Without the right technology in place, it is hard to believe how restaurants could survive these days. When referring to technology, I am specifically talking about the hardware and software that are required for the day to day operations of restaurants. To get an idea of it’s usage and importance, let’s dive deep into some of these case examples.
The humble Point of Sale (POS) is an absolute necessity for all restaurants since they are used to collect payments from customers. The POS system is connected via the restaurant merchant account and on a daily basis, in the background, it processes all the orders and hence payments entered into the system. Monies are deposited to your business bank account usually the next day. Unfortunately, weekends are when the batch processing does not take place until the following business day on Monday. It’s kind of ironic that most businesses usually do their biggest business during these times and banks hold onto your money for a period of 2-3 days.
The POS serves more than just collecting money, it takes the orders and when staff enters orders for the customers, a printout can go into the wireless printer hooked up to the kitchen. In addition, there are other customizations one can do, depending on the restaurant, such as orders taken in dine-in, pickup or delivery.
Most restaurants are fitted with these cameras and connects via mobile app to your cell phone. You can check the live streaming on your phone, be it on the other side of the world. Some restaurants use it to monitor the POS cash register to make sure there is no slight of hand by the staff when handling cash. The cameras also offers security by capturing video that can be saved. The video can be stored off-site such as in the cloud and with storage requirements of up to 1 month or more. They can be useful for all kinds of purposes such as any incidents that take place in the restaurant that requires video footage as evidence etc.
With the advent of the larger screen mobile phones, there are a plethora of devices that stream video, pictures from the phone to large screen TVs. Google chromecast is one such device that you can use to ‘beam’ your youtube or pictures to the big screen. This can be taken advantage of by restaurants where a laptop or PC can be centrally placed to broadcast to the TVs inside the restaurant. No additional wiring is required and some TVs such as the Vizio TVs now come with the Chromecast device already built-in.
Without doubt the online ordering can be a life-line for some restaurants. It could be the reason for the success of such third party companies such as GrubHub. Eat24 by Yelp has their own food ordering system that restaurateurs can take advantage of and get food delivered to their loyal customers. The system works by providing restaurants with the ability to login, upload their menu and operating hours and other information. Customers can place an order for food delivery or pickup by going to the website and selecting the items into a cart in the same way as other online shopping. The system then shoots out an phone, email, sms, fax or any other ways to notify the restaurant of an incoming online order. The advantage of this to the restaurant is that all the processing is taken care of by the third-party and the restaurant just to needs to fulfil the order according to the customer’s order for delivery or pickup. The system can be extended to offer reservations for dine-in or place large orders such as catering. Again, the money is usually held by the third-party online provider and deposited to your bank account. Although this time, the money is deposited via a checking account and not like the merchant account as in the POS transactions.
A new breed of loyalty programs have been designed by third-party companies that enable your loyal customers to have offers sent via sms, email etc. Although, it would seem that email blasts are now falling in the wayward direction and SMS stands to gain much ground. Some of these applications allow customers telephone numbers to be entered into the system and a scheduled program will send an sms blast to your customers according to your own message. These may include special offers or a loyalty reward campaign that restaurants use for returning customers. Sometimes a tablet is placed next to the POS for customers to enter into this reward program.
Restaurants have come a long way in their usage of technology. Many now are dependent on the facebook (fb) business advertising vehicle that immediately matches your ad to highly localized set of customers to the place of business. Google maps has introduced the rating systems for places and is proving to be popular with customers. Ratings seems to be a challenge for many of these providers since many customers rely on this to make their choices. Amazon is the king of ratings where it’s ratings have proven to be the most accurate and customers routinely check the ratings of products on their website before buying, even from other retail or online sites. Yelp has some process in place where they can prevent some users from voting ie. persons of the business establishment, but this can be shown to be unreliable at times.
The future looks promising for restaurant business when it comes to technology. Online marketing is a must for any businesses to keep up with the neighbors and their competition. At the end of the day, it’s trying to attract as many customers as possible to your place of establishment. Technology is key to this and most customers now do pretty much everything on their phone.