If you’ve been looking for ways to increase the efficiency of your restaurant and boost revenue, it’s time to take a good, hard look at tableside ordering and payment systems. With these systems, orders are transmitted directly to the kitchen via a mobile point of sale (POS) device, eliminating the need for a server to write it down and carry it or stand in line to enter it at a stationary POS terminal. When it’s time to settle the bill, customers can use their credit or debit card, again, right at the table, without the server carrying the check and receipt back and forth.
Those are major, time-saving and customer-service-enhancing benefits, but have you considered the many additional ways tableside ordering systems can benefit your business? Here are six from the list:
- Quicker service and faster table turns. When servers don’t have to run around placing orders and taking payments, they will save valuable time. A 2015 Los Angeles Times article reported that when Olive Garden implemented tabletop tablets, servers could turn over their tables 7 to 10 minutes faster. Other experts estimate that restaurants can gain as much as 15 minutes. According to a Hospitality Technology article, moving from three to four table turns per shift can increase revenue by 20% to 25%. Faster table turns also mean shorter wait times for customers — which is always a plus for a great overall dining experience.
- Better customer service. Servers who aren’t running back and forth to the kitchen or payment processing station can focus instead on attending to customers’ needs, such as providing prompt drink refills or fetching extra dipping sauce. And with pay-at-the-table functionality, customers’ credit cards never leave their possession, eliminating the risk of card skimming and making them feel more secure. Another advantage: Happy diners give better tips: the Los Angeles Times article reported that Olive Garden server tips increased by 15% after they implemented tableside orders and payment.
- Easier training. The tablets or mobile devices used with these systems are similar to (or the same as) the mobile devices employees use every day in their personal lives. Having a familiar and intuitive interface makes servers comfortable and streamlines training time.
- Outdoor dining solution. You can install a solution that works both inside and outside. This solves the challenge of providing service to outdoor dining customers, without wasting time running in and out of the restaurant to place orders or complete payment transactions. Noisy or distracting outdoor environments could contribute to more human errors when servers write down orders, but tableside tablet systems help eliminate this risk. If you choose a system in which customers input their own orders, you may find they tend to order more. According to a National Restaurant Association article, Red Robin reported a more than 10% increase in appetizer and dessert sales with tableside ordering.
- Entertainment During the Wait. Tablets at the table can be preloaded with games to occupy younger diners, giving their parents (and other patrons) a more peaceful dining experience. Servers can always offer to remove the devices for families who want more conversation and face time with each other. And if the games are “pay to play” (with the customers being made aware of that fact up front), they can provide additional revenue.
- Cost-Saving Features. Systems for tableside ordering and payment can actually have a lower initial investment cost than traditional systems, leading to a faster ROI. These systems can also provide cloud data storage, which makes troubleshooting easier since it can be done remotely, and also gives owners access to reports and business information from anywhere they can get an Internet connection. And systems that can accept EMV or chip cards will reduce chargebacks resulting from credit card fraud — a problem that has been on the rise for restaurants.
Tableside ordering and payment systems have many advantages beyond just immediately transmitting an order or immediately completing a payment transaction. Learn more about how this technology can benefit your business.