By Michelle Cook
Avocado oil cocktails. Chocolate cauliflower. Fork-and-knife peanut butter and jelly. According to Huffington Post Canada, foodies can expect some exciting new dining developments in 2014. For restaurant owners, even bigger changes are happening behind the scenes. Recent technological developments will change the way that the food industry is run forever, specifically in four key areas. These tools are particularly important for new restaurateurs hoping to secure a customer base and differentiate from the competition.
Mass MMS messaging to alert customers of specials or discounts has been a common practice for years. Now the technology has an added twist: two-way messaging capabilities. It can be used either in-house, replacing clunky light-up pagers, or to take orders and confirm delivery time—all through relatively inexpensive tools like those provided through Mosio. A pizza place, for example, can let customers know when their dinner is hot and available for pickup. Customers get convenient and efficient service, and restaurants have a non-intrusive way to gain diner contact information for future marketing endeavors.
Owning a Restaurant
Closing a restaurant is an arduous and daily task. Improper technique can lead to wasted food or poor sanitization. However, in many cases the owner or manager is locked in an office during this time, going over finances instead of supervising the process. Skewered stacks of receipts are now a remnant of the days of paper. Many new restaurant owners instead choose to use accounting business software that can sync with their mobile device, for example, the new QuickBooks. With this app, payroll, invoicing and even receipt scanning can be handled on the go from a phone or tablet.
Though we aren’t yet ready to eliminate waiters and waitresses, some restaurants in Canada are adopting digital menus and self-service kiosks for ordering. The Globe and Mail explained how one new Toronto restaurant made a name for itself by integrating interactive tables. The RichTree Natural Market is setting the stage for dining experiences and restaurant branding. It’s an ideal strategy when appealing to families; kids are entertained by wall-projected video games and parents can pay the bill from a smartphone instead of waiting around for the check. Streamlining the process also reduces the risk of individual errors impacting the customer experience.
Marketing Your Business
Many large chain restaurants still circle a number on the receipt where customers can call and take a survey in hopes of winning of gift card or scoring a free appetizer on their next visit. Though feedback is important, the odds of a customer taking five minutes to rank their experience plummets as soon as they leave the restaurant. Instead, encourage instant, public feedback. Ask customers to leave a comment on Facebook or review on Yelp, as recommended by Family Hospitality. Good reviews mean quick and completely free publicity. Bad reviews may sting, but the issues can be addressed immediately. Give out your Wi-Fi password, and offer a discount or free dessert as an incentive to get people talking.