Here’s the typical restaurant scenario: After guests are seated, they wait for a server to show up with menus. They may take drink orders, but who knows when they’ll be back to ask about appetizers, or answer questions about the menu. Then there’s that inevitable awkward moment when you stare intently at your server, waiting to catch his eye so you can flag him down for a refill or get your check. We’ve all been there, it’s not fun.
Now imagine this one: Once seated, customers can immediately view the menu via their tableside ordering system. (Check out the Northstar Order Entry POS!) They can place an order as soon as they are ready, and order additional items whenever and as often as they’d like. The servers are available to answer questions and meet the customers’ needs as they dine. After the meal, they can pay and leave, again via their tabletop ordering system.
Which scenario would you prefer? We’re guessing the latter. And guess what: that’s the same one most of your guests prefer too.
Not sure whether to take the plunge and invest in a table ordering system for your restaurant? Or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to go for it and need some validation that you made the right move?
Your pals, The Restaurant Technology Guys, are here to provide valuable, useful information about how your restaurant can benefit from a table ordering system.
Speaking of useful info, check out our related post, Tips for Using Tabletop Tablets for Guest Ordering.
A table ordering system is a great way to let your customers know you are here for the long haul and want to be relevant to them. Set your restaurant apart with technology that makes the guest experience better, your job easier, and your business more lucrative!
A table ordering system means your guests have more control. (Who doesn’t want to be in control, right?) Review our restaurant scenarios 1 and 2 above.
Tableside ordering starts the guest off on a positive note. After being greeted with a friendly smiling face at the host/hostess station, then led to their seats, the guests can sit and chat for a while, or get down to business – up to them. Servers will come around to introduce specials and answer questions, but the rest is up to the customer.
The system can accommodate special requests and substitutions, and allow guests to flag ingredients for food allergy. (It can even offer tableside entertainment, such as games or music!)
When guests have finished their meals, they can pay and leave at their convenience – again, no waiting for the server to close them out.
NOTE: Ideally, these features free up servers to attend to the other needs of the customers as they dine. Tablets should not be a replacement for quality, experienced servers who can anticipate the needs of the customers. Rather, this technology is simply a perk to enhance efficiency and improve the customer experience, which leads us to #2.
The table ordering system described above improves 1) the accuracy of orders, as it eliminates server error when taking orders, and 2) the speed and efficiency of service, both of which contribute to a better customer experience.
People want more control over their dining experience. Tableside ordering gives guests that control. And guests in control are happy guests, resulting in improved customer loyalty AND more word-of-mouth/social media recommendations.
While adding new technology to a restaurant takes some getting used to, the learning curve with a table ordering system should be fairly easy. A good manager will put measures in place to ensure a smooth transition for both the wait staff and kitchen staff. And chances are, the customers are already familiar with iPads (or other handheld devices) and smartphones. As long as the ordering software is intuitive and simple, it will be easily navigated by the customer.
Not only will customers enjoy being in control of their ordering and paying experiences at your restaurant, which will increase repeat visits as well as word-of-mouth recommendations, but the increased speed and efficiency of service means higher table turnovers, enabling the restaurant to service more guests.
Restaurants with table ordering technology can also expect customers to spend about 5% more by ordering more items and saying yes to upsells, another way to increase revenue.
Moreover, with a digital ordering system, you will save printing costs for paper menus, reducing your carbon footprint. Also, you can easily make immediate menu updates and changes to all restaurant locations (or only selected locations – your choice).
Table ordering systems provide a wealth of information to your business about what your customers are ordering, when they are ordering it, how they like to pay for it, and more. Effortlessly grow your customer database and strategize new marketing techniques based on this priceless data using your table ordering technology.
You can also use this data to maximize your pricing strategy for better profitability and increased sales.
Finally, a table ordering system shows your customers you are here to stay. You’re current on trends in restaurant technology, you’re ready and willing to adapt to the evolving needs of your customer base, and you want to make their experience at your establishment as enjoyable as possible. You want customers for life!
Supermarket self-checkout stations, digital fast-pay devices, online ordering, and custom apps have adequately paved the way for tableside ordering systems. Most customers are already up to speed on all this digital, do-it-yourself stuff. Invest in a quality table ordering system, and it will be intuitive and user-friendly.