Man holds a smartphone over food

Is Your Restaurant Smart? 3 Ways Tech Boosts Revenues

If you own a restaurant, you are undertaking one of the most demanding jobs on Earth. You’re charged with hiring and managing staff, ensuring that you have the right equipment and fresh ingredients to prepare dishes, getting the right location and decor to appeal to customers, keeping track of the books and payroll, and constantly marketing to new customers, to name a few of the many items on your neverending to-do list.

It’s a relentless business—yet there are tools emerging today that can help restaurants work far more intelligently and cost-effectively.

Just as software revolutionized our phones a decade ago, technology is now doing the same to the restaurant business. It’s primarily happening through mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems that are bringing data science into the hands of legions of restaurant owners. Here are three concrete ways that these smart tools can boost your income in 2017:

1. Upselling

When done well, upselling is the art of making someone’s meal more delicious than they ever thought possible. It’s about great recommendations, the slice of cheese that works like a dream on your burger, a green salad that goes refreshingly well with the rich, mushroom risotto.

Software Advice, a Gartner-owned restaurant management software consultancy, recently published the results of a survey conducted with customers who eat out regularly (69% of them had eaten out more than six times in a three-month period.) Their statistics on upselling are revelatory.

Their data shows that customers appreciate being given recommendations—more than half were “moderately likely” or “very likely” to make a modification to their order made by a server. But they weren’t being offered these ideas very often. Wait staff simply weren’t giving recommendations enough. “The majority of customers are being upsold on no more than half their restaurant visits”, states the report.

What is the disconnect here? New technologies such as mPOS systems help you get around this missed opportunity by standardizing the upselling opportunities. With a tablet in hand, servers are prompted to ask whether guests would like additional elements as they take an order. It no longer comes down to a waiter with a good memory and a knack for building ideal meals to make these suggestions—it’s built into the day-to-day workings of the restaurant. The result? Better combinations, larger orders, more satisfied diners and increased revenue. For example, adding $4 to a $20 order can amount to a hefty $146,000 in additional revenue per year.

2. Speeding up service

Smart mobile technology enables wait staff to take orders and process them right at the table, without having to work their way back and forth through a maze of diners to the POS terminal. Because they are remaining on the floor and taking orders and payments more swiftly, they are turning over tables more efficiently and thus boosting the bottom line in considerable ways.

Anthony Tse, owner of Jack’s Sliders and Sushi in New York City, says in another Software Advice article, that the benefits of mPOS are manyfold—not by only speeding up service, but by making it possible for fewer servers to do an equally good job. “First, you make the restaurant look a little trendier. And then second, you actually speed up the service time,” Tse says of the many benefits. “If you are turning the tables faster, you don’t need that many servers.”

3. Data-based decision-making

But perhaps some of the most valuable benefits of these tools lie in the data they collect—numbers that you can start to analyze and use to make subtle tweaks to daily operations. QSR Magazine reports that a quick service restaurant operator in California brought on board a POS system and within just two weeks, the owner had adjusted his opening hours based on the data he was seeing. By shifting the opening and closing times back one hour, there was a seven percent increase in revenue.

It’s important to note that the whole point of using these smart tools is to allow you to be the greatest restaurant owner you can be. The tools can help you cut down costs and increase spending to allow you to do what you do best: deliver a memorable restaurant experience. As a recent Forbes opinion piece argues, you don’t want to make trimming costs your focus here (shrinking serving sizes and so forth)—if you do that, you could scare away your customers. Rather, focus on delivering a state-of-the-art experience and building on what you already do well. Today, this means including a serving of smart tech.

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