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Opinion: how restaurants can utilize technology and turn profit with inflation on the rise

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Front- and back-of-house technology can increase value while reducing overall errors, says Nicole Leisle, VP of Product Marketing, Ordrslip

The past two years of Covid-19 have put restaurants on a rollercoaster of new safety restrictions and economic conditions. The industry has been forced to find new ways to navigate these challenges. Now with inflation on the rise, many restaurants have responded by increasing prices, modifying their menus, and in some cases, adding extra surcharges to help cover rising product costs.

With recent reports showing two in five customers believe they are receiving less value from restaurants and 45% of consumers expected to dine out less in the near future to save money, businesses will need to be flexible to fresh solutions. The restaurant industry is scrambling to look for new ways to decrease operating costs while still providing desirable customer service and creating lead generation to increase revenue.

The entry into the new digital age can be the answer. Integrating technology into restaurant operations can help reduce errors, reward customers for their loyalty, and increase ways for restaurants to increase profit.

Front- and back-of-house technology can increase value while reducing overall errors

Isolated mistakes might not seem that costly, but when added up over time they can become draining. Technology can eliminate errors, streamlining operations to be efficient and profitable while creating better customer experiences. Beyond back-of-house technologies, implementing consumer-facing technologies will enhance guest experience and can also save on labor costs.

Switching to contactless payments and offering self-service kiosks can reduce wait time for guests when it comes to ordering and paying. Long waiting times can cause customers to have a bad experience — or worse, not return in the future. Convenience is key for customer satisfaction, and kiosks provide that luxury for guests. They are able to initiate orders whenever they want, as well as pay when they are ready to leave. Additionally, self-ordering generates up to 30% more in sales; kiosks display the entire menu and cut out the fear of judgment, leaving customers with more options. This feature increases restaurant earnings while also improving customer satisfaction.

Another way to utilize technology is by switching over to kitchen automation. A recent survey from Square showed that 62% of respondents would benefit from automating order management. Replacing paper tickets and kitchen printers in the back-of-house operations with these solutions allows restaurants to view, track and fulfil orders faster while minimizing human error. Restaurants that take advantage of digital ticket systems can alleviate the extra workload so staff can redirect their focus on the more pressing needs of the restaurant.

Leverage reward systems with mobile applications

Custom mobile apps are a great tool for restaurants to promote reward and loyalty programs. A study done by Deloitte shows that 79% of customers use loyalty and rewards programs to help determine where they want to dine. By implementing rewards programs, restaurants can increase lead generation. Restaurants with well-planned programs have better insight on customer needs, which allows operators the opportunity to amplify perceived value. Customers can sign in and earn points for every dollar they spend, which will encourage them to keep coming and to keep spending, with the promise of future discounts or free items. Additionally, restaurants can take advantage of push notification marketing from custom apps and give exclusive deals and rewards for their loyal customers. Being able to advertise your business and create traction for more customers is an investment worth making. Most people download and sign up for rewards for immediate convenience, which is a great way to incentivize them to download the app and continue to use programs to accumulate points and earn rewards.

Delivery services can improve profits for restaurant markets

When the pandemic began, takeout and delivery services were increasingly used to keep restaurants afloat. Now, two years since Covid-19, 72% of millennials view takeout as an essential part of their everyday lifestyle. Restaurants that adopt delivery services and takeout options can increase their revenue immensely. While third-party delivery apps are popular, they tend to cost restaurants anywhere from 15-25% in fees and surcharges. Restaurants can utilize their own website as an online ordering platform instead. About 68% say they would prefer to ditch third-party apps and directly order from restaurant websites. Delivery is here to stay, and people are more likely to order from their favorite restaurants when they offer more options than just dine-in.

With inflation only rising and the peak of a recession looming, restaurants need to take the correct steps now to minimize any loss in revenue. Restaurants that develop technology investments will soon see an increase in profit and maximize their perceived value. Running a successful restaurant with returning loyal customers is the key to profitable growth and a long-lasting business practice.

Nicole Leisle (pictured above) is VP of product marketing, Ordrslip, a Bitwise company

Picture: Pavel Danilyuk