You’ve revamped your menu and your interior. You’re buying only locally sourced products. You’re starting to see your profits grow but have you given any thought to one big way you can increase efficiency and repopulate your customer base, build loyalty, even more?
A TD Bank survey at the recent NRA show in Chicago has revealed that 41% of restaurant professionals currently do not use even a point-of-sale (POS) system. In addition, only 31% of the bank’s respondents offer a mobile payment option. Less than 35% of that 31% don’t use mobile payments because they don’t have a POS system, while 47.52% do have plans to incorporate mobile technology in the future.
On the loyalty side of things, 74.62% of operators do not offer a loyalty program while 59.41% believe it would benefit the business. Yet 46% believe that these services would increase efficiency for their business. The desire for these programs and systems are there, so what is holding these operators back?
Let’s talk about some ways technology can improve your business.
“A POS system can absolutely raise restaurants’ efficiency and should be adopted,” noted Julie Pukas, the head of Bankcard and Merchant Services at TD Bank. “About 46% or half of the restaurant professionals we surveyed don’t have a POS system that offers loyalty. That’s a real deterrent to profitability right there. A third of them would like to implement a system that offers loyalty so I do think connecting with your customer, and using data to create relevant rewards and programs for your customers, is a very good idea, and one that seems to be catching on within the industry.”
But it still leaves a lot of opportunities for restaurants to get into this space, according to Pukas. “With Cloud computing and all the new digital solutions out there, it’s a really good time for any business, and specifically, somebody in the restaurant business, to step back and say, ‘What’s out there? Is there new technology – whether it’s loyalty or mobile payments or EMV chip cards?’ It’s worth stepping back and saying, can I really enhance my business with technology that may not have been available even just a few years ago. I say yes.”
TD Bank is here to help. “We want to get to know what our customers are doing, what their plans are. And I think a restaurant owner should reach out to their financial institution. They should talk to their bankers to understand, do they have a POS system that can support them? We offer Clover, an app based solution, which allows our customers to have multiple different types of devices to support their business. And then based on what they perceive their needs to be, working with their banker, or other people they rely on, to figure out the types of applications they can use to help grow their business,” she pointed out.
And that could be everything from scheduling to loyalty to reservations. In terms of starting out, Pukas explained that should probably be a mobile-tablet-type device. “They’re now being designed on Cloud technology so in the future they should be more adaptable. And they’re very useful for transitioning to pay-at the-table device, for example. Today you can add different types of devices, but still use the same core infrastructure. That would really help my business grow,” she affirmed.
The EMV chip has been surprisingly slow to get off the mark. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa after the three companies who initially worked on the technology together. EMV cards have a small chip visible on the card and are more secure than traditional magnetic stripe cards. Running an EMV card is called “dipping” and requires an EMV-capable card reader or point of sale system. Unlike a magnetic stripe card, the chip in an EMV card has to be in contact with the chip card reader for the entire transaction.
The beauty of the system is that, if fraud is detected, the restaurant is not liable for the charges. However, without an EMV, the restaurant is.
“Everybody needs to get their arms around this technology. It’s here to stay. What may have happened is what we found with some customers – they may not have thought that they had much liability and for a merchant that may not see a lot of disputed transactions, to buy that technology may not make sense,” Pukas stated. “What we found is that some decide, I’m going to keep the equipment that I have, and then look at what’s the right time for me to upgrade.”
But the bottom line for any business is, what’s really the right solution for you? Another concern many foodservice operations might have about the new technology is that they may or may not have a marketing department to execute a plan like that.
“Of course, it depends on the sophistication of the need, but someone could easily take one of these off- the-shelf loyalty platforms and self-brand, use it for a while, see what the data shows. And then at that point, you may want to reach out to somebody with more marketing expertise. It could even be the local or the National Restaurant Association,” Pukas contributed.
“Start with a self-serve app. Collect some data. And then reach out and say, how do I take this program to the next level? It’s pretty simple. That’s the answer,” she concluded.
Restaurant technology has finally begun to catch up with the industry and the time to act is now. TD Bank understands the shift in the industry and has designed their Small Business Resource Center to help out restaurant owners and operators. TD Bank’s Small Business Resource Center offers everything from building a sound business plan, financial consulting, workshops, and small business loan guides. TD has designed this to help create a way for local business to get the knowledge they need to flourish.