Posts Tagged ‘menus’

Tabletop Devices Part 2: 3 Key Considerations Before Installing in Your Restaurant

August 27, 2014

As discussed in a previous post, there are a number of benefits to installing tabletop ordering and payment devices in your restaurant. That said, there are also some considerations that you need to take into account before you take the leap. Here are a few of the biggest concerns.

Customer Security and Integration with Current Point-of-Sale Systems

The first, most important factor in the choice about installing tabletop devices in the restaurant is whether or not you can find a provider who can integrate those devices seamlessly with the current point-of-sale (POS) system. Beyond basic ordering and payment processing functionality, the tabletop device should be designed to look as much like the original POS as possible as well. This speeds up the amount of time it takes to educate servers, who in turn must educate customers, about how to use the device. When choosing a tabletop device provider, look for reliable pay-at-the-table functions, durability, lifespan and reliability of the unit, connectivity to Wi-Fi and the ability to expand ordering capabilities.

In terms of customer security, tabletop devices can actually help ease customer concerns. It gives customers some security to swipe their own cards and confirm their tab and tip amounts themselves, complete with a receipt printed from the bottom of the device.

Getting Server and Customer Buy-In on Restaurant Tabletop Technology

One key aspect of successfully using tabletop devices in the restaurant is getting server buy-in on educating customers about them. Around 65-70% of customers will use tabletop devices to place their orders—after the host has introduced them to the technology. Staff need to know that these devices can save time and can possibly make them more money. Several restaurants using the devices have actually seen a slight increase in the average tip left on a table with an ordering device. They also need to know that these devices are not a replacement for their skills, but rather a helpful tool that they can use. Since most customers are already carrying and using their smartphones all day long anyway, educating them about using the devices is often easy. They tend to embrace and even expect this sort of technological convenience.

Consider How Much Automation You Want in Your Restaurant

Another consideration you’ll want to take into account is how much automation you want to have in your business. The point is to enhance the customer experience, not alienate them or make them feel like they’re serving themselves. Some restaurants don’t allow full menu ordering from the device, following the philosophy that if customers do everything themselves they don’t feel like they’re getting service. The choice depends on the type of establishment you run. The take home message is that using tabletop technology should enhance, and not change, the guest dining experience. Humans are still the focal point; ordering capabilities have just gotten better.

The above factors should be taken into account before installing tabletop devices in your establishment. That said, restaurant operators who have taken the leap with tabletop technology are finding it a helpful and cost effective tool that enhances guest experiences, shaves off valuable service time and puts guests in greater control of their dining experience than ever before.


Tabletop Devices Part 1: 3 Reasons You Want Them in Restaurant

August 20, 2014

Tabletop devices are popping up in restaurants all around the country. These devices allow customers to order and pay from the convenience of their tables, along with perform a variety of other sundry tasks that are meant to enhance the customer experience. According to the NRN, 52% of all adults would use an electronic payment system at the dining table in a full-service restaurant, while 44% said they would use an electronic ordering system. Interestingly enough, less that 5% of full-service restaurants are currently utilizing this technology. Regardless of the type of restaurant you run, here are a few good reasons why installing a few tabletop devices might be a smart idea.

Tabletop Devices Enhance Restaurant Guest Experiences

Tabletop devices enhance your customer’s experience in a number of ways. One of the most important is that they improve the speed and quality of service. Customers are ensured that their orders are placed exactly right, every time. Guests can place and recall orders, customize selections and add extra items to their bills at their own pace; creating a sense of ease and convenience for patrons. Many restaurants include games and music on the devices as well, available for a small fee that gets added to the tab. Some establishments are finding that the games and music alone can make the devices pay for themselves. Music works best when offered as a modern day jukebox—where guests can pay a small fee to select the song of their choice to play through the restaurant speaker system.

Tabletop Devices Nurture Customer Relationships

Aside from ordering, paying and entertainment, tabletop devices can also be used to grow your relationship with your customers. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight all of the benefits of joining your rewards program, social media network or email lists. It’s also the perfect time to have them fill out a guest survey about the information you most want to know and get valuable, real-time feedback about their experiences. This is also a chance to let customers know what’s really special about your business. Providing history, as well as ethics and cause information, helps build trust and authenticity with your audience.


Tabletop Devices Are an Opportunity for Up-Sales

An obvious benefit of utilizing tabletop technology in the restaurant is the opportunity it represents to make up-sales with your customers. Aside from well-timed promo messages about that yummy dessert that just rolled out of the oven, you can also use tabletop devices to educate your customers about what is on your menu. If you were so inspired, you could go into extensive detail about the origin and nutrition of the ingredients used, the back-story about how some local favorite got created, or simply highlight which items are gluten-free or low-carb. Best of all, your menu is searchable, so guests can simply input the keywords for the information they’re looking for and menu suggestions with detailed information will come up.

Now, clearly, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account before hooking up your restaurant with all the latest tabletop technology—not the least of which is finding a provider who can integrate the devices with your point-of-sale system. That said, putting guests in greater control of their dining experience has a lot of benefits. All in all, tabletop devices stand to be a cost-effective way for restaurants to enhance the overall customer experience.

The Future of Restaurant Menus

October 25, 2013

The digital age has already had quite an effect on the restaurant industry. Consumers can now locate and order from dining establishments, read reviews and see pictures from other customers, and interact with their favorite brands online at the drop of a hat. As smartphone, tablet, and app use continues to surge and this effect will only multiply. What customers will expect from restaurant menus will change as well.

Digital Restaurant Menus are the Wave of the Future

While there will always be a place for a good old-fashioned printed menu, you can expect digital menus to be become the norm of the future. Consumers are already accustomed to reading menus online but as the digital revolution continues, they will also come to expect to electronically place their orders and be able to sort menus according to nutritional information, specific ingredients, special dietary requirements, and price.

A tap of the finger will also give them more detailed information about what they’re ordering, including a description of the food, more detailed information about the origin of the food, and whether or not it came from a local supplier. This may seem far-fetched, but don’t be fooled. There are restaurants that are already doing this in-house and a number of apps that already allow such customization as well – and these services will only get more prevalent as time goes on.

How Digitized Restaurant Menus will Change the Way You do Business

Digitized menus will have several effects on your restaurant’s business. For one, as restaurant goers get more accustomed to having a multitude of customization options, it’s likely that center-of-the-plate items will be discarded in favor of a` la carte ordering. They will also change the way customers receive service as patrons will now be able to place their orders at their convenience rather than waiting for the server to come around.

Rising costs of real estate, labor, and food will also create smaller, more cuisine-focused restaurants with a number of stock-keeping units used for a variety of preparations. The cost of goods will continue to fluctuate but unlike with paper menus, you can adjust the prices of your food in real time – changing prices daily, hourly, or even by the penny if you like.

Steps to Take To Prepare Your Restaurant for the Digital Age

While you may not yet be in a position to create a fully digital, interactive menu for your restaurant, there are a few steps you can take to make the transition easier when the time comes. First and foremost you’ll want to at least list your menu items and prices online, if they’re not there already. Start gathering nutritional information and making it available to your customers. Create sections for people with dietary restrictions and start writing up little descriptions of your menu items, including where you sourced the ingredients and even where the idea for the dish came from in the first place.

While there may come a day when you are able to hand customers digital menus when they walk in the door, if you’re ready to start the digital transition, you can first begin by developing an app that people can download on their mobile devices. This will give you a ‘beta test’ of sorts that will help you determine the features that people find most useful. Above all else, do not ignore the digital revolution – it’s here to stay!

Calorie Counts on Menus Not the Hoped for Panacea

April 5, 2011

Well it turns out that Americans are choosing to get fat in droves, in spite of the fact that we have plenty of information to tell us how bad certain foods are for us. That’s the result of a survey that was conducted recently at New York University and published in the International Journal of Obesity.

400 Parents and Teenagers Questioned

The study asked 400 parents and teenagers about their food choices in New York City. New York City became the very first city in the country to require calorie counts be listed on menus in restaurants across the city back in July, 2008.

The results were quite startling to say the least. One would have expected that some impact would have been seen on the eating choices of the parents and teenagers and yet the results showed almost exactly the opposite.

9% of Teenagers Changed Eating Habits

The good news is that more than half of all teenagers surveyed for the study did happen to notice the calorie counts at major fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King.

In fact, 57% reported that they took note of the amount of calories they were eating before they placed an order for their Happy Meals, Big Macs and buckets of chicken.

However, in results which were extremely disappointing to researches, who had predicted that the new menu requirements would help to fight what has become a very significant obesity epidemic in this country (according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully 2/3 of adult Americans and 15 percent of children are either overweight or obese).

However, almost none of the children seemed to care. Just 9% of the teenagers questioned reported having made different choices based on the calorie counts mentioned on the menus.

Researchers Still Unsure

In spite of the disappointing results of the survey, researchers say it’s still too early to tell if the nationwide roll –out of required calorie counts, recently mandated by congress, will be as ineffective as they have been so far in New York City.

Want to Bring in More Diners? Try an App

August 3, 2010

Kraft Foods has created an iPad application which allows parents to teach their children all about proper nutrition. The application or app as it is known in the industry is a $1.99 program that shows kids fun recipes, teaches them fast facts about nutrition and offers games and videos in order to make the point that food should be fun.

The app is intended to increase the presence of the Kraft brand name for children and their parents. Ideally, they will increasingly consider Kraft when they look for food products to purchase.

If It’s Good Enough for Kraft. . .

Of course, the fact that Kraft Foods has created this app brings up all kinds of possibilities for restaurateurs looking for ways to increase their own advertising without having to invest large sums of money. Put simply, developing a useful app for the iPhone or iPad doesn’t have to cost a fortune but can pay dividends for years to come.

Imagine for example creating an iPhone app which would allow customers to punch in certain common types of restaurant foods and get a rough idea of how many calories they include. While many cities and towns now require this information from larger restaurants, smaller places could easily digitize their entire menu, offering information at the fingertips of diners who have an app phone (typically iPhone or Android phone) available.

New Development Tools Available

For the do it yourself restaurateur who would like to offer useful apps for his or her customers, Google’s Android operating system now offers a way to create custom made apps using an object oriented design program. The idea behind the Google effort was to allow pretty much anyone to create a custom app in just a few minutes.

Imagine if you were to offer a custom app that allows people to figure out the tip they want to offer. While other such apps already exist, such an app would be easy to make and brand with your restaurant name so that you are always foremost in their minds, reminding them to spend their next evening out at your establishment.