Technology, by its very nature, is a little intimidating. Humanity has always dreamt about what the wonders of science could create, as far back as Mary Shelley’s first publication of Frankenstein. But how will the ongoing growth of technology affect the restaurant business? The truth is that there are many positive ways the industry can grow alongside new tech, despite the occasional growing pain. There are dozens of reasons restaurants need to embrace technology as it grows, but here are a few of the biggest.
1. Adapt to Survive
Technology is advancing faster every year. At present, computing power doubles roughly every eighteen months, and more than 63% of the world’s population has regular access to the internet. The adoption of modern computing and internet tech is an ongoing process that the world as a whole is participating in, and without some attachment to this growth, many restaurants may not succeed in the foreseeable future.
In the past several years, thousands of restaurants have adopted cloud-based POS platforms like Toast and Upserve and cloud-based reservation and hosting systems like Resy and OpenTable. They’ve begun utilizing online menus and created quick access to them by implementing QR codes in dining rooms. Not all of these elements directly responded to the COVID pandemic, but the pandemic illustrates why this tech was so important. Many restaurants were put at significant risk by the environment the virus created, and these technologies were critical to surmounting this considerable obstacle.
In short, as the world changes, restaurants must adapt to fit their guests’ needs. In 2020 it wasn’t easy to conceive of how the world was about to change, but ultimately change is inevitable. Technology exists to fill needs as they arise in every industry. Embracing it might be challenging at first, but it’s almost always necessary.
2. Ease of Use
Utilizing technology is one of many ways that restaurants can make themselves more accessible and appealing to their diners! A study from 2019 shows that nearly eighty percent of diners seek out a restaurant’s website before deciding to dine there. You can get ahead of the curve by building an online presence for your restaurant with a personalized website and social media. Instagram pages, in particular, have grown to be a key decision-maker in dining out, with a recent survey showing that nearly seventy percent of millennials post pictures of their dining experiences. Social media accounts are pieces of technology that your restaurant cannot survive without. For more tips on social media marketing for your restaurant, check out the infographic below!
Infographic created by Clover, a restaurant POS system company
This massive growth in online engagement with restaurants can translate into easier access to fundamental elements of the dining experience! If your restaurant doesn’t have a website, you can easily build one with platforms like Wix or Squarespace. Once your website is up and running, you can quickly create a browser-optimized menu from MustHaveMenus to use alongside it.
Guests who haven’t committed to dining with you will love having the chance to sneak a peak at your food, but this can also help those dining in! Creating a bespoke QR code to access your online menu can save you and your guests time and resources. By simply adding the QR code to every table in the building, you eliminate paper waste and provide yourself the chance to easily adjust the menu with no need to reprint. Many services, like MustHaveMenus, offer these for free, so you don’t have to pay a dime to keep your restaurant up to date.
3. Data Security
New technology can come with new problems, and one of the plagues of the twenty-first century includes data hacks and leaks. Thankfully, technology continues to refine itself over time to fix these gaps in its capabilities. Where a hacker could once easily access financial data, restaurant security information, and more by breaking into a business’s internet networks, it’s easier than ever to add firewalls and digital protections to ensure that sensitive data remains secure.
Hackers aren’t the only risk, though. Power outages, however brief, could knock out wi-fi systems used to control POS systems, ordering platforms, and even the music your guests enjoy while dining. While bringing your tunes back online may take a little time, planning ahead can quickly secure the rest. Cloud-based POS systems back up your data constantly, meaning managers can restore everything with a few simple taps on a screen. Payment data, internal inventory, and guest management all stay consistent, so your restaurant will deal with only the slightest interruption.
4. Increased Efficiency
Any successful restauranteur knows that a single dinner service is only so predictable. You have control over the number of guests reserved before service or the total number of in-house nightly specials. But guests might linger longer than their expected dining time. Miscommunications might cause a server to sell someone on a special, only to find that the dish has sold out. These things happen, but they can still be frustrating to you, your team, and your guests.
Management platforms are one easy solution to problems like these. Resy, for example, has several features to help you manage your dining room’s flow. Not only does it provide a customer-facing platform for guests to make and manage reservations, but it also keeps tabs on your total guest count and expected wait times. It also manages your waitlist and assigns reservations to the optimal table in your dining room to ensure that service moves quickly and can be adjusted to accommodate complications if they arise.
Similarly, cloud-based POS systems like Toast can manage inventory internally. Specials can be put on a count that ensures diners only order as many plates as you have. Counts like these can reduce miscommunications and maintain expectations for your in-house diners to minimize disappointments.
5. Staff Retention
Technology can do fantastic things for managing a night of service, but it can also help tremendously in managing your team. Online scheduling and communication platforms like Slack can help manage team members’ time off and spread information about new menu items, specials, and events in no time. This communication speed can get everyone on the same page about potential problems before they affect operations.
The option to provide and share information also makes it easier than ever to train and educate your staff effectively. It can also contribute significantly to team morale; with business taken care of, there’s more time to joke around and bond a little. Consider making a special channel for your team to post memes and running jokes on whatever platform you settle on. The enjoyable atmosphere will make your staff feel more at home and connected to their work.
The Future Is Now
Embracing technology like MustHaveMenus, Resy, and Toast can seem like a huge mountain to climb, but it can’t simply be called “worth the hassle.” In the ever-changing world in which we live, adapting is necessary merely to remain current. But there’s no reason to view technology as simply keeping up — with the multitude of potential benefits new tech can provide, every restaurant has exciting new opportunities for growth around every corner. Take some time and figure out how technology might help you iron out some of the pain points in your service. You’ll be surprised at how much easier your life becomes.