Restaurants is one industry that has had to adopt to many technological advancements in the recent past – including mobile ordering, menu boards and VOIP phone systems. Of course, these help provide an enhanced customer experience. In this article, a group of experts at the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit (March 11-13, Louisville, Kentucky) discuss how restaurants can efficiently use technology to satisfy customers.
Now a necessity, not an efficiency
Initially, restaurants viewed technology as an efficient means of operating business. But now, it is seen as a necessity and is also a standard expectation from staff and customers.
Some restaurants incur major sales through online ordering. In this case, if there is a system or network error, they will be significantly affected. As a result, backup plans should be in place in order to avoid such downtime. Backups and redundancies are essential – without these, restaurants can lose a lot of money.
The tools a restaurant should invest in:
- Digital menu boards
- Restaurant LED displays for training employees
- Online scheduling to manage employee shifts
- AI powered phone ordering systems
- Voice over IP phone systems
- Sensors for tracking cooking processes such as baking time, food warmth and so on.
Under this discussion, panelists emphasize on the fact that every device in the restaurant should be connected/integrated with the other in order to maximize efficiency.
Investing with the right technology partner
Restaurants should not just find a suitable vendor when investing in technology – a trusted partner is best. It’s no point having a vendor deliver stacks of equipment and leave it to the staff to install. A responsible partner will deliver the equipment, install it on site and also offer after sales services for any problems that may occur. A partner will always work in the best interest of the customer and try to advice on investments that are value-for-money. If one technology partner is unable to give provide all the solutions, work with multiple partners.
Getting franchisees on board
New technologies such as IoT sensors, phone systems and digital menus are not on the cheap side. Adding to that are thin margins that restaurants keep. As a result, franchisees tend to push back when it comes to implementing new technology.
Instead of forcing a technology upon franchisees, panelists recommend providing examples, evidence and analytics of how a solution will improve overall business operations. When results are visible, franchisees will automatically get on board.
The experts also suggested to present franchisees with real incentives. For example, only those who get on board with a technology upgrade should be given access to digital menu platforms. Also important to keep in mind is that restaurants should not make use of technology just to impress customers. Ultimately, the solution should support a goal of delivering food faster, hotter and fresher!