Why (and How) Restaurants Are Upgrading Their Technology

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Ready for a change? Read why restaurants are upgrading their restaurant technology and what steps you should take to do the same.

We all know that one restaurateur who is resistant to change. Or — don't worry, no judgment — maybe you’re that restaurateur.

Change is constant in the restaurant industry, and whether you like it or not, technology is impacting your business, both inside and outside your restaurant’s walls. A 2018 TripAdvisor survey showed that 94% of U.S. consumers are influenced by reviews when it comes to deciding where to dine. So even if your restaurant isn’t equipped with the most cutting edge technology, your customers are using it to determine if your restaurant is worth visiting.  

Restaurant technology will only continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and the trends will keep coming your way. So rather than jumping on the “latest and greatest” tech offerings, we recommend you do careful research.

Identify which solutions are making a real impact in the industry, which providers of those solutions are the best fit for your restaurant, how you can convince your restaurant's leadership team to adopt new technology, and the best plan to roll it out to your business.

Not sure how to do all that? We’ve got your back.

Step 1: Recognize the Problem and Root Cause

Challenges in your restaurant take many forms. 

Picture a busy night in your dining room. There’s a lot going on and in a perfect world, everything would flow as smooth as silk. But who are we kidding — if only life were that easy.

In a more realistic fantasy, you may see three of your servers in line for the same POS terminal, which frustrates your guests and staff by holding up your table turn times. Maybe you have tickets that get lost or overlooked, causing your kitchen to theoretically go up in flames. Or maybe one of your customers comes up to you with their phone in hand, pointing out a scathing review on Yelp that you didn’t see. It’s possible that after several years of busy Friday night takeout service, your sales suddenly start to drop. It’s possible you might hear the hostess call three or four parties’ names before finally seating one. It’s easy to see that each of these scenarios is a problem, and although you may not have to directly deal with all of them, it’s likely they all resonate with you. 

Identifying the problems in your restaurant is a necessary step to solving them, but it’s also important to address the root cause of your issues. Your POS may be outdated and therefore not able to keep pace with your busy restaurant. Your kitchen may be too busy for paper tickets that are easy to misplace. Your negative Yelp review may have been left unresolved for months and cost you a customer (or several, based on how many saw it). It’s possible your potential customers walked out the door because they were tired of waiting, or abandoned their spot in line after 30 minutes of not being seated. In this case, your scheduling software may be inefficient, costing you loads more time than you’d like. 

There's always a flaw in the system — no restaurant is perfect. But taking steps to recognize the problems and why they occur allows you to figure out the best solution for your establishment.

Step 2: Choosing the Solution

Restaurant technology is an investment in several ways. It’s a financial investment for new hardware and software, but don't forget about the investment of time and resources spent researching the best solution, learning its benefits, demoing the product, and training your team on how it operates.

But when you choose the right solution, the investment pays for itself. Let's review those earlier examples.

  • Does your POS system act up? It's time for a new one. 

  • Are tickets getting lost? Check out Kitchen Display Systems that rid you of paper tickets and keep your kitchen organized.

  • Missed the chance to respond to a customer review? Register for Yelp, Facebook, and other review sites/social media platforms to keep track of customer feedback and connect with your consumers.

  • Phone lines tied up? Use an online ordering system to capture orders in a more convenient way.

  • Are you scheduling employees on a whiteboard in the back office? Get an employee scheduling system.

  • Reservations causing a hassle? Download a reservation app or go through a site like OpenTable.

Now that you’ve asked yourself those questions, here comes the most essential part —choosing the right solution. Don't just select the first result that shows up on Google either. Spend some time researching options, and figure out the best solution for your restaurant.

Consult other restaurateurs and figure out what’s working for them. Explore your options thoroughly and identify who’s making real change in the industry. Otherwise, you'll get stuck with a system that's unfit for your business and creates more problems than you can solve.

"When I was down the street at Urban Brew and BBQ, they said that [their new restaurant] Urban Comfort were going with Toast when they opened," says Leslie Ann Ciccone of Swah-Rey. "I checked online everything that I could see about them, and I was sold pretty quickly."

Step 3: Get Buy-in From the Right People

Whether you’ll have to pitch to the frugal owner, busy manager, or the enterprise CEO who needs a convincing ROI for all new purchases, getting buy-in from the right people is essential. Without these key influencers, your restaurant may never see that new technology implemented.

Identify who you’ll be pitching the new system to. Understanding and appealing to their needs is your main objective, so make sure you can grasp what is most important to them. Think about their role in the company and how they directly affect the restaurant. Approach the request for modern technology with thorough research, explanations of the problem(s) at hand, and how the proposed technology will solve the issue. 

We have an entire eBook chapter dedicated to identifying these influencers and the best way to convince them on company buy-in.n. To read more about honing your persuasion skills with purposeful messaging aimed at the right people, click here.

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Charging Ahead with Restaurant Technology

Change is inevitable in restaurants. But when you can understand the benefits that technology can provide, you can be proactive in adopting the right technology before you're overloaded with seemingly impossible challenges. 

Remember, it's one thing for you to be an advocate for change, but sometimes that's not enough. That's why Toast has a plan to help you get company buy-in on a restaurant IT project. Download your free copy to learn who to pitch to, how to convince them with, and what questions you should ask along the way to achieve maximum restaurant success.

Deciding to upgrade your technology may feel daunting, but it’s more than necessary for the success of your business. All the pain points you have now will only get more difficult if you allow your ancient POS to continue to run your restaurant at a snail’s pace. If you do your research and take action based on your restaurant’s unique issues, your technology upgrade will pay off tenfold and no longer be a source of dread for you and your staff.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.