In 1977, actor, author, comedian, and banjo player Steve Martin made an Academy Award-nominated short film entitled The Absent-Minded Waiter in which he portrays every restaurant owner’s nightmare of a server. Among his hijinx:
- He pours the water before placing the glasses on the table.
- He requires that the diners repeat their drink order three times, which results in them receiving six martinis.
- He pleasantly delivers the diners their change of $10,000 before they’ve paid their bill.
Even the best restaurant point of sale (POS) system can’t prevent these types of serving mishaps, but a modern POS solution that includes a handheld restaurant ordering system can make your establishment’s servers more accurate and productive and your diners more pleased with their dining experience.
Look for these features in the handheld ordering system you choose for your restaurant.
Instant order entry boosts employee productivity
Consider the steps required for waitstaff to take a customer’s order and submit it to the kitchen and bar the old-fashioned way:
- Write down the order using a pad and pen.
- Walk to the POS station to punch in the order (or even further back, place the written order on a “carousel” that the kitchen and bar staff prepare in the order they’re received…hopefully).
- When the order is ready to be served, the server is alerted with a shout or perhaps the ding of a bell.
- Once the server knows the order is ready, it’s delivered to the waiting diners.
How many separate handoffs did you count in this scenario? How much time did the entire process take?
Now consider an alternative that relies on a handheld restaurant ordering system.
- Each diner’s order is entered with a series of taps on a smartphone, tablet, or another digital device.
- The order is transmitted immediately to the appropriate members of the kitchen and bar staff (e.g., salad orders to the salad chef, entree orders to the entrée chef, drink orders to the bartender).
- When the order is ready for delivery, the server is alerted automatically.
- The order is served without meals sitting under a heat lamp to keep them warm and without the ice half-melted in drinks.
When they use a handheld ordering system, waitstaff spend much less time walking to a POS station and back, waiting for the station to become available, and wondering whether the order is sitting somewhere waiting to be served.
Faster table turnaround increases the number of diners served
During a restaurant’s rush hours, the longer diners have to wait to be seated, the more likely they are to ditch your establishment and seek out an alternative. It’s important for diners not to feel rushed through their meals, but it’s equally important that they not be forced to wait too long to be served.
A handheld ordering system helps restaurants increase table turnaround times without disrupting their customers’ dining experience. The goal is to give servers the opportunity to pleasantly interact with diners, explain the day’s specials, and answer questions about various menu items while minimizing the amount of time required to place, prepare, and deliver their orders.
In addition to reducing the number of steps servers and other employees have to take during a given shift, handheld ordering systems provide staff with up-to-date inventory counts so they are alerted immediately when items are unavailable. Restaurant managers get a single view of all pending orders so they can anticipate bottlenecks and address them before they occur. It all adds up to more revenue generated from each table with less time and energy expended.
Servers can invite diners to join the restaurant’s loyalty program
A handheld restaurant ordering system adds interactivity to a server’s job, allowing wait staff to be prompted to offer diners appetizers that complement their entrées, for example, or to recommend drinks and add-ons based on their orders. The systems also make it quick and simple for servers to invite diners to sign up for the restaurant’s loyalty program.
Software Advice cites a Gartner study that found 80% of a restaurant’s future revenue will come from 20% of its current customers. The key to a successful loyalty program is keeping diners happy in the first place, but it also depends on offering worthwhile rewards, such as discounts on future meals or a free appetizer when ordering two or more entrées.
The effectiveness of restaurant loyalty programs is shown in the results of a survey conducted by Bond Brand Loyalty in 2020.
- 78% of customers are more likely to return to businesses that offer loyalty programs.
- Establishments with highly personalized loyalty programs are are 7.5 times more likely to be recommended by customers.
- Loyalty programs with helpful representatives have 47% more engagement.
Diners receive their meals quickly
Today’s cloud-based POS systems deliver the meal orders entered by servers to multiple locations, such as the kitchen, bar, and salad station. The devices communicate special orders and accurately calculate customers’ bills, including applicable taxes, tips, and split tenders.
Offering flexible menus gives customers more control over their orders. Handheld POS devices deliver clearly typed, visually coded orders that reduce questions and miscommunications about special orders between the kitchen and floor staff. The goal is to ensure that customers get the exact orders they expected in a timely manner.
More accurate orders mean less waste and higher revenue
Using handheld ordering systems in restaurants returns immediate benefits by saving time and reducing costs while also improving the accuracy of orders. The devices are constantly updated to indicate when daily specials and other items are unavailable. They let restaurants easily change menu prices and make other updates to the menu. Servers are able to spend more time taking orders and interacting with customers and making sure their needs are met.
Restaurants are often hesitant to switch to new technology because of the time and expense involved, but when they work with a POS vendor such as talech the result is a POS solution that’s tailored to their needs. Handheld terminals and other mobile POS equipment become part of an integrated data infrastructure that’s scalable and affordable. The POS solution links all parts of a restaurant’s operation, including accounting, inventory, and sales. Sign up for a free demo to get a first-hand look at the handheld options available to restaurants and other businesses.
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