Along with self-serve options, another relatively new method of ordering has taken the restaurant world by storm over the past several years: tableside ordering. With 60% of guests agreeing that restaurant technology – including handheld tablets – increases convenience, it’s time to bring your technology tableside and drive sales.
While it may seem unconventional to have a server standing tableside holding a tablet to ring in orders, there are immense benefits to implementing this technology in your dining area. It can also be done in a way that enhances service delivery without sacrificing the ability to build a human connection with guests.
The concept is quite simple. Instead of a server writing orders down by hand or remembering orders in their head, they are inputting orders as they are being placed by guests on the handheld tablet while standing at the table. Orders go directly to the kitchen equipment since the tablets are connected to the network, meaning they reach the kitchen more quickly.
Most tableside POS software allows for checks to be separated by seats and ensures that all prompts for modifiers and add-ons are addressed, so it helps the servers quickly cover the entire order and reduces the chances that something is forgotten.
Here’s why you’re seeing tablets in everyone’s hands nowadays:
- Improved order accuracy: Because the POS software can prompt for things like cooking temperatures, sides, add-ons and upsells, not only are orders being taken directly from the customer at the table so they aren’t forgotten or missed, but the opportunity to perfect the order is even greater. If you’ve ever been a server, chances are you’ve scribbled something down on your notepad only to get to the POS terminal and be confused about what you wrote – use a tablet and eliminate the chances of that happening.
- Turn tables faster & increase speed of service: The more quickly orders get from the table to the kitchen, the more tables you can serve. Eliminate the time it takes to run back and forth to the POS terminal by implementing tablets that immediately send orders through to the kitchen using Wifi. This goes for both food and beverages, and we all know how important it is to ensure that guests promptly receive beverages upon being seated at the restaurant.
- Personalized dining options: Particularly in verticals like senior living, customer profiles are critical to delivering a great guest experience. With tableside tablets in senior living homes, staff are able to pull up a resident profile where they can view dietary restrictions, prompt for specific items or favorite offerings, or engage with the resident in specific ways based on their profile. The tableside profile can also include things like birthday information, beyond just information about their dietary preferences.
A major thing to consider when implementing tablets is whether you will be using standard consumer-grade hardware that you can purchase directly, such as iPads, or if you’ll be using commercial-grade hardware.
Commercial-grade tablets are definitely a better long-term investment, although they may not necessarily have the same sleek appeal that iPads and other tablets do. Serving staff are frequently walking quickly from table to table and require a tablet that can withstand a drop or a fall from time to time. In addition, commercial-grade tablets come in a variety of sizes to accommodate your serving staff. Keep in mind that serving staff also frequently deal with harsh conditions including weather (if on the patio), wet hands, food debris, and other factors that require more rugged hardware than what you use at home.
If you do select consumer-grade hardware, make sure you invest in good quality casings to protect the equipment as best possible.
Another critical piece of implementing tablets for tableside ordering is the connectivity of your restaurant. In order for orders to go from the tablets to the kitchen equipment, whether that be screens or printers, you’ll need wireless connectivity. Most restaurants implement a strong Wi-fi network to ensure orders flow seamlessly, but if Wifi goes down, bear in mind that your orders will not be going through to the kitchen and you’ll want a POS terminal on a LAN or other options in place should this occur.
Prior to implementing your new tablets, ensure that you run wireless connectivity tests across the entire restaurant to ensure there are no wireless dead spots or areas where the connectivity is too weak. Back-up cellular connectivity is also an option on some devices, and it’s worth asking to see if this is offered on the devices that you choose.
The tableside ordering trend shows no sign of slowing down, so talk to your POS partner today to see if they can support your tableside strategy and get moving on implementing a service that your servers and patrons will love.