Restaurants have explored all types of technology trying to differentiate themselves or find an edge, but they can’t all be winners. Below we explore five of the biggest losers.
Table Call Buttons
I sometimes almost laugh when I see these still being used. A table call button implies that your staff is inattentive and it reduces the amount of face-to-face interaction you have with your customers. Not to mention what happens when your staff are too busy to actually come to the table on time. Giving customers a button implies that you’ll be there instantaneously. Not doing so could just aggravate your impatient Gen X patrons.
Fast Casual, Order at the Table Tablets
Whew, not even beginning on the expense of putting a tablet at every table, then having to secure it with complex mounts and locks, letting your customer order from a tablet at a table reduces staff interaction and increases confusion. What if your customer wants to make substitutions, has questions about the menu, or presses one wrong button? That’s a re-order, stat. Also, these tablets boast games for bored customers to play. Great for those with kids and no phones, but everyone has a phone now days. Try tableside-ordering devices instead, where one can use an app to send an order straight away to the kitchen to be cooked. It perfectly marries technology with tableside service and promptness. Popular British chain Wagamama has been employing this technology for years and they have over 140+ locations worldwide.
Curb-side Pick Up
If you think about it, this is the same as having the ability to order take out, except it comes with a specified parking space for you to park in. While maybe working for large restaurant chains like Applebee’s, this is impractical for restaurants with limited parking space, taking away prime parking spots for diners who prefer to eat in. The traditional drive-through is more space efficient and provides the same service. Especially in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Honolulu, where space and parking spaces are at a premium, restaurants cannot afford these space inneficient practices.
K-Cups for Coffee Service
Bulky, expensive, generating a lot of trash, and needing to be refilled with water every 10 cups or less, the Keurig was not designed for food service and never fit the bill. While the Keurig still may work for a home or office coffee systems, it never had a place in restaurants and is going by the wayside.
Card-Based Restaurant Loyalty Programs
Offering someone a free cup of coffee for every tenth visit is one thing, but to ask someone to remember to bring a physical card into your location every time they drop in is a thing of the past. With competing space in our wallets (and memories), the best loyalty programs are the ones that can be operated using a phone number or linked to their credit card. Customers should also be able to check their rewards status or ask an employee to do it for them.
Remember, just because a large chain has adopted a practice or technology, doesn’t make it right for your restaurant. Do your research before picking any old POS system or installing televisions in all your bathrooms.