Looking for ways to make your restaurant more innovative but don’t know where to start?
Most restaurant owners say yes, and for one reason: they don’t know how to utilize new technology.
The Internet of Things. Artificial Intelligence. Big Data. Meta Data. The list seems never-ending. What’s more, new technology is everywhere. A quick Google search about new restaurant technology returns over 1.2 billion results.
This much information can be overwhelming.
But, implementing new technology into your business operation doesn’t have to feel so weighty. In fact, once you begin to see past the bells and whistles and realize the core elements behind each piece of technology, it becomes quite easy to see how it can help improve your bottom line.
To help you comb through the weeds, we compiled these 5 simple ways you can introduce new technology into your restaurant. Hopefully some of these ways will help boost your bottom line along the way.
1. Start Small
Adding new technology doesn’t mean overhauling your operation completely. Instead, slowly build it into your operation.
Let’s say you own a juice bar, for example. Purchasing the new Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender to replace an old one is a great place to start. This blender gives users the ability to walk away from their creations without sacrificing the quality of the results. While your blender is making one customer’s order, you can do other value-adding tasks such as answering the phone or taking another order.
Once you’re comfortable, consider adding a mobile payment system to your POS that allows you to ring up more than one customer at a time. Square is compatible with a lot of top brands and has products that are very user-friendly.
Slowly adding new technology allows you the time to learn all the ins and outs of a product and figure out ways to make it work better for your business.
2. Keep It Simple
Adding new technology isn’t a complicated process. In fact, it becomes exponentially easier when you upgrade a piece of equipment you already know how to use.
Maybe you want to add classic Italian pizza to your menu, but you don’t want to sacrifice the New York style pizza that your customers crave. If that’s the case, consider purchasing the Baker’s Pride Il Forno Classico Oven. This oven combines the best of both worlds by giving pizza makers the option to use a wood fire style oven or a traditional deck oven in their stacked unit.
You should never implement a new piece of technology simply because it’s new. Remember: technology needs to work for your business. Not the other way around.
3. Let Your Balance Sheet Do the Talking
Your balance sheet should always be the one to decide what new technology your business needs. Otherwise, you run the risk of conspicuously consuming technology for its own sake rather than for the betterment of your business.
I’ll give you a personal example. I once ran an Italian restaurant in Georgia (go ahead and laugh) that threw away nearly $5,000 of food per month. Outside of our lease, food waste was our biggest expense. So, I started tracking what food was being thrown out. I would stand in the dish pit for a couple of hours and take mental notes of everything I saw our servers throw away. In the end, this data allowed me to hone our menu and minimize our waste, which resulted in an increase of food sales by $2,000 per month.
Unfortunately, I was doing this work before Winnow hit the market. At its core, Winnow is just a scale. But, it does much more than weigh the amount of food in your trashcan. Winnow’s scales connect to wireless tablets that allow users to identify and track the kind of food that’s being thrown out. This helps you measure what is getting wasted, so you can manage how to fix it.
4. Fix What You Know is Broken
Have you ever worked for a manager that told you to just work harder while ticket times are soaring? I certainly have.
Instead of trying to fix problems with brute force, utilize technology that helps you streamline your processes.
Maybe your bartending staff makes exceptional craft cocktails and rarely has time to pour beer. If this sounds like your staff, then you need to try something like iPourIt, a self-serve beer station that cuts down on wait times and increases alcohol sales.
On the other hand, if your kitchen staff is having trouble getting orders out because they get too many orders at once, consider utilizing tableside POS systems. This way, servers can send a table’s order to the kitchen immediately, and you don’t have a line waiting to hand over orders.
5. Use Social Media
If you aren’t using any new-age technology don’t have the capital to invest in any of the previously mentioned ways to introduce it into your business, then you must—I repeat, MUST—be sure you’re using social media.
Why? Because you have to let the people hear your voice.
According to a study by Restaurant Dive, 45 percent of customers choose where to eat because of a social media post. Another 75 percent follow and engage with their favorite restaurants online. This makes social media a driving force for businesses who want to boost their bottom line.
On top of that, social media is incredibly easy to use. Making an account takes minutes and posting quality content is as easy as taking a picture. It’s a win-win for business owners of all ages.
You can engage customers on social media by offering exclusive discounts for food and drink. One national survey found that this marketing scheme increased led to a 10 percent increase in social media engagement. This could result in another 4 or 5 customers coming to your restaurant per month.
Another way to engage with customers is to repost the pictures they take at your restaurant. If a customer snaps a quick pic of their dish, share it for your followers to enjoy. All it takes is the effort to click a button.