This post is sponsored by Upserve.
Restaurant technology is rapidly evolving to offer new and better solutions that can help operators do everything from process online orders to improve the customer experience by tracking guests’ preferences.
Adopting new technology has myriad benefits, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. We interviewed Chad Troutman, Senior Director of Revenue Marketing for Upserve, about how operators can decide what tech solutions are right for their restaurants and how to make the transition simple for both staff and customers.
For more insights from Troutman, sign up for the webinar, “Purchasing Restaurant Technology That Works For You,” presented by Upserve on Thursday, March 16 at 2 p.m. EST.
Tech is reinventing the restaurant industry, and changing with the times can be daunting. What should the first step be for restaurant operators looking to make the switch from manual and offline systems?
First and foremost restaurateurs will want to assess the systems that they currently have in place. Whether it is taking orders with pen and paper or using a legacy point of sale system, they’ll want to figure out what is working, where they could be more efficient and what they are willing to change. Take it one step at a time. For instance, start with the front-of-house operation — when a guest comes in, what is the process for seating them? What parts of the process involve technology versus those that are manual (i.e., a reservation system vs. a logbook)? From there, assess whether or not this process is efficient. Are there any common issues here? Would the guest experience improve if these are resolved? Taking this process piece by piece will ensure that assessments are thorough so you have accurate information going forward.
What are some common problems that restaurant operators can solve with technology?
With the restaurant technology landscape as it is today, there are solutions to improve many aspects of your daily operations. Can your restaurant only accept orders over the phone? Try GrubHub, an online ordering system. Are you finding that you aren’t full on a Friday night? Let your guests make their own reservations with OpenTable. Is scheduling your staff always a headache? Use HotSchedules so you know how many people you need on any given day. Discovering what solutions are out there will help tremendously in this process. CB Insights created a list and infographic of 99 restaurant tech startups that is a great resource.
Installing new systems is just part of the process. How can operators train staff to use new tech and integrate it into daily operations without slowing down?
Training takes time, so the more intuitive the system, the better. We live in a day and age where most people can tap their way around an app. Picking a cloud-based system that is easy for staff members to learn will keep the operation moving. While implementing a new process it is important to constantly reinforce new practices to create good habits, and stay up-to-speed with any pain points staff members may come across. Operators will also want to make sure that the training process is scalable. For example, rather than having new hires on the POS that gets hit the most, designating a training stand where newbies can learn the system will keep waitstaff out of the weeds. All in all, using intuitive technology and staying on top of training will help any restaurant make a smooth transition.
How should restaurants include customers in the transition process and introduce them to new features like tabletop tablets or digital loyalty programs?
As anyone in the restaurant industry will tell you, customer service is the key to a successful operation. Creating a dining experience that meets the needs of each guest will go a long way when it comes to gaining a loyal following. Have waitstaff notify customers about the technology that is used in your restaurant and why it is in place. That way guests can choose whether they’d like to take advantage of the new tools or keep it classic.
What does the future hold for restaurant technology?
The technology market within the restaurant industry is extremely fragmented. There are hundreds of point solutions that solve individual problems. Using a service that allows these systems to integrate with one another is the next step in tech. What is the point of using an online ordering system if your servers still have to take the time to enter the order into your POS? Simplifying point solutions onto one platform will give restaurant owners and operators time back in their day to do what they love and ensure a smooth operation.
Chad Troutman is the Senior Director of Revenue Marketing for Upserve, with a specialty around small- to mid-sized-restaurant-group marketing and demand generation.
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