According to new research conducted by Starfleet Research, 84% of full-service restaurants, and 72% of quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, have achieved ‘significant’ or ‘dramatic’ improvement in their overall performance, including improvement in financial results, after migrating to a next-generation, cloud-based restaurant POS system.
Unfortunately, some restaurant owners and operators with outdated POS systems remain reluctant to embrace the new technologies. Some people likely subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. Others may simply not realize the full range of benefits a next-generation, cloud-based system designed specifically for the unique workflows of a restaurant can deliver in terms of improved business performance. And perhaps nowhere are the benefits more apparent than when it comes to mobile enablement.
It’s no exaggeration to say that mobility has revolutionized restaurant operations. Table-service restaurants enjoy a quantum leap in efficiencies when servers gain the ability to place orders from a tablet directly to the kitchen printer or display rather than from a stationary terminal. The leap can have a transformative effect on both operations and guest satisfaction.
This is particularly true in places where the nearest stationary terminal may be located a considerable distance from where guests are seated. Servers would otherwise not only need to cover that distance countless times during their shifts but, in many cases, also thread their way through a maze of obstacles to place a food or drink order or process payment.
Traditionally, in many restaurants, bottlenecks have been par for the course, unfortunately, as servers have had to line up behind a terminal to wait their turn. When waiting for servers to process gift cards, rewards points redemption, etc., the queues have tended to become even longer.
Tablets change all that. No longer do servers need to travel back and forth like yo-yos between Point A, where guests are located, and Point B, where a terminal is located, and then often wait in line for an indeterminable amount of time. Instead, servers can send orders to the kitchen quickly and easily from any location. As a result, they can spend more of their time attending to the wants and needs of guests.
This fundamental shift in how servers spend their time is nothing short of revolutionary. Suddenly, the job of attending to guests becomes less focused on taking and processing information and more focused on interacting with guests with high-touch service and attending to other duties that can seriously up the ante on service quality and have a far more meaningful and lasting impact on enhancing the overall guest experience.
Mobile order placement and payment processing has the capacity to redefine the role of the server. It can liberate the server, giving restaurants the opportunity to move them from the role of food-order-taking-and-delivery automaton to the role of brand ambassador charged with providing high-touch, personalized service and building enduring relationships.
Tableside order placement via tablets removes some of the most common barriers to guest satisfaction and restaurant loyalty. So, too, does tableside payment processing. These common barriers include the significant wait times that guests frequently endure at different points along their journey. Removing these barriers obviously increases guest satisfaction, leading to more repeat visits and higher revenue.
Importantly, POS mobility can also enable a restaurant to turn tables considerably faster than before. In certain situations, that can make a world of difference in the amount of money coming in the door during the busiest times of the day. In addition to upgrading their systems to accept EMV payment processing capabilities and meet new compliancy requirements, many restaurant operators are purchasing hardware that can accommodate NFC payments for mobile, which can also help speed table turnover.
Increasingly, guests want to be able to use their own smartphones with the restaurant’s POS system, which is important to note. They want to be able to pay their bills with an e-wallet app rather than with a debit or credit card.
EMV payment processing tends to result in a suboptimal guest experience because it requires more effort and has a significantly longer wait time than mobile payment processing (given the need for the technology to rewrite the security transaction of the card). In fact, EMV transactions where the guest inserts a credit or debit card into the POS device typically take upward of 15 seconds to complete. That may seem insignificant, but in some restaurant categories, that much latency can be hard to stomach. In contrast, mobile payments typically require only a few seconds to complete.
Improving operational efficiencies, reducing overhead and increasing margins by even a few percentage points can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure. POS mobility is an example of how a restaurant can improve operational efficiencies through technology deployment in ways that can make a real difference.
Consider: A server who takes a guest’s order may intend to make a beeline to a stationary terminal. However, ten minutes could easily go by before the order actually gets entered if the server takes other guests’ orders en route, as often happens.
Kitchens tend to get big spikes in orders. Rarely do orders trickle in at a steady pace. The peaks and valleys of order activity can put a strain on chefs and other kitchen staff and cause delays with food preparation and delivery. With mobile POS, fewer mistakes are made because servers can easily verify or correct orders, adding modifiers, extras and special requests, before they are placed.
At the same time, they have immediate access to menu details, enabling them to provide guests with accurate dish information on the spot and without having to check with the kitchen. The added latency before an order can be entered into the system no longer exists. The entire process is streamlined. Food orders hit the kitchen immediately after being placed.
Adapted from the new Starfleet Research study “How Top-Performing Restaurants Optimize the Guest Experience,” with underwriting support from Heartland. The eBook is now available for complimentary access. Click here to learn more and to download.