Many consumers are looking for cutting edge technology everywhere they go, and restaurants are no different. When you’re just starting up a restaurant, having the right technology installed can make the difference between success and failure. Both the technology you use to connect with patrons and the technology you use to keep your restaurant running smoothly on the back end are important to focus on as you plan. Food Service Warehouse suggests the following tips for how new restaurant owners can get a handle on technology and use new and exciting tools for their benefit.
- Use a paging system to give customers freedom to stand outside or wander as they wait for a table. On busy evenings, the last thing you want is a crowded lobby of customers waiting for the hostess to call their names. Instead, use a paging system so each customer gets a digital pager that will light up and vibrate when you have a table ready. Or for even more convenience, a cell phone paging system can call customers’ cell phones when a table is ready.
- Install an integrated computer system that allows servers to input orders through a touch screen and have them digitally transmitted to a screen in the kitchen. This helps reduce mistakes in transferring orders and helps the kitchen staff maintain efficiency. To reduce mistakes even further, equip servers with handheld devices so they can input orders right from the table.
- Process credit card payments efficiently using a credit card system that’s equipped to take all types of major credit cards and easily add tips onto the receipts after the customer leaves. If you want to expedite the process further and put customers at ease, get wireless handheld credit card terminals for the servers so they can swipe the card right at the table.
- Use automated systems to maintain the ambiance in your restaurant and save energy. Put your thermostat and lights on a timer so they automatically adjust to the temperatures and light levels you want throughout the day and night. Rather than manually changing the music that is on in the background, set it up so you have an ongoing playlist through a computer or satellite radio station.
- Connect with customers over social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Whereas having good customer service in the store and over the phone used to be enough, customers these days expect to be able to get in touch with you online as well. Set up business accounts on social media websites and post special deals to reward the customers who follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. In addition, answer customer questions and respond to comments or complaints. You can also encourage your patrons to offer an honest review of their experience and entrée on sites like Yelp.com by offering a discount or special for their next visit. If you know the customers will review your establishment when they leave, you’re more inspired to provide excellent service every time!
Although technology is a significant investment, restaurateurs will find that it pays off in the long run. And remember, once you equip your restaurant with technology, you need to continue following trends so you can change your strategy and install new equipment as it becomes available.
Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter:@hfitzy34