In the restaurant industry, business owners are constantly looking for areas where they can potentially cut overhead costs or increase their turnover rate even slightly to maximize their profits. But reaching that goal is often much easier said than done. Fortunately for these owners, technological advances in the industry might just have a practical solution. One of the more recent trends in the point of sale industry has been to offer self-ordering kiosks. What started as a novel or niche idea just a few years ago has now spread to a large number of the top restaurant POS companies, making it a feature that you may not even realize you can implement affordably.
There are different types of self-ordering kiosks as well. Some allow customers to walk through the entire purchasing experience on their own, punching in their order, walking through automated modifiers, and eventually paying. If you don’t want to lose the personal touch from your employees entirely, you can also add on-table kiosks that can simply ease the burden from a server by automating the payment process or allowing customers to browse a digital menu.
X Must-Have Features To Look For In A Good Kiosk POS
Even if your POS system does offer kiosk hardware and software, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good fit for your business. You’ll want to make sure that it has all of the functionality you’re looking for to make it worth actually implementing. Here’s a few features that POS systems can offer in kiosk mode that you may want to check out.
Designing an eye-popping menu that highlights your unique or profitable items can be a difficult task. Having a kiosk can show customers appealing photos of each item and allow individuals to click on various menu options to either view a description or ingredients. This can lead to an increase in impulse sales and free up employees. It can also save you money on printing and laminating when physical menus get destroyed or when the menu simply changes. With most systems, menus can be updated quickly with a few button pushes.
Along that same vein, when a customer is filling out his or her order, the system can quickly and efficiently walk them through various options and areas for up-selling. These prompts and modifiers can be easily added in most POS software and can lead to a decrease in ordering errors and a potential uptick in sales.
How many times have you been making a purchase and, as you were ready to pay, a representative asks you if you want to enter your phone number or email address to receive promotions? By this point, most customers are usually ready to be done with their transaction and don’t feel like spelling out their information. An automated system can also make this process easier, letting customers enter their own information that is then automatically stored for future marketing. In some instances, you can also incentivize customers to sign up for loyalty by offering an immediate or future discount on a purchase.
Variety Of Payment Options
This is one of the most important aspects to consider. Today’s customers will look to pay in a variety of ways and a lack of options at your kiosk could turn them away. At a minimum, you will want a system that can process magstrip and EMV chip cards. However, many systems will also accept other methods like Google Wallet or Apple Pay. If your business also utilizes gift cards, you’ll want to make sure that your kiosks are set up to accept those as well.
This is somewhat more of a niche item but, for convenience stores or quick-service cafes, it can be a life-saver. Having a scanner that hooks up to your kiosk directly can allow customers to purchase self-serve or ready-made items by ringing them up themselves and paying for them in a matter of seconds.
Kitchen Display System Support
If you’re operating a larger full-service restaurant with a busy kitchen, having your kiosk directly sync to your KDS is a necessity. This will allow your cooks to see exactly when the orders were placed and they can view any special instructions or modifications that customers put in themselves. It also eliminates a potentially time-consuming step for your employees who would otherwise have to take down the order and then go to a separate station to send it to the kitchen.
To increase the the efficiency of your restaurant, kiosks can alert customers that their orders are ready either on an individual screen or by sending a text or email directly to a mobile device if wait times are longer. This is also a useful way to gather customer information for future marketing campaigns.
It’s a simple feature but one that can make a huge impact to your business’s bottom line. Simply being given a prompt to add gratuity is proven to increase profits across the board and is a simple, non-intrusive way to, we’ll say gently nudge, customers to reward your employees for their exemplary service.
Surprising Ways Your Restaurant Can Benefit From A Self-Ordering Kiosk Set-Up
Reduce Labor Costs
Obviously kiosks, either at the table or standing alone, can do a lot of the work that would otherwise fall to employees. Not only can this reduce the sheer number of employees you might need, it can also improve the efficiency of your employees on hand by taking some of the busy work off their plate. Kiosks can also mitigate against issues like unexpected rushes or having an employee who calls in sick at the last minute.
Increase Check Sizes
It’s easy to program in modifiers and prompts within a kiosk that will walk customers through up-sells and add-ons. This can be done in an intuitive fashion and in a way that doesn’t come across as pushy and customers feel as if they have more onus in their decisions.
Increase Overall Efficiency
While the addition of kiosks may seem impersonal, it can dramatically streamline your operations. With customers given the ability to send their orders at their own time, it eliminates those common occurrences where a server has to come back because a table hasn’t made its decision yet or stalls at one particular group of customers who take a long time to complete an order. Servers also don’t need to then make a separate trip to another station to fire an order to the kitchen. Instead, your employees can focus on making sure customers have everything they need.
Increase Order Accuracy
Along these same lines, having customers inputting their orders directly obviously eliminates the potential for server errors and will increase the likelihood that food comes out exactly to a customer’s specifications. This makes for an overall happier experience for customers who are then more likely to leave a hefty tip.
Disadvantages & Concerns When Using Restaurant Kiosks
Many restaurants pride themselves on their customer service and hands-on approach to their customers. Cutting back on the amount of face-time your hand-picked employees get with these customers might be seen as damaging to a restaurant’s brand.
If you end up with a kiosk system that isn’t extremely intuitive or has an interface that customers struggle with even slightly, it could defeat the kiosk’s purpose entirely. Having a server or other employee that is having to routinely walk customers through the ordering process can instantly eliminate any cost-saving benefits the kiosk could provide.
While the world in general seems to be trending toward automation more and more, there is still a large part of the populace that might be turned off by using kiosks to order as opposed to speaking to a human employee. A recent poll from Upserve found that 78% of customers said they would be less likely to frequent a restaurant that utilized self-serve kiosks. No doubt this current trend will take some getting used to for some customers.
While we’ve already discussed how kiosks may help your restaurant cut down on labor costs in the long term, you’ll likely need to do some math up front to determine if the investment is going to be worth it. In short, kiosks aren’t exactly cheap and, if not utilized correctly, they could end up being more trouble than they’re worth.
The 5 Best Kiosk POS Systems For Restaurants & How To Afford Them
Now let’s get to our bread and butter… telling you which point of sale systems might be the bet for you if you’re in the market for self-serving kiosks. The following systems are all among our favorites at Merchant Maverick and excel when it comes to providing kiosk functionality.
TouchBistro is a hybrid system best-suited for small to mid-sized restaurants and other food-service businesses. In many ways, TouchBistro has always been on the cutting edge of POS technology with strong mobile ordering functionality and a sleek designed catered specifically to make the lives of servers easy. It also was early on the scene with an automated kiosk system.
TouchBistro’s system comes with customizable branding and an easy-to-use interface that can feature pictures and descriptions of your restaurant’s products. The kiosk supports all types of payments, including Apple Pay and Android Pay and syncs with TouchBistro’s Kitchen Display System as well for restaurants. As you would guess, the kiosk also walks customers through add-ons and combos and lays out prices and options in an easily digestible format.
Toast is an excellent POS company that is Android based and prides itself on usability and its outstanding customer service. The all-in-one system is ideal for pretty much any type of food-service establishment and has one of the better tableside ordering systems in the industry. The system is feature-rich but does charge extra for some of its services like loyalty and online ordering.
Toast’s kiosk system feature’s Toast’s trademark simple interface and offers convenient order notifications directly to phone or email, eliminating the need for buzzers. Like TouchBistro, you can also customize your screen, displaying your menu items. Toast comes with a convenient scanner integration as well for establishments with quick scan and go items and Toast kiosk also syncs directly to a KDS.
Upserve is a cloud-based system that can handle any-sized food service establishment. Upserve features extensive menu building. It has a robust feature set, including strong inventory management and reporting and a simple, customizable interface. It also has strong tableside ordering functionality and a convenient Upserve Live function that allows managers to check on sales in real time from anywhere on an iPhone.
Upserve makes Bite Kiosk available and come with a unique algorithm that takes user data to help predict future customer behavior, allowing it to make suggestions and up-sell items automatically. It integrates seamlessly with Upserve, allowing for easy menu and pricing updates. It also syncs with Upserve’s loyalty program and, when purchasing, there are discounts for orders of 10 or more units.
Revel is an extremely robust hybrid system that can fit with nearly any sized restaurant or retail establishment. The iOS based system has an extremely generous back end with inventory that can handle more than 500,000 SKUs and a wide variety of reports. It offers a wide variety of ordering options and has its own delivery management system plus a impressive array of integrations.
Revel also is available with an intuitive kiosk mode. You can easily sync your loyalty program to the kiosk, allowing customers to easily look up past orders or simply make a repeat order. It also comes with the ability to take gift cards as payment. Orders are directly sent to Revel’s KDS. The interface also make it easy to browse menu items or retail inventory.
Lightspeed Restaurant is a cloud-based system designed specifically for small to mid-sized establishments but with the capacity to handle larger businesses as well. Lightspeed has a slick interface and syncs with things like mobile ordering and ecommerce plus an excellent employee management system. It also offers a convenient pricing structure, making sure you aren’t charged for features you aren’t using.
Lightspeed makes it easy to switch on its kiosk mode and conveniently walks customers through the ordering process with potential ares for up-selling and modifiers. The menu automatically syncs up with kiosk mode, making changes simple. You can also create your own payment methods, allowing customers to either pay up front or wait until after their meal.
How Small Businesses Can Afford to Invest In Kiosk POS Systems
Whether you’re interested in large, standalone kiosks or individual table kiosks, the cost can add up quickly. There are a few payment options and most companies will allow you to lease their hardware which can bring down the initial price. However, the long-term cost of leasing these systems is almost never a good idea. Buying the hardware outright ultimately saves you money but that still doesn’t solve the problem of needing cash initially when things might be tight. Fortunately, you have some options.
As a small business owner, you have some flexibility when it comes to receiving a loan. You can apply for an alternative small business loan, which can provide you with cash quickly and can be a good option if you have less than stellar credit or aren’t bringing in much money. These loans can get you the cash you need but can also have somewhat high interest rates.
There are other small business loans that you can look into as well each with slightly different terms. Loans for fledgling restaurateurs are sometimes difficult to land as the industry is viewed as risky. However, if you have a well-designed business plan, the right documents in order, and a good sense of your finances, you can dramatically increase your chances at approval. And, if you’ve run the numbers correctly and can bring down your costs by implementing kiosks, you may be able to pay off the loan quickly.
Are You Ready To Make The Jump To A Restaurant Kiosk POS System?
So hopefully you have a good sense of what kiosk systems are and what potential benefits they could provide for your business. If used properly, self-ordering systems can dramatically bring down your labor costs, increase efficiency and keep your customers happy by speeding up orders and cutting down on errors. It’s also a trend that may become the norm in the restaurant industry sooner than later.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t inherent risks in making that switch. Upfront costs need to be a heavy consideration along with your customer base and your restaurant’s brand. If you rely heavily on your servers for their unique brand of customer service or have a clientele that may be wary of a more automated ordering process, it may not be worth the risk.
As a final thought, keep in mind that, if don’t immediately have the cash on hand to purchase a handful of self-ordering kiosks, you have options there as well with numerous small business loans that may be at your disposal. As with anything, do your research, crunch your numbers, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when making this important decision.
The post Why You Should Consider A Self-Ordering Kiosk For Your Restaurant (Plus The 5 Best Kiosk POS Systems & How You Can Afford Them) appeared first on Merchant Maverick.