Tableside payment is already fairly common in many parts of the world. Now it is steadily gaining ground in Australia. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, there is strong customer demand for the service. According to the Future of Restaurants Report (2022) report, 45%
of Australian customers say some form of digital payment is their preferred way to pay, for example, contactless, pay-at-the-table or QR codes. Secondly, tableside payment offers numerous practical benefits for restaurants.
What is a tableside payment?
With tableside payments, staff bring a wireless terminal or point-of-sale machine to the table and process payments there. This means that dinerss can pay with a card without having to go to a central paypoint. What’s more, the terminal used for tableside payment generally supports contactless payments (often including mobile payments). This makes it even more convenient.
Why more restaurants are adopting tableside payments
Tableside payment was in use before COVID19, but the pandemic intensified the need for businesses to adopt contactless or self-service technology as a safety measure. This is still a consideration today.
Additionally, tableside payment improves operational efficiency. It eliminates the need either to keep a team member at a central paypoint or to have regular serving staff meet diners at that paypoint. In the first case, a valuable team-member may be underused. In the second case, you give a waiter/waitress unnecessary work. This means you may have to take on more staff to keep everything running smoothly.
With tableside payment, waiters/waitresses have much more flexibility to fit in taking payment with their other tasks. Diners are usually fine with this because they’re comfortable at the table. If they do need to pay quickly, they can just make the waiter/waitress aware.
With the traditional approach to taking payment, the customer gets the bill at the table and then either pays cash at the table or pays with a card or mobile on the way out. Given that cash payments have been on the decline for many years, the latter option was far more common. This sometimes led to queues building up, especially at busy times.
With tableside payment, the customer is given their bill at the table as normal. Depending on how busy the restaurant is and how complicated the bill is, they may be left to check it while the server does something else. Alternatively, they may just proceed straight to payment. Either way, when both the customer and the waiter/waitress are ready, they just processes the payment at the table.
Tableside payment is particularly useful when people want to split the bill. Doing this at a central paypoint with other customers waiting can be painful for everyone.
Less likelihood of human error
There’s a difference between working quickly and efficiently and working under stressful pressure. Giving wait staff more breathing space to process payment can help to reduce the likelihood of them rushing and making mistakes.
You can increase the benefits of tableside payment even more by integrating your ordering system with your payment system. For example, you could have staff or the diner enter their orders into a tablet. This can then send a message to both the kitchen and the billing system. At the end of the meal, the bill is generated automatically.
Potential for extra sales
If you’re looking to squeeze out every last drop of revenue from your restaurant, offer the customer the opportunity to add a small extra purchase to their bill. This doesn’t even have to be food related. There are plenty of other options such as convenience items or gifts.
Build customer profiles
Tableside payment enables businesses to collect vital customer data, such as email address and purchase history, which come in handy for email marketing and loyalty programs. Historical data can also help businesses identify trends and improve their offerings based on customer interest.
Accepting payment tableside can help your staff stay more organised and focused on their core task of delivering excellent customer service. This is because they can process orders more accurately, make fewer trips to the POS to process payments and turn tables around faster.
Ultimately, when your workers make the most efficient use of their time, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs. This encourages them to stay with you for longer instead of leaving in the hope of finding something better.
Ways to create a better tableside payment experience for your customers
If you’re considering tableside ordering for your restaurant, here are a few ways to improve the experience for your customers while increasing efficiency for your business.
Invest in the right tableside device
Your handheld device is the hub of your tableside ordering experience, so it’s crucial to choose the device that best fits your business needs. For example, if you need to accept multiple payment options, such as gift cards, cash payments, cards and mobile payments, then choose a device like Square Terminal that supports those options.
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Train staff properly
When it comes to providing a pleasant dining experience, your staff are your most important asset. Ensure they understand how to use your chosen handheld device and confidently respond to any customer questions.
Your staff should also be up to date on any offers, deals and additional information that might be useful to customers. Consider drafting a tableside payment protocol that addresses common scenarios and practicing the drill with your staff.
Educate customers about tableside payments
Your customers probably have different levels of familiarity with tableside payments. Be prepared to explain the benefits of tableside payments versus the traditional process. This helps boost adoption and ease their concerns. Below are a few ways to do this:
- Create in-store banners that highlight the benefits of tableside payments.
- Send dedicated email newsletters to explain how it works.
- Create an FAQ page on your website to address common questions.
- Reward customers for their loyalty
Offering incentives and rewards to customers who pay at the table is a great way to get more people on board. With Square Loyalty, you can easily create a digital rewards program for repeat customers.
When a customer completes a transaction with the payment card linked to their Square Loyalty profile, they are automatically shown any available rewards during checkout on Square Terminal. Once they select and redeem rewards, you can complete checkout as normal.
Tableside payment is likely here to stay. As a business owner, make the experience as hassle-free as possible for your customers and employees. Choosing a handheld device that supports your business needs is the first step. Next, train employees to provide a top-notch tableside payment experience. And listen to feedback from customers and continuously improve your approach based on that insight.