Restaurant Technology: It’s Here to Stay
Some trends come and go but restaurant technology is here to stay. According to Toast’s Restaurant Technology in 2016 report, 79% of diners agree that restaurant technology improves their guest experience. This statistic alone should be evident of the direction the restaurant industry is taking. If that wasn’t enough, consider this statistic from OpenTable’s Technology and Dining Out 2015 study. “85 percent of diners wish they knew how long the wait for a table would be; 83 percent would love to add their names to waitlist before arriving.”
Bottom line: Diners want convenience and the best guest experience possible. As an operator, the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to adapt.
How Interconnected Technology Helps
If you’re wondering what technology solutions a restaurant needs to be successful, there’s not just one answer. In actuality, there are several interconnecting pieces that form the restaurant of today (and of the future).
This interconnectivity is important, because it actually forms the foundation of the guest experience. Many restaurants look to apps to supplement this experience. While those apps increase customer satisfaction, they can’t be the only solution to provide that guest experience. On an app, a diner can read reviews, look at the menu, check wait times, get in line, reserve a table, and more. But those apps can’t do it alone.
To have a powerful, well connected restaurant, you need an API that will speak to your other technology pieces throughout the restaurant. You can think of a restaurant API as a communication hub for all of your software. Your loyalty program, your wait list, your online ordering system, your delivery partners, your guest management platform, and your kitchen—everything talks to each other through the API you implement.
Your Point of Sale Integration
Next, you will want a Point of Sale (POS) that allows smooth integration with other technology pieces throughout the restaurant. A POS that functions with your API will inform your other software—for instance, when your POS speaks to your kitchen display system, food will automatically route based on the rules you’ve already set as soon as it’s ordered.
That brings us to kitchen automation, table management, and other software. When all of these systems are functioning together, you have a well-connected, smart restaurant. Why is that important? With a well-connected restaurant, you can track the data that you might otherwise lose. These useful metrics can help improve your operation. For instance, a diner who orders delivery would count as a visit when your restaurant is connected to those delivery systems, because choosing the delivery option on your app would capture the diner’s information.
The power of the data you can collect increases exponentially when you connect more systems in your restaurant. Not all technology will be utilized in every establishment, and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that the more connected technology solutions you choose, the more seamless the guest experience will be.
What it Looks Like
When all is said, and done, this is an example of how a connected restaurant functions: a diner searches for dinner options on a consumer app from their mobile device. From there, they can see wait times, and find a table at their favorite restaurant, then jump on the waitlist. This information then syncs to the cloud, and then via the API is pushed down to the restaurant. Prior to that guest’s arrival, the guest management platform will have plenty of information on the diner for the hostess. They’ll know meal preferences, seating preferences, and any food allergy information.
Once the party arrives, checks in with the host, and is seated – the server takes over. They ring in their order into the POS system, which routes to the kitchen based on rules created during implementation. During the food prep time, the server is able to track the progress from a single display that is connected to the kitchen. This allows the server to know the status of every item on the order at all times. Once the order is complete and is marked as delivered to the table, the guest management platform updates to keep the host up to the minute on table status for every party in the dining room.
Those are just the basics. Take the guest experience to the next level by integrating with third-party online and mobile ordering platforms, ride-sharing apps, pay-at-the-table kiosks, and many other third-party services. Make dining out more convenient to build a stronger relationship with your diners, and increase your bottom line by saving time and gathering more data.
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About the Author
Lee is the founder, president, and CEO of QSR Automations. Since 1996, Lee has driven QSR’s strategy and growth, creating industry solutions and advancing the original company mission of restaurant innovation and empowerment. Under his leadership, QSR has created ConnectSmart Kitchen, a kitchen automation solution, and ConnectSmart®Host (Formerly DineTime), a guest management platform, to help restaurants efficiently manage their resources, time, staff, and the dining experience.