The popularity of fast-casual restaurants has increased over the past few years as more and more time-crunched consumers seek to enjoy a good, but quick meal. For fast-casual restaurant operators with counter service, capitalizing on this trend means having the right point of sale technology and features in place. These include:
Digital signage and customer-facing displays. Digital signage and customer-facing displays help to capture the attention of fast-casual restaurant customers at the point of decision, allowing you to easily promote and upsell food and drinks without relying on employees to remember to do so. Getting the word out about last-minute specials or other enticements couldn’t be easier when digital signage and customer-facing displays are in place: just upload a photo and/or set the text.
When you aren’t using them to convey messages to customers, digital signage and customer-facing hardware can be re-purposed as entertainment for customers as they await their turn at the counter. This makes perceived waits in line shorter and increases the perception that your establishment provides fast service even if there are a few minor delays.
Kitchen display system. At fast-casual restaurants, the service is supposed to be just that: fast. Replacing your kitchen printer with a kitchen display system—or, if you’ve never had a printer in the kitchen, skipping the printer entirely—boosts efficiencies by eliminating confusion about orders. You can decide in what sequence to display all orders that flow into the kitchen from the terminal(s) at the front of the house, prioritizing rush orders first and organizing by time received. Some systems allow you to set alerts that permit kitchen staff to focus on orders that are approaching or have exceeded their service time limit, as well as to integrate orders from separate sections of the kitchen (hot and cold) onto a single screen. Such efficiency and lack of confusion lead to faster, more accurate delivery of orders to tables—and a better customer experience.
Varied payment acceptance capabilities. Every fast-casual restaurant has customers who need or prefer to pay for their orders with cash. However, the fact that saving time is a priority for so many patrons makes it imperative to offer patrons the option of using credit and debit cards to cover their checks. Installing point-of-sale software and peripherals (i.e., magnetic stripe readers and PIN pads) that facilitate credit and debit card acceptance also opens doors for increased sales. With the right point-of-sale configuration, operators can accommodate customers who aren’t carrying cash and might otherwise dine elsewhere, as well as those who have some cash on hand, but would be willing to order extra food from your restaurant if only they had another way to pay besides using the bills and coins in their wallets.
Mobile point-of-sale is also becoming popular. Some customers may want the option to pay for their food through a mobile wallet app on their phone. And if your fast-casual restaurant also offers delivery, consider deploying mobile devices employees can use to process credit card payments at customers’ doors. Finally, adding online payment processing capabilities is a good idea when you give customers the option to order online for pickup and/or delivery.
Fast-casual dining will never go out of style; there will always be patrons who want and need to order and receive food and beverages quickly, without any compromises to quality. With the three above-described capabilities and technology features in your bag of tricks, you will always have a place at the fast-casual industry table.