A Technology Check for the Restaurant Industry

The demand for highly efficient, operationally effective, and data driven businesses in the Service industry is skyrocketing to an all-time high. What baby boomers considered a luxury, millennials made common place and Gen Z is making table steaks. From cashless payments to delivery, a new set of expectations is being ushered in across the globe.

If you operate a restaurant in the fast food or quick service industries, you’re feeling the pinch. It may not even be coming from an internal source, but it may be an external force happening all around you that’s affecting your business, whether you know it or not.

Online ordering and delivery fulfillment from a number of third parties, a decrease in the number of people seated in your building and an ever increasing drive to differentiate yourself in the marketplace while being able to maintain customer satisfaction are all things that are working against you.

How do you do it? How do you provide all of the services that are being demanded of you, those that are being expected of you, and those which are completely out of your control? You may laugh when I say technology or you may nod your head knowingly. Either way this is definitely a great time to think about how your business runs and how technology advancements can help you button up some of those items to keep you competitive for the next few years.

Using technology to help you fulfill orders without affecting your workflow

At the MURTEC conference this year there was a ton of buzz in the technology space about standardizing on APIs and programmability for point of sale systems to be able to interconnect with apps and services like Uber eats, GrubHub, Amazon Restaurants and a variety of local services scattered across the United States. For as smart as some of these systems are it seems that there’s are some incompetencies with their ability to talk to each other.

As guidelines are established to help technologies work with each other, point-of-sale vendors like Square, Clover and NCR have started the process by integrating some of the most popular national digital dining applications directly into their systems. This only makes absolute perfect sense when you think about a hostess stand crammed with six tablets and a barrage of delivery drivers showing up to pick up their orders.

Upgrading your current systems to support this new software or swapping out to a point of sale system that has these capabilities is one of the first things that you can do to take advantage of ensuring that your digital strategy will work with you into the future. As more people leverage these technologies and with already staggering statistics like those from generation Z to order delivery service on average four times a week, don’t expect this problem to go away anytime soon.

Keeping Tabs on Your In-Person Customers

For those of your patrons that choose to still visit you in person, customer service and customer experience demands are at an all-time high. “Good enough is never good enough” says the famous quote and that rings true with the current state of your customer experience in your establishment.

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Not offering free Wi-Fi? A dealbreaker for 60% of people. Not having a way to accept cashless transactions such as Apple Pay? That cuts out another 60%. No self watering, self check out, or service healing kiosks, you’re behind the curve.

With all these tech expectations (techspectations?) it’s still important to remember that a smiling face greeting your patrons, the ability to recommend great dishes off of the menu, and a friendly demeanor are no longer enough to separate you from your competition. And, consistency, performance, and taste of product may no longer be enough to win business and create a lasting impression with someone you hope to have back as a customer.

As in person dining starts to creep down to an all time low, large chains shifting to accommodate less people and more delivery, and the ability to provide exceptional customer service being taken away, making sure your digital approach and technology plan fit in with the expectations of your customers to provide them with an incredible experience, above and beyond the normal operational pleasantries, is essential.

Inconsistencies amplify complications

Now some of these things may be easy enough to control if you have a single location, but what happens when you operate more than one location? What happens if you have hundreds of thousands of locations around the United States or even the globe?

Complexity compounds issues

Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.

Jocko, Extreme Ownership

To add complexity, what happens when none of these locations have digital parity? They don’t have the same amount of internet connectivity capacity with being delivered to the location, they don’t have the same equipment, they don’t have the same wireless, if they have any at all. More importantly they don’t have the ability To allow you to rapidly and efficiently deploy new services, enforce policies, and create digital opportunities across your brand. The inconsistencies in your technology plan will quickly amplify the inconsistencies in your ability to provide a valuable customer experience.

Organizing your technology is easier than ever, take advantage of that.

What used to take an entire information technology team, some very high-end equipment, and operational support to continue to offer these types of services has now been condensed into a few fully functioning pieces of equipment and the ability for a well rounded tiger team or managed service provider to assist you with.

Taking the first step

To get started on the journey, you need a plan. Figure out what you want to do, figure out how to do it, and figure out what resources are necessary to make that happen are. Leverage relationships with your IT department, your service providers and industry groups such as the restaurant technology network to understand what the trends are and how to get in front of them. Build a plan that incorporates ways to handle what is happening now and sets you up to be able to tackle tomorrow.

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