The equipment and technologies that you have within your restaurants are crucial to how it operates. The restaurant industry is quickly changing as technology advances, and it's important that you keep up if you want to remain successful and relevant. In this blog post we'll cover the most popular categories of restaurant tech you should know about.
- Food Safety Management Systems. Food safety is vitally important for regulatory compliance, your brand's reputation, and, most importantly, the safety of your guests. Smart appliances and sensors help monitor food temperatures and notify you if anything falls outside an acceptance range. Tasks management software can help your managers do a better job of performing line checks and recording temperatures. These records are stored in the cloud and are always accessible for managers, owners, and health inspectors. Recipe prep systems that print food labels with automatically generated expiration dates take the guess work out of knowing when products were prepped and what their shelf life is.
- Kitchen Display Systems. A KDS digitally displays and tracks orders in the kitchen. These systems eliminate the need for paper tickets or verbally communicated orders. In addition to reducing paper waste, these systems help improve efficiency and order accuracy. The most sophisticated kitchen systems also help you prioritize orders and communicate expected ready times to customers.
- Digital Receipts and Pay From Table. Most of your customers pay digitally, so why are you still printing paper receipts? Going digital with receipts can save you money on printers and thermal paper while creating a better, more seamless experience for your customers. With these systems customers can scan to pay from their mobile device - they can split payments, add tips, and more. By putting the power of payment in the hands of the customer you can also increase table turnover because customers don't need to wait on servers, and you reduce the risk of credit card fraud.
- Cloud-Based POS. Cloud-based point of sale systems are quickly overtaking legacy POS systems due to their ease of use and ability to access information from anywhere. The user interfaces make it a breeze to train new staff members, and improves throughput by making order entry easy and fast. Customer-facing screens and payment terminals allow customers to pay quickly and without any hassles.
- Digital Menu Board. For fast casual or quick service restaurants digital menu boards are a step up from traditional paper menus. These boards can boost your check average since appealing food photos entice customers to order more. It's also much easier to change prices through a digital menu board that it is to re-print menus. Advanced systems can also sync menu prices between your digital menu boards, point of sale, and online ordering platforms all from a single source.
- Online Ordering. Online ordering has become ubiquitous since the pandemic. It is a key part of driving revenue for most restaurants. Restaurants have many choices for online ordering, including building their own direct ordering site, using a provider for a direct ordering site, or listing on third party marketplaces. Most restaurants usage more than one of these channels. The biggest challenges with managing online ordering channels include the effort it can take to maintain menus and prices on each platform, and managing the influx of orders from multiple channels during busy times.
- Loyalty. Rewarding your customers for their loyalty is a great way to build business and get word of mouth referrals for your restaurant. The best loyalty systems allow customers to earn and use their rewards both in the restaurant and online. When crafting a loyalty program you need to decide how customers will earn rewards and how customers can redeem rewards. Common earning methods include points for dollars spent or per visit regardless of amount spent. Coming ways to redeem rewards is for a free item in a category (for example a free appetizer), a percentage discount, or simply dollars off the total check. Tracking your loyalty program cost compared to visits/dollars the program generates is important to understand if it is working.
- Gift Cards. Gift cards make great gifts around the holidays, so it is important to have this technology in your stack. To incentivize purchases you can offer a "free" gift card in a small denomination for a larger purchase. Making sure your gift cards are easily redeemable both online and in store is important to create a good guest experience.
- Reservations or Wait Lists. If you take reservations an online reservation system is mandatory. This helps you book tables without requiring a phone call, and the online systems automatically make sure you're not overbooked. If you don't take reservations a wait list system that provides estimated wait times and texts customers when their table is ready can help you manage the host stand.