It's common knowledge among restaurant owners and managers that food service is one of the most competitive industries out there. With big challenges come opportunities for innovative solutions that can easily take your restaurant above and beyond the competition — and continue satisfying modern diners’ cravings.
Now more than ever, customers expect an intuitive digital dining experience, fueled by the latest technology. 70% of customers expect restaurants to have an online ordering system, while 76% expect to find online ordering available on a restaurant’s branded mobile app. What’s more, the pandemic has changed the way people eat — with 79% of customers reporting that they ordered pickup at least twice in April 2021, and 56% of people ordering delivery at least twice in the same month.
Embracing new technology is key to improving your restaurant experience on- and off-premise, while lightening the load on your hardworking staff.
Ready to better understand your customers’ needs, streamline daily operations, and invite more people through the door? Read on to learn nine ways that technology can help improve your restaurant operations.
Understand your customers better
Incorporating new technology specially designed for restaurants is an easy way for owners and managers to better understand customer preferences and desires — while boosting their brand and increasing revenue.
An easy and efficient way to understand the customer experience is with digital loyalty programs, a fresh update to traditional programs that have been around for decades. More and more tech-savvy restaurant owners are making the transition from plastic membership cards and keychain tags to digital loyalty apps that can be accessed directly from the customer's smartphone.
In fact, 79% of Americans are more likely to join a rewards program that doesn’t require them to carry a physical card. Through a digital loyalty program, customers can earn rewards every time they dine in or order takeout.
But they’re not the only ones who are benefitting. When customers order food from your establishment, you can use the latest restaurant ordering technology to collect data about them, easily learning which dishes are the most popular — and adjusting accordingly through menu customization.
As a result, you can meet demands in real-time, build brand loyalty, and strengthen your reputation for excellence, all while showing customers you care through a frequent dining rewards system.
Another way to strengthen your restaurant experience and better meet the needs of modern diners is with digital waitlists. Guests can add their names online and receive text or email notifications when their on-premise table is ready.
This technological solution helps eliminate unnecessary lines and wait times for guests, while also helping your staff prepare for and manage influxes of diners.
Streamline operations for more efficiency
A lot of magic happens behind the scenes at restaurants in order to deliver a seamless experience to diners. One way modern restaurants are improving their operations is with kitchen display systems, or digital screens, that allow the kitchen staff to track incoming orders and communicate more effectively with front-of-house staff, avoiding errors and improve accuracy.
Restaurants can integrate both dine-in and online orders into one cohesive management system so kitchen staff can rely on one system instead of multiple printers and tablets. Not only is this easier on staff, but it also ensures consistently delicious food and correct orders for your customers.
Another type of restaurant ordering technology that will significantly improve the efficiency of restaurant operations is food delivery apps like DoorDash Drive. In the past, staff had no option but to answer phone calls and write down orders on a piece of paper. But today, food delivery technology allows for fast online ordering from smartphones or other electronic devices.
The result? Your staff has more time for important tasks like tending to customers, clearing tables, and preparing orders for delivery. No matter the size of the order, DoorDash Drive is designed to handle all aspects of delivery orders with fast online technology that streamlines the process. Data shows that the average delivery travel time on a DoorDash order is only 37 minutes from when the order is placed to drop-off.
This advanced restaurant ordering technology not only frees up your staff to do other jobs, but also allows you to customize your ordering process so that it works at an optimal level for the unique needs of your restaurant.
Create a safer & more informed business
Along with staying on top of restaurant industry trends and implementing marketing tips to increase revenue, a top priority for restaurant owners and managers is the safety of staff and patrons. With symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening, food allergies are a serious matter in any restaurant — so don't leave it to human error. Instead, let innovative technology be your safeguard that fully screens each and every customer for food allergies or sensitivities in their order.
If you're wondering how to improve restaurant operations to ensure the safety of diners, new technology offers a simple and effective solution. Utilize a menu-building software that lists the ingredients of every menu item. This useful software is designed to keep track of nutritional details and ingredients of each recipe while also staying in compliance with FDA nutrition reporting requirements.
With all of this detailed information available on your menu, the wait staff will be readily able to answer any customer’s questions with confidence and accuracy.
Increase data security
Another important part of improving your restaurant operations and strengthening your restaurant business plan is protecting the vast amount of data stored in POS and back-office systems. Data breaches can be a major problem for any restaurant, but with the right type of software, you can greatly reduce the threat of potential data thieves.
One way to avoid becoming a target is to use malware software that protects against data pirating. This will allow you to securely store credit cards, employee information, and banking transactions within encrypted, cloud-based programs. We advise consulting with your provider to find out how you can maximize data security for optimal safeguarding against threats.
Become more sustainable
Not only is sustainability smarter for your business due to the reduction of expenses, but it also boosts your reputation as environmentally friendly. By incorporating sustainable business practices into your everyday operations, you can reduce food waste, source supplies from local organic farmers, and even transition to a paperless system. This is an opportunity to help the environment and simultaneously improve your restaurant experience.
While sustainability is important, many restaurant owners continue to struggle with the practical aspect of incorporating these practices into daily operations. One solution is to implement a type of software that forecasts exactly how much food needs to be prepared for each shift. This new technology allows significant reductions in food waste caused by over-ordering or over-prepping.
Restaurant software can also help operators streamline the ordering of supplies; it maintains a list of vendors that align with your restaurant’s sustainable values and practices. Going paperless will also save a significant amount of trees while simultaneously reducing the amount of time spent on paperwork.
Human resources software can take on day-to-day operations such as recruiting, training practices, onboarding, and more. These efforts will help the environment while also reducing costs — thereby boosting your bottom line.
Use voice recognition for daily tasks
To improve your day-to-day restaurant experience even further, consider using voice commands as a way of helping staff complete tasks that would otherwise be tedious and time-consuming. As voice recognition improves across all sectors, including food service industries, this modern technology will allow your voice to take orders and communicate with the kitchen staff when dishes are ready to be served.
Voice recognition can also be used to gather customer feedback and allow diners to ask questions about the menu. Going beyond the dining room, voice recognition can also give you the ability to quickly and easily relay information about food deliveries, stock updates, printing tickets and bills, and more.
Gain 24/7 access to restaurant operations
Virtual access to everyday essentials such as online banking, personal accounts, newspapers, and so on is a major part of modern life. Everybody wants to be connected around the clock, regardless of location. Why should running a restaurant be any different?
Mobile technology has gone from luxury status to a must-have tool for staying competitive and growing your business. By eliminating the need for a manager to be hunkered down in the back office keying data into a computer, your restaurant can save many wasted hours by enabling 24/7 access to sales, labor, and forecasting reports. With no need to wait for files to be transferred or verified, business operations can be done from anywhere — through a few taps on a smart device.
The demands of daily restaurant operations often require managers and owners to be in many different places at once. It makes sense to give them virtual access to back-office operations and keep them working outside of the office. Incorporating cloud-based software will give you the ability to order supplies, create schedules for the staff, and manage inventory counts — all from the convenience of a smart device.
Improve business intelligence
Taking a cue from the advantages of big data to the corporate world, the foodservice industry can collect critical business intelligence (BI) as a way of improving your restaurant experience and gaining insight into which areas need the most support.
New technology can give you access to a wealth of untapped information stored in many POS systems. When you have this information at your fingertips, it can revolutionize the way your restaurant operates. Now, you can have real insights into what needs to be improved in daily operations — the key to giving you a competitive advantage.
Bolster your online ordering platforms
In 2020, 11% of sales at quick-service restaurants came from mobile orders and 90% of customers reported conducting research online before deciding where to eat. No time like the present to embrace an intuitive online ordering platform, and in turn improve your restaurant operations.
Increased digital ordering opportunities create a more convenient and efficient experience for all your guests. Dine-in guests can order from an app, tablet, or kiosk in-store, and off-premise customers can place a pickup or delivery order from the comfort of home.
The result? Less miscommunication between guests and servers, a frictionless payment experience, and new business coming through the door — thanks to your compelling, interactive digital experience.
The key ingredients for a compelling online ordering platform are recognizable branding, appealing visual elements, ease of use, and — of course — a mobile-friendly format. With so many customers turning to the internet to satisfy their next craving, modern restaurants need to capture the sales potential of online traffic and encourage first-time customers to come back for seconds.
With Storefront, you can create a seamless online ordering experience by adding delivery and pickup ordering to your existing website — easily converting website visitors into paying customers. What’s more, it only takes a few minutes to set up and orders are commission-free.
Ready to embrace new technology?
The digital era is here, and restaurants need to get on board if they want to stay ahead of competitors and engage modern diners. By implementing these technological changes, you create a smoother restaurant experience for your staff and customers — while boosting profits and gaining a reputation for reliable, efficient service.
Looking for more opportunities to improve your restaurant experience and bring new customers through the door? Sign up for DoorDash for Merchants today.