The restaurant industry has long been at the forefront of new, cutting-edge technologies to boost sales while delivering convenience and ease of service. This past year brought on some unforeseen challenges, and the industry had to adapt quickly and effectively. With dine-in service still unavailable in many states, restaurant owners have changed how they operate their businesses. Here are some of the technological advances that are helping to make running a restaurant easier, faster, and more profitable in 2021.
While it doesn’t appear that there will be a short-term end to the restrictions, to effectively compete during this challenging, surreal time, there are some changes you’ll need to make, and a lot of them center around technology. If your restaurant hasn’t switched to using a restaurant point-of-sale system, now is the time, and your livelihood may be at stake if you don’t switch.
SPECIALIZED RESTAURANT DIGITAL APPS
Plenty of restaurants developed their own unique apps before 2020, but this particular technology tool became essential during the COVID-19 crisis. According to data from the National Restaurant Association, 66 percent of adults ordered delivery or takeout for dinner in the last week of October 2020, an increase from 58 percent in the last week of February this year, and the trend is expected to continue.
Restaurant apps aren’t just about ordering food. They allow customers to interact with their favorite restaurants from the comfort and convenience of their digital devices, giving them access to menus, limited time offers (LTOs), rewards programs, and more.
The Wayback app launched in 2018 and has continued to gain in popularity. The app makes it convenient to access Wayback Burgers’ menu from anywhere. Whether at home, at work, or already at the restaurant, the Wayback Burgers app offers guests an optimized restaurant experience right at their fingertips. Guests can discover nearby Wayback Burgers locations, monitor the loyalty points they rack up via the Wayback Payback Rewards Programs, and share their Wayback Burgers experience through social media connectivity.
While indoor dining remains an unpredictable revenue source in many areas, digital apps are a great tool to keep restaurants connected with the needs of their customers.
EMPHASIS ON ECO-FRIENDLINESS
Customers have been concerned with dining sustainability and its environmental impact for years now, and restaurants are wise to get on board with this foodservice trend. Not only does “going green” positively impact the environment, but it will improve the efficiency of your restaurant.
Consider these environmentally-conscious practices:
- Reusable utensils and dishes, biodegradable straws and napkins
- Conservative water usage
- Energy-efficient equipment
- Eco-friendly cleaning products
- Locally sourced food products whenever possible
Customers will be curious to hear about how you’re doing your part to protect the environment while simultaneously offering a top-notch dining experience. Locally sourced ingredients and eco-safe cleaning practices should be a point of pride for you and your restaurant.
TRACKING AND PREVENTING FOOD WASTE
Food waste has always been a concern in the restaurant industry, and it’s growing increasingly simple to prevent it through technological advances.
With predictive order management software, restaurants can anticipate customer demand and reduce waste, thus saving money and improving their profit margins. Another benefit of automating inventory management is that restaurant owners can eliminate the overbearing manual task of maintaining complex spreadsheets (and the inevitable inaccuracies that occur with tracking your inventory manually). These programs can help you plan and adjust your menu to cross-utilize ingredients wherever possible.
CLEANING AND SANITIZING
The health and safety of your customers and employees should always be of the utmost importance, but this past year has put an added emphasis on the standards we should be striving for inside our restaurants.
Customers expect that thorough steps have been taken to sanitize the restaurant where they dine out. From microbe-killing UV light to environmentally safe kitchen solvents, advances are being made to keep your customers safe and your restaurants spic-and-span.
QR code technology has only recently started to gain steam in the United States, and its benefits and capabilities are likely to increase over the coming years. Tablet-based temperature readers, mobile tailored websites, and pay-at-the-table options are all available through the use of QR codes.
This touch-free technology is appealing to customers who still want the restaurant experience but still may want to customize their meal from their own handheld device. “Quick response” barcodes are a foodservice trend that work beautifully in restaurants, especially as we’re still at a point where social distancing is advised.
Vegetarian and vegan options have become increasingly popular among customers. Many major chains are now offering plant-based meats and veggie menu substitutions to satisfy diners’ tastes, so your restaurant would do well to adapt your menu to meet this foodservice trend.
Wayback Burgers is most well-known for its cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and chicken sandwiches, and while we already offer a delicious veggie burger option for guests, in 2020 we launched a new offering. Our “Impossible Melt” was a limited time offer during the Lenten season featuring a plant-based patty, spicy garlic aioli, Swiss cheese, and sauteed onions on a toasted, buttered bun. The “Impossible Melt” was so well received during the Lenten season last year, that it will be a permanent menu item in 2021.
LIMITED TIME OFFERS
Limited time offers (LTOs) serve to pique the customers’ interest, whether they are in the restaurant or browsing your online ordering app from home. Like Wayback Burgers’ “Impossible Melt,” LTOs can prove greatly effective in driving business to your restaurant throughout the year.
Over the past five years, 64 percent of the top 500 restaurant and retail chains increased their LTO menu items. When deciding what LTO items to include on your menu, it’s important to consider a few factors: what your customers traditionally like to eat, what makes sense seasonally, and what new and different options they may be enticed to try.
ADAPT AND THRIVE
As we step into the new year, now is the time to update your restaurant’s practices and implement some of the foodservice trends that have seen businesses grow and prosper during a difficult 2020.
Even after fears about the pandemic subside, we can expect to see continued positive returns for restaurants that offer high cleanliness standards, user-friendly digital platforms and technological solutions, and other services that make the dining experience more convenient, practical, and enjoyable.
Wayback Burgers offers our franchise owners support and guidance on all fronts in the ever-changing restaurant landscape, and we are invested in your success. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Wayback Burgers franchisee, visit us.