January 17, 2018

The Top 11 Restaurant Innovations for 2018

Written by SmartSense | Food Safety

Do you have any goals to make your company more innovative? Why not start with a technology upgrade? Thanks to social media (think Yelp and Instagram), customers have integrated technology into their dining experience—and they love it. By being proactive and giving them the right technological enhancements, you’ll be delivering the customer experience they’re looking for, and potentially winning new customers.

Technology offers a competitive advantage, but deciding which to implement, well, that’s a challenge. You can use tech to enhance customer satisfaction, improve operations, cut costs, and boost revenue streams. Sounds bewildering? Start here with TempAlert’s top technologies that restaurants should consider implementing in 2018.

  1. Online and Mobile Ordering

What is it? This one seems like a no-brainer, right? But not every restaurant does it, and many don’t do it right. Yes, being able to see the entire menu and the bill add up to each ordered item is a huge plus for customers, but— more importantly for your business—an online presence and a good online experience make you stand out from the competition.

The benefits: Online and mobile orders eliminate incorrect orders and food waste that often come with phoning in orders. With less pressure, customers can leisurely browse the online menu, making them more likely to order additional items, leading to higher sales.

  1. Digital Point-of-Sale System

What is it? The best digital point-of-sale (POS) system is a cloud-based model that acts as Operation Central for your staff: Where wait staff take orders, where the kitchen instantly receives them, and where cashiers process customer payments.

The benefits: Reporting features offer in-depth analysis that helps owners and managers make data-supported decisions to improve operations such as which items are selling best or poorly, eliminating guesswork.

  1. Customer-Facing Tabletop Tablets/Kiosks

What is it? Customer-facing tabletop tablets/kiosks allow diners to browse the menu, send orders directly to the kitchen, and pay the bill without the need of a live server. Other enhancements may include bill-splitting apps and video games.

The benefits: Faster orders mean happier diners, bigger tips, faster turnaround, and, as a result, greater sales. Waitstaff can pay more attention to tables, and guests are empowered to order more drinks or dishes at their leisure.

  1. Scheduling Software

What is it? Automated scheduling software lets managers log server and bartender schedules, as well as vacation requests. The application sends notifications to the manager of any conflicts or gaps in the schedule, and reminders to staff of when to come in.

The benefits: This type of software improves attendance and frees up everyone’s time by streamlining the scheduling process.

  1. Mobile Apps

What is it? Where to start? There are so many mobile apps (and so many free or inexpensive ones) that they’re a great place to start for companies on a budget. These apps more or less do what table tablets and kiosks do—except they’re on the customers’ mobile devices. One app that many restaurants overlook is an engaging loyalty program that incentivizes customers with points and freebies (Starbucks’ app is a great example). Apps also notify customers about specials, events, and coupons.

The benefits: Efficient, inexpensive marketing; additional customer spending or return visits; less time taking live reservations; timely seating reminders using push notifications.

  1. Mobile Payment

What is it? Mobile payment technologies are key success drivers for the QSR and fast food market. Some systems include mobile card readers right at the table so that diners don’t have to wait for the server to process their payment.

The benefits: Mobile payment is much faster than paying with cash and less troublesome than EMV chip cards. Faster checkout also means shorter waits, higher turnaround, and higher sales.

  1. Waitlist Management

What is it? Today’s diner doesn’t relish the idea of arriving at a restaurant and having to wait—especially if there‘s no room at the bar or in the lounge, and even less if it means standing in a line out in the cold or in inclement weather. Waitlist management apps are simple: They let the host or hostess notify diners when their tables are ready for seating over their mobile devices.

The benefits: Waitlist management prevents unsightly crowding at the door and inside the reception area, replaces coasters with annoying buzzing sounds, and allows customers to roam freely without having to remain on the premises.

  1. Dish Sanitizing Technologies

What is it? Dish sanitizing technologies (such as PowerSoak) provide your restaurant a dishwashing system that runs continuously, streamlining the cleaning process so you always have fresh supplies for your customers.

The benefits: These automated processes utilize the space you have. Management never has to worry if dishes are spotless for customers or meet health and safety standards for inspectors.

  1. Meal Progress Bars

What is it? A meal progress bar, whether integrated into your online store or instore tablet or kiosk, gives customers an estimate of when they will receive their food, either at home with delivery or at the table in the restaurant.

The benefits: At busy times, customers have peace of mind knowing that their order has been received, is being prepped and cooked, and, finally, is on its way from the kitchen to their plates.

  1. Interactive Tables

What is it? Interactive tables incorporate tablet technology directly into the table architecture itself. While potentially a big expense, they can be marketed as “special tables” requiring reservations, making them highly desirable. Along with online ordering and bill pay, these tables are especially good for high-resolution games, videos, and trivia that keep hungry diners and children entertained while they wait.

The benefits: These deliver the same perks as tablets and kiosks, plus an added entertainment factor for your guests.

  1. Temperature Monitoring

What is it? Traditional temperature recording using paper logs has been replaced with digital food safety systems. Using food probes and sensors that go right into fridges, freezers, and makelines are making it possible to continuously monitor your equipment.

The benefits: By replacing your paper logs with continuous temperature monitoring, you have 24/7 insight into your equipment. This allows you to be proactive instead of reactive about your digital food safety plan, keeping your product integrity high and your customers’ wellbeing a top priority.

Let Innovation Be Your Goal for 2018

In this digital century, keeping up to date with innovative technologies can give your company a competitive edge. This coming year, customer perception of their experience will be among the biggest differentiators in the restaurant marketplace. Technology enhancements are a good investment in that direction. Just remember: Whatever technologies you choose, customers do not want an unnecessary interruption of their experience. What they do want is an innovation they perceive as helpful, convenient, and fun.

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