Much of what we love about the restaurant industry – dropping into your local hangout without a reservation, cramming into a packed dining room, hearing about the specials from your server, and even dancing on bars – may disappear. As restaurateurs think about the operational challenges of a COVID-19 world, many are looking towards technology to redefine and enhance the guest experience. In this chapter, we will explore technologies that allow you to optimize your capacity given constraints, market effectively to your guests, and make diners and staff feel safe.
Restaurant Revenue Optimization Technology
With dining room capacities limited for the foreseeable future, operators need to make sure that every table is being optimized. They should focus on driving the highest possible average check, engineering menus for profitability as well as maximizing table turns.
In the past, many operators did not use hard data and metrics to track server performance. Instead, they would rely on impressions of which employees are the friendliest and/or busiest to determine efficiency. With dining room capacities substantially reduced, it’s more crucial than ever for servers to focus on driving their average check. Avero Recommends using our product’s Service Team tool to assess average check performance by individual server. Leveraging these informative reports will allow you to ensure that your team is maximizing average check and revenues:
- Server Scorecards allow you to quickly identify top and bottom performing servers as well as the largest areas of opportunity per server.
- Service Category allows you to identify which servers are best at selling specific menu categories.
As we touched on in Chapter One, designing a Minimum Viable Menu based on popularity and profitability is crucial with capacity constrained. Avero Recommends leveraging our Item Sales tool to engineer your menu to drive the most profitability for your restaurant.
Pre-COVID-19, most restaurant reservation platforms allowed guests to change, cancel, or no-show reservations at the last minute without a fee. Only a handful of restaurants required a deposit to make a reservation. With new social distancing guidelines in effect, requiring some form of prepayment for reservations will likely become the new norm. Avero Recommends researching restaurant reservation platforms that have the option to offer deposits or prepaid, non-refundable reservations.
Technology Highlight: Tock provides these options to establishments as a way for operators to better forecast revenues and reduce no-shows. They’ve seen a huge uptick in performance in recent months as more restaurants consider prepaid reservations to be the future.
Given the competitive nature of the restaurant industry, increasing marketing efforts can help you stand out from competition. Maximize impact by highlighting restaurant safety precautions to encourage loyal clientele to return.
To let loyal customers know you are open, focus on improving your social media presence across multiple channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Avero Recommends driving traffic by creating a cohesive social media strategy based on industry best practices to show what precautions you’re taking. Emphasize safety measures such as socially distanced dining, plexiglass protectors between tables, staff PPE and temperature checks, etc.
Guest and Safety Technology
Using technology to reduce physical interactions and maintain social distancing will be a necessity for restaurants. Instead of the traditional process of being seated → given a menu → placing your order → being brought a bill→ paying; restaurateurs are looking for simple contactless solutions to accomplish these tasks. A recent survey showed 69% of restaurant-goers find waiting for the check the most frustrating part of the dining experience. Additionally, it adds an average of 12 minutes to the table turn time. Avero Recommends looking into contactless ordering and payment solutions that can help streamline this part of the process.
Technology Highlight: MyMenu is a leading technology in this space and is offering a free QR ordering kit to all restaurants for a limited time. After a guest downloads the app, they scan a QR code at the table to view menus, place orders, and pay without needing to interact with staff. Technology like this will improve the guest experience and decrease turn times while providing a safe dining experience.
Online Ordering and Takeout
As the popularity of takeout continues to grow, restaurants should invest in technology that creates a safe and quick way for customers to grab orders. Avero Recommends looking into organized two-way takeout systems that reduce interactions between customers and staff.
Technology Highlight: Apex Supply Chain Technologies offers a fast, self-service locker solution for restaurants that have a large takeout business. After ordering online, the customer will be notified with specific instructions on how and where to retrieve their order. These two-sided, automated lockers optimize efficiencies to streamline workflows and reduce lines for guests. For example, Little Caesars, a Midwest pizza chain with over 5,000 locations, has successfully rolled out its Pizza Portal Pickup System to half of its locations. This system is the first heated, self-service mobile order pick up system to be leveraged at scale in the industry.
As restaurants prepare for life post COVID-19, technology will be an important part of the future for restaurants. We feel that emerging technologies allowing operators to optimize revenues, drive loyal and new customers into their establishments, and provide safety for both guests and staff will be critical to the path forward.
Check out our chapter next week as we dive into some of the physical designs restaurants are using to provide efficient service and safe dining experiences for guests.