Updated: May 10
If you're like most of us, then you're probably having an issue with hiring new people or even worst, hiring and keeping good people. Unfortunately, hiring good people is an age of problem but just hiring in general, has become a real issue since the boost of unemployment checks by the Federal Government, but there is a solution and it's growing in popularity!
Ever heard the term "Order and Pay at the Table"? Of course this isn't a complicated term, the name explains it all but for a bit more clarity, just imagine a customer using their smart phone to generate a pickup order but instead of the customer actually picking up the order, their order is instead delivered to their table and their ticket remains opens. With Order and Pay at the Table, the customer is able to start their own ticket or even access their open ticket after it's opened by your waitstaff.
Okay, okay, we get it. Many of you believe that a restaurant isn't a restaurant without service and you're still not convinced that your customers want a restaurant with Order and Pay at the Table only. I mean change is hard and people don't necessarily like to change...... or do they??
I can give you thousands of examples of how the world is different than it was when you and I were younger. Remember cash registers before the POS? Remember pay phones and life before Uber, AirBnb and Facebook. These might not be the best examples of a positive change but they are proof that the world will change with or without us.
But we get it.... change is hard, especially for our industry because every penny counts. The only issue is that we have to realize is that technology is not our enemy and the cost of incorporting technology typically is far lower than the cost of not having it.
Our point to all of this and just to be clear... we realize that there is a percentage of your customers who will 100% of the time want a server at their favorite restaurant but there's also a percentage of your customers who know exactly what they want and they prefer not to wait and of course there's a percentage of your customers that are fine with either. Yep, these are what we call INSTANT TIMES which means we can get almost anything we want, when we want it, with just the touch of a button and requesting our steak, medium well, is now becoming a part of it.
Order and Pay at the Table is on the way with more and more companies working on this solution and more and more restaurants being forced to adopt it as we grudge our way through this labor crisis. It's a perfect storm for a technology that might've taken another decade to fully adopt. Order and Pay at the table is coming quickly and while you're considering if you should adopt this technology, you're competitors are starting to use it to grow theirs.
Here are our pros and cons:
Pros: We estimate that 20%-50% of your tables could have a turn time that improves by as much as 20% . People in a rush will no longer have to wait for 2-5 extra minutes for server to get them started and 2-5 extra minutes for a server to deliver their ticket.
Pros: Because people love to fiddle around with their phones, we forecast that this will potentially result in higher tickets as customers may fiddle around with your menu which will likely mean that they will order that dessert or second drink just to see what happens.
Pros: potentially very affordable and doesn't require a major learning curve although the entire order and delivery process should be well thought out.
Pros: People in a rush could choose a restaurant with Order and Pay at the table vs a restaurant that does not have the option.
Cons: Most companies who develop the Order & Pay solution are looking to take over your credit card processing and will require that all sales through their software use their processor. Be careful of their fees, try to avoid a long-term deal, and negotiate fees that match or are less than your current fees.
Cons: Potentially no upsell 100% of the time. Although a person will likely fiddle with your menu, it's not a guaranteed process -vs- guaranteeing that your server upsells your menu 100% of the time.
All-in-all, we believe that restaurants, of the very near future, will be a combination of both Pay at the Table and a waitstaff but there'll be a need for significantly fewer staff to do the job and that's a potentially very big win for everyone!