As a restaurateur, it is common knowledge that amazing food is what makes or breaks your venue’s success. While it is vital to have a good product to provide to your customers, your food alone will not determine your success. It is easy to get romantic about passion projects, but to turn them into more than just an indulgence, we need to look at ROI. In this article, we are going to talk about whether or not investing in restaurant technology is financially appropriate for your restaurant.
Why Consider Technology for Your Restaurant?
Before getting into numbers, let’s walk through the argument for technology upgrade implementation in your restaurant.
Being first is always exciting, and one-upping your competition is a terrific feeling, but you always must look before you take the technological leap. Here are five reasons you should consider technology for your establishment.
1. Large Chains Are Making the Investment
If you want to bring in the big bucks like the large food chains, you must pay attention to their innovation investments. Just as Burger King became the fast-food behemoth by simply opening stores across from every McDonald’s, you can also look to McDonald's which is investing significant cash toward customer-facing kiosks to cut lines and allow for more in-depth customization for their patrons.
2. Consumers Love Technology
Millennials thrive off technology and adding it to your restaurant satisfies a crucial demand from this generation. While older generations are not adopting technology as quickly, the benefit of shorter lines is shared and appreciated be every generation.
3. Technology Encourages Increased Spending
When customers are left to their own devices, they often spend more money than when assisted by a human. Why? They simply do not feel rushed, feel more comfortable looking at more options, and have become familiar with upsell offers from online shopping. Alternatively, upsells appear pushy and aggressive when offered by a salesperson, e.g., “would you like fries with that?” “How about a drink?” Yet if these offers are onscreen, your customer is less bothered as it has come to be expected, and saying “no” to the offer does not involve rejecting another human being.
4. Some Restaurants Are Going 100% Kiosk
The thought of only having the option of going to a restaurant and ordering at a kiosk may have been deemed impersonal in the past, but now we interact with our phone and other hand-held devices on a much more personal level. Our phones themselves are now now becoming more like friends, and with the rise of digital assistants, consumers crave technology-based interactions like never before. 100% kiosk restaurants are similar to websites that no longer provide a phone number or human interaction, but instead provide you with a knowledge base, help desk, and possibly automated chat services.
5. Labor Savings
Using technology allows you to save on labor costs since qualified professionals are becoming increasingly expensive. Most technology today does not replace employees, but instead allows them to be more efficient and effective and to focus in areas where they are most needed.
Determining Your Restaurant ROI
The consensus among restaurateurs is that it is difficult to quantify all costs from a technology investment, but even so, tracking these costs is important. When it comes to making a decision on capital investment in technology for your restaurant, you must understand the cost of such technology. The best way to evaluate the ROI from your technology investment is through the total cost of ownership (TCO.) Included in TCO are such things as training, installation, configuration, license costs, hardware, software, contracts for maintenance, ongoing maintenance, and technology life.
Options for Improving the Technology Side of Your Business
Let’s move on to look at two types of technology that will benefit your business:
- Back-of-house technology
- Customer-facing technology
Back-of-house technology solutions:
Kitchen operations systems – These systems allow for improved efficiency, improved employee safety, and better food quality. These systems also help with the reduction of waste and, of course, the reduction of waste results in increased profits. These systems link to the EPOS system of the venue and enable the display of orders with automatic allocation of specific menu items to the appropriate chef.
Procurement software – This software allows you to predict revenues and order supplies as needed. Purchasing and inventory management is critical to the reduction of waste.
Workflow management technology – Restaurants are using workflow management technology to increase operational efficiency outside of service. Now smart checklists are available to ensure that staff members are performing tasks in the correct order and in a timely fashion.
Customer-facing technology solutions:
Automated bartending – Automated bartending solutions are perfect for restaurants as qualified bartenders are among the most expensive human resources at your establishment. With fully automated bartending machines, little skill and training is required to make professional cocktails as all the mixology and measuring is done perfectly and accurately by the machine, and all at the push of a single button. Any waiter or waitress can now pour a perfectly crafted cocktail in under ten seconds.
Digital menu boards – Digital menu boards allows you to quickly and powerfully present your latest promotions without having to change out physical signage. Implementation of digital boards both decreases employee workloads and reduces labor costs while giving the customer a better experience by keeping them informed.
Self-service Kiosks – While self-service kiosks may not seem like the next level of customer service, self-serving and customer control is in high demand. This is due to the fact that the customer can take their time in a no-pressure environment to get exactly what they want while the establishment reduces labor costs by decreasing the number of frontline employees working at any given time.
Online Ordering – Another trend online ordering allows users to be in and out with their orders quickly. Online ordering not only makes it easy for your customers, but allows the restaurant to set up prompts for loyalty programs, account creation and the purchase of gift cards for return use at a later date.
When determining whether it is worth investing in new technology for your restaurant, you need to consider all of the elements in TCO. And beyond TCO, be sure to speak with peers and obtain bids instead of making assumptions as to the TOTAL cost for every part of the technology you are considering for implementation. Knowing the actual financial impact, both positive and negative, will allow you to make an informed decision as to what is best for your establishment.