1/3 of restaurant operators feel they are “lagging” behind on adopting restaurant technology. Full-service restaurant operators are lagging behind is because they are succumbing to common fears of technology adoption. But we’re here to be a comforting light in the dark for tech-hesitant restaurateurs. We look at the top five reasons restaurant operators gave for not adopting technology and show you how you can feel comfortable making the leap from tech rags to tech riches.
Last week, in anticipation of their 2016 restaurant technology report, the National Restaurant Association released the results of a restaurant operator survey investigating how operators use technology in their restaurants. While the survey includes results from only 502 restaurants, the statistics offer a unique view into the way many restaurant operators think about technology. And yes, 1/3 of restaurants self-describe as lagging behind on technology.
1. Cost of Implementation
1a. Lack of Infrastructure
The two biggest concerns shared by the largest number of restaurant operators when considering new technology are the cost of implementation and the lack of infrastructure to support new software or technology. These are the biggest barriers. And at Uncorkd, we can relate, because we hear these concerns from operators all the time.
And these concerns aren’t without good reason; a smart business operator should always consider the cost of implementation and what type of support system is needed for a tech service. This concern is especially important for independent restaurants. Independent restaurants are the trend setters for food and drink, but they seriously lag behind in technology trends. This is especially true when compared to their more financially secure counterparts, chain and corporate restaurants.
But considering the cost of implementation is only the first step of analyzing new technology. If you’re looking at technology as an investment to secure your restaurant’s future, then you must perform a thorough cost-benefit analysis. This looks at the cost of an operational expense and then analyzes it’s potential benefits in terms of dollars and cents. A CBA should also take into account infrastructure needed to support a new system, which is why we listed these two concerns as 1 and 1a.
It’s important to consider how new tech will impact your operations. Are you addressing issues within your restaurant that will be remedied by new technology? Will this help increase revenue or potential revenue by expanding your market reach? Or will this new technology eliminate costs in other areas that will eventually allow the new equipment or software to pay for itself in money saved?
At Uncorkd, we see this restaurateurs who are concerned about initial costs. It’s why we offer our potential customers case studies and testimonials from our existing customers to showcase how our digital restaurant menus can increase sales and save operators labor costs and operational expenses. When researching a new product, you should seek out case studies and testimonials that quantify success with hard numbers. This helps you gain a better understanding about the impact — positive or negative — that new technology will have on your restaurant.
2. Service and Repair
Technology has given restaurants many advantages and more power in terms of reaching more customers; making it easier for customers to do business with you; and tracking information like sales, customer behavior, and inventory usage. But with with great power comes great repairs. And not many restaurant operators double as service technicians. Just like a paper menu gets damaged, sometimes hardware needs to be repaired or serviced. But this shouldn’t be a determining factor in adopting technology.
Everything is flawed and nothing is perfect. That’s a bit dark but there’s truth hidden in it. You will have to repair hardware at some point. But as the cost-benefit analysis from above highlights if new technology will make financial sense, understanding the overall impact of technology on your business is important. Does the potential for repairs outweigh the benefits of technology? What are the most common issues users have with a piece of technology?
This is where good research comes into play. An often overlooked component of a good tech company is their customer support. You should be vigorous when vetting a company on their support services. How fast does a company respond to a support request? Is their a cost for support? Do customer support ticket system or can you reach a service representative directly? Are there resources on their website like product tutorials that allow you troubleshoot and solve issues on your own? How complex is the product itself?
These are all questions to take into consideration when looking at new technology. Service and repair is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be painful.
3. Customer Acceptance
When it comes to customer acceptance, restaurant operators often take the wrong approach when consider how customers will interface with technology. First and foremost, your customers are already bringing technology to the table. Smart phones, tablets, and laptops are all common sites to behold in a busy restaurant. Curious customers look up ingredients and cocktails. Rambunctious toddlers are pacified with glowing tablets offering games that go “Bing!”
Technology in a restaurant is going to happen whether you like it or not, so it makes most sense to benefit from it. The question shouldn’t be if you should have technology at the table, but rather, does this technology enhance my customer’s experience, or make it more difficult? That is the key question when it comes to customer facing technology.
At Uncorkd, we have the KISS philosophy. Keep It Simple, Stupid. That’s what we aim for, because we all like simplicity. Our digital beverage menus have an intuitive and simple design that ensures there is a minimal learning curve for the customer and staff. Make sure that most of your clientele will be able to use a new service without disruption of the experience.
4. Staff Training
Staff training is a big issue. It is an on-going process for many restaurants. Staff-turnover is one of the biggest issues restaurants face, so it can be difficult to constantly have to re-train staff to use a new technology. But, if done properly, training on customer-facing technology can be integrated into your normal training routine. Just like a trainee may shadow a server at the POS system, they can shadow the use of any technology in your restaurant.
The restaurant technology you implement should have a simple interface that is easy to use. If training new staff on a device is prohibitive, then you probably shouldn’t be using it in the first place.
Technology is an investment
Adding new technology to your restaurant is a big decision. But it’s a decision that should be made after quality research and an honest assessment of what your restaurant’s needs. Remember, it is an investment that can help you secure the success of your restaurant in the long term. Don’t be discouraged by initial costs if the benefit of new technology will outweigh that cost in the future.