While it seems like every restaurant has a loyalty program these days, there is significant room for improvement: According to new research from Mercator Advisory Group, only 22 percent of consumers are satisfied with the level of personalization offered by their loyalty programs. Harnessing guest data can help you up your game. Make sure your program is connected to every place a customer can place an order with you, online and off, so you can collect transactional data and use it to personalize your efforts to upsell and cross-sell items, or to target them with exclusive limited-time offers or invitations. A QSRweb report says this approach can help you present real-time promotions that are more likely to hit the mark with guests, like offering a discount on two large pizzas to the subset of visitors who would normally order just one.
We’ve all had that sinking feeling when a restaurant staff member presents a device to make payment and a range of potential tips are suggested on screen. While nudging a person to pay more than they had in mind may direct more money to staff in the moment, it doesn’t leave a guest with the best final impression. Other pay-at-the-table offerings may help avoid this situation and offer added benefits at the same time. Modern Restaurant Management reports that text to order functionality has been becoming more popular as a replacement for downloading apps. There are benefits for guest and staff alike when a guest can text their order, receive a link that lets them pay immediately (adding a tip if they like), and save repeat purchases. Even in fine dining establishments, more operators are now incorporating such methods to give guests less physical interaction with staff when it’s time to order and pay. Research shows it can encourage people to spend and tip more – and it also helps free up already-scarce staff for other tasks.
The past few years have given restaurant operators a crash course in the importance of collecting data – about guests, ingredients, sales performance and many other factors. Have you applied this approach to identifying potential staff? By taking the time to analyze data about what works for your business – and not simply casting a wide net and hoping you bring in some good people – you stand a better chance to attracting and keeping staff who are well suited to your business. This report from Modern Restaurant Management advises mining employee data by taking surveys of employees. What is important to them about their position? What benefits would keep them in their job? How does your business measure up to competing businesses (both inside and outside of the industry) when it comes to pay, benefits, growth opportunities and job security? Perhaps you can identify even incremental improvements that could help you find and keep good people. Or, maybe those improvements aren’t possible for you financially. In that case, having this information at your fingertips now can still be valuable in driving you to retool your business model. At a time when so much about a restaurant is learned online before a person even visits, give your website’s recruitment page a tune-up – much like you’d make your online menu more mobile-friendly for a guest. Can an applicant quickly scan the page for basic information about your business and apply on the spot?
Love them or hate them, QR code menus seem to be sticking around. That is good news for many restaurant operators, particularly when the code enables ordering and payment from the table – and in the process, frees up staff, gets orders to the kitchen faster and minimizes order inaccuracies. That said, the guest experience of using these menus can be a bit lacking. If you find more guests asking for paper menus, it may be time to revamp your setup. Give your QR code menu the same treatment you would give your mobile-enabled website – limit the need for scrolling, expanding and reducing the screen, and make it possible for guests to get the overall sense of your menu in the space of a few seconds.
Could you reduce your tech spending? Chances are the answer is yes, particularly if you have added on to your existing tech stack in the past few years or not attempted negotiation in recent months. As new entrants to the restaurant tech market have increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic, their services have come down in price. If you’re looking to make additions, streamline your tech, or simply secure more competitive rates on your internet package, contact your providers to identify potential cost savings.
Restaurants have to operate more efficiently than ever to eke out profits in the current economy. Having the capacity to offer automated, fast payments to vendors and employees alike can give a restaurant leverage – potentially enabling it to secure deals with vendors in exchange for early payments, as well as earning loyalty from staff who know they will get paid promptly after a shift. Beyond that, automated payment capabilities can help a restaurant operate more nimbly by responding quickly to shifts in supply. Do your systems enable you to pay people on-demand? At a time when a restaurant needs to use every tool at its disposal, the capability can deliver a competitive advantage.
As restaurant businesses become more digitized and connected, they are calling for a new kind of employee: one who is just as comfortable monitoring sensors and responding to alerts from a range of applications as they are chopping and cooking ingredients. Ensuring your staff is well-versed in these changes will only help your business, since your technology is helping you do everything from monitoring food safety, to collecting and continuously learning from the data you collect. Modern Restaurant Management reports that there is a growing role for skilled technicians to train, manage and repair this technology in restaurants. Do your training and management procedures adequately account for the tech changes your business has made? When you consider your job descriptions, training and feedback from staff, where are there opportunities to close knowledge gaps and ensure you’re reaping the greatest benefits from the technology at your disposal?
Running the most efficient operation you can is hinged on your data. It can tell you everything from how much of an item to order to how much staff to have on hand during a shift, thereby minimizing wasteful spending. But your ability to make informed predictions of your needs relies on the quality of your historical data – your record of recent weeks, months and years. What if your historical data has gaping holes in it? While the pandemic has spurred the adoption of restaurant technology across the industry, the quality of historical data about a restaurant may still need time to improve. Increasingly, restaurant tech stacks are enabling operators to not only adjust their forecasts based on factors such as weather and local events; they are also allowing brands to factor in historical data from similar brands across the industry. Ingest, for one, is allowing restaurants to benchmark against the performance of similar brands to help them get a more complete picture when their own historical data isn’t up to the task.
Artificial Intelligence has been carving out a space in restaurants as a means of delegating tasks and saving labor costs. Though AI-supported ordering is still a work in progress (as McDonald’s has discovered with recent tests), AI is also serving as a kitchen assistant that can nudge employees to catch errors early – before they get the attention of an annoyed customer. One company in this space, Agot AI, places cameras over the food preparation line to watch how orders are being prepared. It connects with in-store, online and drive-thru orders appearing on the kitchen display system and will alert an employee in the line if an order is missing, say, the extra packets of ketchup the customer requested. In the process, the information the technology gathers can help a restaurant flag repeat problems in the line and adjust training to better manage them, and even create a rewards system to recognize employees who successfully move orders through the line with accuracy and speed.
As restaurants adopt more technology – out of necessity if not for a desire for greater efficiency – restaurant service is coming to mean something different. Earlier this year, Datassential predicted that human service would become more of a premium offering, with a more obvious human touch expected at higher-end restaurants. But the line between technology and human-delivered service is likely to be hazier for everyone else. As you consider new front-of-house tech, retain the human touch by asking if it can elevate the service you offer – through faster and easier payments, and menu items and targeted promotions supported by individual customer data as opposed to broad assumptions.