Monday, March 20, 2023

Payment Technology Drives Customer Adoption for Restaurants Big and Small


It is at the intersection of hand held marketing, mobile devise ordering, and payments that time starved consumers of all ages have become familiar with, accepting, and adopting digital restaurant and foodservice payments. If you are not looking a customer ahead, you are losing ground.

According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®’ retail foodservice operations including Chain Restaurants, Independent Restaurants, Convenience stores and Bodegas all if they are not offering digital payments today, start doing so.  

Here is the case for adding one more level of technology to you operation. According to a study carried out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in January this year, the restaurant labor force is still over 450,000 jobs below pre-pandemic levels — marking the largest employment deficit among all U.S. industries. 

In November 2022, the National Restaurant Association found that 63% of full-service restaurants and 61% of limited-service places are operating with fewer employees than needed to accommodate guests. 

At the beginning of February this year (2023), The Washington Post reported that although many industries have recovered since the start of the pandemic, 2 million hospitality and leisure jobs still remain open

Hospitality is still stuck in the dark ages. High-friction ordering, slow and clunky payments, and labor challenges lead to low profitability and a poor customer experience,” notes Brian Duncan, President of me&u USA, a global leader in at-table ordering specializing in restaurants and bars. 

The labor shortage has led chefs and restaurateurs to reduce their workweeks, while some restaurant owners have had to increase the wages of their staff by as much as 20% in addition to closing earlier on weeknights. Others have even had to change their business practices to attract new employees.  

So, our Grocerant Guru® had the opportunity to ask Brian Duncan a couple questions about just who is using digital payments today. What percentage of current customers are independent Restaurants? 

Duncan continued, “For me&u this percentage is above 80%. This is primarily because independent restaurants have less red tape to make a decision and therefore can adopt new technology faster. However, quite a few corporate chains have signed on and we see this shifting to around 65% in the next 12 months.

Regular readers of this blog know that chain restaurants experiment early and often and generally get a little better deal. So, the team at Foodservice Solutions® asked can chain restaurants leverage their size for a better price? 

Duncan, “100% they can; but it is always based on volume. Price breaks usually come with chains that are ordering large volumes of a specific item. This is why restaurants are always looking to add menu items but no SKUs in order to keep their prices low while adding variety. Think of having a blue cheese burger, blue cheese on a salad, and blue cheese on a steak.”

Foodservice Solutions®, What type of training is required at the store level? 

Duncan, “The primary training required is a mental shift in the staff believing that the tool is there to help them do their jobs and not to take their jobs. Front-of-house staff can be weary of new solutions because their compensation is closely tied to the relationship with the customer. The primary goal of our staff is to gain the trust of the restaurant team showing them that the software will enhance their relationship and also put more money in their pockets.”

Foodservice Solutions®, What factors are impacting the restaurant and hospitality industries in the U.S.?  

Duncan, “Similar to all industries, there have been issues with labor shortages. Combined with the pressure to increase compensation for employees, inflation at all-time highs, and the pressure from consumers to not increase prices, it is a perfect storm. Restaurants are thinking outside of the box simply to survive in this new climate.”

Foodservice Solutions®, How can technological innovations help restaurants operate with limited staff and still increase revenue?  

Duncan, “The point of good restaurant technology should be to enhance the restaurant's ability to provide good customer service. Implementing technology that operates almost unnoticed by the customer while removing tasks from the staff that does not add value to the dining experience is the perfect solution.”

Foodservice Solutions®, How can self-service ordering and streamlined payment tools enhance customer experience? 

Duncan, “Creating great customer experiences happens when the front-of-house staff is engaging with the customer and not while items are being input into the POS or the customer is waiting on checks to be dropped and picked up. Order and pay at table solutions allow the customers to enter their own order and leave at their convenience when they have completed their dining experience all while enabling the front-of-house staff to provide an amazing guest experience.”

Technology can bridge the customer service gap when there are fewer employees available. Customers prefer to use self-service kiosks or access the menu by scanning QR codes because they can take additional time to read the menu, find new things to try, and customize their orders exactly to their preferences. 

Such technology means shorter waits at the counter, faster table turnover, and more accurate orders because the information is transmitted directly from the customer to the kitchen. Also, Pay-at-the-Table Technology cuts out the back-and-forth trips from the POS terminal to the table to process payments shaving several minutes off each table turn. 

Manual orders are typically expensive, slow, and inefficient. Smart technology reduces labor costs, takes the load off servers, increases spending per order, and elevates the customer experience,” concludes Duncan.”   Are you looking a customer ahead.

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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