Independently owned and operated restaurants are where some of the best dishes in the country come from—VooDoo Donuts with cereal and bacon on a doughnut, Candace Nielsen with the very first cupcakery, and Chex Panisse’s original commitment to fresh food and locally grown ingredients. So if you’re operating your own restaurant, congratulations, you may be the next big thing!
In the meantime, you have to keep bringing in and satisfying your hungry customers with the total restaurant experience—and that’s no small task, even with a top-notch menu! Here are some ways you can make it easier on yourself; let’s tech it up a notch!
Screening the Menus
Present your delicious cuisine in an easy-to-peruse, interactive format—either on plasma screens that display a rotating set of pictures of the dishes themselves, or of large, interactive touch-screen menus at the table. A touch-screen menu should allow your customers to easily browse by the type of food they’re most interested in that night. When setting up the program, or when talking about it with the programmer, make sure that a food item can be clicked on for descriptions, nutrition information, and allergy warnings. And, of course, should they be so inclined, your customers should be able to opt for traditional menu display on the screen.
Setting the Ambiance
The music playing in your restaurant sets the tone for the night, and sometimes one of your customers may have a yen for a certain song mid-meal. Maybe they’re trying to spread a love of The Black Keys to the world, or someone wants to surprise their significant other with “their song” on a date—perhaps even have a certain song playing as they propose? Having an accessible system for requesting songs is a great way, in addition to unique dishes, that is sure to win over the hearts of your customers.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to maintain a twitter account and let it be known that restaurant patrons can tweet music requests to your restaurant directly. Then assign a manager to monitor the account and let them play DJ from there!
Get a Small Business App
There’s an app to make conveniently timed sound effects and scare your friends—shouldn’t there be a small business mobile app with your restaurant’s name on it?
Create a business app to give your customers an easy mobile view of your site, reservation options and wait times, takeout ordering, updates, and coupons—all these will make their interaction with your restaurant easier and more pleasant.
Get iPads for your servers
Not personal use iPads for everyone there, of course not—but think how much easier and environmentally sustainable it is to run every aspect of the order; from drinks to paying, a handy display of drinks and food ordered plus an installed iPad card reader make ordering, tipping, and paying a snap!
You may be able to get a discount for buying them in bulk for a business, and getting an app to make it all come together for your servers will save you more money in the long run, as well as making you money by way of customer satisfaction.
Get a Modern Coke Machine
This isn’t only for places with a self-serve soda fountain (though it is especially applicable for you)—full-service, sit-down restaurants will benefit from offering a variety of soft drinks in a variety of flavors to your customers. Restaurant patrons are excited to go to the only place in town where they can get blackberry Dr. Pepper, lime ginger ale, or orange Coke. And one of these easy self-serve machines will make it easier for servers to take orders, get them right, and get them back to the table—especially with a clear display on the server’s iPad where patrons can visually verify their drink orders before the sever goes off to fill those orders.
It’s time to tech your restaurant business up a notch—and now you know how to do just that!
About the Author: Theo Schmidt has an interest in computer science and engineering, and he uses that interest to fuel his blogging. Theo also enjoys spending time in the outdoors, and he is passionate about protecting the environment.