Technology has infiltrated nearly every facet of our lives, and that certainly includes our experience at restaurants. While running a successful restaurant has traditionally been about serving delicious food and investing in top-notch customer service, technology has introduced an entirely new framework for doing business.
Customers expect their dining experience to reflect the same convenience and personalization they experience in their everyday purchasing journey, so depending on your target market, you want to keep up with the latest trends and integrate technological advancements that will make your customers’ lives (and yours) easier.
Technological advancements are made at a rapid pace for nearly every industry imaginable, but let’s zoom in on technology that’s directly changing and enhancing the restaurant industry as we know it.
People are now the media, and people’s ability (and desire) to share their dining experiences on social media, leave reviews, and make recommendations has revolutionized the way a restaurant operates.
Now the opinion of one person doesn’t just impact the local community—it can be broadcasted online for everyone who looks up your business to see. A bad review on Yelp and negative stories shared on social media can significantly impact someone’s decision to go eat at a restaurant. Millennials frequently share their dining experiences online, and 60% of Gen Z say that other people seek out their opinion online.
So it’s important to not only ensure that every customer has a positive experience, but also to actively manage your digital footprint. Respond quickly to reviews, engage with customers on social media platforms, and always be transparent and honest.
Automatic Biodiesel Converters
People are increasingly concerned about sustainability and maintaining the health of the planet. Restaurants can do their part by recycling when possible, using sustainable packaging, and even turning used cooking oil into fuel for their cars.
Automatic biodiesel converters aren’t a cheap investment—at nearly $10,000, they’re certainly not the first purchase a start-up should make. But for eco-friendly establishments that have the budget for it, automatic biodiesel converters can take 50 gallons of vegetable or animal oil and turn it into 50 gallons of biodiesel. These machines are even equipped with a gas pump so you can fill up your tank.
A significant portion of interactions with restaurants now happens without ever speaking to a human being. In fact, research shows that 89% of consumers will choose to interact with businesses via text, and 64% of those consumers are left with a positive impression.
You can now order online, receive a text confirmation of your order, and thanks to contactless delivery, receive another text message when your food has been left at your door. Some restaurants are taking it a step further and investing in AI to streamline ordering, maximize efficiency, and create a positive experience.
Dominos’ fans can now order with Dom—their newest interactive chatbot that walks you through every step of the ordering process. People who have an online account set up can choose between an “easy order” (their favorite), or a recent order. Customers can talk with and order from the chatbot through Facebook Messenger and 14 other platforms.
The implications of COVID-19 are still unfolding, and restaurants will have to continue evolving to meet new safety concerns and changing consumer behavior. But one thing is for sure—restaurants now have to offer either contactless ordering, or they have to dispose of a menu after it’s used.
Giving customers the ability to browse your menu online and order from their own mobile device is a game-changer. Technology now allows customers to do just that, and the process is seamless for the customer, the servers, and the cooks who immediately get updates on new orders.
LED Alert Systems
The idea behind technology has always been to make people’s lives easier, and LED alert systems can enhance efficiency in the kitchen so you can serve your customers faster.
The colored, LED alert systems are silent and unobtrusive. They illuminate kitchen areas that need attention, such as the wall above the deep fryer when food is done frying, or the floor underneath the dishwasher when dishes are clean. This way, kitchen staff can be notified of items that need attention without being interrupted by a loud alarm.
Leveraging Technology To Thrive
Whether you’re ready to follow in McDonald’s tracks and invest millions in kiosks, or simply want to keep pace and offer online ordering, investing in technology is a smart move. New technological advances can help you improve customer service, boost productivity, maximize efficiency, and keep customers and employees safe and healthy. Choosing the right technology for your restaurant will involve a process of assessing your target market, your goals, and your budget.
Don’t be scared to take a risk on something new. COVID-19 has accelerated the necessity of technology, and there’s no doubt that emerging online and virtual trends will become the new norm.