Technological advances are happening fast and furious these days, permeating every market and industry imaginable. The food service industry is certainly no exception. Restaurants like BJ’s, Chili’s, Applebee’s, and Taco Bell have hopped aboard the technology train – and they are seeing the fruits of their efforts, too.
In our previous post, we mentioned BJ’s Restaurants’ use of an app which allows guests to reserve tables, order food, and pay their bill via their smartphone. Restaurants like Applebee’s, Chili’s, Stacked, and B-Dubs (Buffalo Wild Wings) are employing the use of tabletop tablets for what we call guest-facing ordering.
A recent article in Nation’s Restaurant News highlighted the use of tabletop tablets for guest ordering as a means of not only staying current with technological advances, but to keep their heads above water as labor costs, minimum wage, and health care costs rise. Guest-facing ordering allows servers to take on more tables, reducing the need for as large a waitstaff. It also results in higher customer satisfaction (and incidentally, better tips!).
It can be hard to keep up with all this technology, and to know what’s worth investing in for your restaurant. Restaurant Technology Guys to the rescue! We’re here to keep you in the know and provide our expert opinions on how to get the most out of technology, to improve customer satisfaction and employee retention, decrease costs, and increase profits so you can stick around for the long haul.
Here are some tips for using tabletop tablets for guest ordering:
Technology can be incredibly simple and user-friendly, or it can be overwhelming and counter-productive. You may have a ton of great ideas such as music, picture-taking, and more – but keep in mind your purpose here is to improve the customer experience, not frustrate or confuse them. So ease your way into this technology by starting small.
Prioritize your ideas, keep the user interface simple, and start with the basics. Once your customers start to get the hang of it, you can gradually introduce more features into your tabletop tablets.
You know what happens when you assume…
As a restaurateur, you have your finger on the pulse of the restaurant industry. You can see what’s happening at BJ’s, Chili’s, and B-Dubs – and all the success they are enjoying – but that doesn’t mean the customers know what’s up. They may not inherently know that the device on their table is for ordering appetizers or drinks, or playing games or whatever.
Spend some time training your servers on how to introduce this technology to customers and explain to them what it is, why it’s there, and how to use it.
The grand vision of every restaurant owner is to decrease costs substantially. In the excitement of adding guest-facing ordering to your restaurant, resist the temptation to heavily reduce your waitstaff. Let customers become accustomed to the new ordering interface and identify how many die-hards will refuse to use the technology altogether. Then you can decide how best to proceed. Ideally you will reduce your waitstaff, but until the drones take over, you’ll always have a need for human servers.
You’ve introduced guest-facing ordering to your customers. Now’s the time to get creative. Consider other locations that might provide a fun experience to customers. Try the bar, lobby, exit (for the “should’ve-gotten-a-dessert” remorse), or whatever you think would work best for your restaurant. Test out some spots and have fun with it!