The restaurant industry has been forced to evolve over the last year, quickly adopting new technology to meet the changing needs of customers, the latest industry trends, staffing challenges, and the demand for efficient takeout and delivery.

Covid has been responsible for thrusting the restaurant industry 10 years into the future when it comes to using technology to operate your restaurant. It’s vital that you stay relevant in this ever-changing world because customers expect the use of technology to make their visit simpler while still having the same guest experience.

This doesn’t mean you need to put robots in your restaurant (though keep reading, that is an option!), but you want the process of customers being able to give you money to be easy and efficient. Amazon and online retailers have changed the way your customers think about doing business. Even for restaurants. It’s a new world when it comes to taking care of your customers, so don’t let it pass you by.

Use this article as a self-check to see what new technology you have implemented to make your customer experience quicker and easier. See what some of the latest trends that your customers are expecting you to keep up with now and in the future.

What To Expect

We all know that technology is changing restaurant dining. Restaurants must adapt their technology to succeed because consumers are becoming more impatient, more tech-savvy, and have higher expectations for efficiency. Some of the changes that have already taken place in our industry include voice ordering, digital menus with QR codes, contactless payments, and comprehensive websites for takeout or delivery. How do you rank amongst your competitors?

Create a Smart Kitchen

Digital kitchen boards will be a big part of restaurant technology in 2022, providing a more streamlined work experience in your kitchen. Directly linked to your point-of-sale (POS) system, the screen will display orders according to priority and flag any special dietary requests, eliminating the paper chits.

The systems can also track meal delivery times and monitor inventory to signal when a product is out of stock. All of this leads to better communication, accuracy, clearer workflows, and – being 100% digital – promises a more sustainable kitchen operation and lower labor costs. It means you don’t need to worry about messy or confusing orders – smart kitchens mean fewer errors and a better customer experience. With smart kitchens, you can open your kitchen up to all sorts of new possibilities. Digital boards give chefs the ability to track inventory, post daily specials and highlights, manage staff shifts efficiently, and even control cooking temperatures remotely.

However, restaurant technology is not just limited to computers and smart devices. It also includes the kitchen appliances that your restaurant uses on a daily basis like fridges, dishwashers, ovens, or microwaves. Restaurants can also use smart technology in their kitchens by equipping food preparation equipment with sensors connected to a software system that determines when supplies are running low or an order is ready for finishing.

Keeping Track of The Numbers

One of the most repetitive, unexciting but necessary parts of operating a restaurant is inventory control. We’ve all been in a closed restaurant in the middle of the night counting bottles or items in the walk in. Automated inventory management software helps you track your restaurant products.

It also allows you to place an order for additional stock when needed so it never runs out, saving money by cutting down on food waste as well as reduce theft in the workplace. You can use either a manual or fully automated solution depending on what best fits your restaurant and business needs and preferences. This type of technology is designed to make you more profit from every order and run your restaurant more efficiently. The days of hand counting #10 cans will be a distant memory. And that is a welcome change for any chef.

Managing With Less Staff

Hiring qualified staff continues to be a challenge – so finding ways to require less staff while continuing to create memorable dining experiences is the solution forward. Implementing automation technology allows you to use less staff and prioritize customer service over anything else.

Robot chefs and servers have become a real thing, though it sounds so futuristic. Robots can’t replace many staff functions, but what they are being used for successfully is expediting food between the kitchen and the customer’s table. The robots can carry more items at once, aren’t concerned with heat, don’t get sick, they don’t take days off, and you only need to remember to plug them in.

Use your staff for the important parts of the customer experience like creating connection, building a relationship, personalizing the experience, and let technology handle the repetitious, less human aspects of the job.

And robots might need a recharge, but they don’t typically ask for a raise or time off. When looking at implementing any new technology in your business, the main detail to remember is you don’t want to negatively impact your customer’s experience. That would be a bad use of technology.

Take Reservations Efficiently

Restaurant owners can create a table reservation system by integrating third-party services like OpenTable into their own website or app. Keep customers updated through social media channels like Instagram or Facebook about what’s happening at the restaurant and via automated messaging platforms such as text message, email, and app software. All of these can include a direct link to your online reservation system to facilitate a booking.

Great strides have been made to reservation systems in the past few years. And your guests now expect a flawless experience when it comes to making a reservation. This is one of the most important updates to our industry integrating new technology to enhance the customer experience.

Make As Much as You Can Contactless

One of the earliest adaptations for restaurants when they began to reopen after the Covid closures was contactless digital menus accessed by a QR code at each table or counter. This can be a huge cost saving over printed menus and allows for fast, seamless changes to the menu or pricing. Now, that technology is advancing further with digital menu boards, voice ordering, and chatbots.

Cut Down on Repetitive Staff Interactions

The previously mentioned digital menus and ordering online reservations are some of the biggest restaurant technology trends for 2022, making it easier to get in touch with your restaurant from anywhere, anytime!

Voice ordering will save time for your customers when using their phone to access your online ordering system for takeout and delivery. This is one of the biggest trends that are taking place right now. If you are one of the millions that have a smart voice-activated device in your house, you are already aware of voice technology. Yes, I am talking about Alexa and Google. These are the two most popular voice-activated devices that your customers have integrated into their daily lives. I know, I use mine all the time. In fact, my children laugh that Alexa is my new best friend.

On a side note, one thing to be aware of is the capabilities of these devices to tell your customers where they should be spending their dining dollars. For example, your customers want pizza tonight, and these devices have made it so easy for them to find the best pizza place near them. A simple question asked- “Alexa, what is the best pizza restaurant near me?” That’s all it takes, and Alexa will direct them to #1 pizza place in their area.

How does Alexa know what is the best pizza place? I’ll give you a hint- it’s determined by your reviews! Yes, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, etc.

To see a more in-depth article on how voice-activated searches effect your restaurant, click HERE to see me demonstrate how this works and what you need to know to show at the top.

To get a FREE comprehensive review of your Online Presence and how to capture more new customers using Google and your review sites, schedule a FREE Online Reputation Review for your restaurant with a DFY Restaurant Reputation Expert.

Chatbots on your website can also assist customers quickly with questions about menu items or deliver pre-order information via text message marketing software. Digital signage is also on the rise, as it can attract restaurant patrons from outside the restaurant as well as update customers about the restaurant via automated messaging platforms. All these software solutions help eliminate, or lessen, the need to have a person dedicated to answering the phone or distracting a host from seating guests.

Make It Easy To Give You Money

If you haven’t found a way to use contactless payment solutions, now is the time. Customers have become hyper-aware of safety and cleanliness. Contactless payments remove the need to carry cash and increase restaurant sales. A contactless payment strategy allows customers to pay without handing their card over — this could mean simply waving their phone or card over your payment device. These types of payments also have the added benefit of being faster and more secure compared to traditional methods. Speeding up the payment process is especially useful if your restaurant typically serves a high volume of customers. And faster transactions will help you turn over more tables or move counter lines faster, increasing your revenue. Another great use of technology to improve your customer experience is putting more dollars in your register quicker.

It Starts With Your Website

Your restaurant website is the foundation for you to promote your restaurant across all platforms, from social media marketing to email campaigns. It is imperative that it is optimized to mobile – a huge volume of your traffic is looking at you from their phone.

Easy access from that site to all the pertinent details about your restaurant, its location and hours, as well as an efficient way to order takeout and delivery need to be considered. Your online table reservation system can be integrated on your site to make the process much more effective while giving customers easy access into your world at any time. Here’s where you can take advantage of voice ordering and chatbots as well.

Your website should also be used to host your online application process. That process needs to end with an online calendar integration for them to book a convenient interview time and also send them reminders by text and email. Your potential candidates are very tech-savvy, and a paper application or request so a paper resume is outdated and will limit your results.

Check out our comprehensive DFY Online Employee Attraction System that can get you fully staffed in 45 days or less.

Do your research and make sure you sign up with trusted providers that offer an online customer service platform where you can automate responses via chatbots or other automated messaging software, make sure they have a secure payment gateway to ensure safety during transactions.

DON’T IGNORE THE CHANGE

Automation technology is here to stay and will only continue to improve over time! As consumers adopt new technologies like voice ordering from their favorite restaurants, we’ll see big changes in restaurant dining experience. Keep up with these trends using automation technology that is changing how people order to eat at home and in your restaurant.

From your website to robots delivering orders to your table, you don’t want to play catch up when it comes to technological advances in your business. Because your competition isn’t waiting for you. Especially the corporates.

I have found that it’s better to be an industry leader than an industry follower when it comes to changes in the restaurant industry.

To get a full analysis of where you rank amongst your competition when it comes to your website, your online presence, your digital reputation, and your social media and how you use technology to keep top of mind with your customers and how to use technology to attract new customers… sign up for a FREE Complete Analysis of your restaurant with a DFY Online Marketing Expert. A $297 value FREE because you made it to the end of this blog.

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Michael Thibault
Michael Thibault

Michael Thibault

Known as “The Done For You Marketing Guy for Restaurants.” International Speaker on Restaurant Marketing. Published contributing author of 4 Marketing Books. Industry expert on Google Searches and Review Sites. Recovering Independent Restaurant Owner and Caterer of over 21 years. And, all-around good guy.

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