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National Restaurant Association - Future-proofing your restaurant

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Future-proofing your restaurant

From Taco Bell to Panera Bread and Papa John's, major restaurant brands are leading the mobile experience for restaurant guests. As they do so, they're creating customer expectations around mobile capabilities in the restaurant environment. The new level of demand has many restaurants contemplating their own future-proofing strategies. 
One strategy that's becoming  must-have: the mobile app.
It’s no longer a question of whether to launch mobile ordering, table management and consumer engagement solutions, but rather how to implement them. There are important considerations when choosing technologies to future-proof your restaurant, such as choosing the right mobile platform and point-of-sale solution, and understanding who owns the consumer data.
Breaking down your restaurant walls
The restaurant of the future caters to a customer’s individual preferences, and interaction with your brand starts long before a customer comes through your doors. "Breaking down your restaurant's walls" has multiple benefits. Mobile orders can drive average ticket prices up 20 percent or more, many restaurants report. Curbside and specialty pick-up generate additional revenue. Taking orders online can reduce staffing costs and order-taking errors. 
Just a few examples of how mobile apps can drive your business:
  • Joan, the busy soccer mom, can now pre-order meals during the game from her favorite restaurants on her mobile device and simply pull up to the curbside parking spot to pick up.
  • Zack will pick up his meal in-store, but pre-ordering helps him bypass the line.
  • Ted can order food for the football game for delivery without missing a play.
  • Karen and her friends don’t have to wait for a table on girls’ night out—they can search availability and make a reservation to see the wait time and put themselves on the waiting list in advance.
Being able to capture customer preferences and history also provides the foundation for experiential rewards, and gives you a meaningful way to surprise and delight your patrons. Little-to-no-cost options can increase customer loyalty. You can offer a complimentary cocktail to entice guests to come in when they put themselves on a waiting list. You can show special wait times for guests who reach a certain status level. The engagement possibilities are endless when you have access to rich data.
Choosing a mobile solution provider
If opting for a new POS is part of your plan, find a provider who has an open platform with APIs available to third-party developers. Look for an app store where you can evaluate existing integrations. If you aren't ready to make a POS change, web-based or "stand-beside" solutions can help you test the waters on mobile ordering, customer engagement and table management before deciding on a new system.
When choosing a mobile payment platform, select a provider with a diverse range of options to meet your needs. You don't need to start with ordering, rewards, gift card, wait list, table management and a nutrition calculator all at once. You can choose a mobile app developer with an open platform. This lets you add functionality when you are ready. A good app will let you plug in the best provider in each category, giving you the most flexibility and ensuring that you are building a lasting solution. 
Last, when looking at potential providers, it is important to understand who owns the customer data. In the case of "consortium solutions" -- business arrangements where a restaurant drives consumers to a mobile app from a promotion on their own website and social media -- the customer's relationship once they register is with that consortium, ot the merchant. This means you could be leading your customer to a competitor’s solution, or getting charged to access your customer. 
Launching new, innovative solutions is a way to deepen your relationship with your customers and give you more options for communicating with them. It's critical that you choose a solution that allows you to do just that. 
This content was provided by Heartland Payment Systems, the National Restaurant Association’s only endorsed provider of secure card processing, payroll and loyalty-marketing services.

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