By Jeff Zabin, Managing Editor
Improving the quality of food, service, and atmosphere have always been — and no doubt will always be — primary drivers of restaurant success. Today, an equally important success factor is the quality of the “restaurant-going experience.”
Consumer surveys point to the fact that more and more people, particularly millennials, prefer to spend their money on memorable and shareable experiences than on material goods. Needless to say, restaurants are a prime example of opportunities to create memorable and shareable experiences.
The fact that technology can improve and even fundamentally transform the restaurant-going experience is an important consideration for restaurant operators to keep in mind as they look for new and innovative ways to catapult their businesses to ever-higher levels of guest satisfaction as well as operational efficiency. Of course, these two goals tend to go hand-in-hand. Combined, they translate into decidedly positive financial outcomes.
According to research conducted by Starfleet Research for The Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant Management and POS Systems, 84 percent of full-service restaurants, and 72 percent of quick service and fast casual restaurants, report that they achieved “significant” or “dramatic” improvement in revenue performance after deploying next-generation restaurant management and POS systems. Such results obviously make for a very compelling business case.
Some technology upgrades, such as those that protect against data theft, are necessary just to meet regulatory requirements. Restaurant operators must be able to accept new payment methods, including chip credit cards and e-wallet apps. Some upgrades are necessary to improve operational efficiency. Advanced ordering, payment processing, inventory control and labor management features can have a big impact on cost reduction.
Some upgrades, such as guest relationship management capabilities, can make a big difference in guest satisfaction. Robust data analysis and reporting capabilities can also play a role in improving guest satisfaction and loyalty. In the end, all of these upgrades ultimately benefit the guest experience.
And yet some restaurant operators with outdated solutions remain reluctant to embrace new technologies. No doubt, some of them subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra. Some may simply not realize the full range of benefits a cloud-based, mobile-enabled next-generation system designed specifically for the unique workflows of a restaurant can deliver.
For starters, cloud-based software generally provides faster speed, greater scalability and lower maintenance costs than on-premise hosting. No longer is it necessary to carry out a lengthy and costly server configuration onsite with the launch of every new restaurant location. With cloud technology, a newly installed server is configured in advance and ready to connect to the cloud the moment it’s plugged in.
Another key benefit is mobile enablement— e.g., utilizing tablets for order and payment processing. In some restaurant categories, POS mobility can go a long way toward increasing revenue and also reducing overhead costs. One need only consider the advantages that table service restaurants enjoy when servers can place orders directly from a tablet to the kitchen display. Rather than wait in line to punch orders into a stationary terminal, servers can spend that time interacting with guests and attending to details that enhance the dining experience.
Faster order placement and pay-at-table processing removes some of the common barriers to guest satisfaction. POS mobility also makes it possible to turn tables faster and serve more guests over the same period of time.
Automation, mobility, flexibility and customizability are the hallmarks of next-generation restaurant management and POS solutions. So, too, are user-friendly interfaces, extended features and functionality, and fully integrated platform capabilities.
Robust data mining, analytics and reporting tools, which are generally lacking in older solutions, have also now emerged as core components of next-generation systems. These tools are designed to provide restaurant operators with all the information and insights they need in order to make smart business decisions.