There has been a big push towards technology making its way into the restaurant industry, but the industry itself has been slow to adopt. Some has to do with making room in the budget for it, while other reasons are due to consumers’ willingness to participate with apps they’d have to download on their smartphones. With that said, we have seen a lot of restaurants that have found success in bringing in technology that helps improve efficiency in front of house and back of house operations, and here are some of our favorites that we think you could easily (and inexpensively) get started with today.
1. Tabbed Out
When we went to visit our Dreamstaurant winner, Snow and Co, they had tabletop signs throughout their establishment that advertised the mobile app, Tabbed Out. When we inquired about the app (available on iOS and Droid), one of the owners, Jerry, enthusiastically shared how the app was able to benefit the restaurant as well as the clientele. Snow and Co is in an area of town that is close to the opera house and art district. There are a lot of people that come in during intermission and for a quick drink or bite to eat. The faster that those consumers can get their tab and cash out, the faster they can get back to the show. With the help of Tabbed Out, guests can pay from their smartphone, including the tip, whenever they’re ready to pay up. They have the option to split the tab with friends, and they can earn rewards and receive personalized offers direct from the restaurant. The restaurant benefits because they’re able to track customer history and preferences, which means they can send them more tailored offers to try to get them back in the door. The app also allows the business owner to set the tip at the percentage they prefer; the guest can change the percentage, but the recommended percentage can encourage higher tips.
2. Table’s Ready & WaitAway
If the traditional buzzer system has you spending more money that you’d like, then Table’s Ready or WaitAwayis the system for you. There’s no need for guests to download an app, because all of the technology is ran on your end. All you have to do is simply collect their name and phone number and once their table is ready, a text message or phone call (your choice) is sent to them letting them know the table is ready. These two systems let the guest know where they are in the line-up for a table, how long of a wait they can expect, as well as, showing the business owner time analytics, including average wait time trends by date, day of week, and hour. Both systems run on most tablets, laptops, and desktops.
We’re sure you’ve seen Square before at your local farmers market and at your favorite food truck, but we’re starting to see them pop-up in local restaurants and eateries too. Square is a simple to use credit card POS that works with iOS and Droid systems. All you have to do is simply load the software to the device (table or smartphone), plug the swipper into the headphone jack, and you’re ready to start taking credit card payments. The price to run Square is much less than regular credit card processing fees and there are no commitments, minimums, or surprises (i.e. no inactivity fees, no chargeback fees, no bank routing fees, no cancellation fees, etc.). Don’t feel comfortable handing over a smartphone or tablet for payment? No worries, Square makes a stand that integrates with an iPad, and we’ve seen other genius ideas from local breweries and yogurt shops that have made their Square quite eye-catching.
Enough with the front of house fun, let’s talk about back of house. NotifEye is a cloud based monitoring system that works to monitor temperatures that range from -40⁰ to 257⁰ F. Think about being able to monitor temperatures from inside the walk-in from the comfort of your home. That’s right, if someone leaves the walk-in door open, you’ll be emailed about the temperatures being off and can immediately fix the issue. Where does this help you the most? You can now save food from spoiling because of harmful temperature ranges, save energy by knowing exactly what the temperatures in the front of house and back of house are, and easily report to the health inspector what the temperature ranges are throughout the building and within equipment.