By Rick Braa, CHAE
Q: The technology world is moving quickly. I’m fearful we will be irrelevant in the future. What are some of the pieces of tech I should be looking into now to stay current?
A: Technology has played an essential role in redefining the restaurant industry. A recent industry report concluded 73 percent of consumers think technology improves their dining experience and 95 percent of restaurateurs believe technology improves restaurant efficiency. Consider several types of technology that can help you drive sales and profitability.
Employ an email service provider. Email is still the most economical and effective way to market restaurants. Over 90 percent of adults use email and 99 percent check email daily. The ROI on email communication is 28.5 percent better than direct mail, and according to OptinMonster, every dollar spent on email marketing rakes in $38. Though tougher to execute and often time consuming, investing time in email marketing will drive interest and higher sales. Selecting an email service provider will ease the burden and time commitment. A simple internet search will provide a plethora of reliable providers.
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Evaluate and improve reservation systems. Some restaurants take reservations, many don’t. Consumers have a lot of choice for restaurants and will decrease frequency due to long waits during peak periods There are big benefits by knowing traffic flow during every shift. If a steady stream of reservations is developed, staffing can be optimized. If your restaurant takes reservations, vet anc compare possible systems against one another. These systens include Open Table, Resy and Seven Rooms. There are alternatives for those not interested in a traditional reservation system. No Wait allows guests to add a name to a waitlist without being at the restaurant. With either method, be sure to select a system that has a CRM to build strong customer relationships and analytics to optimize business levels.
Leverage online ordering. Convenience continues to drive adaption of online order for many reasons, including an inability to travel, a preference not to cook, the ease of ordering and time savings. According to the National Restaurant Association, 51 percent of Americans use delivery services to purchase meals from casual dining restaurants and 26 percent order takeout or delivery at least once a week. Since 2014, digital ordering and delivery have been growing 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic. While many have turned to third party delivery services, the opportunity to provide takeout through your website is a valid and profitable model. Pickup and takeout fees coordinated through a website cost far less. The consumer also has more time to order than in person or over the phone and are more likely to order extra items, increasing guest check averages.
Use a loyalty app to drive frequency. It’s easier than ever to design a great loyalty program on a stand-alone app or integrated with an online program. Some POS systems offer integrated loyalty programs that allow insight into consumer choice and the ability to offer additional frequency-building rewards to frequent guests. Online loyalty programs like Level Up provide great marketing insight by tracking customer behavior such as how often your guests visit and why.
Most loyalty programs track birthdays and anniversaries, providing further personal attention. To get the maximum return on investment, require your loyalty app to be mobile friendly.
Use scheduling software. Scheduling can be difficult. Using an electronic scheduling app allows managers to complete the schedule more quickly with easier management of vacation days, available and non-available schedule preferences, skills by employee, and costed schedules to name just a few of the features. In addition, employees can swap shifts, request days off, and have more flexibility which is vitally important to the workforce today.
Regardless of the technology platforms you invest in, always keep service and product in mind and choose platforms that provide an engaging guest and employee experience to drive happiness, loyalty and a healthier business.
For a more information on improving profitability and driving sales, contact AMP Services at . Rick Braa is the co-founder of AMP Services, an accounting and consulting firm specializing in helping companies grow profitability.