Restaurant Owners: Is Table Ordering Worth The Investment?
Technology is constantly changing the way businesses work, and the hospitality industry has experienced the benefits of this. As technology evolves, so does way resturants serve people, and one of the most noticeable trends in the restaurant sector has been tableside ordering, with establishments both large and small seeing the benefits of it.
Table ordering is especially popular with quick serve restaurants that rely on speed to satisfy the customer. Recently, McDonalds followed the likes of Starbucks and Dominos by introducing smart menus and table services into its restaurants in the U.S. and U.K.
However, offering table ordering is a service that all businesses in the dining sector can potentially benefit from, especially as consumers are now more engaged with technology, and even expect to see it implemented in the establishments they visit.
Why Table Ordering?
Table ordering simplifies the way a restaurant works, allowing orders to be made at the table, transferred to the kitchen staff, and finally, allow card payments to be completed where the customer is seated, avoiding the need for them to queue.
With table top ordering, customers don’t have to wait for the bill to be brought to them, ordering is quicker so the food will arrive faster, and there is also a reduction in delays as less mistakes are made through wrong orders, which all improves the service the restaurant can give to its diners. However, table ordering doesn’t just benefit the customer.
How Table Ordering Can Improve Business Profits
Table top ordering has the potential to produce a restaurant’s profits in numerous ways. The first is the opportunity to upsell. Upselling is acknowledged as one of the easiest ways to improve a company’s turnover, however, if it’s not approached properly then upselling can appear pushy and prove a turn off to customers who object to being sold to.
However, table ordering, where the diner has more control, still provide opportunities for upselling, only without having to take a more direct sales approach.
There’s also the obvious convience table ordering offers to the restaurant owner and the greater efficiency. However, perhaps the most considerable benefit is faster table turnover. As every restaurant owner will be aware, efficient table turnover is imperative to higher profits.
There are many ways of achieving faster table turnover, such as introducing portable terminals for quicker ordering and checkout times, providing online ordering services and apps, using a computerized reservation system, but table ordering is also an effective means of achieving this as it speeds up the entire process.
It could also increase tips for staff. Most diners like to acknowledge good customer service in the form of a tip, and the better and more efficient the experience, the more likely a customer is to return and even recommend the restaurant to others.
However, there are some negatives as well. Table ordering can reduce the opportunity to interact with customers, but this negative is likely to be outweighed by diners’ desire for faster service and newer technology and doesn’t necessarily impact on the overall customer experience.
Table Top Ordering & Consumer Confidence
There are few things more important than consumer confidence, and credit card skimming has dented trust among some consumers, especially in the restaurant sector.
Credit card skimming has long been the bane of the restaurant industry. In one year, the U.S. restaurant industry lost $200 million due to credit card skimming, and naturally this means customers aren’t always confident when it comes to letting their credit card out of their sight. But table top ordering means the credit card will be within the customers view at all times. Not having to take the card away from the table also saves time, which further improves efficiency.
Table Side Ordering & Customer Interaction
The reduced interaction has been touched on before in the article, but this section examines it more deeply.
The interaction between the waiting staff and the diners can make or break a meal out. It can also lead to greater interaction and engagement with customers, thus making for a more personalized feel.
Some argue that table ordering reduces customer interaction, thus impacting on the customer experience, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. Newer technologies can enhance the customer experience and the service in other ways, as well as boost your establishment’s profits.
Moreover, research shows that technology boosts sales, and it can significantly increase the value of orders. Deloitte’s research shows that when new technology is introduced to a quick serve restaurant for placing orders, the frequency of visits increase, as does the amount customers’ spend.
Providing table top payments also meets the customers’ demand for flexibility payment methods in restaurants.
In addition, research has identified that offering newer technology is something customers want to see when they dine out. According to NRA’s 2015 National Restaurant Forecast, most diners believe that technology gives them added convenience, while giving them additional accuracy and a faster service.
Commenting on the study, Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of research, said:
“Our research indicates that consumers, especially younger ones, have come to expect the availability of technology during a typical restaurant experience.”
“This means technology is very much a part of and facilitates decisions on where to dine out. So, wherever technology can be integrated, that’s a win-win situation for the consumer and the operator.”
Is Table Top Ordering a Worthwhile Investment?
As table ordering requires some investment, you need to estimate the ROI and whether investing in the equipment or upgrading will add more value to your business overall in the long term.
And there is of course, the potential for technical problems with an iPad etc, but these problems can be overcome provided the restaurant has a backup plan should technical problems occur.
Whether table top ordering is a worthwhile investment depends entirely on the individual restaurant. However, whether table top ordering is a worthwhile investment depends entirely on the individual restaurant, and like any investment, you need to weigh up the negatives and the positives.
Newer technologies like table top ordering offer multiple advantages like faster service, quicker table turnover, a subtler way of upselling, and greater customer confidence. Table top ordering also encourages bigger spend and increased return visits, reduced queuing, and although table ordering can reduce customer interaction, the benefits of introducing can outweigh the negatives.