Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, we’ve seen a huge shift in the way restaurants operate. It’s not just about having a bottle of hand sanitiser at the front door and requiring customers to ‘check-in’. Some restaurants needed to completely change the way they run their business just to stay afloat.
While many restaurants had worked on a dine-in only model for years, possibly decades, we saw a slew of establishments rushing to offer delivery or takeaway services at the onset of the pandemic. Really, there weren’t any other options due to social-distancing requirements.
As the world adapts to the effects of the pandemic, restaurants are starting to bounce back, but the industry has changed dramatically. Restaurants have embraced the changes, with delivery and takeout services remaining even though dine-in services are back.
One of the key aspects of this shift has been the rise of technology in the restaurant industry. No successful change can be achieved without the right restaurant tech, and many businesses are still looking for the right tools to make life in the ‘COVID-normal’ world easier. So, if you want to improve operations in your restaurant and continue to evolve, here are five of the most important restaurant technologies to consider.
POS software and hardware
Most restaurants have some sort of computerised system for taking orders, but many of them still require a lot of manual work. Your waitstaff takes orders and returns to the terminal to enter them into the system. It’s a lot of unnecessary work. Plus, many of the older systems don’t even send the orders to the kitchen. Then there are all the different methods of ordering available now – online, phone, deliveries, takeaway. Without the right restaurant technology, it’s a nightmare.
With an all-in-one point of sale (POS) solution, everything works seamlessly. Square for Restaurants is a fully integrated system that gives you everything you need to speed up service, reduce errors and enhance your overall restaurant experience.
How it helps
With Square for Restaurants, everything is connected. Online orders, table service, takeaway orders – they’re all recorded on one central system. Plus, it’s the same system that manages payments, prints kitchen tickets or sends orders to a kitchen display system. You can practically eliminate errors caused by manual entry of orders, leading to happier customers, fewer complaints and more streamlined operations overall.
Best of all, you can include a range of portable card readers for easy payments, and tablets that your wait staff can use to automatically enter orders as they’re taken. It’s a complete system, even encompassing team management, so staff can clock in and out.
QR Code self-ordering systems
If COVID-19 has affected one thing more than others, it’s how we interact with people. Supermarket checkouts have screens, many venues require you to wear a mask, and restaurant ordering practices have changed. On the whole, customers have adapted well to new ways of ordering food. Whether it be through an online system for pickup, or even the many popular delivery apps operating now.
But now there’s a way you can streamline operations for dine-in customers too. Using QR code technology and your website, patrons scan a code to identify their table and even seat position. Scanning the code takes them to an online-ordering system, where they can place their order quickly and efficiently. Your website needs to be set up for online ordering, of course, but Square Online makes that easy.
How it helps
Firstly, it reduces the workload of your waitstaff. They can focus on other tasks rather than running back and forth with orders. But most importantly, it’s contactless. We’ve all become familiar with contactless services, and people get great peace of mind when a restaurant offers this service.
In addition, you put customers in control of their own orders. This improves accuracy, as there is less manual intervention. But it also gives customers the freedom to order when they like. No more waiting around to be served. You can even include online payment options to further reduce the need for contact.
Kitchen display systems
If you run your restaurant by printing order tickets and delivering them to the kitchen, can you honestly say this has never caused an issue? Orders being prepared out of order, or even getting completely missed. It happens, and it usually leaves customers frustrated and maybe even spreading bad reviews about your restaurant online.
Older systems like that are even more difficult to manage now, especially with orders coming through from online or through delivery apps. However, if your POS is linked to a kitchen display system (KDS), there’s never any confusion. Square KDS is easy to install, simple to use, and keeps all your orders, well, in order!
How it helps
Square KDS receives information directly from your POS, creating a seamless connection between front and back of house. This means no matter where your orders come from (Square Online, delivery apps or in-house), nothing gets missed. It’s easy to prioritise orders and get everything to the right prep stations at the right time. It’s not only practical for your kitchen though, because detailed reporting also gives you insight into meal prep and fulfilment times. Ultimately, this helps you speed up operations and provide more accurate estimates for online orders.
Perhaps best of all, it’s completely customisable, so you can set it up to work fluently with your kitchen. Every restaurant works a little differently, so it’s nice having the flexibility to customise ticket layouts, timers and notifications.
Perhaps one of the most important restaurant technology solutions in the modern world is the online ordering system. If you offer a purely dine-in only service, this may not be relevant, however, most restaurants have evolved to offer takeaway and delivery options. To make this easy, Square Online helps build your website to incorporate online ordering. Customers love having the freedom to order how and when they want, so if you don’t offer online ordering, you’re potentially missing out on a big section of the market.
How it helps
Online ordering is great because it’s convenient for customers. It’s contactless too, aside from the actual collection of food. Plus, you’re giving customers what they want. People are moving towards online ordering, pickup and delivery services at a rapid rate, so you can open up a whole new audience by implementing online ordering.
In addition, with your website linked to your POS system, orders are automatically received and delivered to the kitchen. It also means there is no disruption to your standard ordering process.
Delivery and takeaway apps
In years gone by, food delivery was basically reserved for pizza, but those days are long gone. Delivery apps such as Uber Eats and Menulog were already pretty popular, but their usage has boomed since COVID-19 struck. Without appearing on one or more of the leading delivery apps, you’re missing out on business. Plus, if you already offer online ordering and a takeaway service, it’s no different. With comprehensive restaurant technology like Square for Restaurants, your POS system receives orders from delivery apps, delivers them to the kitchen, and a driver collects them from your front of house. Easy!
How it helps
This one is less about streamlining restaurant operations and more about establishing a bigger share of the market. Square is all about helping businesses grow through the use of tailored restaurant technology solutions. But without a hungry horde of diners, your restaurant may not compete in a busy market. People order food on delivery apps in two ways. One, they look for a specific restaurant they want to order from. Two, they simply browse until they find something they like. Either way, if you’re not on the delivery apps, customers will go elsewhere.