Peak mealtimes at quick-service restaurants (QSRs) pose a unique challenge: Whether during a lunchtime rush or a flurry of takeout dinner orders, restaurants must find ways to manage bottlenecks while continuing to deliver a pleasing and memorable experience to customers.
Digital technologies—such as mobile ordering and self-service kiosks—can create a more efficient and satisfying dining experience, especially at peak times. However, most QSRs’ digital strategies come up short.
The average QSR scored a 38.7 out of a possible 100 for digital technology implementation in a recent PYMNTS.com Restaurant Readiness Index, sponsored by Bank of America Merchant Services and Bypass.1
The same report said 62% of consumers believe digital innovations would make them more likely to visit QSRs in the future. Given the proven success of in-store technology to boost efficiency and convenience, QSRs will be hard-pressed not to devote more resources to restaurant management systems that can link those technologies and help streamline operations during restaurants’ busiest times.
Offering customers multiple ways to order and pay can help reduce wait times, thereby increasing customer flow.
“To stay competitive in the quick service industry, restaurants need to offer an omni-channel approach,” says Geoff Johnson, chief innovation officer at Bypass Mobile, an Austin, Texas-based company offering mobile ordering and payment solutions.
Such a strategy includes innovative restaurant point-of-sale (POS) technology that can handle mobile, online and self-serve kiosk orders, and accept multiple forms of payment from various channels.
How QSRs can benefit from integrating commerce solutions
Mobile and online ordering
QSRs can help customers avoid lines altogether by allowing pre-ordering and payment online or through a mobile app. This solution is becoming increasingly popular among QSRs. Nearly half of restaurants plan to add mobile technology in the future2 as almost 75 percent of all consumers say they’ve used mobile devices to place food orders at least once.3
Some leading QSRs in the U.S. are already seeing the benefit of allowing customers to order digitally. One major coffee chain saw 59 percent of its customers make their orders online or via the mobile app.4 QSRs overall noticed higher ticket sizes in the first and second quarters of 2018, which they say is a result of mobile ordering.3
Ordering via tableside tablets or self-serve kiosks can reduce the time customers spend waiting to order, keeping lines from growing too long and allowing kitchens to process orders faster. In addition to allowing restaurants to get through orders more efficiently, self-serve kiosks also can increase consumer spending by as much as 30 percent.5
Multiple payments acceptance
Top-performing QSRs are most likely to offer contactless payments or the ability to pay with a digital wallet in addition to more traditional payment methods, like cash or credit cards. Offering multiple payment types can attract customers who might otherwise take their business elsewhere.
The analytics technology a restaurant uses is a crucial factor in determining how well it optimizes peak meal times, especially for restaurants with multiple high-volume locations.
A cloud-based restaurant management platform can link ordering and payment technologies, then collect and share that data across multiple locations. This gives QSR owners a holistic view of their business by gathering data on food cost, menu management, labor metrics and employee management.
Data collected from back-office reporting suites can help fuel fast, evidence-driven decision-making. Restaurant owners and operators can monitor everything that’s happening in their locations, making adjustments as necessary. “They can essentially turn different dials to see what exactly is helping increase revenue,” says Johnson.
Additionally, data collection can help identify ways to change a restaurant’s layout to make it more efficient, says Sam Oches, editorial director of QSR Magazine. “Technology can help you think through the space you have to move customers and their meals and figure out how to improve it,” he notes.
The best restaurant management platforms can help eliminate bottlenecks by reviewing all restaurant processes from reception to the kitchen and dining room, identifying and resolving issues that contribute to longer waits. For example, increased online ordering and pick-ups may mean a restaurant should consider a separate preparation area for take-out orders.
QSRs can also enhance staffing with an automated time and attendance system that helps manage scheduling by providing data from multiple locations. “Peak mealtime is a multifaceted event, and how you deal with it depends on how your business operates,” says Johnson.
Every restaurant is different. The right restaurant management system for one QSR may not be the right choice for another. Your payment service provider can help assess your needs and identify the right tools to manage peak traffic. With those tools in place, you can focus on pleasing customers that walk through your door and away from your competition.