In today’s digital age, technology is taking over the restaurant industry, which means an improved dining experience for guests. Table-top ordering systems, in particular, can draw in customers while also streamlining kitchen operations and increasing server incomes.
For example, over the last five years, more than 2,000 Applebee’s restaurants have switched to table-top ordering. Today, a solid third of this chain’s transactions are now conducted via a tablet. For businesses in the highly competitive restaurant industry, capturing these sales can be the difference between surviving and thriving.
On the other hand, if this table-top ordering technology is poorly implemented or managed, it can leave your customers feeling ignored. Here are a few tips on how to add value to your customers without cannibalizing customer service.
Identify How Table-Top Ordering Can Benefit Your Restaurant
Restaurants can realize a number of different advantages by moving to table-top ordering, but not all of this technology’s features will benefit all restaurants equally. Before searching for restaurant technology that can easily incorporate table-top ordering, like NorthStar’s cloud-based restaurant POS system, it’s important to identify how these tableside tablets will specifically benefit your restaurant.
Just a few of the features offered by table-top ordering include:
- Faster service by allowing diners to order or pay for food without waiting on a busy server;
- Quicker table turnover and higher service numbers;
- Greater order accuracy rates, as orders are transmitted directly from the guest to the kitchen;
- Increased tips for servers who are now able to handle more tables at once;
- An increase in the average amount of patron checks; and
- The ability to gather a wide range of data on restaurant guests and their preferences.
By focusing on just a few of these potential benefits and tailoring your restaurant POS system toward them, you can better set yourself up for long-term success. For example, if your restaurant currently struggles with order accuracy rates and long customer wait times, a table-top ordering system may allow you to identify where these delays and errors are coming from and make staffing changes accordingly.
Plan for Implementation
If you already have a restaurant POS system, incorporating online and table-top ordering options should be a simple process. NorthStar’s restaurant POS system allows customers to input orders among five different modes — including web, guest, and central kiosk — which can make this transition a breeze.
But the shift to table-top ordering shouldn’t happen overnight. Many patrons may not be immediately comfortable ordering from a tablet, and servers and kitchen staff may have questions as well. Most of the national chains that have moved toward table-top ordering have done so gradually, first offering these tablets as a feature at just a few tables, then expanding them to the entire restaurant. These restaurants continue to equip their servers with handheld tablets for customers who don’t want (or are unable) to input their own orders.
Don’t Forget About Protecting Data
Some diners may be understandably reluctant to use a table-top ordering kiosk to swipe their credit or debit card; after all, it seems that each week brings with it a new report of a massive data breach that impacts millions. To make table-top ordering a success, restaurant owners must be able to reassure customers that they are protected. Fortunately, NorthStar’s POS system offers state-of-the-art encryption and data security, providing your guests with peace of mind that their financial and personal information is safe in your hands.