media. You don’t need to be the next big influence but having a consistent social media presence on places like Facebook and Instagram can be the difference between an okay business and a great business. Consumers want social proof and if they see that you’re active, sharing specials, posting behind-the-scenes, or whatever comes naturally, you’re creating a better bond with your guests and potential guests.
Lastly, SMS is growing rapidly and more consumers are comfortable getting text notifications and being marketed to on their phones when it’s relevant. Fortunately for restaurants, everybody eats and people don’t mind being marketed to if it’s something that they want to consume. So when you sign up for SMS and then get a message that says Half priced burgers today! most people are happy about that.
Don’t get left behind!
As more restaurants invest in technology we’re going to see that the rising tide lifts all ships. Restaurants will be more quick to adapt once they see the huge benefits that their competitors or the shop down the street are getting from upgrading their tech and expanding their service options to their customers. For some it will feel better to start slow, maybe upgrading their POS or investing in a digital menu management system before tackling Online Ordering or starting a big online marketing campaign.
If your quick service restaurant or food truck is ready to explore options built just for your type of restaurant, Table Needs is here to help. Connect with one of our team members today for a demo or just to ask questions.
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