Technology has shaped the way that restaurants do business, especially following the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite many limitations in how and when customers were able to be served, technology made this easier by establishing accommodations that might not have already been in place, such as online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery. However, technology was already beginning to cause a cultural shift within the restaurant industry prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prior to COVID-19
Many restaurants were already beginning to establish some sort of reward system to attract and retain customers. These reward systems often come in the form of an application or through the restaurant’s own application. An example of this being Starbucks’ Stars Program where a customer earns 2 stars per every dollar spent. This is done entirely through the Starbucks application.
Kiosks and Digital Ordering:
Having to wait in a line to order food can be annoying, especially when you’re on a time-crunch or if it’s during a lunch or dinner rush. So, to both prevent the line from backing up and to offer relief and spacing to those working in the kitchen, restaurants like Panera have installed kiosks at the front of their stores. Customers can order their food from these kiosks and proceed directly to their tables, bypassing the long line altogether.
Another important aspect to digital ordering has been the shift in digital menus -- readily available via scannable QR codes. Now, instead of handing customers paper menus, they are encouraged to scan a QR code with their phone in order to access a digital copy of the menu.
Social media plays a huge role in maintaining the positive reputation of a restaurant. It has become so easy for anyone to take to Facebook and post a review. The same goes for Google Business and Yelp. Business review websites have become easier to access with the booming popularity of smartphones and devices. They are easily accessible from anywhere at any time.
Digital Food Safety:
Having all of the restaurant's checklists, temperature food logs, and self-inspections or audits in one place makes it easier for employees to serve fresh food. Using a digital smartphone or tablet will give you a piece of mind when the health inspector makes a visit. A digital food safety application can also help employees embrace a culture of food safety.
Digitalize Restaurant Operations:
No more having to wonder if your store(s) are being operated properly. With a digital restaurant management tool, you will be able to manage your restaurant, even if you aren’t in the store. Using digital instead of paper and pen will allow you to achieve consistent processes throughout your restaurants.
By replacing paper with something digital, restaurants can have a better look into daily operations through alerts and live reporting. Know whether or not things are getting done and have a plan of action in the off chance that things are not getting done in a timely manner. For added accountability you can take a photo.
It can be difficult to keep track of log or checklist completion, especially during the lunch and dinner rush hours. Having the ability to view and track, in real time, log completion for all your store processes and checklists is a great tool to have.
You can use real-time reporting as a means of employee engagement. Establish some sort of reward system for the individual(s) that have the longest streak or the highest checklist or log completion rate. It will keep the workplace environment competitive and lively.
Employee/Guest Health Assessment
Ensure that your employees are arriving healthy and ready to serve with an employee health assessment or questionnaire. You have the option to take employee and guests temperatures by using a digital reporting application.
Technology has changed the way that the restaurant industry functions. What was once done through paper and pencil or a physical punch-card is now done through an application. Even though things have changed, that doesn’t mean that you can’t adapt and change with them or that it won’t benefit your business.