If you’re interested in amping up customer engagement and improving the guest experience, look no further than tableside ordering technology. Over the last decade, technology has taken the restaurant industry by storm and modified much of the business’ core operations. Tableside ordering technology is one of these small changes that can have a significant impact on your business.
Grab a cup of joe and take the next five minutes and see what tableside ordering can do for your restaurant.
What is Tableside Ordering Technology?
There are two ways to interpret tableside ordering.
- The first involves placing a tablet solution in a stand on each table. Guests can use the tablet to place orders, reorder drinks, play games, and pay their check. You may have seen this guest-facing technology at large national chains like Chili’s or Applebee’s
- The second option is arming your waitstaff with tablets for tableside ordering and payments.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the latter. Putting technology in the hands of your employees rather than your customers. Call us old-fashioned (although we prefer the word vintage), but gathering for a meal is still about the face-to-face interaction with the people at your table — not technology.
Plus, outfitting every table in your restaurant with a tablet can get quite costly. Buying a few tablets for a handful of servers is a more budget-conscious decision, and your bottom line will thank you.
Benefits of Tableside Ordering
In a fast-paced environment like a restaurant, finding ways to speed up dining times is a top priority for owners. Restaurant technology is changing the dining experience, and tableside ordering technology is one of these advances. Tableside ordering solutions help restaurant owners and employees in so many ways, so it only makes sense to invest in this technology.
Increase Speed of Service and Turn Tables Faster
Reducing dining time helps the restaurant get more customers in and out of their doors. The quicker staff can turn tables, the more guests they’ll serve, and the more revenue your restaurant will earn.
Imagine if servers could greet a table and immediately take their drink order. This simple interaction can easily shave two to five minutes off that table’s dining time. Now, imagine if servers could repeat these face-to-face interactions throughout the customers’ stay with a tableside POS? Think of how much time the staff will save by not walking back and forth to a stationary ordering system.
Increase Accuracy of Orders
Not only does the speed of service increase with tableside ordering, but so does accuracy. Placing an order on a tablet, in real-time, reduces the chances of servers making mistakes. This statement is especially true if servers don’t manage to write down special requests, or only write down a portion of it. By the time they get to the stationary POS system to input the ticket, they may not remember it in its entirety.
Not only does this impact the customer’s experience, but if the mistake is not caught before it reaches the kitchen, it will also have a negative impact on food costs and waste.
Mistakes will happen. Servers aren’t perfect. It’s just the nature of the business. Why not try to reduce the risk and take a proactive approach with a wireless tableside ordering system?
Improve Customer Experience
The guest experience can make or break a restaurant, which is why it’s so important to provide nothing less than phenomenal service. If customers can order and pay on mobile devices, waitstaff can spend more time with customers, ensuring a higher level of service and satisfaction.
Credit card fraud is a concern for many restaurant patrons. Fraud is particularly easy to perpetrate at restaurants. Diners hand over their credit cards without a second guess and don’t often see where their card goes once it’s handed over.
Tableside ordering devices ultimately eliminates this concern because a customer’s credit card will never leave their sight or the safety of their hands.
As the restaurant owner, your job is to ensure that the tableside POS system is up to date on the latest PCI security standards. Everybody wants to feel safe using payment devices, so it’s necessary to invest in secure point of sale equipment.
Reduce Receipt Printer Usage and Paper
Whether customers pay with cash or credit card, not all of them will want a paper receipt. Unless they’re expensing a business dinner, most receipts are tossed to the wayside once the payment process is complete
By using tableside ordering technology, you’ll cut back on paper waste while also pocketing the extra money. Restaurants go through handfuls of rolls of receipt paper each day. If the restaurant is busy, this number can be even higher. Not only is this wasteful, but paper rolls can get pretty pricey.
Better Tips for Your Waitstaff
Most restaurant customers know how much they should tip, but not all of them are good at math. With a tableside payments device, customers can see the percentage of the tip and the dollar amount. With these samples in front of them, customers are more likely to leave better tips when given examples of what guests typically leave based on the service they receive.
Collect More Data
Last, but not least, don’t forget about data. Whether it’s big data or small data, it all has meaning and value to your business.
Using tableside ordering systems gives you more insight into customer purchasing behaviors. POS reports such as which menu items customers are purchasing the most and how often they dine at your establishment let you understand how your customers operate. You can use this information to fine-tune your loyalty programs and create other personalized marketing materials to drive sales
Find the Best Tableside Ordering Solution
Not all tableside ordering solutions are created equal — nor do all point of sale systems come with this option. Before you jump headfirst into this mobile technology, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Your Point of Sale System
First, if you already have a POS system in place, find out if tableside ordering is an option. If it is an option, feel free to jump to the next section on ease of use.
If it’s not an option, then you have a choice to make. Do you switch POS providers and upgrade to one that offers tableside technology — or do you keep rolling with the status quo?
Ease of Use
For those that do decide to take the plunge and upgrade your POS system, make sure the tableside feature is user-friendly. If employees have to jump through hoops and tap the screen a dozen times to reorder a drink or take a payment, it’s probably not worth the investment.
Most tableside devices have a built-for-mobile interface that is similar to the stationary POS system. These parallels will make it easier for staff to acclimate themselves with the new equipment.
Consumer Tablets vs. Purpose-Built Devices
While iPads and sleekly designed Android tablets check the box for aesthetic appeal, when it comes to the environmentally harsh restaurant industry, looks aren’t everything. We don’t know about you, but we’d rather compromise a little sex appeal for the durability of commercial-grade hardware.
Wi-Fi and 4G
Tableside POS devices will require a strong wireless network throughout the restaurant. Don’t trust your entire ordering system to a consumer-grade router.
Work with a trusted IT reseller who can perform site surveys to test your building for wireless dead spots and install secure wireless access points. Bonus points if the tableside solution can also use a 4G cellular network connection.
The Wrap Up
As restaurants seek to improve customer experiences and overall efficiency, tableside ordering will become more and more common. Now, go out and ask your current POS software provider if they have tablet software to enable you to test tableside ordering with your guests.