Technology has become a prevalent aspect of burgeoning restaurants and small businesses. Increased efficiency, convenience and ease of use are considerable factors when improving your restaurant’s technology infrastructure, not only for your staff, but for potential and existing customers as well.
Below are a few simple do’s, don’ts and maybes for restaurateurs and small business owners when it comes to technology solutions.
Use an Easy Point-of-Sale (POS) Device
iPads have become the most popular devices for cloud-based POS systems, such as QuickBooks Point of Sale. The handheld tablets make table-side ordering easy and can provide more accuracy when sending orders to the kitchen. Also, the user-friendly interface is especially convenient when training staff members.
Buy Fast Internet
Most point-of-sale systems require wireless internet. It is fundamental to the business aspect of most restaurants. For example, having strong Wi-Fi allows you to process payments quickly, transmit orders from handheld tablets to the kitchen and track inventory in real time as you sell your menu items.
Choose high-speed internet to handle the necessary bandwidth and provide the appropriate speed to keep POS systems operating smoothly.
Incorporate Mobile Ordering Capabilities
Integrate online and mobile ordering into your business. According to a National Restaurant Association survey, 79% of consumers find ease and convenience in online and mobile ordering. Online and mobile ordering can also improve efficiency and improve your ROI by attracting more consumers led by convenience.
On-the-go, people are attached to their smartphones. So develop a website that is mobile-friendly and integrates interactive features such as online ordering and coupons.
Post and Converse on Social Media
Naturally integrate social media, which keeps customers even further engaged and allows you to interact with them directly. Nine out of 10 restaurateurs acknowledge the importance of social media and its influence when it comes to restaurant marketing. On top of that, a third of users are reported to make their dining decisions based on social media, such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Use these social media platforms to your advantage, and engage with your audience to draw in potential guests.
To learn more about how to make social media work for your restaurant, click here.
Take Online Reviews Seriously
Online review sites like Yelp have become increasingly popular for customers. Research by DMR reported that this popular review site receives 75 million unique monthly desktop visitors and 66 million monthly unique mobile visitors. Ninety percent of Yelp users make decisions based on positive Yelp reviews. Yelp users also take the time to read reviews, which influences 44% of their informed decisions. An additional 26% are keen to business ratings, followed by 17% that consider the quantity of reviews important.
Encourage your customers to write favorable reviews if they enjoyed their dining experience. Negative reviews are bound to happen. However, this creates an opportunity to receive feedback in real time and appease the unsatisfied customer.
Pair Slow Internet With Tableside Ordering
While tableside ordering from the convenience of an iPad has the potential to eliminate errors and expedite the speed of service by sending orders directly to the kitchen, there are some caveats worth considering. Technical maintenance issues or slow internet speed can affect tableside ordering, processing tickets and taking payment. Consider a POS system that can take payments even when the internet is down.
Skimp on Staff Training
If you decide to implement a new POS system, ensure your staff is thoroughly trained and well-versed in how to use the software beforehand. The interface should be easy to navigate and allow open API integration to customize the overall experience for your entire staff, including the kitchen.
Click here for tips on improving your employee training methods.
Schedule Big Changes During Peak Season
For new restaurant owners or those opening another location, factor the cost of technology and POS into your initial capital. This will help you avoid unexpected costs down the road that often disrupt budgeting. If you are a current restaurant owner and wish to upgrade your POS, be cautious of when you decide to implement your tech upgrades. Take advantage of summer slowdowns to implement the new POS, and ensure your entire staff is thoroughly trained before busier months, such as the holidays.
Handle Negative Reviews Poorly
Don’t be tempted to backlash at customers on review sites when they post a negative review as a result of a poor experience. Engage with your customers, whether they were left satisfied or displeased. The way you handle online interactions can affect the image of yourself and your restaurant.
Consider negative reviews as an opportunity for growth. You have the potential to convert an angry customer into a loyal customer with the right response.
Consider Group-Buying-Site Coupons Carefully
Special offers through group-buying sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, have the potential to convert customers if marketed properly. They can also be a great tool for attracting new guests.
However, these sites are also risky for ROI when it comes to converting customers to pay full price for future visits. Independently owned restaurants that are booming business-wise rarely seek group-buying sites.
Think Strategically About Implementing Tech
Only choose to upgrade your restaurant’s technology if it makes the most sense for your business. While most systems have room for improvement, a poorly implemented system can be more devastating than beneficial. Carefully choose how and when you decide to upgrade, and do your research to discover the technology solutions best suited to your business.
Incorporating new tech into your business can be tricky. Use this as a guide for a booming, busy business. For more info on tech solutions for restaurants, see our guide to selecting a POS system.