Times of challenge create opportunity – and more tech is emerging to help level the playing field for independent businesses trying to compete with large national and international brands. According to a National Restaurant Association survey, one-third of independent operators feel they are falling behind when it comes to using the technology that could support their business. But new products and payment structures are making these technologies more accessible for independents. For instance, Slice, the online ordering platform for independent pizzerias, recently launched a POS system and online rewards system designed specifically for those businesses – many of whom have been slow to adopt technology while the likes of Domino’s are tracking customer preferences, upselling repeat customers and enabling them to know when their delivery driver is on his way. A recent report from Food & Beverage magazine indicated that it’s becoming more common for restaurant technology companies to offer lower up-front costs and subscription fees, as well as leasing options to accommodate operators that can’t afford to make large investments in equipment up front. You may also be able to negotiate deferred payments and contracts that include consulting time. If cash registers and pencil-and-paper ordering is still the norm for you or if you’re simply not getting the kind of real-time information you need from your system, now is a good time to approach restaurant technology companies to see what they can offer independent restaurants. The Restaurant Technology Network is a good source for information and resources including pro bono consulting and you can always ask Team Four for help in getting started too.