Introducing new technology across an entire restaurant chain can have sustainable, long-term benefits. Before you begin such an ambitious project, keep these five best practices in mind.
While it can be tempting to roll out your slick new restaurant tech, such as an online ordering platform or restaurant delivery service, across all locations as quickly as possible, you’re inviting disaster if you rush the process. First, test the technology in a small number of restaurants. A lot of things will go right, and there will be some areas for improvement. You’ll need to stay in close communication with your managers and listen to their feedback regarding ease of use, the utility of the technology and customer sentiment. Addressing any concerns early on during the pilot phase will help you immensely as the technology is scaled across all restaurant locations.
Explain the business reasons, such as cutting costs or improving efficiency, behind the new restaurant technology before rolling it out. Doing so will bring your managers into the process of improving the restaurant.
Introducing any new layer into your restaurant’s operations will take time and effort at the beginning. Your managers have to be on board with the change and see how it will help everyone meet valuable long-term goals. Their buy-in will trickle down to employees, and it will help all stakeholders get through bumps in the road together.
Because your new technology is being introduced to achieve specific business objectives, you need to set measurable goals to evaluate success. For example, it could be 100 pounds less food waste each month, 10 percent more delivery orders or a 15 percent increase in return customers. It’s wise to keep goals conservative during the early stages of the roll-out, because the technology’s efficacy can be expected to increase as employees and diners become more familiar with it.
Your loyal customers trust your brand and expect a high level of consistency and customer experience no matter which location they visit. By introducing new customer-facing technology, you’re implicitly promising that they can enjoy it at every location. (The exception to this, of course, is the pilot phase, which should be clearly advertised as such.) The key to consistency is ensuring that best practices are being upheld from the top-down through continual employee training. Building in new training processes will ensure all locations continue to use the technology to its fullest potential, even through periods of high turnover. Train for consistency, and you’ll earn the loyalty of your customers.
Even when you’re not building chain or franchise-wide restaurant technology in-house, you can still have quite a bit of control over your restaurant’s branding within the interface of the new technology. It’s important to understand the extent to which you can brand the new tech as you’re sourcing vendors, because this will have a major impact on the user experience – whether your users are customers, employees or both. Don’t underestimate the power of your brand. If the technology is intuitive and useful, you want your restaurant brand associated with it.