By now you've probably seen a tableside ordering system somewhere around town. You may have even used one a time or two. The concept is great. Why wait for your server to come back by and check on you? You can order refills or dessert anytime using the handy system on the edge of your table. Sounds great, doesn't it? You can even pay your check when you're ready to leave. What a time saver. Except that it so often isn't.
The tableside ordering system was supposed to be a boon for restaurateurs. They would empower their customers and cut the amount of waitstaff needed. It sounded like a win-win. The first problem was educating the general public and convincing them to use the system. Some people simply aren't interested. They are naturally resistant to change and they're fine with the old way of doing things. Short of offering them free food or another incentive, you're not going to get them to give it a try. Other people were game to give it a go but they struggled with the actual process, in the end they had to wait for their server to come help them anyway. The next hurdle was that the system doesn't always work as it should. The devices have to be charged and filled with paper to print receipts. If either of those things doesn't happen in a timely manner your system isn't going to perform as it should. That reduced the effectiveness even for the tech savvy diners who could make the system work with ease. If personal observation is any indication, all too often these systems are being used to entertain small children - something most restaurants already had a handle on before investing in these costly systems.
Why are we talking about the tableside ordering system? What lesson can we learn from this? While using technology to further your business is a great idea, it can be hard to predict what is going to work the way you hope it will. Sometimes the surefire answer, just isn't the solution that you needed. Sure, the tableside ordering system sounded like a game changer for the restaurant business. Less overhead and happier customers all for a modest upfront investment. Some establishments may have had success with this system, but others are struggling to see the promised payoff.
If you read our blog frequently you know that we are big proponents of using technology to gain competitive advantage and improve the success of your business. We also advocate doing your homework before you buy. Early adopters may jump out ahead because they tried something first, but they also experience more growing pains and false starts because they bought the hype of something that couldn't deliver. Sometimes waiting for real world test cases can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.
Once you've decided on a product, be realistic in your expectations. Allow time to train your employees and your customers on how the new system works. There aren't any magic bullets that are going to revolutionize your business overnight. Implementing change requires time and patience.
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