Twenty-five percent of diners consider a restaurant’s technology when deciding where to eat, according to the National Restaurant Association. Among millennials (ages 18-34), it’s even higher: 32 percent, when they’re choosing among quick-service restaurants.
One of those technologies is pay-at-the-table, which 63 percent of all customers surveyed say they’re willing to use, up from 48 percent one year earlier. It’s not hard to see why:
- Their credit or debit card never leaves the table, so there’s zero risk of skimming and other theft.
- They can use Apple Pay and other card alternatives.
- They don’t waste time waiting for the server to drop off the check, pick up the card and return.
Restaurants, meanwhile, get several benefits, starting with a better customer experience that helps drive both loyalty and positive reviews:
- Streamlining the payment process increases table turns and thus revenue.
- Fewer waitstaff are required, boosting margins.
- Lower waitstaff turnover because the built-in tip calculators make it easy for diners to add 15 or 20 percent rather than guesstimating too low.
- They’re Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) compliant, thus avoiding the expense of chargebacks and penalties.
The technology used to enable pay-at-the-table can support a wide variety of additional applications. One example is digital menus, which let customers see dishes and drinks instead of relying on text descriptions. That reduces the number of orders sent back because customers are more likely to get what they expected. And if the digital menu also lets them place orders, sendbacks further decline because it eliminates common errors such as waitstaff keying the wrong item at the point-of-sale (POS) terminal or forgetting items because they tried to memorize the order.
Digital menus also can boost revenue. One CDW partner cites a 4 to 12 percent increase in sales because when diners can see something they’re considering, they’re more likely to go ahead and order it.
Don’t Overlook the Technology
So, what’s the catch? Pay-at-the-table, digital menus and related technologies aren’t systems that most restaurants — even major chains — can spec, install and maintain.
Take Wi-Fi. The handful of access points installed a few years ago to give diners free internet rarely provides the blanket coverage necessary to ensure reliable connections at every table — including ones on the patio. Also, the wireless LAN (WLAN) probably doesn’t have the necessary bandwidth to avoid the lag that annoys diners.
That’s why restaurants are now turning to technology and services providers like CDW. We can ensure that the WLAN has seamless coverage, ample bandwidth and is secure enough that it doesn’t create a backdoor for hackers into your POS.
CDW also partners with dozens of other leading technology providers, so you avoid being locked in to a single vendor’s hardware, software and services — a common problem when going with the pay-at-the-table and digital menus that many POS vendors now offer. For example, we can assemble a customized, best-of-breed solution from multiple partners that uses APIs and cloud services to enable easy, seamless integration with your existing POS.
Whether your restaurant is quick service or white tablecloth, there’s no shortage of mobile technologies to enhance both the dining experience and the bottom line. But like a new dish or a grand opening, you’ve got to get it right the first time.